Hayley Williams: The Blackbird Spyplane Interview
The young Paramore GOAT on learning to embrace Full Drip Confidence, her WILD GRAIL band-tee collection & more in yet another SPYPLANE WORLD EXCLUSIVE
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Hayley Williams — she’s a young POP TITAN with a big beautiful voice who does her d*mn thing with these genre-scrambling solo albums when she’s not busy fronting the rock trio Paramore and getting off monster HOOKS like it’s NOTHING !!
She’s also a certified “inner-peace respecter” who racked up 3 million followers on IG and then WENT DARK ‘cause she realized that a constant public performance of self for legions of strangers is neither healthy NOR swaggy, lovers !! (We give her a Holy Spyplane Exemption to share today’s interview to IG, though, which would be very healthy and swaggy.)
More impressive than any of the above achievements, though?? Hayley’s a certified jawns enthusiast with high standards for sweatshirts (respect) who has proven FULLY WILLING to drop a RACK on a dope vintage Talking Heads t-shirt or 3 when it’s simply necessary to do so — and rock some ill Row boots to boot 😮💨😮💨😮💨…
Unsurprisingly, Hayley thinks Blackbird Spyplane is cool as h*ll, and we f**k with her MF-ing energy, so the other day we got on the Spyphone to talk about crafting new Paramore chunes, “forcefully adopting” ex-husbands’ fire vintage Björk tees (sorry dog), and learning to get rid of “punk-rock guilt” & embrace her love of POP MUSIC, FIRE JAWNS … and SAUCE.
Blackbird Spyplane: Hayley, before we get into this TURBO CLOTHES TALK, you’re working on new Paramore music right now… Going off the last few records you’ve made, I have no idea what to expect. What’s the vibe with these new chunes??
Hayley Williams: “That’s the whole point. I never want people to know what’s next, ‘cause we never know. It’s early, so all I can really say is I’m excited and I’m surprised. Some songs feel like we’re kind of borrowing from old playbooks and ripping out pages, and other songs are in totally new terrain for us. But yeah, I love that people can listen to my last two solo records and then listen to the band’s last two records and go, What the f**k??”
Blackbird Spyplane: You sent me 2 fit pics in a folder called “How I Actually Dress” — and these are some JAUNTY looks. Let’s do a fit check real quick…
Hayley Williams: “The robe is the Offhours home coat — I bought that while we were making Petals for Armor in 2019, so I didn’t even realize that loungewear and pajamas were gonna be so in vogue for the next two years. The sweatpants are Collina Strada — some of Hillary’s more-flowy clothes don’t work that well on me personally, ‘cause I’m so small, but she’s such a badass, I back anything she does. The boots are The Row—”
Blackbird Spyplane: O h*ll yeah, these are great…
Hayley Williams: “These were one of my, ‘To hell with it, let’s go’ purchases. I was so excited when I got them, I felt zero buyer’s remorse. My foot slid into them for the first time and I was like, ‘Yeah. That’s why they make the big bucks.’”
Blackbird Spyplane: Real talk there’s brands that charge as much as the Row whose s**t is nowhere near as beautiful. And on some high-low s**t, the Nike pullover yr wearing with them is excellent — great drop shoulder, almost a little mock-neck collar, and the sleeves are so ballooned it’s as close as you can come to wearing a circle and still call it a sweatshirt. Would you ever rock these clothes live, or do you need to draw a line between who you are onstage and offstage?
Hayley Williams: “When I’m onstage my favorite thing is just a t-shirt and whatever shoes I’m into at the time. I’m still kind of figuring it out, but I know, like, this is what I like to present as, and this is just for me when I’m running around doing errands or at home or a friend’s house.”
Blackbird Spyplane: Speaking of s**t you wear on stage, you sent over a BEVY of grail-tier t-shirts. Band tees are wild—when I dig out different ones I’ve copped over the years, it’s like re-encountering pieces of myself I’ve forgotten about. There are so many memories embedded in them, which can be true of any jawn, but something feels especially diaristic about band tees, ‘cause of how deeply music winds its way around our sense of ourselves…
Hayley Williams: “100%. I’m taken back by all of these — and that’s why I like to buy vintage stuff, because I love things with a story. I don’t like when things look nice and new. Like, I got some Gucci loafers gifted on a shoot and I just wore them into the ground, because I don’t believe in things being so precious that I can’t wear them.”
Blackbird Spyplane: I’m with U, I think you’ve gotta love a piece enough to actually wear it, and if you spatter some arrabbiata sauce on it here & there you just go, ‘F**k it I’M LIVING LIFE.’ We call that the Life Well Lived Mindset.
So this is just a small fraction of yr tee collection?
