My interview with musician Ladyhawke took place in an artsy warehouse in downtown LA. She’d just finished a photo shoot and was rocking tousled blonde waves and smudgy, smoky eye makeup. She looked like a rocker—a badass woman who knows what she’s after and is ready to keep on conquering the music scene.
And while the New Zealand born artist also known as Phillipa ‘Pip’ Brown is all of these things, she’s also incredibly sweet and even a little soft-spoken. Our entire conversation was incredibly genuine, filled with laughter and a discovery of shared interests. Chatting with her felt like hanging out with an old friend, one who’s more than happy to talk about aliens, cats, and video games. (Don’t worry, we talked about music too).
How are you enjoying LA? How long have you lived here?
I love it here! I’ve been here for 3 years, and I was in London for 5 years before that. [At this point we discovered that we live walking distance from each other and I got really excited about potentially running into her at the grocery store.]
So, music wise – I’ll ask you some music related things first before I get into weird random things. You have a new album coming out on June 3rd! Are you super stoked?
Yeah, I am actually! It feels good this time. It feels like I’m in a really sunny place and every thing building up to it feels really positive.
And this is your third album. How do you think it’s different than your last two?
Um, if I was to compare it to the first two, well, the first one I had no expectations, because no one had heard of me. I was a new artist, so I was just making music. Zero expectations, which means zero stress. Second album was stressful and excruciating. It was just so hard to do, it was depressed and dark and hard. Everyone expected something from me that I didn’t want to give. I wasn’t in a happy enough place to gibe sparkling pop music, which I love – I love sparkly pop! – but I was in a dark place, so I gave a grungy record. Then this time around I’m way happier, so I’ve made it a happier record.
You recorded this album here – is this the first record you’ve done in LA?
Yes, it is. I wrote a couple of the songs on my first album here. But this is the first time I’ve done a record here.
How’d it go?
So good! I worked at my friend’s at-home studio in Atwater Village. It was just awesome.
Is there any reasoning behind the name of the album – I know it’s a song on the record – but where did the name ‘Wild Things’ come from?
I thought that the wild things idea was like that recklessness you have when you’re in your youth – when you’re really young. That’s sort of what I was reflecting on in that album and that song in particular. The recklessness I had in my youth and the way you don’t think about consequences, you just do stuff.
It’s a fun way to live for a little while anyway.
Yeah it’s great. And then you’re like, I’m too old for this shit! [Laughs]
I think it’s a great title. Okay, so this is kind of a generic question, but I’m really curious, where did your love of music stem from? Have you always been musical?
Yeah, I’ve always loved music and my mum has always loved music…I grew up with her playing guitar and playing piano and singing – she’s got a great singing voice. She had loads of cool records I use to obsess over when I was a little kid. Records fascinated me. And that sparked my interest. I feel like it was probably always in me. Mum said that when she was pregnant with me she used to play the guitar and sing songs to me when I was in the womb.
Yeah, so I always loved it! And my stepdad, who came along when I was about twelve – I actually met him when I was eleven, he was my drum teacher; he’s a jazz drummer, amazing drummer! So then he came into my life and I got stepsisters and our whole front living room was set up with amps, guitars, keyboards, and we were allowed to just go for it! And we never got told to be quiet or turn down, which, in hindsight, I can’t believe my mum didn’t lose her mind! And my poor neighbors!
Do you play a bunch of different instruments?
Yeah, so I started on drums…I’ve been playing drums since I was 11. And I moved to guitar when I was 12, but I still kept up the drums. I taught myself base, and I taught myself keys. Those are my four main instruments. I don’t really know what I’m doing – I just know what I like the sound of!
Well it works! That’s awesome. Another random question: Since I’m a writer I always like to ask song writers what their process is – like, does the music come first, or do the lyrics come first. How does it work for you?
When I was a lot younger, I use to write poetry and lyrics, and I use to have books of poetry and lyrics. But then as I got older, I got a lot more enjoyment out of creating the music first and the music itself would inspire the lyrics. It was quite an evolution for me, from story writing when I was a kid – I always loved writing stories.
