Where does our reality reside? Is it within our souls, or the tormented shards of a broken mirror on the floor of our hearts? Honesty is truth, as our skin withers, wrinkles and decays to reveal the inner skeletal workings of life. Trials sore may come, but within the shades of grey we find ourselves in the crevices of, “Blood to Bone.”
New Zealand artist, Gin Wigmore, brings her ethereal banshee driven vocals, the soul piercing shadows of her video work, mixed in the blood of her new album, “Blood to Bone.”
08/2015 Song River
(50th Edition of Vents Magazine)
Song River: You've been on a crazy ride as of late haven’t you?
Gin Wigmore: Yes. I had taken time to write for this new album, and that’s not so bad having that time, but you kind of get burrowed away and then you come back out and its like madness (laughed). The traveling and touring and being in front of lots of people again, I’m like “cool”.
GW: I think to be honest its back at home. Home is now in Los Angeles, and I’ve never had this home-base so making a conscious decision and have resigned myself to having it. This lovely house- there's fountains we've made and the candles and water, its lovely what we've made. That’s my calm place we've made. I'll go chill out there for a day alone in the sun with my candles, and my incense. I had underestimated the power of it all, but this is really nice to have this.
SR: When you say you’ve never really had this place to go to, take me back through your past. As I feel there is a back-story here about how you've arrived in this time and place where you are now. What was childhood, growing up and family life-like back in New Zealand?
GW: I had an awesome childhood. My mother was a very strong women, and taught us to be independent. I was making my own lunch at the age of five, walking myself to school and such. At a very young age you could say everything was on our own shoulders I guess. So, if we wanted to do something like go to the movies we had to use our pocket-money and go find a job around the neighborhood. We were taught from a very young age to experience life and not throw away money. Material stuff wasn't important. It was taught to all of us, my sister and brother who are older than me. I was always excited to leave and travel due to the upbringing as it taught us to want to see life and be a part of it. It was awesome. Growing up in New Zealand in a little village called Devonport, and after school you know we'd go down to the swimming hole and jump in and we would stay out until it got dark. We would go get old bits of cardboard and slide down a hill on them, we would run around with no shoes and get sun burnt. It was a sweet childhood, a very independent childhood. I have many memories of me with my friends and having the freedom to me without knowing my mum and dads hand was on my shoulder all the time. I think it has helped shaped me for the lifestyle of a musician.
SR: How about your dad Gin?
GW: Well, my mom and dad were both pharmacist. They got married at 19 or 20 and opened up and ran pharmacist out in the country. It was the only pharmacy in this little village. It was the nice guy, knew everyone by name, my dad was a softie, my mom was the disciplinarian. He always enforced that we should sit around the dinner table at night, even if we were out running around with our friends, it was enforced. On Friday nights we would go and have fish and chips in the park. There was no leeway on that he really valued family time and discussing. I remember at 14 I was a horrible teenager, and I remember as a teenager forgetting about it, and I think I broke my dads heart (paused) you could see almost a bit of him die inside, why...why is my little girl being so mean, but I was this stubborn girl. But he was such a beautiful, beautiful man.
SR: Sounds like you had a really great structure. Leeway and structure. Seems most kids today either have helicopter parents or nothing at all.
GW: So, so true. Seems like to me what I see in parents is there isn’t communication and love. I liked to think when I was a kid, TV wasn’t the focus. I think when I have kids I'd like to be a bit ol fashioned.
SR: Then you would definitely like to have children?
GW: Yes, yes definitely. I think that’s the coolest thing about it all, generations moving forward.
SR: Is your ancestry all from New Zealand?
GW: Way, way back. I think my dad has English/Irish way back on his side, years and years ago. I think someone married into the Maori. You can't tell by looking at me though, but I think they must have been with one of the first lots to come over from England.
A Guitar is a Girls Best Friend
SR: Was it at age 14 you picked up a guitar?
