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So, How Was Your 2020, Hayley Williams?

Paramore vocalist dives into the books, movies and hobbies she devoured during this singular year

Lindsey Byrnes*

So, How Was Your 2020 is a series in which our favorite entertainers answer our questionnaire about the music, culture and memorable moments that shaped their year. We’ll be rolling these pieces out throughout December.

Hayley Williams redefined her musical style with her debut solo album, Petals for Armor, released this past spring during the chaos of Covid-19 lockdown. Williams largely wrote the album in a self-imposed isolation, following a post-breakup stay at an intensive therapy retreat. The result is a soothing and inspired record that couldn’t have come at a better time, providing a healing balm to all in quarantine who were suddenly forced to live with their own thoughts.

Like the rest of us, Williams has been turning to her own musical creature comforts during this pandemic: Jessica Pratt, Erykah Badu, the voice of Billie Eilish’s mom as she cooks vegan food on Instagram Live. The Paramore vocalist also dives into the books, movies and hobbies she’s consumed over the past eleven months, the mistake she learned the most from this year, and what she hopes to accomplish in 2021.

The album I listened to the most in 2020 was:
Jessica Pratt, Quiet Signs.

My favorite TV show to stream during quarantine was:
I wanna start Normal People and Insecure all over again.

The song that will define “2020” for me is:
Judee Sill’s “Lopin’ Along Thru the Cosmos.” [Williams covered the 1971 song earlier this year.]

I’d define my current state of mind as:
Carefully hopeful.

The viral video I kept coming back to in quarantine was:
Jordan Firstman’s impressions of anything

The old-favorite album I returned to for comfort this year was:
Erykah Badu’s — Mama’s Gun.

The old-favorite movie I returned to for comfort this year was:
American Psycho. I’m kidding, I don’t know, I watched a million.

A new hobby I picked up in quarantine was:
Making my own blends of tea. I got really nerdy about tea actually because it’s sort of what has helped me create a meditative routine every morning,

The celebrity I’d most want to quarantine with is:
Billie Eilish’s mom. Her IG livestreams where she cooks all kinds of different vegan comfort foods soothe the shit out of me.

The most interesting thing I learned to cook during quarantine was:
I started growing some of my own food this year. A friend hooked me up with a Lettuce Grow garden tower and I started to harvest my own fruits, veggies, and herbs… and cooking with all of that. It’s been a really beautiful process for me to learn from and definitely empowering. My favorite thing over the summer were the homegrown garlic string beans.

The best book I read in quarantine was:
At any given moment, the best book I’ve ever read is Women Who Run With The Wolves. I learn more from it each time I read it. Lately, I’m reading a lot about the concept of “injured instinct” and “righteous rage.”

Something positive that happened to me that nobody noticed was:
I got my first year actually off work and touring since I was 15 years old.

The mistake I learned the most from this year was:
Believing that my putting out an album meant that I was really living and becoming my own woman. I didn’t have time to really live simply or become my own person until all of my “plans” were thwarted by the pandemic and other tragedies. To feel purpose by way of activism, to feel rested by way of solitude and surrender… I honestly think I had some shit pretty twisted until this year. I’m still learning.

The biggest hero of 2020 was:

A word or phrase I never want to hear again is:
I just wish I didn’t have to know who Mitch McConnell is.

The thing I’m most looking forward to doing when the pandemic is over is:
Paramore shows and sweating with strangers.

My biggest hope for 2021 is:
We will have a new administration that will take seriously the fight for racial equity; for healthcare that will include more accessible resources for people suffering any kind of mental illness; that rock music will continue its beautiful rise back to the forefront of everyone’s musical consciousness.

From Rolling Stone US