Paramore's Hayley Williams: Greater 'genre fluidity' in music now

By Rebecca Swash and Manish Pandey
Newsbeat reporters

Published
Image source, Getty Images

For Hayley Williams, there's been a shift in the music industry with greater "genre fluidity".

"I think it seems like this new generation of music fans don't really care about genre as much."

The 33-year-old Paramore frontwoman has a new BBC Sounds podcast, Everything is Emo, which reflects on what she calls "one of the most impactful movements in modern music history".

"What I love about this is the fact that artists are actually opening up about what they listen to and not gatekeeping," she tells Radio 1 Newsbeat.

She says she feels emo has become "bigger than just guitars and bands" and it's "spilled over into pop music".

"Paramore has always stood by that we never really fit into one segment or place. And that's what I'm seeing in this new generation of bands and artists, that they're not ashamed to cross lines and experiment."

'Youth culture is what this music is about'

Hayley believes "all music really is emotional".

Growing up, she says "like everybody when we were 16, we didn't want to be called emo" and the genre wasn't taken seriously.

"But if you're emoting and you're writing angsty music or you're writing something that means a lot to you, that's emotional then I feel like it fits."

"Youth culture is what this music is about. For a lot of bands in the genre, we're finding out how to grow up and how to continue to grapple with emotions and the experience of living in an insane world and a planet that's dying."

"We're either livid about it, or we're sad about it. And all of those emotions are what emo is to me."

Image caption,
Hayley says when she joined Paramore, she felt like she had "to prove myself twice or three times as much as any of the guys on the scene"

The impact of emo has been significant, according to Hayley.

"It's changed the way the industry looks at the touring business and developing artists. It's changed the way a lot of us look at our access and interaction with bands, and it's changed the way we interact with fans as well."

She admits that nowadays, emo can be "equated with eyeliner and heavily straightened bangs".

"And for that I'm sorry for whatever part Paramore took in perpetuating that stereotype."

But the genre "continues to grow and blossom" and it can now be looked at "as a gift".

Image caption,
Hayley calls the podcast the "best opportunity to create something for music nerds, like me, that aren't as concerned about genre gatekeeping"

Hayley says on the podcast we'll be hearing from the "forefathers of the genre", with bands like Fugazi and Rites of Spring.

But there'll also be newer bands which shape "what it means to be punk rock", such as Fontaines D.C. and Wet Leg - who is she hopes to share a stage with "at some point".

Hayley was recently on stage with Billie Eilish at the Coachella festival in the US, calling it "a cool and absolutely surreal moment".

"We don't have anything [a collaboration] planned, but if it's meant to be it'll happen," she adds.

You can hear more from Hayley Williams on Everything is Emo, available now on BBC Sounds.

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