Pip Brown is a popstar from New Zealand, she has been around for a very long time, and stayed under the radar in the states, until I got a hold of her music, and fell in love, but I’m too late and too straight as she is gay, and married. So I will have to love her hand her music from afar.
Brown’s music is reminiscent of so many eras, and production styles, you’ll find yourself going all over pop music history while listening to her catalog. She recently released an album ‘Time Flies’ and has given us many LGBTQ stories through her videos. I hope that some young people out there find some hope and inspiration in her music and art. I hope the rest of you LOVE her music as much as I do.
Jeremy Hinks: Well PIP, thanks for signing on.
Pip Brown: Hey, thanks I’m just having a coffee right now.
JH: Well, what time is it down there in Kiwi-land?
PIP: It’s 11:11 actually on Saturday morning.
JH: Yeah, it’s just past 4 pm Friday evening here in Utah, so, we are sharing the same sun. My brother-in-law used to live down there in Kiwi-land.
PIP: Yeah, what was he doing here?
JH: He was serving his LDS Mission down there, I’m sure you know about that.. (The Prime Minister of New Zealand is an Ex-Mormon)
PIP: YES, I do… (Laughing)
JH: Though for a time, I did play rugby with your neighbors.
PIP: You play rugby?
JH: No, I don’t PLAY rugby. I go out and get my ass kicked.
PIP: Yeah, Yeah, Yeah I understand.
JH: Well cause I’m 5’10” weigh about 220, and have 18″ arms, and so when I’m up against your neighbors, I’m the little guy, I played with a lot of Polynesians, I wouldn’t say I play, I just go out and get beat up.
I love the new record by the way so how it came about, they sent me the link, and I’ve had so much dumped on me and I’ve had like just piles of music, and the last three months have been the most has been the craziest. I got some Christian band today I was like “no sorry you’re out”. I get so much thrown at me, but the group that you work with has a lot of good and new stuff. I never even heard of that, isn’t even in my wheelhouse of stuff, but then, but then when she throws me some, and “Oh yeah, I like that” and I just kept going- and I said I wanna talk to her, this girl is great. So, about the music, and the videos. The video for “Guilty Love” reminded me of two very good movies. First was “Heavenly Creatures” With Kate Winslet, the other was “V for Vendetta”.
PIP: I’ve seen “Heavenly Creatures” and I get that, but I haven’t seen “V for Vendetta”.
JH: Well, V for Vendetta had one of the sub stories that played out in that video, I mean ALMOST EXACTLY.
PIP: Ok I’ll have to watch that one.
HJ: Anyway, I didn’t pay attention to the title, but I watched it, and … Well, I am in Utah, and I was raised devout Mormon. I liked to think that my church was different, was better, because our bishops are all married, so we wouldn’t have that kind of thing happening, BUT, the stories coming out here in Utah are a major embarrassment to the church. All of that story, but then you pull that line “You’re my new religion and I’m never going to give you up”. Talk about that line and the story.
PIP: I was working with my friend Tommy English he’s a producer in LA and we decided to get…
JH: And how did you get to film that in an actual Catholic establishment.
PIP: I know right? We just paid and they let us in to film. SO, I was talking to my friend Georgia, and we had both grown up going to Catholic school, and we had so many of the same experiences, so I said “We have to write a song about Catholic guilt”. So we pulled our experiences together and put them into the song, it means quite a lot to both of us.
JH: Yeah, I remember the patriarchy, being Mormon, and “ A woman knows her place”, then I realized of course you know all about Mormonism, your Prime Minister is an EX-Mormon.
PIP: Yeah, we have always known that, quite candid about her upbringing.
JH: So, our leaders are supposed to be married, have kids, with the idea that how can you give marital advice if you weren’t married. And it all seemed right and good, but then, well, our leaders were just as creepy behind closed doors. So, I saw that in there, was that story your experience?
PIP: The director, who did that is named Lula, Kuchara, she’s a South American, but New Zealand based director and she’s lesbian as well, and she sort of like she knows me pretty well like with friends and I sent her the song and she sent through the treatment the next day. How did you do that? That’s just pulled that out of my brain and I think what she did manage to do was put into a video that I would have loved my story to be. I never had that sort of freedom at school, and I wasn’t super aware of sexuality and stuff like that, because it wasn’t taught like we weren’t taught anything to do with anything outside of a heterosexual relationship. You know so it was like always like girls like boys, you get married and you have kids. My sort of awareness of everything was not great at that point like, and I think I was sort of bottling it up and pushing it down and make it trying to make it go away, and I think the story that Lula came up with for the video is exactly what I would have loved to have happened to me.
