Nandi Rose Plunkett, aka Half Waif, has been blending fluttery, glitchy beats with classical textures for just over four years. Having been a member of Pinegrove, she has already self-released two EPs and two albums as well as smashing a run of UK headline shows earlier this year.
The daughter of an Indian mother and a Swiss-American father, Massachusetts-raised Plunkett grew up listening to a wide mix of music that included everything from Joni Mitchell and Tori Amos to Celtic songstress Loreena McKennitt and traditional Indian bhajans. Her output as Half Waif reflects these varying influences, resulting in a richly layered collage of blinking electronic soundscapes, echoes of Celtic melodies and the sad chord changes of 19th-century art music.
This can be seen in new single “Night Heat” off EP “form/a”, which is a stunningly beautiful track. Scared by the sound her radiator would make at night, Half Waif recorded the two-hit clank on her iPhone, determined to turn her fear into a song. She told us how the organic sound is one of her favourite things about the track, “I’m especially proud of the drum programming, because these were all discrete organic sounds that I captured and then laid out carefully on a grid, rather than playing a beat on a sampler as I usually do. As a result, the beat is more intricate and lopsided, reinforcing the lyrical narrative of love being more complicated than we maybe want to admit.”
As Half Waif’s melodies glide gracefully over the beat, her vocal talent is undeniable, creating a captivating atmosphere that pulls you into the song. “I wrote Night Heat with the idea that it would be a really classic love-song in some senses, with a yearning melody and washed out sounds, but would ultimately underline the naiveté of thinking love is going to be easy. “I’ll follow you forever so you’re never gone” is the first line – a sweet, sentimental, simple concept that, upon examination, seems totally ridiculous and illogical. Also present in the lyrics of this song is a certain terror of being alone and having to face oneself; in relationships, our partner can become either a mirror, reflecting ourselves back at us, or (as we may hope) a series of opening doors, forever opening outward so that you never have to look back and see yourself. To sum it up, ‘Night Heat’ is a firm clench onto a misguided idea that love can save us from ourselves.”
The “form/a” EP is released as a limited edition 12” on February 24th via Cascine, with a full length album to follow later this year.