Av Niklas Krigslund, WiMP Sverige
Ladyhawke takes her name from the 1985 movie starring Michelle Pfeiffer but talking to her she evokes quite a different character portrayed by that same actress two years earlier. Specifically, Elvira Hancock, who bluntly tells Tony Montana to fuck off with that memorable line delivered on the dance floor in Scarface: ’Don’t call me ‘Baby’. I’m not your ‘Baby’’.
Back in 2008 when Pip Brown debuted she felt widely misunderstood mainly due to how the music business and audiences view female artists. She explains:
- When it all started somebody wrote that I was the Cindy Lauper of the American Apparel generation. That couldn’t be further from me! That’s not who I am at all. I’m not that girly pop type; I have a long history of playing in punk bands. I really felt like I had a lot more to prove because I am girl.
Three years on and she’s released her second album, Anxiety, which came out this month and features a slightly more distorted and guitar driven sound compared to its predecessor.
We talked to Pip Brown aka Ladyhawke about Russian distortion pedals, why she refuses to wear high heels and getting private messaged on Twitter by her idol Courtney Love.
What is about that distorted guitar sound you like?
- When I was thinking about the second record, I knew exactly what guitar sound I wanted to use. As a teenager I had this big green industrial pedal from Russia called Big Muff – it was the pedal you used when you wanted to have that grungy sound – and I wanted to recreate that.
What inspired you to push the guitars forward?
- Actually it was from staying in my old room in New Zealand. I hadn’t lived there for seven or eight years, but a while back I went there to stay at my parent’s house, which was really awesome, because I ended going through all my old music. I listened to a lot of old stuff, a lot of guitar music. Hole, Nirvana, a lot of Soundgarden, Stone Temple Pilots, Hendrix, David Bowie, Joan Jett, Garbage, Beck. Basically a mixture between guitar music from the seventies and nineties. It was really cool.
Your album got pushed back due to strategy concerns and generally there’s a lot of stuff going on in the business that has nothing to do with music. As an artist how do you feel about that?
- It’s weird. I really do try to maintain my personality and be exactly who I am. I keep myself quite separate. But it’s weird when labels start talking about my music as we. Our album is coming out and we need to shift units. It’s really weird when people talk about me as product. And they do it right in front of me! I’m a human being, you know.
When you came out you were categorized with other female artist like La Roux, Little Boots and Florence And The Machine even though the perhaps the only real thing you had in common were being solo artists and female. How did you feel about that?
- My first album was definitely different to all of those people so I was frustrated. I wasn’t the person the articles said I was. People didn’t know anything about me and I feel like it took me two years of touring to correct that. I think I was quite different from what people expect. I’m actually a bit of a tomboy. I never fit in that category. The same for others though. We’ve all proven otherwise.
Do you ever feel like you are being treated different because you’re a female artist? What are the stereotypes?
- It feels like I have to prove myself a little harder than a guy would. When a male artist making the same music comes out, people naturally assume he does it himself. With me everyone assumes the opposite. So yeah, I feel like I have to go the extra mile. I am a songwriter! I do write my own music! It gives me drive. I always have this drive to prove myself. But it makes me work hard and it’s like a fire in my belly that keeps me going. Once people see me they realize I can actually play.
Do you feel like female artist are more subject to stereotyping than male?
- If there’s an all girl rock band then it’s: ‘Oh my gosh! They’re girls!’ If it’s an all boys band, it’s taken for granted, that’s a band. That needs to change. People’s mindset need to change. It’s silly to think it’s weird for girls to do music, it gone on for long enough.
I’ve read that stylists often want to put you in high heels but you refuse. Why?
- I would never ever dress in high heels. The person I’m comfortable being is me. My stage clothes are my own. Doc Martens, jeans and a leather jacket. The last dress I wore was my school uniform. I don’t feel comfortable in dresses. It insults me when people try to dress me up. I’m a strong enough character that I don’t have to wear fancy clothes. I feel like I can make a strong statement without dressing up.
- Besides it’s my own image, and I only represent only myself. Not the stylist, not the record label or the magazine. It’s going to be me who’s letting myself down. You shouldn’t let other people boss you around!
Three albums that inspired Anxiety:
The Zombies – Odyssey & Oracle
- It’s quite psychedelic and it has beautiful harmonies. It’s a really cool record. I got it on vinyl maybe a month before I started doing the album.
Jefferson Airplane – Surrealistic Pillow
- I really love Grace Slick’s voice. She has intensity but still she sounds nonchalant. It’s really trippy and cool music.
Hole – Pretty On The Inside
This album’s always been on rotation. I’ve listened to it since I was a teenager. Courtney Love actually told me, that she liked my old album. She private messaged me on Twitter. I was like OMG, I’m such a big fan!