ーEven from the title, your recent release, “Who am I?” is a symbolic album. Despite being personal, it had a relatable message and touched the feelings of many. It has been a month since the release. Seeing how your audience react to your work, was there anything you became aware of?
Heather : It was interesting to see how people reacted to my new songs. Within a month I was able to see which songs were their favourite.
Then you release a new song within an album campaign. People automatically say it is their favourite, cause they are excited by the track. And then you release a new album than have a new favourite. But it’s cool to see how people live with the album for a while and find their ultimate favourite.
ーAre you happy with the reaction from your album?
Heather : Yes completely. Its been so much better than I expected. It surpassed my expectations.
ーAre you in America right now?
Heather : Yes, I am currently in America. I’m living with Louis at the moment. I’m going down to Nashville and then I’m going back to LA.
ーYou seem to like America well.
Heather : Yes, I do, very much.
ーDo you have any plans to go back to England?
Heather : For the foreseeable future, I will be living here.
ーWhat is so great about there compared to England?
Heather : The weather is so much better here. I can’t be asked for the rainy weather anymore. I’m just so done with it.
ーDid the pandemic affect your album process?
Heather : No, the writing process though. The writing was done before the pandemic. But the recording. Half of the band flew home because we recorded in LA. Part of the band didn’t want to be stuck in America so they flew home. So the majority of the album was recorded with just the producer and me in masks and gloves. The boys sent in their parts from their bedrooms in the UK. Which was crazy. That’s why the pandemic influenced the album.
ーYou had an accident during your tour last year, it was on the Japanese news. Even with the pandemic, there must have been a lot of challenges to complete this album.
Heather : It was an experience because it soaked out the life of the whole thing. Making a record is a lifetime experience that you never forget. I don’t want to complain because I feel kind of selfish. Everyone is on the same boat. Everyone is going through this. Everyone was having to sacrifice things. I’m just so glad that it got done.
ーWhen you look back, are there any memorable moments?
Heather : We recorded the album in two parts. The first part was a prior pandemic, and the second part was post-pandemic, or like the beginning of the pandemic. The first day I came into the studio and it was me and my producer. It was just kind of a weird feeling in the air. Don’t get too close to me, we were completely masked up. We had gloves on and hand sanitiser everywhere. It was an eerily atmosphere. Very sterile. That was memorable. We felt like we had to get this done quickly.
ーThis new album discusses love for partners, family, friends, fans and even yourself. I’m sure you have sung love songs before but what made you especially focus on this topic?
Heather : Love came into my life during this period when I was writing this album. It consumed me in many ways. It was a subject that was easy for me to write about. And it was something that I wanted to express. Going into the first album, I had various concepts and I planned it all out so I knew what I wanted to speak about. So I wanted to talk about this experience and love, society body image and mental health. I had a collection of themes that I wanted to talk about and love was definitely on there. It’s so universal too. I wanted people to relate to this record.
ーDo you come up with the topics in your music or does it come to you?
Heather : Usually, it comes to me. It’s very personal. I spend sometime previously talking about it. I had the ideas before I went into writing the album.
ーThrough this album, you identified yourself as an LGBTQ+. In the song “She’s my religion” you wrote about your partner, and you had lyrics from your partner in “You Don’t Know Me”. What is your thought process that led you to making those decisions?
Heather : Nothing in particular. In comparison to the first record, I wasn’t in love when I was writing the first record. I didn’t have anyone to write about. This record I had someone to write about. I was proud of them, I wanted to display that through my art. It wasn’t that I had this big experience or realisation. It was more like I grew up since the first album had come out and this was when I was going in to write about my second record. I was a lot more ready to reveal, show parts of myself than I was 23 writing my first record. I was ready to embrace the parts that I didn’t know before. I was also aware that there aren’t a lot of LGBTQ+ artists out there. I am one of them therefore I should be displaying that through my music so I can help people. It’s all about helping one another. Art is there to comfort people, to give them representation. I knew that I had to play my part.
ーDid you discuss this with your band members?
Heather : The songwriting was just me for the second record. I wrote the album before we started recording, so everything was already done. But the rest of the band heard the demos, they liked it. They were completely on board with the message the album represents.
ーBy being open did anything change?
Heather : Yes, the queer community embraced us as a band. Whereas in the first album we didn’t get that acknowledgement. We weren’t completely open about it and I wasn’t speaking about it in our songs. So it’s nice to be embraced. Gay Times put us on the cover of their magazine. Which was cool for us. It’s nice to get that recognition now.
ーIn the music video of the song “She’s My Religion”, your partner Kesi Luck was also part of the filming. Do you have any memorable moments from the filming?
Heather : The first one that comes to mind is when my manager came to pick us up. We were living in London at the time. No one was renting cars then because of the coronavirus. The cars were super cheap so my manager pulled up in a brand new Porsche. It was so beautiful and it was five in the morning because we had to drive three hours away to shoot the video.
First of all my manager took a wrong turn in on the motorway so we got stuck in the traffic. We were gonna be late and that threw everyone off because we had to save time.
Well, we arrived at the video shoot and when my manager parked the car, he crashed into the director’s car. It wasn’t anything drastic but it was a brand new Porsche and it was the director’s car. That was kind of the first memory of that day. It was a super cold shoot. And the running scenes of me, when I was running, in the fields. It wasn’t just basic grass. It was all muddy and soft so it was so tough to run on. I was surprised I didn’t fall over.
