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Ladyhawke's new album 'Time Flies' deals with heavy themes through an upbeat sound

(SOUNDBITE OF LADYHAWKE SONG, "MY DELIRIUM")

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

You probably remember Ladyhawke, the New Zealand singer-songwriter born Pip Brown from this 2008 hit My Delirium.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "MY DELIRIUM")

LADYHAWKE: (Singing) Hey, you're playing with my delirium. And the longer I wait, the harder I'm gonna fall.

SIMON: The song was named best single. Ladyhawke won breakthrough artist in the 2009 Australian Recording Industry Music Awards. She hasn't had a release in five years, and she's been through a lot over the past couple of years. We'll talk about that. But much of her new album sounds upbeat with a sparkle reminiscent of 1980s pop. It's called "Time Flies."

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "WALK AWAY")

LADYHAWKE: (Singing) What good is a day when it's hidden away? You're burning the sage chasing demons away.

SIMON: And Ladyhawke, Pip Brown, joins us now from Auckland, New Zealand. Thanks so much for being with us.

LADYHAWKE: Thank you for having me.

SIMON: Well, bring us up to date on your life. You married, you gave birth to your daughter, Billie Jean, blessed events, but you've struggled with a couple of things too, haven't you?

LADYHAWKE: Yeah. Yeah. It's been a bit of a ride lately the last few years. I was living in Los Angeles and moved back to New Zealand to have my daughter, which was just incredible, and then went through a whole host of things, a bit of postnatal depression, I was also diagnosed with melanoma, which was not great. My daughter was only 10 months at the time, so that was a bit of a struggle. And then - yeah, then I just sort of had the battle of postnatal depression for, like, a good couple of years before I really realized how bad it was.

SIMON: Maybe a lot of people would benefit from you telling us what it felt like, what you noticed in yourself with the advantage of hindsight.

LADYHAWKE: Yeah, it was - I was very overprotective, which every, you know, mother of a newborn is, but I took quite an extreme extent. Like, I was just terrified of everything. I struggled with letting anybody hold her. I was really down all the time and depressed, crying almost every day. I had no energy. I felt tired all the time, which new mothers - it's crazy because it is hard to recognize that in the moment because you think what is just me being a new mom and what is actually postnatal depression? Because you're tired anyway as a mum to a newborn.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "TAKE IT EASY MAMA")

LADYHAWKE: (Singing) When you're working your tired hands to the bone, still working nights and you feel so alone. Baby's got enough, but she's wanting more, searching for the light but she's closed the door.

I was like, oh, but she's 2 and it's hard having a toddler, but I found it hard to get out of bed. And so I just decided I needed to get some help.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "TAKE IT EASY MAMA")

LADYHAWKE: (Singing) Take it easy, mama. You've had enough today.

I'm glad I had, you know, a really good support system around me. And a very dear friend of mine recommended a therapist, and so I went to see the therapist. And he was incredible and he recognized the postnatal depression straight away. So I sort of started, like, seeing him and going on walks and just doing things that sort of got me out of the house. It was a long, slow journey, to be honest, but I got there in the end.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "MY LOVE")

LADYHAWKE: (Singing) I'm more than a fantasy. I'm shouting to nobody. You build up the sympathy and then you feel lost at sea.

SIMON: And you'd given up drinking a number of years ago, hadn't you?

LADYHAWKE: Yep. I'm seven years sober now, so yeah, that was sort of like the beginning for me of trying to get my mental health in check. Like, you know, it's always been an issue for me - anxiety, depression, everything. And, you know, the drinking wasn't helping, and I recognized that. And I sort of thought, I've got to stop this so I can start feeling better about myself and recognizing everything going on in my head.

SIMON: Was it hard to stop?

LADYHAWKE: Yeah. Yeah, it was really hard. I had some good friends that helped me, and I sort of went to AA meetings and, you know, sat in the back and listened to people's stories. But it was really, really helpful. And yeah, it was really hard. And it still is because, you know, people celebrate with a glass of champagne. I've got a record coming out. I don't know if I could celebrate with a glass of champagne. Well, I can't, you know (laughter). It's these moments that I sort of miss a little bit. But yeah, I'm glad I'm sober. I'm better this way.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "TIME FLIES")

LADYHAWKE: (Singing) All over the radio, they're playing our song again, got me feeling in love again. I'm kind of falling down. Run fast, talk slow, gotta make the time go, big plans, small fonts, don't know how the time flies, don't know how the time flies.

SIMON: Tell me about your pandemic because I'm told you haven't spent it making sourdough.

LADYHAWKE: Yeah, not - I haven't been baking much bread, I have to be honest (laughter).

SIMON: Well, I'm told that you've become a gamer.

LADYHAWKE: Yeah. Well, I've always been a gamer, but I have to say, it's reached all new levels of obsession. I started streaming my gaming on Twitch. I made this entire community around me.

SIMON: Do your gaming friends know what you do in your other life?

LADYHAWKE: (Laughter) Yeah, they do. Some of them, though, had no idea - they didn't know anything about me prior. You know, they didn't know that I was a musician or Ladyhawke or anything. They had no idea. They didn't know my music. And they've come to my music through meeting me and befriending me online, which I find awesome, you know?

SIMON: Yeah, it took having a daughter in the household for us to begin to understand that some of the same kind of interest and fascination that my wife and I felt growing up with books or movies is what one of our daughters feels about gaming.

LADYHAWKE: Yeah.

SIMON: Characters, stories, narratives.

LADYHAWKE: One hundred percent. Some of those storylines in the video games are just incredible, like The Last Of Us series, really cleverly written, and it's got a, you know, diverse cast of queer characters, which is amazing for the gaming world.

SIMON: There is music for some of these stories. I mean, I wonder if you've ever thought of that.

LADYHAWKE: Oh, I would love - that's my dream.

SIMON: Really?

LADYHAWKE: Yeah. I've always wanted to make music for video games. I'd love that. Yeah. One day, maybe.

SIMON: Pip Brown, also known as Ladyhawke, her new album, "Time Flies." Thank you very much for being with us.

LADYHAWKE: Thank you so much for having me. I really appreciate it.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "TIME FLIES")

LADYHAWKE: (Singing) Don't know how the time flies by. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.