Many might know Pip Brown — a.k.a. New Zealand-born Ladyhawke — as a pop personality with a dead-on ear for monster hooks. Her synth-packed work is so propulsive, and her live vocals so urgent, that it’s quite surprising just how soft-spoken Brown actually is in person.
Meeting me for coffee in New York, the 36-year-old has given up alcohol and gotten married since releasing her sophomore album (2012’s Anxiety). She appears content to let me lead the conversation — that is, until I comment on the Sideshow Bob pin affixed to her denim lapel. Her face lights up as we launch into a conversation about adult-oriented television cartoons. “I’ve got a whole [set of pins] — all the characters,” she says. “I’m a massive Simpsons fan.”
Turns out Brown — who will release her third record, Wild Things, on June 3 via Polyvinyl — has a bevy of other non-music-related hobbies and interests: gaming, cooking, and watching the X-Files being just a few. Below, Brown fills us in on a handful of things we never knew about her.
I got my name from a 1985 fantasy film.
I came up with the name “Ladyhawke” two years before playing my first show, in 2008. I was like, “Ah, this is such a good name, I’ve got to register it.” It just felt right. And the movie’s amazing, [starring] Michelle Pfeiffer.
I believe in aliens.
I used to get out books from the library, anything to do with the paranormal. [I’d read] those classic books that would have photographs [with captions] like, “This is the floating nun in the garden from the convent in 1920,” or something. [Laughs.] I would really scare myself and have nightmares. And the next massively influential thing for me was the X-Files — it changed my life. I have a ten-disc box set I got for Christmas a few years ago. I just always loved aliens and sci-fi, anything to do with UFOs.
I got to sit in on a table read for a Simpsons episode.
[Show creator] Matt Groening welcomed me to L.A. and signed my script. So did [Bart Simpson voice actor] Nancy Cartwright.
Simpsons is a comfort for me [because] it’s always on TV. The Simpsons changed everything— South Park is influenced by the Simpsons, and it’s always recognized by Family Guy. [Seth MacFarlane] takes a lot of his jokes straight from Simpsons episodes.
Bob’s Burgers is one of my favorites. I think actually Bob’s Burgers is the most intelligent adult animated cartoon on TV right now.
I find museums really intense.
I want to see all the stuff, but I want there to be no people. My favorite [museum] is the Natural History Museum in London. It’s so good but it’s impossible to go to ‘cause there’s always lines of kids. If you have bad anxiety like I do, it’s the worst place to go, but it’s where I want to be and it’s really annoying. [Laughs.]
I love Disneyland.
I’ve been there nine times — I cry from happiness every time I walk up to the entrance and hear their theme song. I can’t do parks like Six Flags — it’s too scary — but Disneyland I can do, I love it. I go on every single ride; Space Mountain’s my favorite.
I’m a sucker for buying merchandise.
I’m a consumer. Like, I’m not a sporty person, but the times I’ve been to a sports game, I’ve bought everything — an entire uniform, basically. I [also] have this Goofy hat that I have to wear every time I go to Disneyland. I’ve got a lot of Disney stuff, actually. I’ve got all the Mickey ears: the R2-D2 Mickey ears, Buzz Lightyear Mickey ears, I’ve got the classic Mickey ears, and my name embroidered on the back. I bought all of them.
I’m a massive gamer.
I was a Sega kid. I obsessed over a game called Wonder Boy III: The Dragon’s Trap. [But] the game that’s blown me away the most in my entire life is The Last of Us, which is a PlayStation-only game. It’s about this guy and this young girl who sort of learn together in this survival scenario. But it’s so immersive — it’s like you’re watching a film or something. I’ve played it four times all the way through. It’s by the same people who make the Uncharted series [for PlayStation], and now they’re about to release Uncharted 4, which I’m waiting for [Editor’s note: Uncharted 4 has been released in the time since this interview].
I enjoy cooking.
It’s funny, when it’s just me and my wife, I cook, like, for ten people by mistake. I always cook for a huge family, and it’s just the two of us. I cook probably four to five times a week, usually. I’m at that point where I don’t even have kids and I’m thinking like, “Ooh, what new thing can I cook to spice things up in the kitchen to make it exciting for everyone?”
I’m really bad at going out and meeting people.
I wish I was good at it, ’cause I’ve lived [in L.A. for] three years and I haven’t made any friends. [Laughs.] It’s a bit annoying. I was the same in London. My only friends were the guys in my band. I didn’t really make any other friends. It’s just the way I am.
Living in Los Angeles has changed my life.
It’s a great place to be if you want to get healthy and stop feeling bitter. It’s like a giant suburb, but it’s all really spread out. It’s been really good for me. I quit drinking — every song on the album is about how I quit drinking.
Living in a place like L.A., the sunshine really came through in my songwriting. And working with somebody who was genuinely excited to work with me, not just me excited to work with him. I met [producer] Tommy [English] through a friend. I used him to record my vocals for a few things, and the first time he heard me sing, he told me he really liked my singing voice. I had never heard that from a producer before. The fact that he was so complimentary — he was excited to write, and made me excited to write.