I'd had a sleepless night prior to my chat with Nandi Rose Plunkett, aka Half Waif. Wrapping myself up in Lavender as I considered questions, most seemed to slip out around 4AM. Adding to the absurdity, I was in my final weeks in Korea, sleep deprived in the wee hours in order to match up with a free evening in America. Joking with her via text before our call, I warned that things were about to get goofy.

“I love a good delirious interview, I'm drinking a beer,” she texted back.

Now I wanted a drink.

“Irish coffee!,” she willed.

Why not?

Drink in hand, we plunged into an in-depth conversation and consideration of Half Waif's latest, and most personal, album. Nandi herself was irrepressibly easy to talk with, often speaking in yeah's that would come off as disinterested from most, but only represented a genial soft-outspokenness, with our discussion blurring from interview into more of a reflective chat. Get ready. This goes deep.


****cutting introductory chatter***

Chase: So, the primary inspiration for the album – from what I've read and heard – is your grandmother, but naturally that's an inevitable press release line, beyond that, what do your consider to be the themes of Lavender?

Nandi: Yeah, no, it wasn't like I set out to write an album about my granny, although – side note – she passed away six months ago today, so just wanted to say a little 'what's up' to granny. [Soft laugh] It's honestly really great for me to able to talk about her through this press cycle, it's been really nice to honor her through this album coming out. But there are two songs on the record that are overtly about her, one being 'Lavender Burning' and the other being 'Leveler'. So those were two songs that were about her directly, but more generally the album is about themes of aging and but like, aging in our relationships, and the way our relationships change over time, the way that we change over time, physical aging, approaching these endings in our lives that are not this last, ultimate ending of death, but other big moments in our lives, darkness that we ultimately transcend. Our paths of life, our larger journey towards the big end. [Laughs] It sounds so lofty when I say it out loud. But, yeah, I was writing a lot of the record while I was on the road, so thinking a lot about myself and my relationships, being taken out of context of home, out of the context of stability, it made me think a lot about those things while I was traveling.

So when you say stability, do you mean out of context in the sense that once your relationships are long distance you view them differently, or?

Yeah, I think taking time and space away from people, and from the life that you've created for yourself at home can give you a new perspective. And that's what we do as touring musicians, is we are constantly creating those opportunities to step outside of ourselves, and outside of our daily routine. Which can be really hard, but I think also is kind of a unique element of the way that we live our lives on the road.

Would you consider change itself and movement to be aspects of the album? Granted, aging itself is quite the change.

That's a good question. I think so. At least, like, it's from a place of impending change. Ok, let me rephrase that: something I think about a lot is the juxtaposition between motion and stillness. Or, viewing motion from a place of stillness, that's what I think writing is. When you're writing you're in an isolated, quiet place, but through that space you can approach elements of motion and turmoil, and I think that's kind of a cool contrast in writing songs, thinking about, when I was writing a lot of this record, there was so much change happening around me. It was during the election, and obviously that was a lot of turmoil, or one of the songs is about my parent's divorce and physically standing between them and holding them...back from each other, and being at the center of this very volatile...

Like literally?

Yeah, like literally, I did that. Being at the center of this volatile relationship, so I think, yeah, it is writing from a place of stillness in response to surrounding motion. I hadn't thought about that until you asked that, so actually, that's really cool – I really like that observation.

I'm glad you think that, because – not to make this about myself – but, briefly –

(Laughing) Yeah, no, please!

I'd gotten the album, and I liked it well enough right away, but I hadn't really connected with it yet, and then I was packing up my apartment, preparing to move around the world, and throw on your album for no particular reason at the time, and it just clicked. Ever since, for me anyway, has something to do with...as you just said, actually, I was still in the space I'd been in, but it was about to be gone, something like placidity before the explosion almost, I don't know. In that moment it locked into place pretty deeply for me.

That's so cool, that's awesome. It's funny, sometimes when I approach these interviews at the beginning of a campaign, it's like, I don't fully know what the record's about, I made it. I finished recording it in October, and who I was then is not who I am now, necessarily, even in that short space. So, something I really enjoy is talking to people about their reactions and experiences, because, yeah, it sparks new realizations. But I think what you said is absolutely true, with the song 'Leveler', I wrote when I knew that my granny was going to die, and she wasn't even that sick at the time, but, you know, she is, she was, old. Yeah, that feeling of this impending big, unfathomable change in my life: it's not here yet, but that storm is brewing.

