Interview: Freshers’ Week headliners The Ninth Wave

Credit: Queen Margaret Union

Andrew Quinn
Deputy Editor-in-Chief

Local duo to play the QMU having released half of their debut album earlier this year.

The Ninth Wave are one of the stars of the line up at the Queen Margaret Union for this year’s Freshers’ Week. The post-punk band, comprised of singer and guitarist Haydn Park Patterson and singer and bassist Millie Kidd are one of the flourishing local music scene’s hottest prospects.

They have played New York, Los Angeles, and the famous Austin-based festival South by Southwest. In February, they supported fellow Glasgow band CHVRCHES and recently performed at the Kelvingrove bandstand – in the pouring rain. They released half of their first album Infancy earlier in the year.

Combining emotion-evoking synth tones and heartfelt lyrics with vocals that seem like they were born in an earlier era, The Ninth Wave are a band that all new students should go and see.

Kidd initially attended Glasgow University for two years, studying Psychology and Neuroscience.

“I absolutely loved it. I started uni at 17 so always felt quite young, and when I was given the opportunity to pursue my dream in music it made sense to do so at the time. The Uni were very understanding of that and told me I could come back anytime!”

She recalls her own introduction to university life:

“Because I was under legal drinking age my Freshers’ Week was (mostly) very tame compared to other people’s. I didn’t really make the most of it because I didn’t want to be seen with an U18 wristband on. I’m very excited to see what it could have been like if I’d just sucked it up and gone to the events.”

Although they only joined forces in the last couple of years, Millie and Haydn have known each other for a long time. Millie discusses the beginnings of their friendship:

“When we were younger, we used to play these weird gigs on Boxing Day every year in this guy’s basement. He was a mutual friend of both of our parents, and we used to all play covers of Neil Young and Iggy Pop on different instruments. When our parents wanted to booze without the company of kids, all the children there would get shoved in a room together and forced to chat – I guess that’s how we knew each other.

“We kind of lost contact over the years but knew we were both still into music and song-writing, and a couple of years ago Haydn gave me a message and asked if I wanted to be part of The Ninth Wave. I was in uni at the time and I knew I would live to regret it if I didn’t say yes, so I dropped everything and haven’t looked back since.”

Although the songs are full of a passion that draws you in and takes over, aesthetic is a key part of the band, and this can be seen from their live performances, official photos and Instagram. Haydn describes some of their influences regarding fashion:

“We’ve always just dressed how we want to dress. A lot of the artists/bands that we were brought up listening to were very visual though, so I guess we’ve taken influence from them.

“The New Romantics, Punk, Michael Alig and the New York Club Kids and designers like Charles Jeffrey, Vivienne Westwood and early Alexander McQueen are all some things that have shaped the way we present ourselves.”

From playing different gigs over the years, I’ve come across the band a lot. Five years ago, Haydn and I were on the same bill for a gig at the Oran Mor. Even then, he had quite a following and the crowd sang along. His music and look were completely different then, and I remember him playing some bluesy-rock songs in the same style as The Black Keys.

They have come a long way since those days and his song-writing has developed into a more unique, definitive sound. Haydn recalls the night and talks about his journey as a musician:

“That was a long time ago! I had a side fringe and baggy jeans. I had hoped that that period of my life was well and truly forgotten about. I started experimenting with basic synths and started listening to other types of music that weren’t guitar based, but I think it’s just been a natural progression. I can’t really play piano but started writing songs on piano/synth, which I think was a good thing to do as a songwriter as it forced me to write music outside of my comfort zone.”

For many artists, song-writing is cathartic. The Ninth Wave’s songs are filled with emotion, and Haydn believes that music is important to his wellbeing:

“It’s always been a very therapeutic thing and we both write from a personal place, so it definitely makes dealing with situations and emotions a bit easier. I sometimes don’t really understand what’s going on inside my head until I’ve written a song and there’s a page full of words sitting in front of me to read back. It’s sometimes not until that point that I’m able to put a thought or a feeling to bed, or at least understand it a bit better. We vent a lot in our song-writing.”

With Infancy Part 2 to be released in a few months, Millie tells us what lies in store for the band:

“All we plan on doing for the future is playing big rock concerts and writing songs of emotional turmoil, maybe stopping to visit our mums every once in a while.”

She encourages students to come and see them, drawing on her own experience and telling them what to expect:

“I spent my Freshers’ in GUU and have fuck all to say about it. Come to see us at QMU and you’ll be able to say that you got spat on by some blonde man with a mullet that your mum thinks sounds like Robert Smith. Immediate kudos for the rest of uni. Or go to GUU if you’re a ruggers lad who’s afraid of loud synths and a strong female stage presence.”

Both Millie and Haydn have an unconventional, dry sense of humour, which makes them even more intriguing as a band. Millie wryly concludes with the duo’s aims for the gig:

“If we can scare the new students into never wanting to leave uni then we’ve done our job.”

The Ninth Wave play the QMU on 21 September during Freshers’ Week. Tickets are available here. Infancy Part 2 is released on 15 November.