The Rookie Yearbook Four features a friend crush interviews with Hayley and Joy Williams. They talk about their friendship, how they met and other things too. You can read the interviews below and see photos of the yearbook in our gallery. The book is in stores now, order your copy here.
Hayley Williams and Joy Williams
The Paramore frontwoman and Civil Wars vocalist on the power of singing your own stories.
Brittany: How did you and Joy meet?
Hayley Williams: I think I was 12. My mom and I moved to Nashville to try and get away from my hometown in Mississippi. She was going through some stuff in her marriage. One of my closest friends had moved up here, so we came up to stay with them. We started going to this church right outside of Nashville and I guess Joy must’ve gone there, because we met her one of the first weeks we were there. Joy used to sing a lot of Jesus and gospel music, and just had this incredible voice even when she was super, super young. I think she was maybe 18 when I met her. I was already a fan. So when I met her my mind was absolutely blown that she wanted to talk to me and hang out with me. You know, because I was so inspired by her. And she had no ego. She didn’t act like she was better than anyone, even though in my mind, she was this incredible, talented, wonderful person.
So we started hanging out kind of often. She would come over to see my mom and me, and hang out. She would listen to me sing songs on the piano, or we would talk about life and boys and all that stuff. It was cool, because it was like having an older sister. I’ve always been the oldest sister.
When did you go from good friends to best friends?
It’s been a long journey, because she and I went our separate ways for a while just by accident. I joined Paramore at 13. And life started moving at super speed. Later, when I was 19, I was hanging out with Taylor Swift and she was like, “I love this band the Civil Wars.” And I was like, “Oh yeah, I’ve heard of that band.” And I went home and downloaded their EP and loved it. I was like, “Ah, this is so beautiful!” And I had no idea it was Joy, for probably a couple of weeks. And then, when I realized it was her, it was like [re-discovering] someone you’ve known for a very long time. Like, Why are you here? How are you here? I reached out and was like, “Oh my god! The Civil Wars is so amazing. I had no idea that was you, and I’m so excited for you.”
We slowly started talking more and more. Then the middle of last year, we asked her to do a duet with us. We’ve always sort of checked in with each other. And now, we’re at the point where I just feel we’re, like, soul sisters, you know?
What was it like to hear the Civil Wars and watch Joy become successful with that?
It kind of felt like a long time coming. When she was singing Christian or gospel music as a teenager, you could already tell. Her voice was insane. Her range was crazy. She grew up on a lot of singers who really sing. It’s like an art form. It’s not just singing a melody. That’s why I loved her voice so much and that’s why I was so excited to meet her, because I was like, “I like to sing like this too.” I like my voice to sound strong and I like to do these big sweeping notes.
Then I found the Civil Wars stuff she was writing and singing… I think it’s always interesting when you have a vocalist who grows up focusing on their vocals and then they learn to write for themselves – the lyrics and the way they move the melody around for their voice – it usually changes how they sing. It changed how I sing a lot. When I was singing other people’s songs, as a kid growing up in church, those weren’t my stories so much. But now Joy is singing her own stories and there’s such depth. She can sing anything in the entire world, but when she sings her own stories, there’s so much power you can’t deny it.
What makes Joy stand out from the other people in your life?
She’s so calming to be around. She’s very strong and she has a lot of opinions, but you don’t ever feel like you have to shield yourself from her words. She’s one of the most honest people I’ve ever known. But also, she’s so graceful about it. I’ve gotten to watch her grow up, too. I’ve seen her in her marriage. I have seen her have a child. I have seen her navigate different eras of her musical career. And now she’s starting a brand-new career with a solo album that’s so insanely good.
In what ways are you most alike?
We do everything with a lot of conviction. But we also don’t think that we’re the best. We feel like we are on this journey to constantly get better and better. To me, it isn’t a comfortable place, because every day, I’m in a mindset of OK, what can I be doing better to do this?
And in what ways are you opposite?
She moves with a lot of grace. I feel like I stumble around a lot. I don’t feel graceful at all. Because she’s just a handful of years older than me, I’m always hoping, “Ah, in six years, I hope I’m like Joy.” I don’t feel like I will be, ‘cause I feel like the clumsiest person, both emotionally and physically. But you know, we can aspire to greatness.
Do you ever write songs together?
Yeah. The first time that we ever really sang together was for our duet that came out last fall called “Hate To See Your Heart Break.” It was so amazing because Paramore’s never done any collaborations, really. The thing that worked about it is that Joy and I both grew up listening to a lot of divas, like Whitney Houston, Patti LaBelle, Mariah Carey… really poppy music with a lot of vocal aerobics or acrobatics. But we ended up singing different styles of music. For the Civil Wars, Joy did a lot of that Americana sound that was dark. And I ended up singing aggressive songs and pop songs with Paramore. But none of it really sounds like what we grew up listening to.