I almost say the album is like a stasis, but you know you're gonna have to leave it during. I don't know. (Laughs)

Huh. That's really cool. I like that a lot.

Since you mentioned Trump, I was reading a bit in the press release for 'Torches', how much did the fear of Trump and etc seep into the album?

Well, it wasn't even something that I was thinking about until I was writing this quote about 'Torches', Eloy, our PR guy, was like 'Can you write something about it?' I'm like, 'Yeah, ok! Let me get back in that space where I was.' I was like, 'Oh man, I remember when I wrote that.' That was a couple days after the election, and we were driving through Texas, and the imagery of torches, and it's very connected to the KKK, there's no denying that that was in my head when I was writing that. But, you know, this isn't like an overtly, or, by any means, political album, but I think the feeling of, yeah, so much change, and maybe not even seeing how deep it goes, how dark it gets, how drastic this shift in our country and our culture is, but knowing that, um, it's bad, and we're gonna go through it, and there's something on the other side. So, I think that certainly 'Torches' is most written in that space, but also 'Solid 2 Void', which is the one I was referencing about my parent's divorce, but it's also the idea of this apocalypse. I've had enough of this feeling of the world ending. It's not ending yet. We feel like, when Trump was elected, we felt like it was the end of the world. But...we're still here for now. (Chuckles) And we're gonna keep fighting. Let's not let this guy blow up our entire planet.

So, you're talking about the highway, and there's references to trying to reach water – you wrote it on the highway in Texas, right?


Well, for me, and generally in American, if you will, 'lore', we think of the highway as a free place, America loves driving on the open road. But I almost got the sense you viewed it as ominous, no?

Well, I think part of the feeling is being landlocked. A feeling of being trapped, kind of being in the middle of this desolate landscape, and in that sense, the water is an indication of possibility, or a bigger world, I guess. But also, yeah, I spend so much time on the road, I live, half the year, I'm on tour and confined in my little vehicle on these endless stretches, and that can feel kind of monotonous and isolating and weary, and I think there's something also about the water that is...terrifying, I am a little afraid of the ocean, but also calming, and at least it's like a change of...it's something to break up the endless stretch of the highway.

I guess that would give you quite different perspective, for most of us hitting – really hitting – the highway, it's a rare activity vs. being a big part of your existence.

Yeah, also, I hate driving. (Laughs hard) I hate it. I make my band mates drive as much as possible. I'm a very nervous driver – I'm a great driver, I'll tell you that, I'm very safe, but I'm very nervous. Something also I wanted to say about the water, because I've thought about this, in that song, the coast is this reassuring presence, but the last song, 'Oceanscope', the line is, “On the road to nowhere / I can't bear another ocean.” In that song, the ocean is, like, a finite presence, where you're on the road for your whole life, and then you reach this ocean, and it's over. There's nowhere to go. That song is very much about death, and reckoning with your own ending. That's why it's the last track. (Laughs) The actual death ending track. After many other little endings and apocalypses throughout the album, that's the like, 'Ok, this is really it.' So, yeah, I think it has that duality and it changes in the context of your life, I guess.

When you say you can't bear another ocean, it's the end in the sense of that you can't keep going?

Yeah, like, the ocean represents an ending because...the road leads there, you can't drive through the water.

I almost see into it beyond that, personally. You're not saying the ocean is impassible, you're saying you can't bear another one, you could always get a boat or something (Both laughing) it's kind of cheesy, but, it almost seems like you're saying it's a choice.

I like that. So, it's like, on this road, you've been on here for your journey through life, and then it's like: I don't want to go through another.

I don't want to do this again. Yep, that's the way I'd heard it. I like that I'm trying to tell you what your lyric means. (Laughs)

(Laughing) No, it's cool! These, like, slight shifts of the prism to see a different perspective, it opens up new ideas for me, so, I appreciate that.

So, this is the broadest question, I'll apologize in advance, but a friend came over one day while I was listening to Lavender, and his reaction was more or less that the album was sad. So, in short, do you think this is a sad album?

