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‘Who Am I?’: An interview with Heather Baron-Gracie

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‘Who Am I?’ is the second album of band Pale Waves, set to come out next month on February 12. This is an album for all but especially for those on a journey of self-discovery.

In an interview with Brig, lead singer and guitarist, Heather Baron-Gracie, discussed the album and the most recent single, ‘She’s My Religion’.

Baron-Gracie reveals that the new album feels like it has been in her hands for so long now, to the point where she wants to just “get it out into the world… part of my brain is just like let’s get onto the next thing now”. Fans will be wanting this even more as it is due to come out during lockdown.

When talking about what the decision-making process is like when creating an album, she said that she is not an artist who looks at the theory side of it and does not like to think on it too much.

“I listen to it, I get a feel for it then base my ideas off how it makes me feel rather than an academic side” she said.

It is known that ‘Who Am I?’ is about Baron-Gracie’s self-discovery. When asked if it is more enjoyable to write, produce and perform songs that are more personal, she said that she agreed with this statement.

“100 per cent more enjoyable to write and perform, I think the more authentic and the more honest you can be, the more satisfaction as a writer and even as a person for a sense of release you will achieve”.

She then went on to say “it is more like free therapy in a way releasing something that means so much to you”.

Image credit: Pale Waves on Instagram

The band’s latest single, ‘She’s My Religion’ is the first time Baron-Gracie uses she/her pronouns. When asked what this meant to her, she said, “it’s hard to know being an artist how much to give away to the world and how much to keep for you”.

“It was definitely a moment for me, I’m glad that I can sort of represent the LGBTQ community and that I can at least try and represent it in a honest real way rather than representing it in an experimental/playful/overly-sexualised way. I’m trying to normalise it and represent it in a healthy way” she added.

When asked if the song had any religious imagery in it, she said it was basically a rebellion against religious and even non-religious people who disregard same-sex relationships.

Baron-Gracie says she receives a lot of messages from young people wanting to come out to their families and/or peers but have a fear of judgement or even being disowned and that this shows the representation and comfort they bring to the LGBTQ community.

“Art is all about competent people, it’s all about just telling someone else that you’re going through the same thing or that you’ve been through the same thing or that you’re reassuring them. If I can do that as an artist especially for the LGBTQ community then that’s amazing” she said when asked if she feels that this album will help fans struggling with their sexual identity.

Image credit: Pale Waves on Instagram

When asked how important she feels it is for LGBTQ relationships to be normalised in songs, Baron-Gracie said “incredibly important, I don’t feel like there is a lot of pure representation out there especially within art”.

It was discussed how the ‘She’s My Religion’ music video was about her real life as it featured her girlfriend, it was not acting unlike some of the staged and forced representation sometimes seen in music.

In response to a question about whether it was more challenging for women in the music industry to be deemed successful, Baron-Gracie said:

“I feel like it is more challenging just being a woman in any situation, you have to prove yourself ten times whereas a man will just have to prove himself one time”.

“At the start of Pale Waves I experienced more sexist experiences than I do now because I’ve established a name for myself rather than at the start, I feel like I had a lot to prove to men”.

“There were various experiences where men would only address Hugo because he was the guitarist, we’re both guitarists but they would always address Hugo rather than me like they didn’t acknowledge that I played guitars when in fact I write most of the guitar parts”.

This sums up the reality for women in the music industry. The conversation then developed with Baron- Gracie speaking about how she has been in a lot of uncomfortable situations due to men. “‘You Don’t Own Me’ was a much needed song for society and even for me” she said.

She believes this song will be the “best to perform live because so many people will connect to it and there’s going to be so much energy throughout that performance that I can’t wait to play that song live”.

Image credit: Ian Cheek press

One final question was the emotion that will be felt finally getting to play the new album to a live audience for the first time, whenever that may be.

Baron-Gracie summed up that it is far away so it would need to be how she is feeling at that present time but that she would feel a sense of relief knowing she can do gigs and that everyone is safe to do so and attend.

‘Who Am I?’, the second album from Pale Waves is available to listen on all music-streaming services next month. Listen to ‘Change’ and ‘She’s My Religion’, the first two singles already released from the album.

Featured image credit: Ian Cheek press

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