INTERVIEW: Pale Waves return with new lead single ‘Change’

We chat with Heather Baron-Gracie, lead singer and guitarist for indie pop band Pale Waves, on their newest single from their forthcoming second album – ‘Who Am I?’

Pale Waves have returned with ‘Change’, a nostalgic and super-catchy track that deals with heartbreak. The single is taken from forthcoming second album Who Am I?, announced today and set for release on February 12 2021 via Dirty Hit. 

Formed of frontwoman Heather Baron-Gracie (she/her); drummer Ciara Doran (they/them); guitarist Hugo Silvani (he/him) and bassist Charlie Wood (he/him), Pale Waves released their debut album My Mind Makes Noises in September 2018, by which time they had already won the NME Under The Radar award, made the BBC sound of 2018 shortlist and toured with fellow Dirty Hit label mates and mentors The 1975. When the album charted at 8 on the UK album chart, Pale Waves were seen as more than a breakthrough act and instead one of the most important emerging indie-pop bands in Britain.

On Who Am I? Heather Baron-Gracie’s songwriting holds the last few years of her life up to the light, reflecting on her own growing pains – depression, distraction, and feelings of darkness. But also her experience of falling in love, emerging with a clarity and optimism – being more open about her sexuality and stepping forward as the sort of front woman she couldn’t see when she was growing up. 

Who Am I? was recorded primarily in Los Angeles alongside producer Rich Costey (Muse, Foo Fighters, Sigur Rós),  before the Coronavirus lockdown forced the making of the album to go virtual, with Heather and Ciara remaining in LA and the rest of the band returning home to record their parts in their bedrooms, sending them back to LA to be added into the record.

The album acts as the Pale Waves manifesto – inspiring inclusivity, self-discovery, and the notion of being whoever the hell you want to be.

On the making of the album, Heather says,

“For me, music and art is for people not to feel so alone and isolated. I want to be that person my fans look up to and find comfort in.”

We caught up with Heather to talk more about the new single and sophomore album.

AL365: Hi Heather! Thank you for taking the time to chat. How are you?

Heather Baron-Gracie: Hey Nicky, I’m good, thank you! How are you?

AL365: 2020’s rough, how has this year been treating you?

Heather: It’s been a strange year that you will never forget, right? With the pandemic and everything. But I’m just glad that we finally recorded our second album, and we have it, and it’s the finished product.

AL365: Your new record is titled Who Am I?. It’s been two years since your band’s debut record. We got a taste of the upcoming sophomore effort thanks to your new single ‘Change’. To put it simply, your sound has changed! What’s the story behind the song and what message were you trying to convey to your fans with the new sound direction?

Heather: I feel like when any artist goes onto a second album, you know, the music has to evolve. You can’t just do the same record again. You can’t just produce another first record with an entire different set of songs. I was really tired of the 80’s indie pop music. That’s definitely more of Keira’s forte rather than mine. So, I wanted to create an album for me with the sort of music that I truly love, and that’s just 2000’s-era music. This album is essentially an album for me.

AL365: Fans have said that ‘Change’ reminds them of Avril Lavigne. She seems to have a huge influence over the new record.

Heather: I love Avril Lavigne! She was my childhood hero, and she still is my hero! Those two albums, well maybe the third one too – those are the albums I will listen to forever.

AL365: Why choose Who Am I? as the title of your second album?

Heather: This album is all about self-discovery, me sort of yearning to understand myself more and going on a journey to become a better person, a better version of myself. ‘Who Am I’ seem to really fit into and summarizes what the entire album is about.

AL365: So this is a more personal and introspective record for you. What messages, themes, and content can fans expect from Who Am I?

Heather: Within the album, there are quite a few themes. The record talks about my sexuality which I think will be really great for our fans, especially fans who are struggling with their own sexuality. The album will also talk about mental health, struggle, depression. It will also talk about the right kind of love and how euphoric that can as well as the wrong kind of love that can be. I criticize society a lot, and what it’s like to be a woman. Lot of different themes that will appeal to a lot of people and not just a certain type of person. I wanted it to be an album for everyone.

AL365: Let’s talk about your new song ‘Change’. What’s the story behind it?