That's funny, ok, I have a couple different reactions to that. One is that I just finished talking with someone from ID for an interview, and she said [putting on a voice], “Your music is, like, really optimistic to me!,” I'm like, “Oh”, and now your friend thinks it's sad. [Laughs] I will say that I think my state of being when I want to write a song usually is somber or melancholy, I don't...I think a lot of people feel the same way, but I don't feel that driven or inspired to write when I'm feeling happy, because I want to share my happiness and joy with other people, and experience my sadness in solitude. I think it makes sense that there is this kind of underlying feeling, but, what I said to the woman from ID is, no, I'm not an optimist, I'm a realist. I feel like I see, I react to the world in a realist kind of way, and my partner is an optimist, and he and I [laughs] get into it a lot when he's being very optimistic and I'm being very realistic – he calls it pessimism, but I would say it's realism. But, in terms of this record, the whole concept of lavender, having something to heal you through it, is not saying, 'I'm fine! Everything is going to be good', it's saying, “I'm not ok, and we're not ok, and we're not in a good place, but there are ways that we can cope and heal and move through it.” So, I think there is a sadness, but it's not a passive, 'I'm sad' feeling.

Why is missing New York the loneliest feeling?

Mmmmm. (Laughs) That's a lyric that just came out very naturally. At the time...the way that I write is, usually, I write down what comes out of me and I do very little editing, just in general, but, yeah! I was at my granny's house. I had just finished a really hard tour, it was our first tour in Europe, and it was...a very hard one, I felt...pretty...yeah, I was just going through a lot. We'd just left New York, we'd moved out of the city and moved in with my boyfriend's parents, he's the drummer in the band, so, was feeling very ungrounded, but here I was in granny's house, in this healing place, which was the space in which I was able to write this song. But I think, it's funny, because missing New York – I was with my band mates, who had also left New York, we were experiencing the same thing. I think it was a recognition that even when we're in the same circumstance, or going through similar situations, our experiences of things are so individual, the way that we experience and feel emotion is such a singular thing – you can miss New York, I miss New York, but I might, I think...missing some places is lonely because only you know that exact texture and color of the feeling.

Interesting. That's so different from what I'd thought. [Nandi laughs]

Well, tell me! I'm curious.

I spent college in Gettysburg, just for an example of a small town. When you're missing a small town, there's the sense that the town might miss you as well, if that makes sense.

It does.

New York is just so grand, and in my opinion, impersonal and just removed from...emotion? I don't know exactly how to put it, but the way I listened to the lyric was, missing New York is lonely because not only does NY not miss you, it has no feeling on the matter whatsoever. I can't explain it now. [Laughs]

No, I totally get it! I've read things about this, people are like, “New York doesn't care about you!” I think it's true. You go there to hustle and do your thing and, at the end of the day, the city will spit you back out again, no matter how much you've put into your life there. I really like your interpretation of that, I think that makes a lot of sense, that wasn't what I was thinking about, because New York...it wasn't really a cold place for me, it was a very warm five years that I lived there, for the most part. I cultivated a really nice community, and...I was just there a couple of days ago for like four days, it was so good to be back. I think I'll probably move back there. But I really get your interpretation, I think that's cool.

So: country of shadows. Is that America, or what is the country of shadows?

[Laughing] I love that you're really going into this. I like thinking about lyrics in this way. I wrote those lines...it was kind of a rare instance where like – I keep a note on my phone where I write called “Whatever Words”, and it's just like poetry or ideas. It's really hard for me to turn poems into songs, because of the cadences...it's hard to force the music onto the words. Anyways, but that was...'staring out into the shifting darkness', those lines were taken directly from the note on my phone, I'd written it in Europe, in the van, looking out into I did not know where, we were driving, this was our first time touring in Europe, and um...yeah. The country of shadows was like I didn't even know what country it was, it was literally just made up of darkness, and it could have been anywhere.

That's awesome, because I'd assumed it was kind of about Trump and America, but I like your interpretation – or [laughing] your idea better. That was the wrong word.

[Cracking up] That's not an interpretation, that's how it happened.

I like the reality better than what I imagined, there we go. But I understand exactly what you mean.

Yeah, sometimes it just blends together. The landscape is just any place.

Ok, so digging further into the lyrics –

I love it!

When you say 'seek to settle', do you mean emotionally, literally, what is that addressing?

Umm. That was a more literal line, I think. On our path, in a relationship: this is what we do. Settle down, we have kids, we have the house, you know, that's the model. That's the path I'm on right now, I'm very happy to be on that path. That's...finding myself like, “Ok, this is what people do!” Here I am.

On the album, are you being more critical or as a comfort?

