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UK’s Pale Waves enjoy boost from The 1975

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Pale Waves, led by Heather Baron-Gracie (second from right), mix pop sounds and dark lyrics. (Courtesy photo)
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Even though her British band Pale Waves has only three singles, singer-guitarist Heather Baron-Gracie has a style and silent-film-era fashion sense that already has earmarked her as alterna-pop’s next big thing. It helps that she has the backing of The 1975’s Matty Healy, who discovered the group two years ago, got it signed to his Dirty Hit imprint, and began producing its music and directing its videos. One of his first benevolent acts was to invite Baron-Gracie and company on its American arena tour last year. “That was pretty mental — for him to do that was just spectacular, and I still can’t thank him enough,” she
says.

You grew up in the tiny town of Preston as kind of a lone wolf?

Yeah. I’m just not a very sociable person. I don’t know — I just don’t seem to click with a lot of people, so I don’t have too many friends. I actually just have four or five best friends, and that’s more than enough for me. I don’t get it when people have loads of friends. How you can be so close to so many people just baffles me.

The first songs you wrote at 11 sounded like Avril Lavigne, you’ve said. How did you find the ethereal Pale Waves sound?

We found it one night, me and (band drummer) Ciara (Doran). We both listened to different sorts of music, and then we kind of combined it into one. I listened to a lot of depressing music, and she listened to a lot of upbeat pop. So then, as one, we fused the pop music with my depressing lyrical content. That’s how it became Pale Waves. I was into a lot of acoustic music, like Lucy Rose and Ben Howard — I just think he’s a great guitarist. So I was intrigued by different tunings of the guitar, and now I love songs in an open tuning.

How did you develop your Clara Bow-ish look?

Well, I’ve always been into dark sort of clothing, and I always wore black, heavy eye shadow. And when I met Ciara, I think we just expanded each other’s makeup, without even saying it or noting it. And now it’s sort of become our thing, and we’re really in to looking like it’s Halloween every night. People always say we look like we just walked out of a Tim Burton film, and we think that’s really cool.

Have you started to spot lookalikes in the audience?

I have, actually, and it’s crazy. There are all these mini-Heathers at our shows, and it’s really cute. And sometimes I’m taken aback because they look so much like me!

IF YOU GO
Pale Waves
Where: Rickshaw Stop, 155 Fell St., S.F.
When: 8 p.m. Nov. 29
Tickets: $12 to $14
Contact: (415) 861-2011, www.ticketfly.com

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