1. Your press release outlines how you "scrapped a full albums
worth of material before taking around a year to craft the blissed-out
Wild Things," and how you were also conscious of the length of
time that you'd been away from the music scene. But is the build-up
to releasing a new record still as exciting for you, and what's the
meaning behind the LP's title?
"It is still as exciting, yeah, and I wanted to name the album
after one of the songs, because that just sort of felt right and the
name seemed appropriate you know? It's really hard to explain, but I
guess it's the abandonment of youth that you have when you're young
you do whatever you want and don't even care about the consequences!
So, I think that was the essence of what helped me to write this record,
those experiences and realising all of the stuff that you've done in
your life (laughing)!"
2. I know that the material you rejected was due to the fact that
you felt it was "far too dark and wasn't giving you goosebumps."
But what was the first song that you wrote for Wild Things and did this
motivate you + set the tone for the rest of the long player, in terms
of production or a 'checklist' of what you wanted the other tracks on
the album to have?
"Yeah, I do remember that the first song that I wrote was
Wonderland. I did the album with Tommy English, he produced it, and
after we'd recorded Wonderland we were just listening back to it and
that was the song when I knew that was 'it'. I was like, "Great,"
and I felt so happy (excitedly)! I left the session feeling really positive
and I just knew that that was the beginning of the album, and that it
was going to come quite naturally after that."
3. Some songwriters will deliberately force themselves to write every
day, believing that "music breeds its own inspiration," whereas
others prefer to not be so regimented and allow songwriting to happen
naturally. What's your approach?
"I can't write music when I'm working an album (pausing), I've
finished the album now and I'm in the process of doing all of the promo
for it and I'm about to tour. So I find that I can't ever write when
I'm in that process, because I'm so fixated on the music that I've already
written. But I quite like writing just on my own terms you know? I have
a studio set-up at my house just a basic one and I like
walking in and just messing around and not putting any pressure on myself,
saying that it's not for anything in particular, it's just for fun.
Also, to better my skills as well. You know, I try to do lots of different
things, like learn Logic (music software) and make myself quicker at
it all that sort of stuff. Then, if I want to work with someone,
like my producer Tommy, that's something I had to set up, so I had to
reach out to him and ask him if he had time. So, it's a mixture really,
but it definitely doesn't happen when I'm promoting my current album.
It's usually in-between times that I write songs."
4. Whether knowing what they're going to do first or even using music
and words that they've had stored away, the creative process is approached
in countless different ways by songwriters, although there's a sage
adage which applies to all: "Songwriting is like fishing in a stream;
you put in your line and hope that you catch something." But when
you've 'caught' a song, do you try to finish writing it in one siting
so that you're still connected to the lyric, or do you purposely come
away from the track and revisit it afresh?
"I'll quite often do the music first and finish all of that, then
I'll go away from it and have the mp3 of just the music and listen to
it over-and-over in my head. Then, I'll go back into the studio and
write the lyrics and the melody and record that. So yeah, I don't often
sit down and complete a song in one go, I'll usually finish all of the
music and go away and come back to the lyrics and melody another day."
5. Prior to entering the recording studio, some artists / bands purposely
prefer not to make demos as they feel that they can become too attached
to them. Even acknowledging how they find it liberating to not always
use instrumentation or record ideas, and simply let their imagination
run free by describing to a producer exactly how they want a song to
be arranged and to end up sounding. So, with this in mind, I wondered
if you make demos as a sonic guide?
"I never go into the studio with half-ideas I know loads
of people do that and loads of my friends do that, but that's just not
how I've ever worked. I like going in with a completely clean slate
and making something in the moment, so that it's not something that
I've had time to over-think, which I tend to do. So yeah, I'll go into
a studio and we'll make what's technically called a 'demo', but we end
up using (pausing), every song on my record is the 'demo' essentially,
but it's been polished-up and mixed properly (laughing)."
6. Do you think of different keys as different colours?
"When I hear music, or if I've been creating a song, I get a colour
palette in my head..."
*I ask Pip if that's what is known as 'Synesthesia' a condition
which Charli XCX also has*
"I'm not sure, but I've always just had that. Like with Wonderland,
the first song that I did, I could see pinks and really warm tones and
that was why I knew I was going in a good direction!"