I think...I think it's a very human thing. We want that comfort, we wanna feel settled. It's not a judgment, it's just like, this is what we – what every person – want and look for. We make a home. I...am a child of divorce, so, I think it is kind of like...where that goes is a cynical read on relationships. My grandparents had an arranged marriage. They were...I don't know how in love they were, but they were very much together. But...it's a fear, it's a definitely a fear, that that's the inevitability of romantic relationships.

I had this silly theory in college – inspired by feeling close to my friends there, as most do – that all the settling is borne of...in history, for thousands of years, whether tribalism or simply the limitations of travel at the time, the natural state for people: we clustered, found or were born into a set group of people and stayed with them. I used to wonder if the way we live isn't subconsciously trying to replicate that.

I think I know what you're saying, but is it not historical – I mean, maybe not – is it not historical for humans to have a monogamous relationship?

I was more thinking of...not so much monogamy, I wasn't digging on that at all, so much as communities changing to 'you have a friend for 4 years in high school, 4 years in college, then you keep moving, I don't know if that's really natural to our emotional state.

Right, yeah! There's a disconnect between who you were in this group and who you are...you kind of have to, like, keep creating these distinct groups for yourself.

Right – and say if you're living somewhere you're unfamiliar with, you'll forge bonds with someone you might not normally choose – or even be able to – identify with. We're forcing these bonds because we need them, to create that tribe, if I can bring back that example.

We actually have, in my family, we have a group called “the tribe”.

Oh yeah?

My mom was living in Boston in her 20's and, uh, she was working at this linguistics company [laughs] and made friends with these people, and when they had kids, they kind of raised them together like we were blood relations. We're not, but it's kind of...yeah, this big thing called the tribe. It's just a bunch of family friends, but to have a name for it, and kind of a structure, feels really good. I was just at my tribal sister's birthday party the other night, and they're like, "How do you know Lily??" "She's my tribal sister!"

What was the reaction from the strangers? Were they into it? [Laughs]

Very confused at first, but I explain it, and they're like, “That is so cool. Like, I wanna do that with my group of friends.” I think for me...I guess a band is a tribe? I want that to be my band name. My musician friends, we kind of raise families together. It feels like a family, it is a family, my band mates are my family.

Jumping onward again, why do you think disengaging could feel nice?

Ta-ha-ha. Because sometimes when you're putting so much work into something, and it's not working, just walking away feels like a relief. Or, like, maybe it's not working but...giving so much of yourself and your energy to a relationship...um, can be exhausting. Yeah, disengagement and the relief of becoming your own self again.

So it's disengaging from a goal or relationship more than a general “I'm out!”

Yeah! Peace, I'm out! [Laughs] Yeah, no, I think in this context it's a romantic relationship. Just like, 'I can't live up to all of the expectations that you have of me, and that is exhausting – to try and be the person that you want me to be. We all have ideas in our heads of who we are, and who the people we are in a relationship with are, and, you know, there are always going to be elements of falling short. Because...I think about this a lot, the inability to fully convey your inner-world to another person. And that's just...that's just logic. You can't. [wry laugh] You can't open yourself up, like physically extract every nuanced thought and feeling. That's just how it's gonna be forever. And recognizing that, and being like, “Ok.” Either I'm okay with that or, “Wow, that is going to be really hard for me, or exhausting for me.” To be in that space of, like, this tiny disconnect: always. So yeah, disengage; it might feel nice to just live for yourself, and not experience that tiny gap forever.

Or you can see it from the opposite perspective, the sense of mystery with another person. To crib Isaac Brock, “No one really knows the ones they love / if you knew everything they thought about you'd wish they'd just shut up.”

[Laughing] Or maybe you just wouldn't like them as much. But that's so true, if you knew everything you'd be bored. Maybe the first few years you'd feel [putting on a cheerful voice], “I know everything about you, I get you.” But then there's the rest of your lives.

Exactly, a change in your partner might be startling and frustrating, but it can keep it fresh.

Huh. I think I was coming off...I'm a super moody person, and these moods will come over me, and I don't know where they came from. The tiniest thing will set me off into a really bad mood, and it seems like I'm a child in that way, but I know, “I'm not a child, clearly this tiny event is indicative of something larger.” And it can make me feel really dark – it's enough of a task for me to figure it out, and for me to trace it back to, like, you know, is this something from my past that it's triggering, or, a new thing? And then, to convey that to my partner, it becomes, “Agh, this is so hard, I wish you could just feel what I'm feeling.”

