Ladyhawke Faces Days Past on ‘Time Flies’

Ladyhawke (Photo: Lula Cucchiara)

Videos by American Songwriter

Videos by American Songwriter

A rush of nostalgia fell over Pip Brown flying back into Los Angeles, a place she had called home for many years. The New Zealand artist, known better as Ladyhawke, had returned to work on a new album, her first in nearly a decade, and the homesick feeling of a place she once called home led her right to the title track of her fourth album. “Time Flies” planted the 10 remaining tracks, fixed around reflections of love and longing, low states, and lighter days.

Reminiscing on past times and present days, Time Flies dances around memories, hardship, and all the in-betweens of Brown’s life since the 2016 release of Wild Things. Brown gave birth to her daughter Billie Jean with New Zealand actress, comedian, and director Madeleine Sami, in 2017, all while coping with ongoing mental health struggles and a cancer scare.

Cascading down ’80s pop and new wave orchestrations and Brown’s reverent lyrics, “My Love” is a retro-pop ode to rejection lighting the necessary fire within. Fitting the more old-school tome of Time Flies, Ladyhawke even released a video game available for play on the now discontinued Nintendo Gameboy system, leading players through each track.

Time Flies encapsulates times past on the toastier synth of “Time Flies”—Don’t know how the time flies / Right into the sky / Carry us home / Where we belong—and lovelorn disco-dive of “Think About You” and the bass-heavy “Mixed Emotions,” the latter track written with Jono Sloan and Nick Littlemore during an LA writing session. “The song is about all the things you can feel with one person, sometimes all in a single day,” says Brown, “[the] ups and downs, confusion, highs and lows, and everything in between.” 

Brown adds, “I love that people can bring their own experiences to a song and make it relate to them in a certain way. I try and make songs like that. I don’t like to make it too specific when I’m writing a story. I like to leave it a little vague so people can have their own way with it.”

Georgia Nott of New Zealand sibling duo BROODS joins on the electrified anthem “Guilty Love”—your my new religion and I’m never gonna give you up—as Time Flies glides through more serious notes on “Take It Easy Mama,” a song dedicated to Brown’s hard-working mother. “When I left for my second trip to the states, she got sick, and it really scared me,” says Brown. “I just remember saying, ‘you just got to take it easy on yourself.’ It made me reflect on myself as a mom, but it’s a song about our mums.”

By the time Brown started to write Time Flies, and began trekking back and forth to Los Angeles in mid-2019 to work with producer Tommy English, who also worked on her 2016 release Wild Things, she was already had a newfound sense of freedom and gratefulness to be alive and making music again. 

“When I first started writing, I was just so excited to be able to even do music,” says Brown. “I’m grateful because I’d been through a hard couple of years of postnatal depression after having my daughter, and I was diagnosed with melanoma in 2008, so I was in this whole new mindset of ‘I’m so glad I’m here, and I’m feeling really good,’ so it started off like that.”

Tracking demos throughout 2019, Brown was set to return to LA in April of 2020 but remained in New Zealand once COVID hit and continued working on the album on Zoom, writing four additional tracks with Josh Fountain, London (Pascal Gabriel), and Jeremy Toy.

‘Time Flies’ Cover

“It was sort of all in pieces, but I loved the way it came together,” says Brown. “It is a real reflection on the current state of the world. Some people just can’t write on Zoom, and it was a little bit of a challenge. I love being in a room with the person I’m writing with, but I also like sitting on my own and tinkering away.”

In 2008, Ladyhawke, which birthed her first hit “My Delirium,” was a cleaner slate, says Brown. “I wasn’t completely unknown,” she says. “I didn’t know anything. I hadn’t been yet burned by the industry, and my spirit hadn’t been crushed yet. This record felt almost like a little musical rebirth, straight back to just embracing my other side, the dance-y stuff, synthier, and funkier stuff, leaning into it a bit with the retro sounds and the grainy vibes that I love. I know grain is a visual thing, but imagine it in a sound.”

For Brown, Time Flies is the clearest reflection of the music she loves most. “I’ve got real broad music tastes,” she says. “I love everything, and I feel like everything with this record was taking me back to the way I was when I made my first record for different reasons.”

Now, 14 years since Ladyhawke, Brown still works through her struggles, but music and motherhood are her empowerment.

“Your whole world shifts,” says Brown of being a mother. “My focus isn’t on me anymore. You’re not selfish anymore. I used to be wrapped up in my own b.s., really self-centered sort of stuff. Having a kid, everything completely changes and you’re worrying if she’s okay, or if she’s hungry. The stress never stops. My mom told me ‘you’ll be anxious about her now for the rest of your life.’”

Phot by Lula Cucchiara

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