For the past three years Pip Brown (aka Ladyhawke) has been lying relatively low on the musical radar. And as she makes her big return – second album Anxiety, a headline tour and a couple of massive festival dates up her sleeve – she can’t shake the feeling we might not remember her. “I was thinking, ‘It’s been so long, people may sort have forgotten who I was’,” she confesses to Time Out, adding there’s anxiety, true, and “a bit of insecurity”. With sold-out shows across the UK and Australia and the album making it’s way up the iTunes charts, it’s clear it’s all worry for nought. We remember Ladyhawke, and so does everyone else.
But is Wellington-born Pip Brown still the same cool indie popette we remember? Well, some things are the same. For starters, she’s still got those heavily lined eyes, her untamed blonde hair and that grungy dress sense. She’s still with the same touring band and producer Pascal Gabriel is still behind her. And Pip’s also kept her friend, artist and creative collaborator Sarah Larnach on board. “I wouldn’t be here with out her. She brings like a visual aspect to who I am. She views me differently to how anyone views me”.
As for the music, though, Anxiety switches dancefloor beats for something a little rockier. On the new disc, Pip wears her influences on her sleeve with Bowie-esque second single ‘Sunday Drive’, complete with thumping pianos and big percussion. She says if she could have personally penned any album from history herself, it would have been Bowie’s ’71 release, Hunky Dory. Anxiety also shows another side of Ms Hawke with ballads like ‘Cellophane’, and at other times hews more closely to her pop roots with the likes of ‘Black, White & Blue’ and the chant-worthy ‘Blue Eyes’. As well as Bowie, you’ll hear smatterings of bands from her youth, like Smashing Pumpkins, whom Pip is desperate to see when they come down under to play alongside her at Splendour. “I’m hoping that things work in my favour for once and I get to see Jack White and the Smashing Pumpkins. But it never works out like that!”
Even though this isn’t her first time playing Splendour (she played with Teenager back in 2007) it doesn’t mean the nerves get any easier. "Festivals are odd. They can be the most fun to play and also the most nerve-racking. Not because of all the people – well yes, because of all the people – but also because what freaks me out is you don’t get a sound check and it could all completely off the cuff and go down hill.”
Pre-show jitters aren’t the only thing racking her nerves. Her aptly titled new album comes loaded with three years of anticipation, and we all know that critics can be tough when they’ve been left waiting. “I’m really excited that it’s out in now, but it’s still pretty scary. There is always that big question mark over it. And it all just adds to the nerves.”
Another change for Pip – as for the whole world – has been the way she keeps in contact with her fans. Far from her humble Myspace days posting the rough demos that sparked her solo career, Ladyhawke is now digitally present in every sort of channel. Twitter, Facebook and she even has her own snazzy app, complete with Instagram integration, album streaming andtour listings. “It’s actually really useful for me, I never know my tour dates!”
Yet, for all her saviness with modern tech, Pip opts for something a little ancient when we ask – rather randomly, we admit – what animal she’d be if she hadn’t chosen a hawk. “I reckon I’d like to be a pterodactyl – a total bad ass flying creature… And scare people.” Then she stops to think. “Not that I want to scare people at all – I’d be a nice pterodactyl!”