Do you find you're usually able to trace whatever it is to a cause?

Well...he's very sweet, he'll ask, “What's going on??” I'm like, “I don't know! I'm fine!” - “You're not fine. Like, I can tell.” [Laughing] He's very patient with me as I try to verbalize. He'll ask, “Why did what that person said to you upset you so much?” I'll...I guess it helps me, too, to talk it through. But at the time it can feel like a huge obstacle to even talk about it.

It sounds to me like you're in a good place, relationship-wise, so it's interesting that you had the doubt creeping in – where did that come from?

That's such a...that's such a good point. I'm in a very healthy and stable relationship. We've been together four years, he's in the band, actually, he's downstairs right now...maybe he can hear me, but that's ok. [Laughs] We're really doing super well, and I thought about this, because in the past I wrote a lot about, uh, boy troubles. You know? Ohh unequited love, or I can't read the signs, this isn't working out, those are definitely things that I wrote a lot about before, and now that I'm in this relationship, I either don't write about relationships...I'm kind of glad that I found another topic, that I'm not just writing about boys. [Laughs] But when I do, that it is like this...you know, this feeling that...this issue that I think is present in any relationship, and I might be viewing it in a negative light, because you showed me the positive side of not being able to fully express ourselves to each other, but, that is one thing that I think will be a part of this relationship forever – and all of my relationships – there will always be this inherent feeling of, “Ahh, I can't open up my brain to you.” But that's like, as I said before, I'm not gonna write a song like [sings dramatically], “I'm in a great relationshipppp.” [Both cracking up] It's just not where I personally find inspiration. So, finding those little crags, and little divets in what is otherwise a very good relationship is where I'm gonna go when I write.

Sure, that might be where the most real emotion is, what's lingering behind being happy and in love.

Yeah! I think that's healthy. I think that's really healthy. To explore that kind of thing, you know, in the context of it being really good.

Are all of these songs written from your own experience or do you imagine...in short, is this a first person narrative?

These are all first person. I was trying to think, like...I think, okay – they're all first person, but I think there's one instance of when I sort of...I was about to use the term 'warg'. Is that from Game of Thrones? I love that. [Laughs] I think I warged into my grandmother at the end of 'Lavender Burning', the first track, when it's like, “Burning lavender, from the oven / fill up this space with a strange kind of living,” that last paragraph, and I sort of see the song as this evolution. The first paragraph, or, the first stanza is me in the van, staring into the shifting darkness, and then it's like I'm in my grandmother's house and I'm watching her walk in her garden, and then in the third verse I'm, like, experiencing what it is to be her. And to be old, and to feel lost.

That part that always sticks out in that song to me is the imagery with her not being able to hear the cardinal.

And that's a reference to the band Pinegrove, because I love them and I am, or have been, a member. That was their record that came out a couple of years ago now.

Ok: 'Lilac House'. I wanted to get into this one. To me, it sounds like a fantasy, we all have our little, as you said, inner worlds, is this your better world?

Yeah. Well, it is a fantasy in which a woman is able to be a man. That is where that came from.

I need to listen to it again, huh?

[Laughing] It's not that explicit. But, the feeling of...yeah, I wanna be as free as a man is. I wanna be able to navigate this world in, um, that place of privilege that I don't experience. That was like, the direct impetus for that. And also just like, yeah, I've always been a good girl. You know? I follow the rules, I did well in school...never want to be a bother, or oppose or confront, but what if I just said, “Fuck it”, and like, blew shit up. Caused trouble, just like, “Blehhh!”, it's imagining a world in which I could be that – and I haven't been.

How does the scream come into it? It almost feels like a peaceful fantasy until then.

[Warmly] To scream as a fucking women oppressed in a man's world! I just like I...ahhhh. It's just like all of those little instances – you know, I wrote this when I was on tour, in July, actually, this was one of the most recent songs. I wrote it, I demoed it in July or late June when we were on tour, and we had a day off. We were in Ohio at a friend's house, and I had my synth with me and I just wrote this. But, like, yeah all the little things that happened on tour, in venues with sound guys, and general treatment of like...just people being shitty. Feeling like I literally wanted to kneel in a field and scream. [Chuckles] The things that we repress as women in society, what we don't say, what we're not allowed to express, for fears of being perceived the wrong way, all those things, just wanting to let it out in one long scream.

Okay, so, the “blur of the boundary”: what is that?