Heather: I wrote about 80% of the album, and realized that I didn’t have a song about heartbreak or how the wrong kind of love can really impact you as a person. And on that particular day, I was super frustrated with some people in my life and me giving them high expectations and them not delivering on their end. That’s how ‘Change’ came about, and that’s how the concept came about. I always want people in my life to be something better, but that’s my own doing because I shouldn’t really give people high expectations. So then I decided to write a song about wanting people to change and how heartbreak can affect you as a person, how it can break you down, and how you need to rebuild yourself and overcome that. And that’s how ‘Change’ was born – me being really frustrated with people.

AL365: Were the creative and recording processes different from your last record?

Heather: The first record, on the writing process, me and Keira worked as a duo. We wrote everything together. On the second album, I went off and wrote the album myself. Keira came in just to write in the drum parts. That was basically it, really. We’ve exhausted each other creatively and we were just going around in circles and writing the same songs again and again. We have very different tastes in music, so I kinda wanted to go off and do my own thing. Keira’s doing an amazing thing, she’s producing for other artists so she’s excelling in her area too.

AL365: Will the rest of the songs in the album follow the same sort of genre/style seen in in ‘Change’?

Heather: Pretty much in the 2000’s style. As a collective, it works really nicely together. So there’s no drastic change. We don’t write ‘Change’ and then I write a jazz song. There’s no drastic jump, but overall as a collective piece, it works really nicely together. It’s in the same world, but it sounds different.

AL365: A significant event for the band was the terrible bus crash in March of this year. Did that incident play any part in the creation of this album and/or shaping who you are as a band today?

Heather: I wasn’t actually involved in the bus crash. I had flew the night before because I didn’t want to do that drive. So, it obviously affected me from sort of seeing what they went through, and seeing their pain. Overall, I wasn’t on that bus crash, so I didn’t feel the impact of that crash. It changed them as people though, and I think it will take a long time to get over it, and mentally grow from it. They’re doing so well.

AL365: Moving away from that, were there any positive highlights for you and your band this year?

Heather: I think for me, it was basically just writing the album and then seeing it come alive as a physical thing. That was a massive accomplishment for me because I took this journey alone, and the weight is definitely on my shoulders. I was like ‘Wow I’ve done it. I did it! I made a record!’

AL365: Is there anything else the band is working on?

Heather: Well, in a few months, I’m planning on going back to America to start writing and recording an EP. On to the next phase!

AL365: How are you coping with lockdown?

Heather: I don’t find it that bad. Although I struggle with not touring, I hate not having to go on tour and playing live shows so much, but I’ve never been one of those people to really crave doing lots of social events such as going to lots of parties and bars. Not much has changed in terms of my lifestyle. My touring lifestyle has drastically changed but not my social lifestyle. If anything, I liked it because I’ve had time to work on myself. Self-indulge with yoga and meditation, it’s been quite nice for me. But I’m ready to get out of it now. I miss playing live. I wanna play some shows!

AL365: Is there anything else you miss before performing live once lockdown is over?

Heather: I think I miss having the option to hang out with my friends and not feel conscious. A lot of people have got to that point now where they don’t really care and are like ‘Oh let’s just hang out anyway.’ But I’m quite conscious of spreading the virus and getting it myself. Just not having to wear a mask all the time! Tired of it!

AL365: Any chance you will go back to the 80’s synthpop sound?

Heather: Well you have the first album! Maybe Keira can write another 80’s pop album but not me.

AL365: Any other sounds you would like to experiment on?

Heather: I love country music. Maybe I’ll do a solo country album eventually. The band won’t want to do a country album (laughs). They’ll refuse! It’s just so heartfelt and real! It’s not a lot of people’s thing to be honest (laughs).

AL365: Who’s your favorite country artist?

Heather: Oh my god, that is a tough one! I love Keith Urban. Kacey Musgraves too. I love her. Oh, and The Chicks, previously known as The Dixie Chicks.

AL365: What would you like to say to your fans in Asia?

Heather: I’d just like to say that thank you for waiting patiently for us. We can’t wait to come to Asia. We can’t wait to play some shows and meet you all. I love you all so much.

AL365: Thank you once again Heather for answering our questions! Looking forward to your second album!

Heather: No problem, all good. It was nice to talk to you. Have a good day!

Pale Waves’ second album ‘Who Am I?’ is scheduled for release on February 12, 2021 via Dirty Hit.





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