TIDAL Rising: Half Waif
Brooklyn-based artist Nandi Rose Plunkett writes, records and performs under the name Half Waif.
The daughter of an Indian refugee mother and an American father of Irish/Swiss descent, Plunkett grew up listening to a broad and diverse spectrum of music including the likes of Joni Mitchell, Celtic songstress Loreena McKennitt and traditional Indian bhajans.
Her own music is rich, featuring blinking, layered electronic soundscapes, echoes of Celtic melodies and the sort of somber chord changes prevalent in 19th-century music.
We managed to squeeze in a Rising Q&A before she kicks off her winter European tour next week in London.
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Who is Half Waif? Can you please introduce yourself?
Hey! I’m Nandi Rose Plunkett. Half Waif came to life in my bedroom in Brooklyn in 2012. It was a receptacle for my feelings and thoughts about leaving home and moving to a city. And it continues to be a space I go to when I want to look hard at myself and figure out what’s going on in there.
Tell us a little about your most recent release. What do we get?
We’re releasing the form/a EP on Feb 24 with our new label home, Cascine. This is the first release that I recorded myself. It’s a contained yet explorative six tracks of what I imagine my moods sound like.
Who were your musical heroes growing up?
Tori Amos and Joni Mitchell.
When and how did you first get into music?
I was always singing and making up songs when I was young, but I remember that 14 was a big year for me – it was the year my parents split up and the year that I really fell into songwriting as a survival technique. It became my identity as I entered adolescence and everyone around me was searching for some specific representation of who they were.
Name an album, artist or experience that changed your perspective on music?
The Talking Heads documentary Stop Making Sense had a big impact on me when I first saw it. I had never seen a performance like that before – total integration of music, dance, emotion. It was a new kind of art form, so playful and powerful all at once.
What’s the best new song you recently discovered?
“Rejoice” by Julien Baker.
Can you share a fun fact about you or your music?
I had my first band when I was 9, called Pharaoh because we were studying ancient Egypt at the time. We all sang and played percussion instruments. Our “hit single” (read: the song our parents loved) had a chorus that went: “I’m a fashion victim! I’m a smashin victim!”
What’s your favorite activity besides music?
Reading and visiting libraries.
What’s coming next for you?
We’re about to tour Europe for the first time, and then hit SXSW for the first time as well. We’ll start arranging and recording our next full-length this spring.
Looking one year ahead, where would you like to see yourself?
I’d like to have a home of my own, a place with a light-filled room where I can write. Physical space is so connected to mental space. And I hope we’ll be doing a lot more touring, playing with artists we admire and continuing to find ways to connect with people.
And finally, if your music was a food, what would it be?
A pistachio. Once you get inside that shell, you get something that tastes as richly green as it looks. It’s a tiny yet full experience of the senses.
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