New Zealand musician: Ladyhawke - Pip Brown

Ladyhawke – aka Pip Brown – was New Zealand's hottest musical export in 2009.

Ladyhawke - aka Pip Brown - was New Zealand''s hottest musical export in 2009.

The young Kiwi musician, who has a voice that mixes Stevie Nicks and Debbie Harry, made her name with a hit single Paris is Burning - one of five single tracks released from her self-titled debut album.

The album Ladyhawke, released in September 2008, was loaded with original tracks sending the artist into the British and international pop charts.

Early years in Masterton
Phillipa "Pip" Brown was born in 1979 in Masterton, and grew up in the small provincial town in New Zealand’s Wairarapa region - famed for vineyards, award-winning wine and cute colonial towns.

With a stepfather who was a jazz drummer and a singer / guitarist mother, Brown’s early years were surrounded by music.

She learned to play the drums at 11, then went on to teach herself the guitar, bass and synthesiser in her early teenage years and joined the Masterton town brass band as a percussionist.

"My step-dad was the band leader, and my sisters were scattered about on various other instruments. Not very cool I know, but in my eyes it was some serious fun," Brown says.

Brown had an unusual childhood as she suffered various illnesses and allergies that kept her in and out of hospital.

At the age of 10 she contracted erysipeloid, a disease that is common in seagulls but had not been seen in humans in New Zealand for 20 years. Her allergies to antibiotics, penicillin, and antihistamines complicated treatment efforts and put her in a coma when she came close to dying.

Brown, who also has Asperger syndrome, credits the large amount of her childhood spent absorbed in music to the syndrome.

Two Lane Blacktop
By the time she was 16, Brown was playing in heavy grunge bands at school and wanting to start her own band - "the louder, the better - being in tune didn''t even matter."

Brown finished school at 18, then moved to Wellington where she formed a band called ‘Two Lane Blacktop’. The band earned a strong following in New Zealand, regularly toured Australia and also performed in the United States.

After personal differences led to the band breaking up on the eve of a big Australian tour with ‘Modey Lemon’, Brown decided to go it alone and flew to Melbourne with no money and only a suitcase and a guitar.

"I was homeless, penniless and band-less," she says.

Brown was invited to join Nick Littlemore as a guitarist in a new band called ‘Teenager’.

She played with ‘Teenager’ for two years before moving to Sydney to be closer to song-writing friends. It was during this period, she says, that the Ladyhawke persona emerged and slowly began to take over her life.

"I started Ladyhawke out of a desire to do my own project where I could completely express myself in any way I wanted without having to answer to bandmates."

Hit singles
Ladyhawke is best known for her hit singles Paris Is Burning, and My Delirium.

Her debut album Ladyhawke was released on Modular Recordings in September 2008, and in November 2008 she won Australian Aria Awards for ''Best Breakthrough'' single and album.

Musical influences
Ladyhawke says she draws from many influences but has tried to "recreate the same vibe that so many amazing records of the 70''s and 80''s produced."

Vintage synths are a feature in Ladyhawke’s music. She credits the "big production, big synths, and big guitar riffs" of eighties music for making an everlasting impression on her own music.

Ladyhawke is also influenced by pop-culture in music, art, media, television, movies and "everything that bombarded my senses growing up and to this day."

Pip Brown and Ladyhawke are two sides of one coin, she says.

"She is an incredibly important part of my personality. As primarily, above all else, a songwriter, I only ever wanted to create something that evoked feelings. I hope that Ladyhawke does.

"We were all once teenagers, listening to music at full volume, jumping on the bed with the door shut," she says.

Ladyhawke lives in the UK and is working on her second album.

More information:

Ladyhawke nominated for 2010 Brit Awards

Ladyhawke swoops home with six Tuis

Ladyhawke’s New Zealand video