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Artist Spotlight - Half Waif

(Photo Credit: Tonje Thilesen) 

We had the opportunity to interview Half Waif an alternative act from Brooklyn, NY who's album Lavender came out in April of last year. Their bold alt sound leaves listeners wanting more and will certainly do the same to you. We were excited to chat with Half Waif founder Nandi Rose Plunkett, who started the group in 2012. Check out what she had to say below!

1. How did you come to pursue music and how long have you been at it?

In some ways, it feels like I never really made the choice to pursue music – it was just a part of me from my earliest memories. I was always singing and making up songs. It felt like a natural way to describe the world around me, and stake my claim in my own existence: “I sing, therefore I am.” I started my first band when I was nine, and when I was thirteen or fourteen, I began to call myself a songwriter. Years later, just after college, I inked a sound wave on my forearm in a sort of personal commitment ceremony to a life of music.

2. Could you walk us through your process of writing music?

Over the years, the way I write has developed so that I have different entry points into a song. I think this has allowed me to keep writing even in times that might feel more creatively dry, or times when I’m feeling bored and what to switch things up. So sometimes, writing a song will look like me at a keyboard, fumbling my fingers over the keys until I find a chord progression and a melody that resonate with me. Other times, it’s a synth sound that catches my ear and leads me onward and deeper. And then there are times when I’ll start by creating a drum kit and programming beats. But in all scenarios, the computer plays a big role, because it allows me to arrange the song as I go, filling in the ideas that often come tumbling so fast, I have to catch up with them. For me, a song is the sum of its parts, and I try to give equal attention to the chords, lyrics, melody, rhythm, and arrangement. Together, they all attempt to serve the same purpose of communicating an emotion or mood.

3. What artists have inspired you in your career?

The big lifelong ones have been Tori Amos, Joni Mitchell, Bjork, and Radiohead. More recently, I’ve been really inspired by Frank Ocean, Kelly Lee Owens, Nils Frahm, Big Thief, Andy Shauf, Bing & Ruth, Rosalia, Lorde, and Drake.

4. Do you have any favorite music gear (guitars, amps, effects pedals, keyboards, etc.) that you love to use?  If so, what’s the story on them?

I have only one pedal that I use, which is a Boss VE-20 vocal processing pedal. I use it to run all my vocal effects onstage – reverb, delay, harmonizer, doubler, auto tune. My favorite effect is doubling my voice with either the same octave or an octave lower. It instantly adds depth and makes a section feel fuller, so I usually use it to give some oomph to the chorus of a song. Sound people love this pedal – they always give me the side eye when I’m setting up because usually they hate vocal pedals due to the feedback, but then after sound check they all say, “Wow, I’m so surprised, that’s a really good pedal!” And then I feel like a proud mama. I’ve had this pedal for many, many years and I don’t know what I’ll do when it breaks someday! For now, I keep it in its own tiny Pelican carrying case and it travels like a little princess.

5. Can you describe the vibe at your live shows?  Also, what do you enjoy most about a venue when you do a show?

Since September, I’ve been performing solo, which has been terrifying and exhilarating and empowering. I use Ableton onstage, which enables me to jump off the keyboards at times and dance. I try to create a balance between emotional and kinetic energy – moments that squeeze your heart and moments that make you sway. Performing solo has also helped me be even more present onstage and experience that insane feeling of connecting with strangers on a very basic human level. That’s the best part about performing and it makes all the rest of the challenges of touring completely worth it.

6. What is one thing that you want the public to know about your music?

When I started this project at age 22, I very much wanted to sound like what was trendy, to sound cool and fresh and hip – I wanted to belong. One of the first responses I got back from blogs was, “She sounds too mature.” It’s taken me a while to become comfortable with who I am, both in the world and in my music. But I can’t sound like anything but myself, and this commitment to my path, regardless of how it’s perceived, has enabled me to enjoy the process of creating much more. What do I have to fear, when all the sounds are already inside me? 

7. Do you have any upcoming projects you would like fans to know about?

Yes! I’m working on a new full-length album. I’m taking my time with this one, savoring the process of creating a world and trying to push myself in new directions. This is my favorite part of what I do, so I’m grateful to have the time and space to give it my whole heart.

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