LADYHAWKE – Freiheit als Neuanfang

Foto-© Lula Cucchiara

Das vergangene Jahr fühlt sich für Ladyhawke wahrhaftig wie eine Wiedergeburt an. Nach jahrelangen gesundheitlichen Problemen, in denen die Musikerin aus Neuseeland erfolgreich ihre Hautkrebs-Erkrankungen und eine Wochenbett-Depressionen besiegte, fand Pip Brown 2019 wieder Halt und Kraft im Schreiben von Songs für ihr neues, viertes Album und ein damit verbundenes Gefühl von Freiheit. Time Flies erschien am 19. November bei BMG.

Wir haben im September mit Ladyhawke per Zoom gesprochen. Im Interview spricht sie darüber, warum sich das neue Album auch für sie wie ein Comeback anfühlt, obwohl sie nie wirklich aufgehört hat, Musik zu machen. Außerdem sprechen wir über das Gefühl der Freiheit, Nostalgie und wie sie damit umgeht, dass sich ihr Leben seit ihrem letzten Album dramatisch verändert hat. Sie berichtet von den persönlichen Geschichten hinter Take It Easy Mama und Guilty Love, was sie auf ihren Anfängen vermisst und warum Twitch ihr eine neue und zur Abwechslung schöne Seite von Social Media gezeigt hat.

Congratulations on your new album! In September 2020 you announced to publish your first new music as Ladyhawke since 2016. How nerve-wracking was it to write that post?
I had been eager for it for a long time, but everything had slowed down because of Covid. So, to be able to finally announce that I was putting out new music was exciting and a relief.

Time Flies is often called a comeback album. Does it feel like that for you, too? You have been present with your music through collaborations for example, you did not completely stop working.
I understand why people would think that. And also, for me so much has happened in that space of time that was not music. I have gone through a lot of things in my personal life. In a way it feels like I have come full circle again and it started again from the beginning. That is how it felt with this record ‒ like a new beginning. That has been great to be honest.

The record sounds like a fresh start, too ‒ very free and light. Yet, the years leading up to it have been scary at times as you mentioned. One recurring motif is freedom, what does that mean to you?
It is abandoning my anxiety and abandoning all the restraints I have put on myself overthinking everything and stressing too much. With this record all of that was out of the window. I was feeling so lucky making music. I remember my first writing trip to LA, sitting there with Tommy [English] and thinking that I am so glad and happy to be there. I had nothing in mind that I was going to write about. I did not know what the themes were going to be. I did not know what it was going to sound like. I was an open book. I remember saying, “Let’s just have fun and whatever comes out comes out”. I think that attitude shaped the feeling of the record.

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Are this openness and your excitement the reasons why you have so many collaborations on the record?
Yes, it did not start out like that. I intended to do the entire record with Tommy. When I was in LA on my second trip, my old friends Nick Littlemore and John Slowman were working together a lot. They asked me if we wanted to meet and make music and see what comes out. I had a great time at the studio with those guys and one of the tracks that came out was Mixed Emotions. Nick instantly said that it was a Ladyhawke song. I was very stoked; it came about by accident. I think just being open to it was really good for me. I also ended up working with Chris Stracey. He is an awesome Australian producer from an electronic duo called Bag Raiders. They used to be on the Modular crew back in the day, when I was on Modular [Recordings] with Tame Impala and a whole bunch of other bands. They have been around forever. We did Take It Easy Mama together. I went back to New Zealand and was about to go back to the States when it all had to get cancelled in April last year. I had to wreck my brain what I was going to do. I ended up meeting the producer Josh Fountain. I am a big fan of his. We met and headed off like old mates instantly. This also just came about organically, which I love. Nothing was put together by any industry. I love working with people and I love collaborating.

Take It Easy Mama is a song that stands out from the rest of the record. You talk about being a mother. You are in a very different situation now than when you started making music. Does that reflect in your work?
Definitely, yes. Take It Easy Mama is a song written directly from my own experience. I was diagnosed with postnatal depression. I really struggled for the first two years of my daughter’s life. At the same time my own mum got quite sick and got me a bit of a scare. I had this time when I was reflecting on mums: myself, my friends who are mums, my own mum. I was feeling so passionate and emotional about it and that is how this song came about. How tired you feel, how hard you work, how you have so much love to give. A lot of my own personal experience that I have been through seeped into the record.