GW: Yes, it was around then and it all happened quite accidentally actually. Mom had decided to buy a guitar and chair to lounge, a sling back chair for my brother at Christmas, and she said here you, you can relax on this chair and learn how to play guitar. He loved the chair, but never picked up the guitar. My older sister wanted to be an actress, and at 13 I was so angry at her because I wanted to be an actress. She stole my job (laughed), so I thought well what could I be that would be just as awesome, so I decided a rock star (laughed). So, I found the guitar stowed away down in the garage and I found this how to play guitar to learn how to play simple chords. I think it has the song “Danny Boy.” I had no real experience being a musician. From New Zealand that wasn't an idea of being a job. It was, you know, be a teacher, or a real estate for career day then, not a rock star. Of course now it is, but then it wasn't. I think at that time it was just tradition. It was really my sister who was over in the UK doing acting stuff or something and she came back with this album, the White Letter album by David Gray, and I thought he was a genius and how did he put these chords and lyrics together. And having this teenage angst thing, my mom said Gin I am sick of hearing you complain and so she gave me this notebook to write all my stuff down and I began writing stuff down with g chords and such along with the influences of David Gray and I wrote. So then we had this tiny little bathroom off the on-suite and I'd go in there and hide and play my music live. It was a one person concert in my bathroom (laughed). I'd have friends over too and they'd listen to me play. It was cool and I did that for a long time.
SR: I love the whole visuals with the bathroom scene.
GW: It was totally cool. You know there was no room in there so I'd have to sit on the toilet seat and there was this big mirror wall to wall and I would imagine what I what say between songs (laughed). Oh my God, my poor friends! I was having a great time! It was all a part of the plan. I think my dad was actually surprised I applied myself to something, as I wasn't an academic, and Dad would put this fear in me that I wasn't going to turn out to be but a supermarket check out operator, (laughed). He was so stoked I applied myself to something. After that, all my Christmas and birthday presents then revolved around music. I remember my dad gave me a certificate to go and record three of my songs for the holiday. Lovely support from my family. It was cool They were alright with me not being a doctor.
SR: You've mastered the guitar, songwriting and bathroom 'mirror' performing, now looking at how music as a profession was looked at during that time, how did you go about doing your first recording?
GW: My first recording actually was for a local school project. There was a sound guy who did recordings. You had to pick someone you admire in your community. Rikki Morris was who I chose. And so I showed up at his place and started asking him questions and I just thought he was so cool with his tinted yellow glasses. I thought he was such a rock star. I thought he was this mystical being living in this recording studio. And he asked me if I had any songs, and I said I did. My dad had given me the monies to go and record and I did. I remember he was looking through the glass at me with his mouth wide open. He told me my voice was amazing. That was my first taste of it.
Then my dad passed away when I was sixteen, and all of it stopped. I went to Argentina and didn’t want to deal with everything. I was so deeply upset, it shattered our family, it was the worst tragic time for our whole family. I didn’t want to do anything that would make me happy. And I got back from there and I wrote this song called, "Hallelujah." It summed up how I was feeling about my dad and all. I recorded it with Rikki Morris and sent it to my sister. And she wanted me to enter into this competition and I didn’t want to do it. She went ahead and sent in the song and another one called, “Angel Fire,” that I had written at 14 and I got this call about four months later from this lady in Nashville. At that time I was living with my boyfriend above this shitty little motorcycle club and she called me and said, I won. "Hallelujah” won the whole category and all these prizes and to come over to the states. I had just turned 18 at this time. My mom and sister came with me to New York, and Epic Records was waiting for me. I remember Epic Records was sitting there listening to me play my two songs and I could barely play guitar and I really didn’t know what I was doing. I am thinking, “Here I am at 18 and my life is back in New Zealand and I was going to marry this boyfriend,” like I knew what love was at that time (laughed). So I came back to New Zealand and did nothing really with music. Then moved to Australia and still did nothing with music.
Then I got a call from Adam Holt with Universal Music in New Zealand, who I used to work for, and he called me out of the blue and asked me what I was doing. I said I was just waitressing He told me I should really just commit myself to music. He was kind of my savior in a way. He said I'll buy you a ticket and you come and play your two songs and lets see if we can get you signed. So I met him there and I got put up in a hotel and played these two songs for George Ash (Universal Music Australia), and he said cool, and can you move down here in three weeks, and you can play in all these little places and get your skills up, write songs and we can do an EP.
So, I said yes and my boyfriend and I packed up our stuff and moved to Sydney. I played at these little shitty places, and I was so bad, I was so fucking nervous and maybe one person would show up and we'd walk away maybe with five dollars. I would write down everything I was going to say in between songs (laughed). It was the whole beginning.
SR: How much during those times when you were so nervous did you reach back in your mind for reassurance from your dad?
GW: Oh, so many times. I know he was there. I'd be standing there on a stage, at this horrible little bar and I would feel almost fractured by fear and I'd just think of my dad, and those moments would then go over so well. It helped me sustain. It was almost like Dad would show up for these really important moments and even still today. It's really cool, it's very comforting.
What Happens on Warped Tour...