Oh, yeah! I was like, wait, which song is that in? [Laughs] I'm, like, almost done with my beer now, so just getting into that zone. But the blur of the boundary that is...yeah, the boundary between selves. Where do I end and you begin? Where is it me, and where is it us? The separation between self and couple, and how that starts to blur as you get into a certain level of your relationship. And how that's beautiful and wonderful, but also can feel strange. You can feel wary of that.

I liked this bit, “The visions, they just come to me”, who were you speaking as? Was that when you warged with your grandmother, or speaking as yourself?

That was from me. That song is a lot about my parents, and their relationship with each other, and my relationship with them. I think most people probably experience this with their parents, as they get older...“You don't really know me.” You know? There's a part of me you'll never know. I mean, that's the line but...they're both very artistic and very creative, my dad is a musician, but there's still...I've made my life out of being a musician and a songwriter, and that in itself is hard to explain, what that feels like, what it is to be in that space 24/7. It's just a reaction to feeling kind of sad that my parents don't know this very big part of me.

I more than hear you. [Sharing a bit of my own experience]

Wow, yeah. And these are the people who raised you. In some ways they know you better than anyone. So how can it be possible that they created you and are also a stranger? That they don't know you, fully. It's something that I think about a lot.

And the two levels to it, first, them not knowing you, and then you look at them and think how do they think this way. They change from our heroes to...[trails off]

Yes, right. Is this just an inevitability? When I'm thinking about how I really wanna be a mom, and I think, you know...four or five years from now, that's like what I wanna do. But is that the inevitability? No matter how much you love your kids, and how much you give to them, there's going to be an element of lack of understanding between the two of you. And as they get older, they're going to start seeing you as a human, and they're going to lose the stars in their eyes. In the way that they look at you. That's just...ah god, what like a...and that's really sad.

I don't know it's inevitability, for whatever that's worth. I also really want to be a parent, having been a teacher, I think it's more a lack of willingness...or refusal, to understand each other, rather than an inability. We can strive to understand our children.

Yeah, a matter of being aware. And I'm super self-aware, so...[laughs]

I have to ask about my favorite. I view 'Salt Candy' as the centerpiece of the album, would you agree? Or what do you consider the centerpiece, if there is one?

Aww, that's cool. It's interesting, centerpiece and favorite song are kind of different things, like I have my favorites, but, like...no, I think 'Lavender Burning' for me, it just sets the tone for the record. So I think that's a centerpiece even though it's not anywhere near the center. [Laughs] I'm really glad to hear you say that about 'Salt Candy' because that was the one we were very close to cutting.

Damn, really? That's probably my favorite track.

Wow. We were listening to how the mixes sound, and saying, “If we're not happy we're cutting it.” It's become one of my favorites as well, but that's also because David Tolomei, who worked on the production and mixed the album for us just totally killed it. He's amazing. So I have to give him a lot of credit, especially with that song. And I've told him this, “David, you saved the song!”

Well, thanks to him then, because I love it. Within 'Salt Candy', you're talking about wanting to have been buried in your mother's arms, we all have that desire for that youthful intimacy from our parents, did it come from that?

I mean, I think it relates to what we were just talking about, [sighs] growing up...my mom and I are very close. We're not as close as we used to be, I was one of those girls who said, “My mom's my best friend!” Really tight. It has been a little bit harder, growing up and seeing new sides of her, and also just being more independent, but there's a line, “Mother do you recognize your daughter?” I've changed, and there's so much of that I want to share with you, and, yeah, I wanna go back to that space of being in my mother's arms. But there's also the double meaning of, like, I wanna be carried in my mother's arms, but buried in my mother's arms is both a very comforting feeling, and it also has the word buried. The next line is, “I wanna be carried into the squall.” Another ocean! A terrifying ocean image. I want to be cradled, and I want to be destroyed. At the same time. If that makes sense. A feeling of...I've abandoned a lot of my former selves. I don't know who I am. I haven't achieved the things that I wanna achieve. Please, hold me, but also abandon me to this greater storm of my life.

What I actually thought of the first time I listened was Carrie Fisher. Her mother passing literally the day after to go be with her daughter. That sense of, like, powerful level of connection between mother and daughter.

Absolutely. And...tying it into the rest of the album, the women in my family, these generations, my grandma Asha and my mother, not that it's talked about on the record, but they've both had really hard lives. My granny lost her home twice, my mother was a refugee, there's like a thread in the family of, um...thankfully, not me, but I still carry their stories in me. I feel a very profound connection to my mother and her side of the family.

