Authenticity is a common thread among all exceptional artists. For Pip Brown (AKA Ladyhawke) to stay true to herself, she was required to focus on her personal wellbeing. Having taken time to find absolute clarity and rid herself of negative energy, the New Zealand singer/songwriter is set to release her third album, Wild Things.
“I toured my second record all of 2012, moved to LA around January 2013 and took a while getting familiar with living here and coping with being in a different country – again,” Brown says. “That took a couple of months and then I started writing almost straight away. I would say I got to around eight or nine demos and decided I wasn’t going to use them. They were really dark and it just didn’t feel right. So I took a big step back from everything and decided there was a lot I needed to change in my life. I had to get healthy and feel better about myself. Then I randomly met this producer called Tommy English through a friend and we made the record together. So I didn’t start working on Wild Things until the end of 2014.”
Brown basically scrapped a whole album, which was a bold decision considering it’s been four years since her second LP, Anxiety. “I’d been through the entire writing process and that takes a lot of time,” she says. “But sometimes that’s the way it happens. I’m glad it happened that way.”
In the past Brown relied on alcohol to get her through live performances. However, she’s removed drinking from her lifestyle, which has led to a new sense of creative freedom.
“I completely quit drinking all together, which was a really hard decision to make and probably up there with the toughest thing I’ve ever done in my life,” she says. “I was just drinking too much and feeling like crap all the time, and it was one of the things I had to stop in order to move forward with my life. My life had come to a grinding halt and I was just in this weird limbo of not being very productive. For a time I also cut out junk food, sugar, carbs and all that stuff to really give myself a good cleanse. When I started feeling good again, that’s when I started writing the album.”
Having regained confidence, Brown directed her energy into the collaboration with her new producer. “My friend was making an album and she wanted me to do some vocals on it,” she says. “I assumed she would be there when I was doing it, but she was like, ‘Nah, just turn up at this guy’s house.’ I was really nervous. It wasn’t someone I knew, but I went to the house and it turned out to be Tommy English. I started harmonising with my friend’s voice and he said to me, ‘I really love your voice.’ It meant so much to me, because I don’t hear that very often from producers [laughs]. The crazy thing was, he would compliment me and it would make me want to deliver a better performance; I’d want to sing better.
“I ended up working with Tiësto and I used Tom to record my vocals for that and he just nailed it. I used him for a couple more things and then we were like, ‘Should we maybe work together on my record?’ I just realised the more time I spent working with him, the more inspired it made me.”
Now that she’s broken free of her demons, the third Ladyhawke album is a more vibrant and feel-good affair. Accordingly, Brown is as positive as ever about the release.
“I felt sick of drawing from dark stuff. I genuinely don’t want to do that anymore. I want to be inspired to write music through good stuff. I don’t want to dwell on the past. It wasn’t a conscious effort, it just sort of happened like that. I just wanted to move forward and create a brighter environment for myself.”
BY PHOEBE ROBERTSON
LADYHAWKE is playing at Howler on Saturday July 16. Wild Things is out on Friday June 3 via Mid Century Records / Universal Music Australia.