7. I know that you hold music dear to your heart which has a "happy-sad"
vibe. But, do you have a favourite happy song and a favourite sad song
+ with so many people speaking of how 'great art can come from great
sadness', which do you find easier to write can emotional turmoil
"For a favourite happy song and a favourite sad song (thinking)...
Oh God, my mind is completely blank like, I've had 3 coffees
this morning (laughs heartily)! Sorry, I can't even think and I'm really
bad at being put on the spot. In terms of emotional turmoil helping
me to write though, yeah, but with this record I chose not to draw from
it. I wanted to use those experiences as an opportunity to move on and
create something more positive, that wasn't reflecting on the bad stuff.
Because my second album (Anxiety) was quite a tortured record and I
felt tormented as a person. I'm very proud of that album, but it makes
me feel sad for myself back then you know? Like when I hear the music,
it just reminds me of all the stuff that I was feeling. So this time
round, I really wanted to not draw from the pain, I wanted to just focus
on the positive aspects and the good things that came out of everything,
as opposed to the bad stuff."
8. When looking back over their careers, a number of songwriters
have talked of how they can't even remember writing specific songs at
the time, because they let the lyrics / music guide them and followed
their muse. But, do you ever consciously change the way that you write
tracks, i.e. have you set out to evoke a 'feeling' rather than adhering
to traditional verse / chorus song structures?
"Not as Ladyhawke, but that is something that I'm open to. In the
past, for other projects and for other bands that I was in, I would
do that sort of stuff all the time. I haven't yet delved into that as
Ladyhawke, but it's something that I'm interested in and I would totally
be open to doing something like that in the future."
9. Is it important to you to actively seek out new topics for lyrical
content? For example, Nicky Wire from the Manic Street Preachers, Brett
Anderson from Suede and Brian Molko from Placebo, all constantly relish
immersing themselves in literature reading as many different
books as possible, as often as possible to continuously satiate
their need to spark fresh ideas for lyrics.
"No, I've never really done anything like that, I just sort of
listen to the music and the lyrics come depending on however I'm feeling
they just sort of pop into my head. I mean, that would probably
be quite a good idea to read more books (laughing). I should probably
do something like that!"
10. Are there any lyricists who you think always come up with intriguing
subject matter in their tracks?
"Bowie (without any hesitation), I love Bowie's words! I also like
Kurt Cobain, how dark he is in his lyrics but I also loved how
he was obsessed with pop music. That's not something that people often
think of when they think of Kurt Cobain, but I always thought that it
really came through in the way that he wrote songs and the way that
he wrote lyrics as well, his sort of mood patterns. That was quite influential
on me when I was a teenager."
11. Would you intentionally change your lyrics if you felt that they
were too personal or revealing?
"Oh, I definitely conceal personal lyrics and I quite often use
a lot of metaphors. A lot of my lyrics are pure fantasy, like stories
that I've made up and I'm maybe drawing from something that is vaguely
the truth you know? Because I sometimes feel (pausing), it is quite
exposing when you write something that's really personal and it's hard
to sort of let people in that close. So, I'm always quite careful the
way I word things."
12. Given the chance, are there any lyrics that you would now like
"Everything that I complete, is how I want it to be. If I don't
like something, then I get rid of it I trash it. I do toil over
things, like I'll listen to a song and think, "Is there anyway
that I can fix this or better it?" If I love it though and even
if it's a silly word, like, "That doesn't quite make sense but
it sounds really cool," or if it has a cool rhythm to it, I'll
leave it in."
13. Do you write away from music, such as poetry or short stories
"I really used to when I was younger, but my Sister is BRILLIANT
at writing stories she just writes so many short stories and
they're all amazing! She definitely got that part of the gene and I
got the songwriting gene (laughs heartily)!"
14. If the opportunity ever arose, would you like to collaborate with
a cherished author or lyricist on a song, whereby you would provide
the music for their words?
"Ooh (thinking)... Actually, it would be quite cool to write music
to The Doors Of Perception by Aldous Huxley, because he wrote that while
he was on mescaline. So (giggling), it would be interesting to write
a soundtrack to accompany that book."
15. Just out of curiosity, do you class yourself as a musician, as
a songwriter, as a singer or as all three and did you
sing prior to playing any instruments?
"Well, my whole life I always called myself a musician and I never,
ever called myself a singer! I still struggle to call myself a singer,
but I have to get over that (laughing). But in the last 4-years probably,
I think, I've been quite proud of how far I've come as a songwriter.
