By Victoria Barker
FOR an artist with such a fierce-sounding moniker, award-winning New Zealand singer-songwriter Ladyhawke - whose name conjures up anything from female shaman warriors to an Academy Award-nominated fantasy film - is surprisingly shy.
Indeed, the girl (real name Phillipa "Pip" Brown) was extremely soft-spoken when speaking to my paper over the line from Auckland recently.
In fact, she's so mild-mannered that she suffers from stage fright, she said.
"I work myself up quite a bit and over-think things before I go on stage...but the second I do, I feel fine," said the 30-year-old, who will play at Singapore's inaugural St Jerome's Laneway Festival this weekend.
She suffers stage fright despite having performed as a musician for several years (she was previously a part of rock bands like Two Lane Blacktop and Teenager before breaking out as Ladyhawke in 2006).
Still, she promised that her fans here can expect an energetic set at Laneway, which includes Australian indie band The Temper Trap and British quintet Foals in its line-up.
Around 90 per cent of the tickets have been sold, according to festival organisers Chugg Entertainment.
However, Brown warned her supporters that there "probably won't be a lot of talk" while she's on the Laneway stage because of her phobia of performing.
Her shyness can perhaps be attributed to her Asperger's Syndrome. The disorder, which is a mild form of autism, often affects social interaction.
Nonetheless, Brown - whose debut album, Ladyhawke, spawned top 10 hits like 2008's My Delirium - thinks the disorder has helped her career.
"(Having Asperger's) is not something I think about...but one of my main characteristics is that I get fixated on things," she explained.
"I'm a perfectionist, and I see things through, especially my music."
She won two Australian Recording Industry Association awards in 2009, cementing her mainstream success, but Brown revealed that she enjoys anonymity whenever she can get it.
When asked about her Ladyhawke persona (her stage name was indeed inspired by the 1985 fantasy movie starring Michelle Pfeiffer), she replied softly that Ladyhawke the artist and Brown, the woman, are "pretty much the same".
"I like the idea that no one knows who I really am, and the fact that I can leave the persona at the door if I want," she added.
Brown is working on her second album, which has yet to be named, and chose to be based in a tiny village near Provence in France, where "there are fewer distractions".
On her upcoming album, which she hopes to release in September, she said: "It's really different from the first album. It's quite rocky, and a bit darker, but still has that Ladyhawke sound."
One thing is for sure: Brown is going to have to get used to being in the limelight, with celebrities like American rocker Courtney Love and Australian superstar Kylie Minogue praising her for her sound.
When asked about this, Brown said: "It's always really surprising when you find out that people you've always known about are aware of your existence, when in the past you were completely nothing (to them).
She added after a pause: "It's still all quite surreal."
Catch Ladyhawke at St Jerome's Laneway Festival Singapore at Fort Canning Park on Saturday.
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