Ladyhawke soars high

'I have been called weird my whole life – I know I am.'
'I have been called weird my whole life – I know I am.'

SITTING hunched on a stool, nervously playing with the sleeve of her scruffy jacket, Ladyhawke doesn't look like an international popstar.


And, as she speaks about her love of computer games, her dislike of showbiz events, her multiple allergies and her lack of money, she certainly doesn't sound like a singer whose fans include Kylie Minogue and Courtney Love.

Ladyhawke sits nervously backstage before the Music Awards.
Ladyhawke sits nervously backstage before the Music Awards.

The musician, whose real name is Pip Brown, admits she is far from conventional.

"I have been called weird my whole life – I know I am," she says with a shy smile. "Most of my friends are kind of a little bit weird in their own right too."

Highly acclaimed in the UK, the girl from Masterton also won recognition at Thursday's New Zealand Music Awards where she picked up six Tuis for best female artist, best album, best dance/electronic album, best single for My Delirium, breakthrough artist of the year and she shared the International Achievement award with Brooke Fraser.

Speaking backstage at the Vector Arena before the awards, Ladyhawke admits she has found it tough being largely ignored by the nation of her birth while lauded in the UK, Europe and the US.

"It is kind of a bit disheartening when you know your own country doesn't give two s**ts about you," she tells Sunday News.

"But it's just the way it is. If people in New Zealand want to like my music they will, but I'm not going to push anyone into liking me."

She said later after accepting two Tuis for her self-titled album, which went gold in New Zealand, "I feel like I don't deserve this award. This is blowing my mind ... I'm not very good with words ... I'm so stoked."

Growing up in the Wairarapa with a mum and stepfather who are both musical, Ladyhawke could play the drums, guitar, bass and synth by the age of 14. She went on to join her local brass band as a percussionist, and by the time she was 16 she was playing in grunge groups at school.

At 18 she moved to Wellington and enjoyed some success with Two Lane Blacktop, who toured in the US, but "personal differences" resulted in a split and she headed over the ditch to Melbourne.

There she became one half of experimental duo Teenager while developing her dream of going it alone under the name of 1980s movie Ladyhawke – "Pip Brown sounded kinda lame".

Relocating to London, her 80s-influenced electro-pop caught the public imagination, and hits Paris Is Burning, Dusk til Dawn and My Delirium prompted huge demand for her to play at gigs and festivals across Europe including Glastonbury.

Her reluctance to publicise herself has only increased her allure. "I'm not good in interviews at all. I'm quite shy so I think I always come across different to what I'm actually like."

"In the UK anything I got invited to, any fashion thing or party, I would rarely go, and, if I did, I would never walk down the red carpet, I would find another way in, I don't like the attention," she says, flinching when the photographer takes a picture.

The self-confessed tomboy has long refused to wear women's clothes, revealing she "hates stylists" and insisting, "You don't need to dress like a slut to be feminine".

Displaying some fire under the timid demeanour, she continues: "I have been staunch from the word go that this is my life and my career and no one is going to tell me what to do. No one can tell me how to dress, how to act, who to be, I just am who I am."

In July, Ladyhawke celebrated her 30th birthday and admits her growing years are an "ongoing issue" as in her mind she is forever a 23-year-old.

She battles with stage fright, often vomiting before shows, and her allergies, which include antibiotics and dairy products, make it difficult for her on the road.

Currently single, the tall, slim blonde admits it would be difficult to maintain a relationship. "It's really hard...I'm never not touring so it is impossible," she says awkwardly. "I do get lonely on the road. I just did a month tour of the States and it was horribly lonely the whole time. But I call my mum quite a lot and I just entertain myself on the internet, play games and listen to music."

It was homesickness, as well as the Music Awards and an Australasian tour, that brought Ladyhawke back to New Zealand, where she will be based at least until her appearance in Big Day Out.

"I can never stop travelling, there's something about me that I can't really stay in one place too long. But New Zealand is home. I'd like to buy a place here when I get some money together, although you can't really make money in music unless you're Britney Spears."

Sunday News