Musical Muse: Geek Out With Ladyhawke

One thing you may not know about Pip Brown (aka electro-pop sensation Ladyhawke) is that she’s sort of a geek. Maybe that shouldn’t be a surprise, considering she takes her nom de guerre from a '85 medieval fantasy movie starring Matthew Broderick, whose lover has been turned into an actual hawk. Then again, how many rock stars do you know that will talk video games, or Night of the Living Dead and Star Trek, over the course of an interview?
We recently caught up with Brown to talk about her dark, guitar-heavy sophomore album Anxiety, her homeland of New Zealand, and her favorite places to play. Oh, and also a her tour mascot, which just happens to be a Game of Thrones-inspired plastic dragon. Of course, it is.
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Your new album is titled Anxiety, and we can imagine that touring and recording must get super stressful at times. What are some ways you like to relax?
“I love watching films. So, just laying on the sofa or in bed with a good film — it actually doesn't even have to be a good film; sometimes, a really trashy, bad film — can be equally good entertainment value. I am also a massive gamer. I find it's an excellent source of escapism for me!”

Stussy shirt, AllSaints jeans, Night of the Living Dead T-shirt, and Doc Martens boots.

Photographed by Kate Cox
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Your video for “Black White and Blue” has you photographing an elaborate fashion shoot, but you also happened to have studied photography in real life, as well. What was it like pretending to be a photographer for the video? Do you get to do much shooting these days?
“It was really cool. It's been a long time since I've been in that sort of environment and around cameras that are old and cool. Everything's digital these days! I do miss taking photos. I don't really photograph things like I used to. I used to document everything I did, but that has fallen by the wayside a wee bit, which is a shame because it was something I got a lot of joy out of.”

"I'm a massive zombie fan ... have been for years. Night of the Living Dead was a landmark, trendsetting zombie film and one of my all time favorites — the shirt was essential. The necklace is by a New Zealand jewelry company called Deadly Ponies."

Photographed by Kate Cox
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As a New Zealander, what’s one place everyone who visits has to see?
“There are so many places. I don't even know where to start or how to narrow it down to one! Here are four places to start: two in the South Island and two in the North Island. Google image search these so you can get an idea of what I'm talking about. Okay, Milford Sounds in the South Island, Abel Tasman National Park Nelson [also] South Island, the Coromandel [on the] North Island, and Northland [also] North Island. Basically, anywhere on the coast is incredible; golden sand beaches, amazing weather. Northland is also home to Tane Mahuta, a giant Kauri Tree. It's really old, too."

"The toy dragon was my U.K. tour mascot. I was going through my Game of Thrones obsession at the time. He sat on the dashboard and looked over us."

Photographed by Kate Cox
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How would you describe the mood of the record compared to your first album? What inspired the record, musically or otherwise?
“It's definitely a rockier, darker record, but still very much a pop record. I guess it reflects what I was going through at the time. I was physically and emotionally burnt out after touring the first record for two years. I wasn't ready to start on the second album straight away, but there was a bit of pressure to.

I was also very much ready to explore something different sound-wise, and really wanted to utilize guitars more. I was listening to a whole lot of different stuff — the same bands and musicians I always listen to, really. But, it all inspired me in different ways to make this record. I was listening to a lot of Bowie, Nirvana, Hole, Beck, Garbage, Smashing Pumpkins, Joan Jett, Lou Reed, lots of random Brit pop — Blur, Pulp, The Charlatans. It was a real mixed bag of influences, but that sort of sums me up in a way!”

Vanishing Elephant shirt, green hat from a random hat shop in Toronto, AllSaints Damisi Boot.

Photographed by Kate Cox
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What three beauty items do you never forget to bring on tour?
“Hmm, I'm not too savvy on the whole beauty side of things, but I do have a couple of things I can't travel without. And this is about as girly as I will every get [laughs]! My eyeliner, mascara, and Bumble and Bumble Surf Spray.”

Nirvana shirt, men's AllSaints denim jacket, and Doc Martens Tadita Boots.

Photographed by Kate Cox
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Do you have a favorite city to play on tour? What’s your all-time favorite place to play?
“That's a tough question because I have a few favorites ... all for different reasons. Certain places have a high consistency of old friends residing there, so that always makes for a great show. Other places have great memories attached from previous shows and tours. London is always an incredible experience — it was the first city that really embraced me on a large scale, so I have a lot of emotional attachment to the place. The shows I play there are always, without a doubt, an incredible experience. The sort of stuff you remember for the rest of your life.

Melbourne is full of old and dear friends of mine, so those shows are always raucous and loud! And then L.A., for some reason, everytime I play there, I will have one of the best nights of my life — always great people, great rock venues to choose from, and awesome weather!”

"That's my Epiphone Casino. I don't often play it out at shows ... usually just at small acoustic performances. It's mostly my at-home guitar."

Photographed by Kate Cox
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What’s the best environment to listen to Anxiety? How would you recommend people experience the album?
“In my head, I always imagined it to be a summer record — great to listen to at a barbecue, or sitting outside having a drink with friends, maybe getting ready to go out somewhere.”

"The man cushions! These are a favorite of mine. They travel around the world with me to rest on the sofas of wherever I happen to be living. I have many more than just the ones pictured, as well. I found them about four years ago at a stall in the Brick Lane Market."

Photographed by Kate Cox
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How do you decide what to wear when you go out on stage? Do you mix up your outfits or stick with the same clothes night after night?
“I usually wear something easy to play in: black jeans, boots, T-shirt, shirt, etc. But, I get quite superstitious. If I've had a really good show, I have to wear that same outfit every show after that.”

Photographed by Kate Cox
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If you could go on tour with any artist, who would it be?
“I would love to go on tour with Jack White. He's incredible and a hero of mine — I think that would be an awesome tour. Also No Doubt! I was a huge fan when I was a teenager — I still am, and I love Gwen Stefani. I think touring with them would be a lot of fun.”

"I love toys and little collectible things. I have a storage space back in New Zealand full to the brim of fun stuff I have collected over the years. I only brought a suitcase with me when I moved back to London."

Photographed by Kate Cox
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What's your favorite cheap thrill you've recently scored?
“[laughs] This is kinda nerdy, but I just found a Star Trek: The Game collector's edition board game sealed in the original plastic for only $9 at a thrift store in north Hollywood! It made my day.”

Photographed by Kate Cox
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If your life had a theme song, what would it be?
“Hmm I think it would be “Help!" by The Beatles.”

"That bird was given to me as a housewarming gift by a very good friend of mine. It's very old, apparently. The photograph leaning up against the bird is an extremely old photo of the pink and white terraces in New Zealand, which were completely destroyed in 1886 by the eruption of Mount Tarawera. I also dig candles."

Photographed by Kate Cox

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