Because just personally, I can see that I've matured a bit in the way
that I write songs and I'm way more comfortable in the studio. I sort
of feel freer to create ideas. So now, I would consider myself as equally
a songwriter as I am a musician!"
16. Would you say that you have an ear for music / that you could
pick out and play a tune just from hearing it?
"Totally (enthusiastically)! When I had a guitar as a kid, I would
listen to anything like Hendrix or whatever I was into at the time,
like The Beatles. I would get my guitar and on the lowest string, I
would slide my finger to where the bass note matched the sound on the
CD, or the tape, or whatever it was that I was listening to. Then, I
would try and figure out how to play the chord to match it (laughing)!
But still to this day, I don't know the names of heaps of chords (laughing),
because I was just sort of learning that way, 'by ear'."
*I say to Pip, that I think a lot of famous guitar players grew up doing
the same thing, even re-watching / pausing video clips of guitarists
on TV, to see the exact position of their hand on the guitar neck and
what their fingers were doing on the frets*
"Yeah, yeah, exactly!"
17. When writing and recording, a lot of musicians explain how although
their internal critical voice comes into play, they also know when they
need to take other people's opinions onboard. However, with hindsight,
certain creative decisions made at the time can later prove to perhaps
not have been the right ones after all, and sadly, can even be detrimental
to some artists' careers. But, for you personally, do you feel that
taking chances and possibly making 'interesting mistakes' with your
music, is important to your long-term development?
"Ooh... Well, I feel like my whole second album is like that (laughing)!
I had a certain vision that I wanted for the record (pausing), I created
it with Pascal Gabriel he's such an amazing guy and a great friend
and he knew that I was in a dark place and he knew that my vision
was quite dark as well, but he just went along with it. I had a lot
of ideas that were quite dark, and at the time, I was like, "I
don't think this is going to be the best move for me, but I'm doing
it anyway!" In hindsight, I'm really grateful that I did that whole
record, because I feel like it's something that I needed to express,
like a different side of myself and it really helped me move on. It's
quite cathartic making something like that and getting it out of your
system, and I know that when I'm older and I look at my albums all in
a row, in order, I'll see a pattern and they'll all make sense."
18. In terms of 'Art vs. Commerce', do you ever consider the commerciality
that a song has?
"I just write the song and I can never really (pausing), I love
hooks, like, I love a good hook and I love a good vocal hook
that's one of my favourite things and I love creating that! But, I never
know in the moment if what I think is a great hook, other people will
think is a great hook. So me and Tom, when we were making this album,
we were sort of in our own little world making all of these songs and
we loved them, we were excited, but we hadn't played them to anybody.
And it wasn't until we saw other people's reactions that we thought
(excitedly), "We've done something quite cool!""
19. In the past, as an emerging talent, you were candidly open about
your worries of having to deal with the more unpleasant sides of The
Record Business and the music press. But, do you think things such as
established artists giving local groups the chance to support them when
they play in their city or town, Foals' business talk for young musicians
and more recently, music shops giving free music lessons as part of
'Learn To Play Day', are all positive opportunities for budding artists?
"Yeah, totally and all of those things are so great (excitedly)!
Because music has been in my life since I was a little kid and I was
lucky enough to have (pausing), my Mum has always been very musical,
she played guitar and piano and she's got a lovely singing voice, so
I was always around that. My Stepdad is a Jazz drummer and he taught
me drums when I was 11, so I just think it's so important if a kid has
an interest in music, that it needs to be nurtured. There's just something
so expressive about music, that it's a great way to (pausing), I think
when you're a teenager and you're going through all of those conflicting
emotions and hormones and stuff. Playing music is one of the best ways
to get your frustrations out and it's a good way to distract yourself
as well, to give yourself something else to do and have something really
cool to focus on. So, I think that's really important to give young
musicians as many opportunities as possible, be it support slots, talks
or kids getting free music lessons that's AMAZING!"
20. As there's a much greater need for acts to tour nowadays
especially as this has become the main source of income for a lot of
professional musicians and is what enables them to reinvest in their
art I wondered if life on the road (and all of the emotional
/ physical demands that it entails) has changed for you over the years?