JH: The line of “every time I pray, I just pray to be free” I’m gonna tell you. This is what it’s like here, I know so many people in the Mormon world, they think you choose to be gay and it’s a sin, and you know who, who decides any of that? But they had this whole thing that they had told people forever. Is it you just need to pray harder and God will take it away from you. I have so many friends who did that they just try and it pushed them to near suicide or as we have in Utah. They all said the same thing, that they prayed for God to take it away, and never happened. You know, and yet I feel for the LGBTQ community that you even have to go through that sort of thing. That’s just so hard for me. I mean because I’m just the dumb straight American White Guy. I have everything handed to me and, and I just nobody questions me or what I want to think or do. So I can only have empathy for the LGBTQ world and situations like that
PIP: Well, THAT’S AWESOME! Because a lot of people don’t.
JH: I think about my one dear friend and I ended up giving her away to her bombshell wife. I love this woman to the end of the universe. She told me exactly that, “I would pray, God if you can do anything Just make me right, make me normal.”
PIP: Oh God, that’s breaking my heart. I’ve completely can empathize with it.
JH: So was that line “You’re my new religion and I’m never gonna give you up”, you said that wasn’t your experience.
PIP: Yeah, that line was sort of more the realizing who you are and then holding on to it. Like I wow I’ve found this person and it’s that not what I expected. But this is me so I’m holding on to this, I’m not letting it go. That’s sort of what that was about.
JH: SO when did you know, I mean for me, I knew I was straight watching Belinda Carlisle videos, that was pretty easy at age twelve, but you weren’t so lucky to figure it out.
PIP: I guess that it was a little journey for me, like of confusion, I think in my teens I was starting to realize that something was up like you know I had so many guy friends and they’re all my best mates was like this crew of dudes and then like my friends who were girls if there was one in particular I’d be slightly nervous around. I never understood why am I like this, and I never really wanted to go out with any of the boys and I just didn’t care. I was just their friend, so I think I kind of knew, but I was sort of ignoring it. You know what I mean and, and it was sort of probably around age maybe around twenty-one or twenty-two. I’d say when I was like “Oh yeah” is this is going to be a thing?
JH: Well, it’s always good to have the rugby lads around right?
PIP: Oh yeah they’re all rugby players. Yeah, everyone has their journey, I’m glad I at least got it out in my early twenties.
JH: Yeah, I interviewed Cassandra Peterson, you know, the character “Elvira”, she realized she was gay at 50. She just found this amazing woman and fell in love with her, and does it matter after that? No, not really.
PIP: Yeah, I was so happy for her when I heard that.
JH: I had probably 20 friends like you growing up, just one of “the dudes” then they came out years later. Well, congratulations. So, onto some of the “Other” kiwi artists, all the jokes about Air Supply, one of them lives not far from me. BUT, Kiwi fave, Shona Laing, god I love that woman.
PIP: Oh yeah, She’s amazing, Americans don’t know about Shona Laing, that’s pretty cool.
JH: Yeah, saw her opening for Erasure in 88, I only knew that one song “Soviet Snow” but then she tore it up with “Glad I’m not a Kennedy” and then “Your Reputation”, what a woman.
PIP: She was my first concert.
JH: I think I’m one of the only dudes in the states that have ever listened to her since then. Then, let’s see Bic Runga.
PIP: Wow, you’re doing great, YES she is fantastic too.
JH: Then there is “The Naked and Famous”…
JH: I love them, if you could ever square away a show of you and them on the same bill, that would be great.
PIP: Actually, that might be possible, I know them, I reckon I could put that together.
JH: Hey, if you guys could pull that off, I would love it, I would even buy you guys all dinner. Yeah, the world needs to know the KIWI musicians. So when your publicist sent me your work, I LOVED it, I said “Yeah, I’ll take this one”. So, I went through your back catalog and hit play, and listened to it. I went all the way back to that song “Magic”. I listened to that, and thought “This is so good” it was this like new Terri Nunn feeling.
PIP: Yeah, I LOVE BERLIN.
