The best pop can sometimes seem to take you somewhere far away. Sometimes, though, that’s precisely where it comes from.
Ladyhawke is the musical moniker of Pip Brown, a New Zealander presently making her mark on the international pop scene. Her self-titled debut album was released earlier this year to decent reviews, and continues to bubble just beneath widespread attention. But with new single ‘My Delirium’ attracting play on daytime Radio 1, that breakthrough proper could be just around the corner.
And should it come, it’ll be well earned – Brown is no one-hit-wonder in the making, with her album chock-full of potential smash hit singles. One, ‘Paris Is Burning’, pricked up ears closest to the ground back in the summer, and is sure to be re-released in 2009 given its amazing immediacy. It’s a great introduction to its parent album – one that’s bursting with razor-edged hooks and brilliant ‘80s-recalling synth lines.
Clash catches up with Pip in London just ahead of the release of ‘My Delirium’ for a chatter in the company of one very cute kitten…
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Ladyhawke – ‘My Delirium’
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2008 has seen you introduced as a new artist – will 2009 see this develop, as the album’s given a firm push?
You’re right – we’ll be re-releasing some singles off the album next year, and I’m already thinking ahead to the next album. That said, I do want this album to receive more recognition and get out there more, because it’s sitting under the radar a little bit. But if that’s the way it is, I’m okay with that. I’ll just go on to the next one. I tend to get bored quite quickly. That’s my thing.
I guess a lot of the debut album songs are pretty old to you, though, so it’s natural to be thinking ahead to new material, even with a record to promote…
Totally, I know what you mean. I remember when we decided to release ‘Back Of The Van’, and even then only online, not like a proper release, I’d been sitting on that song for three years. People maybe didn’t realise it was released, it was so quiet, and that sort of happened with ‘Paris Is Burning’, too. I really want to give those songs another go.
I think that’s ‘The Hit’, even if it wasn’t properly the first time around… (The track peaked at 61 - Ed)
That seemed to be ‘the’ song, but I’m not sure people noticed!
And I notice you’ve recorded a French version of the track, on MySpace…
The French version was just for fun. One of the guys I worked with on the album, Pascal Gabriel, is from Belgium, and he speaks French. I thought it might be cool to do a French version, and Pascal said, “Let me help you”. So he did, and one day he translated everything and tried to teach me how to pronounce it. He wrote it out phonetically, but because English isn’t his first language he wrote it out French phonetically, which didn’t really help at all! It turned out… Well, it sounds like I did a good job, but to a French person apparently I sound Spanish! I tried though.
I see the start of next year’s shaping up to be busy for you, with plenty of touring action…
Totally, it’s going to be intense. We’re going to do Europe properly – we’ve played there before, but we’ve not nailed it yet – and after that I’m touring here with The Ting Tings. That’ll be really fun. I really want to release another single off the album, too, one that hasn’t already been released once. I think I’d pick ‘Magic’, the first track on the album. It’s one of my favourites. I think ‘Paris…’ will get a re-release though. That’s the general consensus.
Do you think that song, and others, have the makings of ‘proper’ hits?
I never know. I don’t know how to judge these things, because I’m so close to my songs and my album that it’s hard to think of them from a sales angle. I was surprised that the album did what it did – I thought that was amazing. But I think people were expecting it to do better, and when I’m told that it hurts my feelings a bit. I feel that I’ve come so far, and this is more than I’d ever hoped for. I never thought I’d be here, doing this, so every thing that happens is amazing, and I get excited about it.
Does it bother you if people only pick the songs they know from your album, to download, rather than pick up the whole record?
I’d like people to try the rest of the record out, and maybe purchase it as a whole, but I like to take the glass half-full approach and say that I’d rather someone heard three tracks than none at all.
And are you looking to take your show to the festivals in 2009?
I hope so! It looks like I’ll be doing the festival rounds next year. I did a lot this year, but I didn’t do the really massive ones – the biggest I did was Glastonbury.
Errr, I think that’s pretty big, y’know…
That was amazing, as I’d been reading about it since I was young, and I never thought I’d go there, let alone play there. I did three shows in the one day, which was ridiculous – the first one I was nervous about, the second was so much fun, but by the third I was over it and I felt a bit sick. But the others were great.
With the album so accessible, do you think the live show’s equally appealing, to those who’ve never heard you before?
I’d like to think that the live show is appealing to people. I have bigger plans for it, if I can get the money to bring more musicians in. I’d like it to be a bigger show, so hopefully next year that’s something I can do. I’d love to bring a pianist on the road, that’d be amazing. I’ve been working with a cellist, and double-bass player and a pianist, and that’s amazing. They’re classically trained guys, and I’ve been using them for sessions and stuff. It’d be great to take that on the road, as it adds a whole new dimension to the songs. I’d keep everything else, but it’d be nice to replace synth strings with real strings!
Have your crowds changed? Now that you’re not just playing to shady A&R guys…
I’ve been surprised… I did a tour with Black Kids recently, and there’d be kids waiting for me when I came off stage, aged 14 or 15. They’d have sparkles on their faces and wearing Ladyhawke t-shirts. It was weird, because I was getting used to seeing old dudes at my shows. I was getting used to these mixed crowds, with meathead jocks and ladies from the office, so I was glad to see the young kids. They’re the ones who ultimately buy the music, or at least download it from Limewire! I never got the opportunity to see bands, because nobody ever comes to New Zealand. I started making treks to Wellington to see bands when I was 16, so I appreciate what it’s like to do that sort of thing.
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Ladyhawke – ‘Paris Is Burning’
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25 Glasgow Academy
26 Manchester Apollo
1 Leeds Academy
2 Wolverhampton Civic Hall
3 Portsmouth Guildhall
5 Swindon Oasis
6 London Brixton Academy
Look out for a special Track of the Day from Ladyhawke tomorrow...