"Not drinking alcohol anymore is definitely a huge part of what's
going to be different for me when I tour, but for positive reasons you
know, like I'm not going to wake-up feeling like crap and I'm just going
to feel better all round. All I have to worry about now, is battling
the tiredness, which gets so intense sometimes. I just came back to
LA after a few weeks in New Zealand and Australia doing promo, and I
got so exhausted, I thought I was dying (laughing). I thought I had
some deathly illness and I went to the doctor and she said, "You're
just really tired." I thought, "God, I need to figure out
a way to combat the tiredness." So, that's my thing now, I need
to work out how to cope with that when I'm on tour."
21. When onstage, do you know that everything will come together
when you perform a particular track live?
"I think Magic always gets a really good response and I usually
open my set with that song. I love the synthy intro coming in really
big and strong, and that usually gets the crowd going! My last song
is always My Delirium, I try to always end on that (laughing)."
*I mention that I've seen Ladyhawke play live on numerous occasions
over the years, so I know how Pip tends to structure her set list*
"Yeah (giggling), I'm quite a creature of habit really (laughs
22. Once you've completed a record, I know that you won't listen to
it again. But as a music fan, are there any famous or revered
classic albums that you've never heard?
"That's a really great question, and yeah, there probably is (thinking)...
When you start thinking about things like that though, you realise how
many albums you've actually listened to (laughing)! They're spread all
over your life these records... I can't think, but I know there would
be something (thinking)... Maybe King Crimson and I love their
artwork, they've got great album artwork, it's really, really, really
trippy! That's the first thing that sort of popped into my head."
23. Is there a song that you can't wait to hear each time you put
on a treasured LP, and if you could have any long player in your entire
record collection fully-autographed by the artist / band who made it,
which one would you choose?
"I would have LOVED to have had Hunky Dory signed by David Bowie!
The funny thing is, I always thought of Bowie as a friend and I'd never
even met him, but I always had this weird sense that I'd meet him. I
was like, "I'm sure I'm going to meet him one day I'm sure
I'm going to!" I was so gutted when he died, I cried and cried
and cried. So that's what I'd pick, because also, in terms of a song
that I can't wait to hear, I just love Hunky Dory from start to finish!"
24. The way in which you present Ladyhawke has consistently been
multidimensional, with your record sleeves almost acting as a lens for
listeners to view your music through, so that they can fully-absorb
themselves in a complete audio / visual and multisensory experience.
But can you tell us more about your new approach to album artwork with
Wild Things, as aesthetically, you've now moved away from using illustrations
on your covers?
"I worked with Sarah Larnach again, who's done all of my artwork
in the past, and we sort of came up with this concept where we wanted
it to look like a classic album cover, but with a modern edge to it
you know? So we had all of these references, like old photos of Blondie
and Debbie Harry and really cool old pictures of women with really cool
t-shirts. So we came up with the idea of Sarah designing a t-shirt for
me, that looked like I was wearing a band t-shirt of a band called Wild
Things. Then we got my friend, Jenn, to photograph it I went
to London last year and she did the photoshoot. I picked that picture
because I like the way that I was looking down, like you don't really
know where I'm looking (laughing). That was sort of the intent behind
it anyway. There's going to be lots of different coloured vinyl as well
I think, and I know that here in the States, they're doing marbled vinyl
which I'm really excited about!"
*I tell Pip that I've pre-ordered a signed album from her official online
shop and also remark that I think the sleeve is really beautiful*
"Ahh, thank you!"
25. Lastly, what do you most enjoy about living in Los Angeles, and
what do you most miss about New Zealand?
"I think at the top of my favourite list for LA, is the weather!
Like, I'm looking out of the window right now and it's just perfect
blue sky and there aren't any clouds, so that's really, really, really
good for me, because I love being in the sunshine and seeing blue sky!
Another thing that I love about LA, is that I've lived here for 3-years
and I'm still discovering new things, like cool restaurants to go to
that I never knew even existed. It's such a big, sprawling city and
it reminds me of a giant suburb, because where all of the skyscrapers
and big buildings are, that's downtown and you don't really go there
as it's a bit grimy and a bit scary at night. But the rest of it is
all like a big, sprawling suburb which is one of my favourite things
you know, because I'm a small-town girl. What I miss most about New
Zealand I think, is just my family really. My Niece is just over 1-and-a-half
and we Skype and stuff, so she recognises me, but I hate that I don't
get to see her grow up. So, those are the big things that I miss, but
I think I'll move back eventually."
A very special thanks to Pip, and to Kate @ Toast
Press, for all of their time and help.
"One Life Here With Me And It's Magic"