SR: Life changes?
GW: Yes, here I am 29 and I knew it was time to cut out a lot of old things from my life. I was getting more and more serious about my music, and I had to change things. Transition time, becomes a place where you are at. I made drastic, unguided decisions from the heart and not my head. This included my moving to the states and everything and now with my husband, Jason Butler (lead vocalist from the punk band, Letlive). I feel very complete now, especially when I decided to put worth on my happiness.
SR: You had met your husband while out on Warped Tour?
GW: Yes, yes (laughed).
SR: I had read where he was just sitting there on the edge of the stage watching you, regularly showing up.
GW: It's very common, even though it was new to me, at these shows for bands to sit and watch other bands. And here was Jason making friends with my other band members. And I remember my guitarist telling me to watch his band and that I was going to love them. I remember watching his band, and thinking they were so incredible, but as I was watching him I thought- this man is such a maniac and there was no way. Later on we were all hanging out at this bar afterwards that night and he came up to me and started talking to me and it was so incredible. And I remember within five minutes I just knew I never wanted to be anywhere without this man by my side. I knew, there was no doubt. All other relationships I had there was always doubt, but with Jason none. I adore him. I now wake up everyday and realize I get to spend the rest of my life with this man. We have a huge amount of respect for each other. We get what each other is trying to do. It's hard to find that in music, that understanding.
SR: Do you find you can take some of your differences and mesh them together so they compliment each other?
GW: Yes, his background is so different than mine. He grew up in Inglewood, California and I grew up in a small village in New Zealand. He never felt safe growing up, and I always did. I think he sees the world now more through rose-colored glasses and I see it maybe a bit street smarter. We learn a lot from each other, and we both want to learn from each other. The things I didn’t get in my life I get from him, and same from his side he gets from me.
SR: How exciting your present day is and the opening that is taking place.
GW: Yes, it is incredibly so.
SR: Let's talk about your new album, “Blood to Bone.” When I was watching your videos and music from this new work it seemed the time period you were capturing, and their influences looked like a certain time period in the southern states during the 20's and 30's.
GW: I am very visual actually and love creating them. At first I was a bit scared of them, but as time went on I took the ideas with film and the writing and really began to imagine it all. I see this image and this thing and I would write to that. I think subconsciously I would love to write for films. I get so much from seeing something and how people react and to do music to do that. So when it came time to do the videos, I just did it stylistic. The story I knew exactly, and I saw that scene and a year ago or so when I wrote the music. That’s the fun part. I guess the southern part of it is this lawlessness that goes on back in time, as I was traveling around Mississippi. It was back in time and how stuck people get into places. Nothing seemed to had progressed. The stories are told old fashion in a way, telling a story.
SR: You definitely tell a story. As you've taken wanting to be an actress when you were younger, that your sister stole from you, and you’re now acting in your own music videos, you're writing stories into music, and you've taken that 'mirror' from long ago and have exploded it into a gillion shards of awesomeness. And as I sat and listened to your album, it is a very visual album. That is what “Blood to the Bone” is. Your album is a visual feast. Then it hit me- here you are this beautiful woman, with an incredible voice and when you make your videos to go with your music you aren’t worried about what you look like- it is raw. You are what you see, hear and get.
GW: At the end of the day you got to be you. All your flaws. I want to see people for what and who they are. I think that is the most beautiful thing there is. Honesty is a winner.
SR: The photographer you chose to do your album cover is amazing, his name is, Lee Jeffries.
GW: I tracked him down, stalked him actually (laughed). He is an accountant by day and he takes these amazing photos as a hobby. He is absolutely uncompromising and a complete asshole about his work. He captures the eyes.
SR: Did he actually throw a bucket of cold water at you?
GW: Yes, that is true (laughed). It was the night before actually and I had taken him out to dinner and he told me he wasn't into pop stars and such and I said that’s good because I am not a pop star. He said look I'll take your photos tomorrow with no makeup on, I'll give you two hours, and if I don’t see anything in your eyes- we are done. The sun will provide enough light and the city is our background. I couldn’t cry on demand, so I dared him to throw a bucket of water on me as I was looking at the sky. It turned out fantastic, just what I wanted.
SR: Have you and your husband every consider sharing a billing on a tour?
GW: I would love to share a billing, that would be so cool. But our fans would probably hate each other (laughed)! I'd like to think it would work, as you should keep an open mind to music, I think it would be really cool.
It’d be awesome, I'd be super into it.
Gin Wigmore Website
Gin Wigmore Website