Here’s a reprint of my interview with Ladyhawke that ran recently in Hot Press
Indie pop princess Ladyhawke returns to the fray this fortnight armed with her new album Anxiety and Edwin McFee catches up with her to hear about her change of direction, how her lyrics are her most personal yet and why her new material is worth the wait.
They say that a change is as good as a rest and in some respects that dusty old proverb certainly rings true for New Zealand-born torch-bearer of all things future pop Ladyhawke. You see the multi-instrumentalist, who was born Phillipa “Pip” Brown, unveils her second album Anxiety this month and while it may have taken her a little longer to release it than originally planned, the record is a fine return to form for the singer and that’s largely down to her embracing her inner queen of the stone edge and turning her amps up to 11.
“I’m so happy you noticed the Queens of the Stone Age influence,” begins the affable Antipodean. “That’s awesome, no-one’s picked up on it yet, but they’re one of my favourite bands. The thing with me is that I listen to all sorts of music all the time. I never really listen to just one style and when I was doing this album I was listening to a lot of QOTSA, Pixies, Bowie, Joan Jett and Garbage and it rubbed off on the music.”
Like all good things though, Ladyhawke’s fans have had to wait four years for the new album and these days that’s a lifetime in the pop world. Was she worried that some music lovers may have moved on and forgotten about her previous indie anthems such as ‘My Delirium?’
“The gap didn’t concern me at first but then when everything started getting pushed back it did,” she confesses. “The plan was to release the record last October but the mixes and stuff weren’t right and we had to go back to square one and I remember thinking ‘Shit it’s been so long now…’ The whole industry has changed so much in that time. All the stuff on the radio’s different, it feels like a different place to the time when my debut came out. It’ll definitely be a weight off my shoulders once the record is released.”
As infuriating as the delay may have been, Pip tells us that ultimately she had to take some much needed time off after she finished touring her self-titled debut and opted not to rush release another record, preferring to wait until her hunger to write more music returned.
“I can’t really write on the road because I can’t focus on it,” she offers. “I go into auto pilot and I only have brains for touring. I’m like some sort of mutant [adopts comedy voice] ‘Errrr touring…’ So I waited until it was all finished and then I was really tired, so I took six months off. I definitely needed time to recharge. I was exhausted physically and mentally and I just couldn’t handle music anymore and that was strange for me. So I decided to extract myself from everything and not play any music or listen to anything and I just waited until I was hungry for it and missed it.”
And the time off certainly did her the world of good as Anxiety marks several career nadirs for the 32 year old-most notably her decision to take more of a confessional approach to some of her lyrics and write about her battles with Asperger Syndrome.
“I did have second thoughts about putting some of those lyrics out there,” she admits. “I was halfway through writing the songs and was reading through them and the line ‘I take a pill to help me through the day/I stay inside until I feel ok’ from ‘Anxiety’ definitely had me questioning things. I thought ‘Aw no..it’s too personal, people are probably going to ask me about it.’ But then I thought I have to put it out there as it was a process I was going through and I needed to get it out of my system. I figured there’d be so many people who can relate to that and for that reason alone it was a good enough reason to keep it and I’m really proud of this new record. I hope people love it as much as I do.”
Ladyhawke’s new album Anxiety is out now via Modular Records.