JH: SO, I imagined you as this very intense young woman singing this song. And I had no idea what you looked like, but then WOW, this is a very interesting video, that song is a winner.
PIP: It’s one of my favorite songs I’ve ever written. There was a director, her first name is Shelly, it’s all I remember. All the watercolor work, that’s my best friend Sarah, she did some all the hand-painted stills for the “My Delirium” video too. We always talk about mysticism and crystal balls.
JH: But there were pirates in there too.
PIP: Yeah we were completely off the original idea.
JH: Well, it looked so different from what I imagined the world to be in that song, you pulled a little bit of that movie “Suckerpunch” in that one. For something like that being so young, I thought “This girl is quite a knock out”, I can’t believe I hadn’t heard anything till just recently. BUT Moving on to “My Delirium” while you’re at it. Did that song get much club play? Cause that one deserves it.
PIP: Yeah, it got a lot of club play, back then when music was coming out, people were putting out remix packages, it got a lot of play in clubs cause there were a lot of remixes to go with.
JH: So, I used to live in France, I LOVE it, I speak French, my kids speak it, I saw the Eiffel tower every morning out the window. Your line “Tell me the Truth, is it LOVE or is it Paris?”, you nailed the entire experience in that line. I mean, Hemmingway who spent all that time in Paris couldn’t have come up with that good of a line.
PIP: Ah, SHIT…. Well, it summed it up (Laughing), I was living in London and I was going across to Paris, and it was like a baseball bat to the head for me. The wildness, and the freedom, it was just amazing. I loved it, and it was always a welcoming place for my music. It’s the effect of Paris that people talk about.
JH: Oh yeah it bit you, obviously. Moving on, “Mixed Emotions”, let’s talk about the remix collection. Every situation was different but all happening in the same phone booth/elevator.
PIP: I wanted to express the chaos of the song, and the song is one hook repeated but with different melodies and lyrics weaving in and out of this one hook. The hook being the bassline, the director had figured out what I liked, and she wanted a couple of references from me, and all I gave her was a couple of “Spice Girls” stills from videos I liked from the 90s, and some color. And she took that and came up with this idea of the elevator that goes up and down, and the constant thing but you don’t know who is coming in and out of the elevator.
JH: I loved the creativity in it all, I did. It was like, well, have you ever seen the movie “Run Lola Run” like is this your musical remix version of that idea. I like to dissect videos, I want to know the story going on behind them.
PIP: Yeah, actually that was exactly it, NAILED IT.
JH: Do you dance when you’re recording these songs? Especially “River”?
PIP: It’s like, well, yeah I get my groove on, I can’t sit still, but I am NOT a dancer.
JH: Yeah, “River” has that old 70’s “Pop Muzik” (Song by “M”) vocal phlange, and I was thinking I could hear your hips swaying.
PIP: Yeah I move when I sing, I don’t stand still.
JH: Let’s cover the new album real quick.
PIP: It’s called “Time Files” I started writing in 2019 in the states, and I wasn’t working the entire time working on it, cause I didn’t have any sense of urgency, because I didn’t know there was going to be this global pandemic. I was due to go back in April 2020 to finish it, there were a couple of hiccups. So I had to come up with ideas of how to finish the album, we had our lockdown. We finished production via ZOOM and screen sharing.
JH: So, in your video “Think about you”, I liked the fact that you were able to tell a story about two girls who were “into” each other, but not be sleazy about it. I liked the “How do I see myself in the eyes of that person?”.
PIP: The idea was playing on an infatuation you can have with a person without having met them. The main point was that it was reciprocated, and the other person feels the same. It was a cheeky play on that.
JH: Well, I want to ask you the final question, Aside from can you get on the bill with Naked and Famous. Your video told the story of what it was like to be a young gay person, and I thank you for that, and in Utah, we have the highest frequency of LGBTQ teen suicides. What would your message be to the young queer kid who is in the closet, and in that vulnerable state?
PIP: Everything that you are going through is valid, what you are feeling is one hundred percent real. There are millions of people who feel exactly the same way, and there is a huge queer community with open arms to protect you, look out for you, and support you. I want all these kids to know that they are not alone, and sometimes all it takes to reach out to that one person to pull you out of that dark place. There is a lot of us out there that want to make things ok for you.
The full audio of this interview can be heard here.