Graham Reid | | 4 min read
In 2012 when Stephanie Brown aka Lips won the Apra Silver Scroll for Everything to Me we flicked her our Famous Elsewhere Songwriter Questionnaire.
But that was then and this is now and Lips -- who lived in Brooklyn, NYC for many years but is currently in Arizona -- is now a duo with West Virginian drummer Fen Ikner, and is coming back to New Zealand for a short tour in a double bill with Anna Coddington. (Dates below)
Lips is now two EPs into a career and an album is due early next year.
Very much a visual act too, Lips bring something unique to the game.
So we thought we'd throw another questionnaire their way . . .
The first piece of music which really affected you was . . .
Steph: I don’t remember the first piece, but I do remember this one day I was playing the piano at Mum’s house and picked up Mendelssohn’s Song Without Words in E flat major. Something about the music was so moving, I had tears rolling down my cheeks and, as I kept playing, my Mum came in and she was crying too, it was spookily awesome.
Fen: It mighta been [the Beatles'] A Day in the Life. I remember being touched by the verses, and frightened of the orchestral swell.
Your first (possibly embarrassing) role models in music were . . .
Steph: New Kids on the Block. We used to dance to their music in jazzercize class at primary school.
Fen: Kiss. Color me possibly embarrassed.
Lennon or Jagger, Ramones or Nirvana, Madonna or Gaga, Jacko or Jay-Z?
Fen: Lennon, Nirvana, Madonna, Jacko
Steph: Same as Fen.
If music was denied you, your other career choice would be . . .
Fen: being a drummer (c’mon now!)
Steph: Ba doom tsssss! Didn’t you have a job at a comedy club once where you’re entire job was playing that b’doom tsss fill when comedians told a bad joke?
Fen: I did.
The three songs (yours, or by others) you would love everyone to hear are . . .
Steph: The 12” extended mix of Everybody Wants To Rule The World by Tears for Fears, Little Dreamer by Future Islands, Cough Cough by Everything Everything
Fen: Your Favorite Music by Clem Snide, My People...Hold On by Eddie Kendricks, and for selfish purposes, Take My Call by Lips, which we haven’t released yet.
Any interesting, valuable or just plain strange musical memorabilia at home?
Fen: Well, there are 4 giant lipses and accompanying giant accessories for giant lipses (giant lipstick, giant cigarette, etc) hanging around.
Steph: I have a keyboard case signed by Kanye West from when I randomly played on a recording session with him. He signed his name and then drew a picture of a bear.
The best book on music or musicians you have read is . . .
Steph: I liked the Quincy Jones autobiography a lot. I once had a book with transcriptions of every James Jamerson bassline ever recorded which was pretty cool.
Fen: For pure entertainment value, Maybe Motley Crue’s The Dirt? Joe Jackson’s autobiography A Cure for Gravity is a great one for music lovers. Also, Here There and Everywhere by Geoff Emerick, who recorded most of the Beatles’ music.
If you could get on stage with anyone it would be . . . (And you would play?)
Steph: The cast of Seinfeld. I would play their friend.
Fen: Ray Parker Jr, and I’d yell “GHOSTBUSTERS!” Or maybe Norah Jones, and I’d yell “GHOSTBUSTERS!”
The three films you'd insist anybody watch because they might understand you better are . . .
Steph: I have only seen four films: The Star Wars Trilogy and The Wedding Planner. I would go with The Star Wars Trilogy.
Fen: Not sure I’d wanna annoy anybody with that. But maybe Magnolia, Raising Arizona, and GHOSTBUSTERS!
The last CD or vinyl album you bought was . . . (And your most recent downloads include . . .)
Steph: Ah dammit. The last thing I bought was West Side Story. I’m working on the music for a musical and that’s my favourite musical.
Fen: Split Enz’ Enz of an Era on vinyl. Mint Chicks Crazy? Yes! Dumb? No! by download, just cuz I couldn’t find the vinyl. I guess being in NZ so much is having an effect on me (I’m American, if that’s not clear).
One song, royalties for life, never have to work again. The song by anyone, yourself included, which wouldn't embarrass you in that case would be . . .
Fen: If I wrote it, doesn’t matter. If I didn’t, The Thong Song by Sisqo
Steph: Earth Song by MJ. I would rerelease it regularly for different occasions and change the “what about [insert noun]” lyrics to be relevant. For example, St Patricks Day: “What about leprechauns”.... Thus, royalties for life.
The poster, album cover or piece of art could you live with on your bedroom forever would be . . .
Fen: That’s a hard one. Let’s just throw any old Matisse up there, shall we?
Steph: Anything by my Mum, she paints and designs, she’s amazing.
You are allowed just one tattoo, and it is of . . .
Fen: a freckle
Steph: I don’t want a tattoo.
David Bowie sang, “Five years, that's all we've got . . .” You would spend them where, doing . . .?
Fen: In the studio, making records with unlimited budgets.
Steph: Ditto, also writing for stage. With orchestras.
And finally, in the nature of press conferences in Japan, “Can you tell me please why this is your best album ever?”
Fen: It has the least suck yet!
Steph: Hai! Soo desu ne.
SEPTEMBER TOUR DATES
Thursday 10th Wellington Meow
Friday 11th Nelson The Boathouse
Saturday 12th Takaka The Mussel Inn
Thursday 17th Christchurch Wunderbar
Friday 18th Oamaru Upstairs Cucina
Saturday 19th Dunedin Taste Merchants
Sunday 20th Wanaka Gin & Raspberry
Thursday 24th Napier Cabana
Friday 25th Hamilton Nivara Lounge
Saturday 26th Auckland The Tuning Fork
In October Lips also present Daffodils at the Tauranga Arts Festival, re-settings of classic Kiwi songs by Brown and Ikner: October 22 and 23, 8.30pm