Paramore’s Hayley Williams debuts solo track, “Simmer”

Always billed as Hayley of Paramore, after 15 years, Hayley Williams made her solo debut with the release of “Simmer.”

Williams announced Petals for Armor late last year but revealed on Jan. 22 that the project would be the title of her forthcoming solo album. Since the initial announcement, she went on to reveal snippets and tidbits, lyrics like “how to draw the line between wrath and mercy” and “nothing cuts like a mother.” Also notable was an instagram story update featuring women from shows and films like Bird Box, Handmaid’s Tale, Panic Room, Kidnap, and more, leading to speculation that the project would be horror-inspired.

“Simmer” reveals a raw, ominous edge that the singer has not yet shown before. In the music video directed by Warren Fu, Williams runs through a forest, tailed by something sinister and unseen. The short film culminates with Williams killing the creature that chases her, revealing her own face beneath its mask.

In an interview with BBC Radio 1’s Annie Mac, Williams revealed the story behind the album’s name. “A while ago, I went to this cranial-sacral masseuse… I was laying on her table and I started having these weirdly creepy visions of flowers growing out of me – and not in a beautiful way, it was very painful and very grotesque but I kind of realized in that moment there was a lot that was trying so hard to grow out of me and it was going to hurt to do it.”

She goes on: “The lyric is ‘wrap yourself in petals for armor’ because I kept feeling like the way for me to protect myself best is to be vulnerable and be okay with having a lot of pain at certain times and also feeling a lot of joy at certain times. As long as I’m staying soft to those things and I’m open to letting those things in and out of me, then I actually can survive the world a lot easier than if I stay hard and with my fists up all the time.”

Always one to keep her friends close, the credits are riddled with familiar names. Fu, who directed Paramore’s “Rose Colored Boy” returns to direct “Simmer,” swapping analog charm for something more atmospheric and claustrophobic. Lindsey Byrnes, who photographed much of the Petals for Armor promotional material, shares story credits with Williams and Warren as well as heading up Creative Direction. And of course, Taylor York, rhythm guitarist for Paramore, produced “Simmer” and and shares writing credits with Williams and Joey Howard.

In a press release, Williams says:

“I made this with some of the closest people to me. Their respective talents really shine bright throughout the record. I like to think we all make each other better and the result is something that sounds and FEELS exactly as I’d hoped it would. Now that it’s time to put it all out there, I can finally exhale. I’m excited to let people in to experience a different side of myself that I’ve only very recently become familiar with.

Williams rarely contributes her vocals to other projects but you can check out some of our favorite Hayley Williams collaborations in the playlist below:

Petals For Armor will be released on May 8 on Atlantic Records.

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Lauren Zaknoun

Lauren Zaknoun is an artist, photographer, music enthusiast, and founder of BANSHEE ZINE. With no musical talent to speak of, she supports her local scene by going to shows, shooting bands, and loudly reminding everyone that Paramore is the best band in the world.

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