It was so amazing to share that duet with another singer who understands little inflections… she’s such a smart singer. She puts so much taste into what she does. When I was harmonizing with her, I would follow those little things. So, if you really pay attention, you can hear where her style is sitting right on top and I’m following that. And then the moments where she’s harmonizing to my melody, you can hear how she’s following my little subtleties. So it was amazing to share that moment as friends, but even more, I think, as singers who really understand singing together. We don’t get to just sing with other women all the time. I wish I did it more, because I feel like that experience was so good for me as a singer. I learned a lot and felt like it showcased something in both of us we haven’t been able to show for a while.
Do you ever talk about business-related stuff, or give advice? Or is it very separate, like when you two are together you don’t really think about work?
No, it totally overlaps. We’ve grown up in the music business together. She saw me as a person before she ever knew me as the girl who’s in Paramore. And I knew her as a completely different artist than she is today. So we kind of have always gone to each other for advice. While she’s been working on this record, I’ve been so lucky to hear songs take shape. She sent me a picture she did for her photo shoot for the album package. It’s so beautiful – it’s stunning. I was like, “Oh my god, this is my friend Joy who is literally about to take over her area of music and it’s going to be so powerful and it’s going to mean so much.”
So it’s been cool for me to watch because we are friends and because it’s not like we have to run every single thing by each other to do what we do and do it well. But it’s nice when you have someone who trusts you. It’s not weird to talk about music. It’s just part of who each of us is.
Brittany: What was your first impression of Hayley when you met?
Joy Williams: Hayley was in junior high when we met, and I wasn’t much older. I remember she had this spark even then. She had this bounce in her step always. She had determination. Bangs, bright clothes, an obsession with ‘N Sync. I can still remember her pounding away on her red keyboard in her bedroom, eyes closed, singing me a new song she’d just written.
Hayley told me that hearing the Civil Wars’ EP helped you rekindle your friendship. How did it feel to reunite with her?
Getting back in touch after a few years of us both touring and going through our own whirlwinds on the road was a gift. It’s not like we had a falling-out or anything like that-it was just schedules, and life in general, that got in the way. But I was always keeping an eye out on the tours, the songs- and looking back, she was doing the same. When we were able to reconnect, it was like sitting down with someone I’d never really been out of step with. That’s when you know you’ve found a dear friend – when you can pick right up where you left off.
What makes Hayley stand out from the other people in your life?
Hayley has amazing blend of badassery and total humility, neither of which is put out forced. I’ve said it before, but she’s the type of person whose arrows go outward, not inward.
How are the two of you the most alike and most opposite?
We seem to really value similar things, in the way we see the world and how we interact with people. We are both ridiculously short humans, which we laugh about a lot. We’re the opposite in the way we decorate, maybe? I live in a postmodern house in California that’s all white… and at one point, Hayley’s house had an octopus chandelier in the dining room, scratch-and-sniff cherry wallpaper in her hallway, and a giant dinosaur next to her pool.
What’s been your favorite memory with Hayley?
Whatever the next one is going to be, because all the others have been pretty awesome leading up to now.
Hayley joined New Found Glory on stage at their show in Bethlehem, PA at Sands Bethlehem Event Center last night to perform ‘Vicious Love’ together. You can watch video of the performance below. Hayley was dressed up as the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man for Halloween.
Paramore just posted a new video announcing the full lineup for the second Parahoy Cruise! The lineup features Paramore, CHVRCHES, X Ambassadors, Lights, New Found Glory, mewithoutYou, Vacationer and also some DJ’s and comedians.
The sold out four-day cruise from Miami, Florida to Cozumel, Mexico will take place on March 5-9, 2016. You can read more information here.
Watch the band’s announcement video below.
Hayley joined CHVRCHES on stage last night at the Marathon Music Works in Nashville, TN. They performed ‘Bury It’ together. The lead vocalist Lauren Mayberry introduced the song and Hayley saying “We have asked a friend of ours if she would like to come and sing this next song with us. We think you guys will know her, She’s a local girl.”
Go to our gallery to see new photos from last night. Video of the performance can be seen below.
This was the first time that Hayley met the band and she also wrote about it on her Twitter:
Hayley was spotted by fans while she was shopping at Target in Nashville, TN last week and outside while she was spending time with her family in Franklin, TN earlier today. We have updated new photos with fans into our gallery, go here to see them all.
Madison Square Garden released a new video that was recorded before Paramore’s show at the Beacon Theatre in New York on May 6th. In this video you can see what happens before the band takes the stage and how they, their crew and the fans prepare for the show. Watch the video below.