ーDid you get sore the next day?
Heather : I wasn’t that sore. But we had to cut a lot of the running scenes because the director said I looked like a flapping chicken when I was trying to run. I’m not the most elegant runner.
ーIn “Easy” you discuss the positive attributes of love and how it can change the way one sees life. Personally, how do you think your life has changed meeting your partner? Do you think this change is visible in your band and the music you write?
Heather : I think my lifestyle has taken a drastic change. I have removed a lot of toxic things from my lifestyle. I tried to change my perspective on a lot of things and people. It’s changed for the better and it’s so much healthier. Which I am grateful for. Yes, a hundred percent. It influenced the second album and its gonna influence the new music too. It’s about wanting to be a better person and sort of inspiring to be better each day.
ーA few days ago was International Women’s Day. The song “You Don’t Know Me” discusses what it means to be a woman in this world. A section of the lyrics was written by your partner as well. Could you tell us a bit more about how this music was made?
Heather : It was born because originally Kelsi, my partner had a poem, and read it out to me. The second verse of the song is the poem. It inspired me and I loved the strong message behind it. I knew that being a female myself, I have experienced so many sexism and myogenic throughout. Especially this industry, being a woman who plays the guitar too. A lot of men seem to think that women can’t play instruments, they only sing. That’s quite frustrating. But I was just really inspired by the poem and therefore the next day I went in and wrote “You Don’t Know Me” and that’s how this song came to life. It was originally a poem by Kelsi.
ーWhat were the emotions you wanted to convey?
Heather : I think a lot of anger, frustration but hope too. I feel like strength is projected throughout this song. I think women, in particular, feel represented by this song. We all stand together and we fight for equality. We are not there yet but we continue to fight. It doesn’t matter the age, race anything at all. Especially if you are women, or if you feel like you don’t have equality, you will connect with this song. The song is about people having equality, fairness, and everyone meaning the same.
ーYou mentioned before that your sounds are inspired by Alanis Morissette and Avril Lavigne, 1990-2000 artists. Your debut album, “My Mind Makes Noises” was very dreamy, whereas your new album involves more powerful sounds. I felt that it was similar to Paramour and Hailey Williams. DO you think you were influenced by their music and how?
Heather : I didn’t just want to rewrite the first record. I’ve already written a dreamy synth-pop 80s inspired record. I knew what direction I wanted to take my second record. The band was on board with that. That was kind of more alternative and driven by guitars.
I love Paramore. I love Haley Williams. I can see why people draw that comparison with the second record. It’s probably because there are more grungy guitars and raw sound, instruments throughout. I do love both of them and I do think she is an inspiring artist.
ーWhat part of their work inspired you? And what do you think is special about them?
Heather : I would say alternative music. I think Hailey is just a talented powerful woman. I would love to have a conversation with her. You know, get inside her mind.
ーDoes Avril, Alanis and Hailey’s music feel fresh or nostalgic to you? What significance do they play in your life?
Heather : When I listen to their music I feel very nostalgic. Avail’s first three albums came out when I was quite young. It takes me back to my childhood. What I liked about Avail Levine was that she was the first tomboy that I saw in the media. That made me instantly feel understood because I was a tomboy myself and there were a lot of tomboys around.
ーIn terms of the sounds snd the songwriting, was there anything you wanted to do differently in this second record? Any new approaches?
Heather : I think it to have more instruments to create a more authentic sound overall. Previously it was much more dreamy and synth-driven on the first record. This time around, I wanted way more guitars, I wanted real sounds and instruments. You could almost strip away all the production and the fake instruments but the song would sound just as good. That was what I wanted, intended to create for this second record.
ーDid you have other new approaches?
Heather : On the first record, I wrote a lot of the songs to the music on the laptop. Whereas on the second record I wrote most of the music from my acoustic guitar. I think that can be heard through the second record.
ーWhat made you write this way?
Heather : I listen to a lot of country music. A lot of country music is driven by acoustic guitar. A lot of the songs are formulated by the songwriters sitting down and strumming the guitars. I wanted to take that approach more this time around.
ーSimilar to your music, the band’s fashion has changed from the previous release. Is there a link between the two?
Heather : I think it’s just about growing up. It’s been a long time since that first record. It’s natural for people to evolve and natural for people to want to change. It’s just time and expanding on a style, embracing different fashion senses overall. Just becoming more ourselves.
ーWith the change in sounds and visuals, you have a new visual concept forming for your band. It must feel thrilling to have a new vision, similar to pop musicians.
Heather : Just finding ourselves as musicians and as people. We were so young when we did that first record. Yes, I think its important to create an identity. To create a world and a vision. I think it’s just about naturally doing that. I don’t want to force anything.
ーYour album is titled “Who Am I?”, were you able to find the answer?
Heather : No, as humans we can never fully give a set answer of “who am I”. Every day we are evolving as human beings and we might surprise ourselves with a decision that we made or change our minds on something. I think its too hard to fully answer that question. What my intention with that was, I wanted to find myself more. Not I want to find myself completely cause I think that’s impossible. I just want to find and understand myself more.
ーThat’s great, thank you!
Heather : We, Pale Waves love Japan. Everyone knows this. We love going to Japan, we love meeting our Japanese fans. We cannot wait to come back. See you later!
text Junnosuke Amai(TW)
edit Ryoko Kuwahara(TW / IG）