Take your mind off the things that are eating you on the inside and turn up Half Waif. Nandi Rose Plunkett, also a member of the rock band Pinegrove form New Jersey, turned to making her own music when she realized that she needed a creative release. Half Waif was the creation, born by her and a piano in a tiny Brooklyn apartment. The music takes you on a whirl of the volcanic emotions that stir deep down within Plunkett.
A waif is someone without a home, directionless, and is abound for unknown journeys. During the early days that Plunkett sought to start her own solo adventure, her mother was selling her childhood home; she had just graduated college, and was living in the house of a bandmate’s mother. Needless to say she felt lost–albeit a unique kind of lost.
“This idea of home was the constant thread for me at that time in my life,” Plunkett tells BTRtoday. “I’m not a waif, because I have a lot of homes, but it was precisely that feeling of having a lot of homes that was creating this weird sensation in me, I didn’t know where I was tied to—so I realized I wasn’t a waif, I was more of a half waif.”
Thus, Half Waif was born, with a couple of her Pinegrove band members joining along to play with her. Her sound is ambient yet robust. It gives you a jolt of wonderment while soothing your every need.
Plunkett was, and still is, very dedicated to the music of Pinegrove, but during the time Half Waif was becoming an idea in Plunkett’s heart, she was having some writer’s block. “I had stopped songwriting, I was kind of in a little lull where I didn’t know what I wanted to write and I was channeling all of my musical energy into Pinegrove,” she explains. “Yet sometime that year I realized I wasn’t totally getting my voice out, so I had to start my own and figure out what I wanted through that—so Half Waif was born!”
When speaking with Plunkett the very first thing you’ll notice is her pleasantly upbeat personality and lively voice. It clearly points out that her music is a side of her that isn’t revealed right up front. In fact, she explains how this project has helped her find a way to convey all the emotions that are erupting inside of her.
“I’m a really moody person, and I’m in a relationship, and communicating how I’m feeling is something I have a hard time doing,” Plunkett admits. “Just this idea of wanting to give a shape or form to what’s going on inside of me so I can communicate that better with my partner, friends, and audience, and trying to ascribe this physical thing to an idea is challenging, if not impossible!”
Her newest EP “Form/a” especially expresses this struggle Plunkett has with understanding and conveying her emotions. She explains that the slash in the Latin word for form was the chosen title for the EP because it not only has a romantic and soft sound to it, but it also deals with this meeting of soft and hard worlds. “A slash through it kind of showed that nature in its self,” she adds.
Though Plunkett doesn’t literally experience synesthesia, she views music in this same sort of vein. “I think pretty visually—I think about sound in a visual way and I think about it as colors and shapes, and I’m really fascinated by that interplay of sound and visual arts,” she says. It translates to the songs: The tracks in “Form/a” each create shapes and movements with the sounds and spaces that the listener can almost feel.
The album artwork for the EP also conveys this—it is a visual representation of a line sung in the last track of the EP, entitled “Cerulean.” The album features a picture of Plunkett with embroidered strings bursting out from her chest, which embodies the line: “my mood has no form, it sits on my chest heavy and warm.”
Currently, Half Waif is on tour, which was kick-started at SXSW. Make sure to follow them on all of their social media outlets to see if they’re playing in a city near you—and listen to the full interview with Plunket on this week’s episode of The Music Meetup!