Hayley Williams has reflected on her lifelong relationship with When We Were Young as Paramore prepares to headline the iconic festival. 

Paramore are headlining this year’s When We Were Young Festival alongside the likes of My Chemical Romance and Avril Lavigne, although things didn’t get off to a great start with the opening day falling foul of bad weather.

Ahead of Paramore’s performance on Sunday night, Williams shared a handwritten letter in an Instagram Story, detailing her band’s turbulent relationship with the festival.

“To grow up in this scene was not a simple thing,” the lengthy letter started. “To be celebrating it (and to be celebrated by it) is not a simple thing. Nothing about this life — for you, me, or anyone — is simple.

“We fell in love with this subset of post-punk and hardcore likely because nothing else moved us. We didn’t fit in other places.

“To be a young girl in love with this scene was to have the hope that I might find my own way to belong. It took years to find that belonging. It’s taken a lot of unlearning. A lot of untangling knots I didn’t even know were there.

“What I did know was that for every ‘Take off your top!’ or snarky punkzine review… For every dramatic headline pinned on my name, or any season of self-doubt… No one was going to define Paramore but Paramore.”

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Williams continued: “Nearly 20 years later, we find ourselves a pillar of the very scene that threatened to reject us. And me.

“I do my best to stay humble. What good is a bloated ego? But beyond the intense devotion of Paramore fans around the world, the reason we made it this far is us. What I really mean to say is — we never banked on trends. Or nostalgia. Or even me, alone. We only did exactly what we knew was real for us. (And sure, I leaned into spite as needed.)”

“Tonight, while we’re running through the lengths of our discography and I’m refraining from singing the word “whore,” know that, inside, I’m celebrating the fact that, as a scene, we’ve come a long way,” Williams noted.

“With much further to go. F— the ones who doubted! Hugs to the ones who watched on and even sort of believed. Young girls, queer kids, and anybody of any color … We have shifted this scene together, messily, angrily, heartbroken, and determined.

She concluded: “Tonight, for me at least, is about celebrating all the facets of what punk music actually represents. All the things it wasn’t allowed to be when we were young. Can’t wait to see everyone tonight.”

You can see Williams’ IG letter here. More information about When We Were Young Festival can be found via the official website.

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