13 Feb 2021

The Mixtape - Gin Wigmore

From Music 101, 5:00 pm on 13 February 2021

Having discovered her own inner bad girl, Gin Wigmore is set on creating songs that empower girls and women.

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Gin Wigmore performing last year. Photo: Screen capture

The Kiwi musician recently returned from Los Angeles, USA, to New Zealand with her husband, musician Jason Butler, and their two young boys, Pascal and Izaiah.

She says her longing to have a baby girl has found expression in her songwriting.

"I write a lot more female-driven, empowered sort of songs...

"My songs are sort-of my female children and I'm writing to my girls. It's what I would write if I had a girl and what I would want them to be listening to.

"I would like a theme song for my girls to be one of strength and 'you're good, don't worry about it, don't conform to some other bullshit, just be you'."

Her 2018 song 'Girl Gang' was released along with a project designed to celebrate other female artists.

"Women are so strong when they come together and that's what we need to do more of is build each other up.

"If we can't stick with the boys, then stick together with the girls," she says.

Gin is looking forward to playing at Peachy Keen music festival in Wellington on 3 April, an event putting New Zealand's top women musicians centre stage.

She is relieved to be back in Aotearoa during the Covid-19 pandemic, after eight years living in the United States, where she bought a hotel in Palm Springs to fulfil her desire to get her "hands dirty".

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Gin Wigmore in 2015. Photo: Getty Images/ AFP

Gin has come a long way from her childhood, growing up in Devonport on Auckland's North Shore.

She said her sheltered upbringing left her without many glimpses of tough, sassy female role models.

Spending time with American singer-songwriter Butch Walker, who produced her 2011 album Gravel & Wine changed her life.

"He fully made me see who I was searching for in myself.

"He applied the T Rex to my life.

"He was like 'why are you trying to be this nice, polite girl... it's not who you are. You like tattoos, you like motorbikes, you like dogs, you like loud music, you love guitars - just do that'."

Although being signed up to Universal Records while living in Australia in 2008 launched her career, she is now celebrating breaking the shackles and becoming an independent artist.

She says being tied to the commercial pressures of a label for five albums had been restrictive.

Gin Wigmore with her Tui award for Best Female Solo Artist at the 2015 Vodafone New Zealand Music Awards.

Gin Wigmore with her Tui award for Best Female Solo Artist at the 2015 New Zealand Music Awards. Photo: RNZ / Claire Eastham-Farrelly

Gin has never had the patience to learn to read music, so she crafts her songs by ear.

"I just sit down and will feel out what that chord and sound says to me and where that speaks to and what words that invokes.

"The biggest thing about writing a song like that is you need to be free in your mind and just let it go, almost put yourself in a meditative state."

Many of her songs explore her insecurities and feelings of lack.

"I probably should have a therapist and unpack those issues with them, but I use my songs because it's cheaper," she laughs.

Having a naturally thick skin helps her survive in the glare of music fame.

"It does take a very thick skin to be in music, particularly as a woman.

"You need to do the music, chin up head down, and say 'here it is, I don't care what you think of it'."