Published Nov 22, 2008Pip Brown may rub people wrong as just another 80s aping upstart but listen closer to the Kiwis meticulously sculpted song structures and youll hear as much from any of the last four decades as you will the one responsible for jellies and Hypercolor. Her debut album under the pseudonym Ladyhawke (yes, named after the 1985 flick) is definitely rooted in the decade she was born in but considering shes signed to Australias Modular label, that should come as no surprise. In the mix, you can pick out 80s pin-ups like Stevie Nicks, Pat Benatar, Banarama and even the Buggles, but also in there are shades of Fleetwood Mac, the Pretenders and even label-mates Cut Copy. Recorded with an astounding six different producers, but with most of the album done with Pascal Gabriel (SExpress, New Order), Ladyhawke is as trendy a listen as there is in 2008. A multi-instrumentalist herself, Brown ensures the synths are fluorescent and zooming, the drums fizzy and stadium-sized, the guitar riffs sparkling and her vocals ring out unaffected and breathy. But what glimmers most is Ladyhawkes lyrical chops, which break through the superficiality that goes with such opulent production to reveal both vulnerability and confidence that are as honest as the hooks are abundant.
Theres a Canadian band called Ladyhawk. Has that become confusing or problematic for you?
Not for me but I have met people who have bought tickets to one of their shows thinking it was me. I called myself Ladyhawke about four years ago and didnt realize there was another band called that. But ages and ages ago I got in contact with them and we just sorted it out. The musics so different too. They seem like really cool guys.
Youre often pegged as an 80s revivalist but I hear as many influences from the 70s and today as I do that period.
Yeah. I didnt want to be called a revivalist or anything because thats not what I was trying to do. I wasnt over-thinking anything; I was just trying to write some songs in one particular style. I couldnt really tell what that style was but I knew I was taking things from my old influences and borrowed, modern equipment and some vintage synths, hoping all of it would mesh to give it an interesting sound.
NME called you "Cyndi Lauper for the American Apparel age. What do you make of that comparison?
The Cyndi Lauper thing always surprises me. That whole quote confused me. Its a weird one [laughs].
You're a multi-instrumentalist. Did you perform most of the instruments on the album?
I only played drums on one track, but drums were my main instruments for years. I play all of the guitars, bass guitar on half of the tracks, some synths and then all of the programming was done by the people I worked with. I try and do as much as I can but sometimes Im working with complete geniuses so I step back and let them do their thing. I think for my next album, though, Im gonna try and have a lot more control as far as that goes.
What made you work with so many different producers?
I just really love collaborating with other people and I find that I get more out of my own writing when I do that. The way the producer thing worked out was that I didnt realize what I was doing at the time. I was co-writing with a few key people but they were all producers in their own right, but at the time we were only collaborating as writers not producers, so it wasnt until the album was written when I decided to have each track produced by the producer and myself, and then have it mixed by one person. Thats how it worked out.
Did being on Modular help help shape your album at all?
I had actually finished the album by the time I signed to Modular. I only wrote one track after that and it was "Magic. The style of the label doesnt really have anything to do with how I sound. All of the bands on the label are really good. I know most of them and its a really cool musician community to be in because everyone is constantly travelling and we keep bumping into each other. Its a really nice label to be involved with.
It was revealed that you have Asperger's syndrome. Does that affect what or how you make/perform music?
Not really, probably only when I play live. I like playing gigs but mostly when I the guitarist only. I find that when I play the front-person with a band my brain conjures up whole other scenarios than whats actually happening, so I just wanna get the hell off stage as soon as I can. That often doesn't happen now, Im mature enough to deal with anything.
You were in bands before. Did the sound of your music change when you went solo?
The sort of music Ive made has always changed. My attention span is really short as far as music goes. I just love creating and trying new things so my next albums probably going to be completely different. I like so many different types of music I dont think Ill ever be happy just making one particular style. (Modular)