Pale Waves are providing the uplifting tunes we need to welcome in the long-awaited festival season and sunshine that comes with it. Formed by a university friendship and a shared love for 90s pop and Madonna, the four members – Heather Baron-Gracie (Vocals, Guitar), Ciara Doran (Drums), Hugo Silvani (Guitar) and Charlie Wood (Bass) – have exploded onto the scene with a shimmering new track, There’s A Honey. Having welcomed numerous up-and-coming artists to their stages over ten years in the biz – and been crowned ‘Best Festival for Emerging Talent’ at last year’s Festival Awards – Sound City are sure to introduce an influx of listeners to the band’s infectious and vibrant tracks. Chatting with guitarist and lead singer, Heather, ahead of their Saturday appearance, we discuss how the four-piece started out, why they disappeared for a year, and working with The 1975.
“We’re really looking forward to Sound City. We’ve never played the festival before and our friends rave about it, so it’s really exciting,” Heather enthuses. “We haven’t done that many festivals yet, it can be a bit more nerve-racking than headline shows, but it’s amazing to be a part of a festival that supports new bands and to play alongside them. We just hope to get more and more listeners, so it’ll be a great way to get our songs out there to a wider audience.”
Pale Waves have already inspired a devoted fan base, who have been following them since the release of their first two tracks via SoundCloud in 2015. The Tide and Heavenly have since been removed to make way for newer songs, which still retain the glittery surf pop of their original tracks. The band have come a long way since their early days in Manchester where the four first met, as Heather explains: “Ciara and I met at university – I was originally playing alone and writing my own stuff, and when we met we immediately decided to collaborate. Then we met the boys and the four of us naturally connected; that’s when we started doing more live shows. We first went to this place in St Helens – there’s not that much there, or that many people – and this is when we had no label, either. We only performed two songs and we were also putting stuff online, but we got listeners just from those tracks and it was amazing.”
Now signed to Jamie Oborne’s label, Dirty Hit, whose roster includes The 1975, Wolf Alice and The Japanese House, Pale Waves are receiving a well-deserved nod of approval from the top. Since those early days of gigging in satellite towns, they’ve been working hard on refining their sound, and taking their time has been the key to creating their best work.
“We were eager to get our stuff out there, so it was frustrating to stay quiet, but we spent a year on our music, because we wanted to get it right and really take our time,” Heather explains. The group resurfaced in February with the gift of There’s A Honey, which was produced by Matt Healy and George Daniels of The 1975. The track is reminiscent of their labelmates’ glossy and seductive sound, complete with an extremely catchy chorus delivered with Heather’s ethereal and passionate vocals. It sparkles with an intro of dreamy 80s-style synth, before bounding into a tropical guitar rhythm that immediately lifts the spirits.
“We first recorded the song in a studio in London and Jamie played the songs to Matty and George, who loved it and immediately wanted to produce it. They were very easy-going about it and said, ‘Let us produce it and if you like it or hate it, that’s fine, you can decide what to do with it’ – but we loved what they did with the song. They brought out the best in it,” she testifies. “We do feel protective over all our songs, but we trusted them and they were laid back about it. We’ve been working very closely with them since then and they’ve passed on a lot of knowledge to us.”
But have their own fans been as welcoming to the idea of them teaming up with the divisive band? “When the new track was first released it was crazy, because it was our early fans hearing it first, and they were commenting saying they weren’t sure if they liked it. They knew The 1975 had helped produce it, and I think they just thought it sounded different to our original tracks. We started to get really nervous and wary of it, but the feedback got better as the days went on.”
Although their fans understandably feel protective of the sound that had originally captivated them, watching a group grow from humble beginnings and find their musical feet is often the best part of following a band, and Heather agrees: “Definitely. They can say they’ve been there from the start, which is amazing! When fans come up to me and talk about our original tracks and what they mean to them, it’s incredible. We just want our music to be there for people; to have our music define a moment for them, and when they listen to it, they remember a specific time in their life. Like, you know when you listen to a song and it immediately makes you think of a person, a place, or a feeling you had? That’s what we want to do for our listeners.”
With their professional and patient attitude, it’s no surprise that the band are on an upward trajectory. Planning to release three more singles this year, we’ve no doubt Pale Waves will be defining their fans’ ‘Summer 17’ playlists and moments with their glistening indie pop.
Pale Waves @ Liverpool Sound City 2017
Interview for and published by Bido Lito!