Ladyhawke’s latest single, ‘Mixed Emotions’, shares a number of similarities with the New Zealand artist’s breakthrough release, 2008’s ‘My Delirium’. For starters, they’re both pop songs, they’ll both be played live on her upcoming Australian tour, they’re both radio friendly and effortlessly melodic, and both have enough emotional depth and outré influences to appeal to indie audiences.
Lyrically, ‘Mixed Emotions’ is directed at a romantic partner who’s making things overly complicated by either coming on strong or being stubbornly aloof. It echoes the narrative slant of ‘My Delirium’, which explores the obsessive dependency brought about by infatuation.
But there’s a marked difference in how Ladyhawke’s Pip Brown responds to the unreliable romantic signalling at the heart of ‘Mixed Emotions’. See, while the narrator of ‘My Delirium’ is completely at the mercy of the one they desire, in ‘Mixed Emotions’, Brown’s words carry a sense of surety.
“I’m used to making a fight,” she sings in the song’s chorus. “You’re just my lover tonight, and we can make it tonight.”
Watch the official music video for Ladyhawke’s ‘Mixed Emotions’
‘Mixed Emotions’ follows Ladyhawke’s comeback single, ‘Guilty Love’, released this March. Both songs will appear on the artist’s upcoming fourth album, Time Flies, which is due out in October. The emotional maturity shown on ‘Mixed Emotions’ provides a clue to the immensity of life experience Brown’s piled up since releasing her previous record, 2016’s Wild Things.
Having spent years located between Sydney, Melbourne, London and Los Angeles, Brown moved back to Auckland in 2017 to be with her wife, actor and comedian Madeleine Sami. In October of that year, Brown gave birth to the couple’s first child and retreated from touring in order to commit herself to domestic duties.
But it wasn’t all wedding bells and nappy changes. Not only was Brown required to seek medical assistance for a severe case of postnatal depression, but in 2018, doctors discovered an invasive melanoma on the back of one of her legs.
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Brown withheld details of the ordeal until she’d been through treatment. “I’ve never been so scared in my life,” she wrote in an Instagram post from her hospital bed in September 2018. However, after the mole was cut out and one of Brown’s lymph nodes removed, she had good news: “I’ve been cleared of cancer.”
Time Flies was produced in the wake of these sobering experiences, but Brown didn’t want to make an album full of grim ruminations and doomsday panic. To the contrary, Time Flies is a celebratory affair created by a mother, wife, and world-renowned musician with no plans of abandoning their 15 year career.
Watch the official music video for Ladyhawke’s ‘My Delirium’
Ahead of an Australian headline tour this October, Tone Deaf spoke to Brown about the events that informed Time Flies, the album’s guest contributors and how she sees herself in 2021.
Tone Deaf: You’ve been through a lot since Wild Things came out. Do you think Time Flies reflects this period in an explicit way?
Pip Brown: Yeah. The record, to me, I can feel the freeness. It was a really heavy couple of years. I sort of came out the other side of that just feeling really lucky to be here and to be able to make music. So I sort of had this whole, like, “I just want to have fun. I don’t want to overthink anything.” I just feel so lucky to be doing this, so that’s sort of what I hear when I hear the record.
TD: ‘Guilty Love’ features guest vocals from Georgia Nott of Broods, who co-wrote the track with you and Tommy English. ‘Mixed Emotions’ was made with your old pals Nick Littlemore (Pnau, Empire of the Sun) and Jono Sloan (EOTS). Is there a lot of collaboration on Time Flies?
PB: Yeah, there is actually. I worked with Tommy on quite a few tracks and then Josh Fountain, who is responsible for the Benee stuff – he’s the producer on the Benee record and co-wrote with her – I met him when I wasn’t sure how I was going to finish the record and we just hit it off instantly and had great writing chemistry together. We were able to finish the record off together, writing four new tracks, which was awesome.
TD: Despite the fact you and Nick Littlemore have been working together for more than 15 years and you’ve featured on multiple Pnau songs, ‘Mixed Emotions’ is the first Ladyhawke song you’ve done together. Is that right?
PB: Yeah, that is. We’ve done stuff together, just me and him, with the intention of it going somewhere, but it’s never gone anywhere. What I liked about these sessions that I did with Nick was that there was no real pressure for anything. We were just having fun and then when ‘Mixed Emotions’ was finished, Nick was like, “This is a Ladyhawke song for sure.”
I love that it wasn’t for a Ladyhawke session. It was really freeing. We were just having fun and Jono had an awesome bass hook and it was just a really fun song to write.
TD: The lyrics in ‘Guilty Love’ are, to my reading, about being made to feel shame for your queer identity. What led you and Georgia to write about this topic?
PB: Me and Tommy and Georgia were just hanging out chatting and we discovered that all three of us had been brought up Catholic and gone to Catholic school. Me and Georgia started swapping stories and it just became apparent that both of us had been really affected by the teachings within the school and the expectations that were placed on us as women and young girls. And so we were like, “This is what the song has to be about.”
You get sort of made to feel like a freak. You’re still discovering yourself when you’re a teenager and the potential for being queer was not a possibility. You’re going to go to hell, basically. Don’t tell anyone, because you’ll get mocked and made fun of. Keep it a secret, it’s embarrassing, it’s shameful. That’s the sort of way I felt and that’s the sort of burden that I carried for years.
Georgia had her own story as far as what it meant to be a woman and how she should act with a man and all that sort of stuff. I know that it really messed her up as well, so we used our shared experiences blended into one song about guilty love.
TD: When you knew you were going to make a new Ladyhawke record, were you compelled to think about where you fit in the context of contemporary pop music?
PB: It’s a weird one. That’s always there and everyone has an opinion and everyone loves to tell you about where you fit in, or if you even fit in anymore. Like, “Where’s this Ladyhawke person with a kid and a wife, who had postnatal depression and deals with trying to find time for music and being a mother, where does this person fit in in the scope of the music industry now, if at all?” All that stuff went through my head.
I got to this point where I was like, “I just don’t give a fuck anymore.” I’ve said it before: if I was a doctor, there’s no way I’d stop being a doctor just because of my age or certain things that have happened in my life. I would carry on. This is something I have to do and it’s my job and it’s something I really enjoy.
Time Flies East Coast Tour
Wed 27 Oct, 2021 The Triffid, Brisbane – 18+
Thu 28 Oct, 2021 Miami Marketta, Gold Coast – 18+
Fri 29 Oct, 2021 Factory Theatre, Sydney – 18+
Sun 31 Oct 2021 Factory Theatre, Sydney – 18+
Thu 04 Nov, 2021 Corner Hotel, Melbourne – 18+
Fri 05 Nov, 2021 Corner Hotel, Melbourne – 18+ (SOLD OUT)