November 2024

Collecting Cool

Words: & Images: Sarah Larnach

You don’t get much cooler than being hailed as a pop musician, and all the while not acting obviously ‘pop’. Wearing a dress made of balloons to an awards is acting pop, wearing jeans to an awards is not acting… case in point, see Ladyhawke wearing jeans to the New Zealand Music Awards, and not having a costume change for her live performance, and then scooping the pool.

When I was wee (that’s how we say it in NZ), I thought that Cindy Lauper was the shit, and Madonna was the bad kind of shit.  In retrospect, I had a whole like/hate list of reasons why one of them qualified as cool, and the other was just so un-cool by my pre-pubescent standards. As we know, stuff you liked when you were a kid often becomes stuff you obsess over as an adult; for me it’s dinosaurs and The Labyrinth, for others it might be robots and computer games. For Pip Brown, the alter ego of Ladyhawke, it’s the games. And, when I apply my Cindy Lauper checklist to Pip, she totally scores at the top of the cool meter. Wore jeans to the New Zealand Music Awards. Check.

Between tours of the U.S. and Australasia, Pip was taking it easy and keeping below the radar. I didn’t have the heart to interrupt her well-earned exile into Liberty City, but finally I accosted her on the eve of her first New Zealand show with a few lighthearted questions…

Sarah Larnach: A few months ago I crashed your holiday in L.A and we spent a lot of time watching TV shows, playing arcade games, and searching out dairy-free food. With those interests in mind, which of these sidelines would you pick if given the option between: A) A celebrity reviewer for a gaming magazine, B) Playing yourself in concert, on The Simpsons, or C) Spokesperson for a dairy-free cheese?

Pip Brown: Playing myself on The Simpsons! You know you’ve made it when you get to cameo yourself on The Simpsons. You’re at your careers pinnacle.

SL: I would love to see you in a gaming mag too, being queen of the geeks or something. What are your favourite games of all time?

PB: That’s too hard! I hate this question, and being put on the spot to name my ‘All-Time Favourite’…

SL: Yeah sorry, I guess it’s an interviewer cop-out…

PB: Well probably Alex Kidd in the Enchanted Castle for the Sega Mega Drive would be my all time favourite game. But at the moment I’m really obsessed with Grand Theft Auto IV. It’s got all these features, like the morality choices where you choose to be good or bad; you can hire prostitutes; have sex; you can use mobile phones; play multiplayer… like turf wars….

SL: You have several great collections of stuff – cameras, records, Simpsons, games. What is your best collection, or the one you’re most obsessed with?

PB: Yeah it’s definitely my gaming consoles and games. I have some good classic ones from when I was a kid, Master systems and NES and Gameboys. I would like to have a room where I can just have them set up all the time, with several TV screens – era-appropriate TV’s! Like some old wood paneled ones…

SL: Oh yeah! That’s totally what my TV was like when we hired Nintendo when I was a kid. Now, you have some well-earned holiday time coming up, is that what you want to do with your time off? Hole up and play video games?

PB: I do… but where? I don’t know where I want to be. I’m just going to get a car and drive around and really explore a lot of places [in New Zealand] this summer. I would like to have a place to go to, but I just don’t know where.  Probably somewhere near the beach? I want to have all my games set up, that would be cool.  But I really want somewhere to set up a studio.

SL: I’ve known you for a while, but I can’t recall you ever mentioning another career you might have wanted, like when you were a kid. Was there one? I know you went to design school for photography, but is that what you wanted to do?

PB: I always wanted to make music but I was really into photography [at university] and that hasn’t changed. (Pip still takes heaps of photos- whenever I meet up with her I have to copy all the pictures she’s taken, ‘cause she documents like a maniac – Sarah)

I just want to make my studio and get in to it and just do a lot of songwriting. I would really like to compose, and maybe do score for a film. I have always wanted to work in film – I studied cinema at design school, so it’s not like this is a new thing. I guess I would really like to produce something, I’d like to make a documentary. That’s what I would really like to work on in the future.

SL: Well that takes care of my questions about what you want to do music wise next – but how about a retirement hobby?  I’m fishing for you to mention a bar here…

PB: Ha. Nah, I’m always going to make music. I will have a studio… and yeah, I would like to have a bar, like a pub, one day for sure too. It will be a quiet little kind of set up. I’d like to have heaps of classic arcade games, all my favourites, and new ones too. And just heaps of cool stuff to look at, like my collections. And loads of photos on the walls, like one of those places you love to go to ‘cause it’s just so interesting. But hey! I don’t want to say too much… I am giving away all my good stuff here!

SL: I totally want to go to that pub! Thanks for letting me interview you Pip… I promise never to cross the line between friend and journalist again!

PB: Naw it was ok. It’s cool. just don’t miss-quote me!

Ladyhawke is touring nationally from November 5

Next Article: Misha Hollenbach – Art Hole