Hayley Williams: “Yeah, I’ve got another couple boxes of old tees, but these are the ones I take everywhere and pack in a carry-on, ‘cause I refuse to check them. They’re always with me. The Talking Heads shirts especially.”
Blackbird Spyplane: What do those mean to you?
Hayley Williams: “With the Talking Heads shirts, and my B-52s shirt, too, I got them during the After Laughter era, ‘cause I was throwing myself into those bands’ records pretty exclusively for a minute. The Björk tee is one of my favorite things, too, though. It’s the best, it goes with anything—”
Blackbird Spyplane: That tee, to me, might be the single sickest one here, mamma mia…How’d you get it?
Hayley Williams: “It was my ex-husband’s. And I don’t really believe in keeping connections to old parts of my life, but that one had to come with me. It was in my suitcase for most of our relationship, anyway. I’d already adopted it. Maybe forcefully.”
Blackbird Spyplane: I’m surprised there wasn’t a custody battle over it, d*mn. And I can’t imagine what it would cost now. The market for vibey old tees has gotten STUPID — what’s the most you’ve paid for one of these ?
Hayley Williams: “I spent $1,000 on one of the Talking Heads shirts — the True Stories one. The other one was expensive as s**t, too, and then I have another one with the Remain In Light art on it, which I bought during the After Laughter tour because I was wearing the other two so much, sweating through them every night, and I thought, ‘I’m gonna ruin these.’ So I kept buying more. I got the first one at this spot in West Hollywood where I guess Kanye and a bunch of other people shop? The guy there found me my Runaways t-shirt, too, and I can’t remember exactly how much that one cost but it was also kind of embarrassing.”
Blackbird Spyplane: Someone else might treat them like museum pieces, and not actually work them into the rotation…
Hayley Williams: “Yeah, it just gives them another story. That’s what I love about vintage — the piece comes to you with a story, and then it continues to collect stories with you.”
Blackbird Spyplane: You sang at a Collina Strada show a couple years back, and you rock her clothes and, as we’ve established, BIG GAS Row boots—are you into contemporary designers beyond that, or is it more about vintage stuff for you?
Hayley Williams: “No, I’m into some other new designer s**t, too, but the truth is, when I was younger there wasn’t an emphasis on fashion: In the scene when Paramore was coming up, the last thing you wanted to do was talk about s**t that was expensive or luxurious. We were living in our van, my dad drove us around, and the name of the game was credibility. And a lot of the time that meant buying ratty clothes at secondhand stores. Really, just being a girl in that scene, I was, like, How do I minimize myself? Because of a lot of internalized s**t that I was taking from the world around us.”
Blackbird Spyplane: You mean you didn’t want to draw attention to how you looked…?
Hayley Williams: “Yeah, just being a 15-, 16-year-old girl in a band who grew up idolizing not-huge bands, punk bands, heavier bands. Like, Deftones were maybe the biggest band we were into, and most of the shows we went to were these little all-ages shows, so that’s where I got my inspiration: I’d be at a mewithoutYou show — they were and still are one of my favorite bands — and who knows what Aaron was wearing onstage but he looked like he got it out of a garbage can!”
Blackbird Spyplane: Shout out to a FREEGAN-DRIP KING…
Hayley Williams: “So as, like, a little girl in this grumpy dude’s world, the last thing I was going to do was show my love of fashion or pop music. And of course I had it backwards, ‘cause now I’m like, ‘If only you’d known you could have been as loud and confident as you want to be.’ I don’t think kids coming up today are inhibited in the same way I was.
“Getting older and having success, my options broadened, especially once I let go of the punk-rock guilt. If I buy a new designer piece now I’m not ashamed. And it’s probably secondhand anyway.”
Blackbird Spyplane: Last up, you told me this old YSL jacket is yr “best vintage” piece. It’s wild — patchworked leather triangles with a quilted collar & cuffs and toggle fasteners to boot?? What’s the story?
Hayley Williams: “I got this in Dublin on the first day of the After Laughter tour. Our drummer Zac is our resident connector, meeting people in every town, putting together hangs, and he ended up actually covering a shift at this vintage store there called Tola that our friend Ayuba owns. After the show Ayuba said, ‘Come to our warehouse, see what you like,’ and at the time we were super hopped up on Talking Heads, so we wearing all this weird s**t from the late ‘70s and ‘80s — so I found this YSL coat at the warehouse and Ayuba didn’t want to sell it to me.
“He said, ‘I want to give this one to my daughter.’ I was like, ‘How old is she?,’ and he said, ‘She’s not born yet.’ [Laughs] So I told him, ‘Bro, please let me buy it, and I promise I will give it to your daughter when she’s old enough to actually want it.’”
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