That’s really fascinating- it makes sense that your writing began in the form of stories. Hmm, okay, slight subject change, but when are you going on tour?
I leave here on May 21st – I’m heading to the UK. And then I think I start touring around the 6th or 7th of June. So rehearse for a bit and then head out on tour.
And you’re coming back to the west coast right?
Yeah, so I’m doing the UK and then heading to the east coast. Doing the east coast then the west coast. Then down to Australia and New Zealand!
Rad! That’ll be amazing! So do you like touring? Is it fun? Chaos?
It can be… good. [Laughs]
It seems like it could be exhausting.
This is going to be the first tour I’ve done sober so…
Oh, wow! Yeah, that’ll be different!
It’ll be very different, but I have a funny feeling it’s going to be great. I think I’ll take in the cities I’m in a lot more than I did in the past, because I was always notorious for being hung over. I wouldn’t get up till the afternoon. My band mates would get up and go take pictures of stuff, and walk around the town or city, and I’d just be in bed like, don’t bother me!
I’m sure it’ll be really great this time. And it’s cool that you’ll have had both experiences.
What’s your favorite place to play?
Oh I love touring America. I feel like it’s built for that! The UK I think has crazier crowds they’re just like… ‘raaawr!’ and the Scots as well. Playing Glasgow is always crazy. I’m going to say broadly that my two favorite places are the states and the UK.
When you’re not busy touring or doing music related things, what are you doing?
I love traveling with my wife – we’re married now.
Oh awesome, congrats! I didn’t know you were married!
Yeah just over a year ago! So yeah, we have quite a close-knit group of friends and we go on trips together all the time. We went to Greece recently – it was such a dreamy trip, my friends got married there. We were swimming at nighttime in the water, and it had that luminescent thing, where you put your hand through the water and it glows. I like having little vacations and holidays. Oh, I love going to Disneyland! I’ve been 9 times! I feel like I’m an expert now, on how to do Disneyland. And I’m a video gamer as well!
Oh cool! What’s your favorite video game? I’m also into that sort of thing.
Of recent times? I think of recent times The Last of Us – which came out on PS3 in 2013 – and then got re-mastered for PS4, it’s just like you’re immersed in a full experience. It’s like a movie almost! When I was younger I use to have a Sega and play Wonder Boy and Mickey Mouse Castle of Illusion. Oh, Mario Kart!
Always a good one.
The most fun game to play with a group of friends. [Laughs] I could go on!
Video games are the best! Okay, now for some random questions! I read this somewhere online, so correct me if it’s not true, but you consider yourself a cat lady?
Yeah I love cats! But I don’t have any! I grew up with a cat, but the cat I grew up with was kind of an asshole…one of those cats that would be hiding and when you’d walk by it would swipe at you. I’m just obsessed with cats. I look at them everyday online…you know, videos and GIFs…I need some new ones. I bought a Roomba so now I need the cat to go on top of the Roomba!
Yes! Yes! Have you seen the one with all the kittens on the Roomba?
Oh no I don’t think so, just the one with a single cat.
Oh my god, there’s one with like six kittens on it and one keeps falling off.
[We gush about kittens for several more minutes…]
Another random thing I saw on your Instagram was the mention of UFOs – what are your thoughts on aliens?
Of course they’re real.
I’m so obsessed; it’s been an obsession of mine since I was a very little kid. It’s everything. I love all that shit. I really want to go to Marfa and see all the lights.
Alright, well I think that’s pretty much everything I have! Did I ask enough music related questions? I was like, I have to ask her about cats and aliens!
Yeah, those are like the two coolest things you can ask. And you asked me about video games as well!
[We both laugh and I imagine being best friends.]
Oh okay, one more question, what would you say the vibe of the new album is?
I think it’s quite a fruity album.
Wait…did you say fruity?
Yeah, like colorful! Like I was thinking of when you go to the fruit emoji section? Like that.
Ooh yes, those are the best emojis. Besides the alien.
My favorite ones are the alien, the watermelon, um and the pineapple, the palm tree, and the sun. So I figure that’s my album!
Love it! Seriously this has been such a fun interview, thank you so much for chatting.
Of course! It’s been really fun!