The new album highlights many different facets of being a woman: motherhood, love, but also anger, unfair treatment, and internalized shame. Guilty Love really stuck with me for that. Can you tell us more about it?
I wrote Guilty Love with Georgia [Nott] from the Broods and Tommy. Me and Tommy had a song we were working on. It was not getting finished and I was running out of ideas for it. We have been meaning to work with Georgia for a long time and she just came over. We ended up not even listening to the track, we just sat and talked. We discovered that all three of us have been brought up catholic and went to a catholic school. Me and Georgia started to realize how much it had shaped our lives as young adults going into our twenties. How much of a messy effect it had on both of us in a different way, but also in the same way. I remember her jumping up and saying, “We have to write a song about catholic guilt”. And I was with her on that and both of us brought our experiences into the song. It is a personal one for me and Georgia.

The record is called Time Flies. Perfect title in a time where the world seems to be always changing and yet standing still. Did your concept of time change over the years and over making the record?
Time has always been an interesting concept to me. I have had a lifelong thing with my very poor concept of time. I used to live in LA, but I flew back for my very first writing sessions for the record. It was my first time back since having my daughter and we went as a family. I remember being on the plane and looking out of the window and feeling this real nostalgia for being back in my old home. That is where the song itself came from: that feeling yearning in nostalgia for a place you used to live. When I finished the entire record quite a few people kept saying to me, “Wow, it has been five years, it has been a long time”. And I had to call the record Time Flies. It is a bit tongue in cheek and I thought it suited the record perfectly and the crazy times being in and out of lockdown and not knowing what day it is.

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The lockdown brought you to use Twitch and find a new community online. Did it change your view on social media?
I have always struggled with social media. I felt very exposed and open to anyone to say anything to me without thinking about how it might affect me. I am quite sensitive. I had years of being very angry at social media. It does not matter what you do, there is always someone who finds a reason to hate you or who wants to bring you down. I take all those things to heart, so I turned my back on social media for a long time. Twitch introduced me to Discord and through streaming I got this amazing community. These amazing humans that come into my streams every time since the very first time and we hang out at Discord. There is a gaming group of four of us girls. They used to be my mods on Twitch, and we have all become really close friends. We chat every day and it opened up my whole world and made me realize that I have been yearning for that contact with people who love music and gaming as much as me. And it has done that to me.

It is remarkable what social media is capable of in both ways. That is something that would have been unthinkable when you first started Ladyhawke. The job of being an artist has changed dramatically. Is there something you miss or something you definitely don not miss from your early days?
Now there is such an emphasis on content and that was not the way when I put my first record out. It was so different. There was no push for content. If there was content, it was specific for something, it was planned. I do miss that. Now, people just want to put out content for content’s sake.

So it was more curated? With a bigger distance between you as a person and the artist Ladyhawke?
Yes. If you wanted a little tour video for example. You could film it all, put it together and release it as a special thing. Now, everything happens in the moment and there is an expectation of that as well. People want that. Me doing Twitch has eased me into that mentally a little bit better. It is my preferred platform now, because I understand how it works. One of the great things about it are the mods. They protect you from trolls. There is no other social media that has that. That is why I really value my mods. They do it for free and they do it because they love you and they want to help. They wave out some awful things before I or any young people who might be watching get a chance to see it.

It really shows that being an artist is a job, but also a life choice. It means being a public figure. Does the public part become easier or harder when you are getting older?
When you are in your twenties, you do not think about anything. You are just in the moment. At least I was like that and just doing what I was doing. I was pretty wild and did not think about those sorts of things. As I have gotten older, I have gotten a lot more patient and careful. It comes with age.

What is your vision for the future of Ladyhawke?
I do not know! I see myself doing this for as long as I can. I keep doing what I do, and I just want to keep writing music. I would love to do music for film sets, that is something I wanted to do for a long time. Just continuing as me is the plan for now.

Sounds like a good plan. Thank you for the interview!

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