May I ask a refugee where from?

My grandmother and grandfather were born in Lahore, which was India at the time. When partition happened, it was obviously very violent, and...they, my granny's family, moved to New Delhi because they were Hindu, and then my grandparents lived in Uganda, which had a big Indian diaspora. And, yeah, in the 1970's the dictator Idi Amin decreed that...well, you know. Watching The Last King of Scotland with my mom was pretty heavy. What you guys went through, I can't imagine. They were very well off, they had a really nice house with servants, my mom had a very idyllic upbringing but they just, like, lost everything. It was just taken away. My mother was like 21 at the time. They had a house in England, which is the house where my granny lived from that point onward. They had that because all the kids went to boarding school in England. So, luckily there was another house that they could live in, but my grandfather died a few months after they left Uganda. Of honestly, I think, a broken heart. Everything he had worked for...so, yeah, he died really tragically of a heart attack.

The things our older generations have been through is often stunning to hear.

Totally. And I think listening to their stories...in the past few years when I would go to my granny's, and I'm really grateful that because I was touring in Europe more, I got to see her a lot in the last couple years, and I just wanted to listen. I wanted to hear stories. I didn't want to be on social media, just being in the house. That's a part of like...the idea of Lavender, healing, her house was so healing. This was the house she was living in when they lost their house in Uganda, and she was raising four kids, and my grandfather had died, this was the house she lived in all of that time. She never worked after that, she was able to live off life insurance, and that space was so her. Every corner was imbued with her. Hearing her stories, I would ask, “What was it like growing up in India?” What a different life, what a different world, but this is my family. It's not just reading stories in text books, or seeing something on TV, you can almost live them because it's in your blood.

[We discuss relatives and generations for longer than you need read]

I was thinking earlier before when I was writing to you, 'I haven't used Skyped in a while'. I would use it a lot with her, her handle was CyberGranny. [Laughs] So silly. I would be like, “Granny just learn this Skype thing, it's not that hard!” Then I think, it was so wild that she was born in 1920, or 1923, and that she would then at the end of her life have this crazy alien world presented to her. [Laughs]

We'll get ours. We'll be grandparents and have RoboTrump as President.

Have you seen Black Mirror?

Oh yeah.

We just finished the last episode a couple nights ago.

That robot dog episode was pretty crazy, as far as the new season goes.

You liked it?? I thought that one was terrifying! [Both laugh]

A lot of people didn't like it, but I was interested by it, just the concept of a Terminator type threat, we think of Arnold, and it's this tiny little thing, and it's just as threatening, I dug that.

Totally. I was very scared.

Ok, before we wrap it up, I gotta ask, what were you reading and listening to during writing and recording?

Good question. I have a horrible memory. So I'm gonna take a second. I read a lot, and I think sometimes that means I just go through things and don't remember what I was reading. Definitely listening to, I was really into the Lorde album. I'm so interested in the intersection between straight ahead pop music and innovative production. I think a lot about writing, like, a really good song and dressing it up in the perfect sound and textures. It's not easy to do, it's really hard to both preserve a song and create a sonic world that feels compelling and new. I think that record really did that. I was very excited about that. What else? Frank Ocean, of course. What a master. We listened to Blonde a lot. Just the variation in songs I think was very exciting. It didn't stick to one kind of mood or vibe, yet it felt cohesive. I don't totally understand it. Um, yeah. I love Björk. She's another one who has really...I would say I was more into Vulnicura than the most recent one, but in terms of, like, having a song, or very emotional music that has success in both being a song and a sonic world, I'm really drawn to what she does. Sampha. The Sampha record!

I love it.

Aww I love Sampha so much! Watching his Tiny Desk where it's just him and a keyboard. I mean, my roots are on the piano, when he says “No one knows me like the piano”, I feel that. I haven't had a real piano in many years, but that's where I started. And Process has more piano driven tracks, and also these very cool percussive worlds. We were all really into that record.

Ok, so last question, you made it: did you find the name for the place where you heart is?

[Loud exclamation] I think it's called lavender. I think it's called Lavender. That's it. It's this record, which opens up to my granny's house, which pans right into her face. It's this evolving panorama that's centered around a feeling of home and healing.


Half Waif's Lavender is out now. Read our review.