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Q&A: Gin Whigmore – Glass Half Full

| August 1, 2020 | 0 Comments

 

If there’s anything that our current claustrophobic coronavirus crisis has made clear, it’s this: One person’s shuttered, brain-clouding lockdown is another’s key to swinging the door open wide on an unexpected new creativity. Take New Zealand-bred R&B-rock chanteuse Gin Wigmore, for example. A few months ago, she had just given birth to her second son with 333 Wreckords Crew founder Jason Aalon Butler and moved to Los Angeles when the pandemic hit, and she had to think fast on several fronts — free from her decade-long major-label contract, how would she release the inventive material she’d just recorded in Nashville? And more importantly, how could she keep her kids entertained in the meantime? Her spouse solved the first problem by immediately signing her to his imprint and issuing her latest singles every six weeks, including “Hangover Halo” and “Feels Like Me,” which donate a portion of proceeds to animal conservation causes. And the second? Mom laughs. “We’ve been trying to figure out lots of activities while I’m multi-tasking,” she says. “Like swimming in the ocean that was actually our front lawn. “We cut lots of expenses so we just let the grass grow, and the grass got so long we just pretended it was the sea where we could swim in it and find dolphins and shapes and all sorts of marine things. I think everyone in the neighborhood thought we were slightly mad, swimming around in our lawn like that, but it was a lot of fun.” She charted the rest of her non-nautical course in this chat.

ILLINOIS ENTERTAINER: Hopefully, there no sharks lurking in your weeds. But have you seen any more actual nature taking over L.A. recently?

GIN WIGMORE: Yes. And it’s kind of awesome, actually. The wildlife is totally revved up. I think we’ve got raccoons or squirrels that run across our roof every morning at 5:00 a.m. And it feels like a massive party is going on, but it’s great. And you can see the L.A. sky for once, and the air is all clear and clean. And it feels like nature has just taken to this running, and it’s in the lead in the race at the moment.

IE: What philosophical lessons have you learned from this dark time?

GW: I’ve learned that through humanity messing with nature — and how we treat this Earth — is what gets us in these situations. It’s so obvious. This is what happens when you fuck with things the wrong way for so long, and it’s up to us to find a better harmony with everything else that’s living amongst us. And also, it’s a big lesson in learning that we can’t control everything, even though humanity thinks that it can, that it’s still in control of all of this. And it’s interesting that something as simple as a virus — I mean, it IS complex, but it’s still a simple thing — can take down the whole world. Never in my life did I imagine that this would happen, and I didn’t ever think, “Oh, this is what 2020 will be.” But it’s really fascinating, and it makes you think, “What is MY role in all this? And how did we get to this point? And how do we not get to this point, ever again?” And I think we just have to be mindful of our impact — with how we treat animals, the amount of trash and waste we produce, and how we treat our poor. And now everyone is leveled out. It’s been a total leveling, which I think is so important because it really does make you realize that we’re all on the same playing field. And when everyone around us was losing their jobs — including ourselves — we really are starting from square one, and we really need to look at how we operate and how we live our lives. It’s like the curtain’s been pulled back on our impending doom, basically, so it’s up to us now.

IE: Made even more apparent to you because you were giving birth right when this occurred, right? And while you were recording almost, too?

GW: Right on the day, actually. We got the word the night before, and then I gave birth that next morning. So it was wild. And we had to get out of that hospital as soon as possible, because everyone was rushing in. And they even said, “It’s about to get more gnarly down here, so have your baby and get out in 24 hours.” It was so strange. Some days I don’t even know what to make of it, and some days I feel almost defeated, not knowing exactly how to navigate through this. And having to navigate it with children, as well, which isn’t easy. And that’s the big question, right? What kind of world do I want for my kids? It’s hard to figure out how that’s going to work, and what to make of it. But we create so much bullshit that gets put into the world, when it’s like everything should be great, everything should count, right down to the manufacturing of clothes, to what we drink, what we consume. It just needs to count, and needs to be with purpose and not in excess. That’s part of the reason we got to this point — there’s just been so much excess in everything.

IE: Your single “Hangover Halo” and it’s tiger-themed video help benefit the big-cat conservation fund Panthera, proving that not everyone was ga-ga over the surreal Tiger King Netflix documentary. It wasn’t that great, was it?

GW: No. It was fucked up. It was terrible. It’s awful. And I think the saddest part is the takeaway from that. It was this sweeping phenomenon because everyone loves a train wreck of a character like Joe Exotic and crew of misfits, but the takeaway from that should have been, “Fuck — look at how much wild animal abuse is going on!” And for some people, it was like that, and there have been some things done about it. But not enough, in my opinion. And it just goes to show that we’d much prefer to glamorize some wild character than actually see what really needs to be done. I mean, we’ve got these beautiful animals living among us, but there are more in captivity than in the wild, which is just fucked up to start with. And then there’s this amount of animal abuse, with these tigers that have been ripped from their mothers and essentially tortured and abused, day in and day out until they’re too sick or weak and they just die or get killed. And now we’re up for discussion on this Big Cat Safety Act, so why hasn’t there been a massive push for it, with the whole world behind it? “Tiger King” was such a sweeping sensation, so let’s do something about this while the topic is hot. Because soon there will be another subject that takes the lead, and people will think, “Oh, I don’t care about tigers any more because that doesn’t really affect me, personally — it’s not happening in my back yard, so I’m not going to really care about it.” And that’s where I took this standpoint on it — when you’re provided with or work hard for — an opportunity to have a platform in any sense of the word, like if you have the power to influence your neighbors with something you have to say, then use it for something bigger than yourself, something that is used for the greater good. And for me, it’s animals, because they don’t have many advocates that can speak loud enough to bring about change. (New single “Feels Like Me” benefits the dwindling Asian elephant species.) So I want to use my platform for something bigger than myself, something that actually makes the world a better place. And I know that sounds like a cheesy thing to say, but to not speak up would be so lame. And can you imagine how lame the world would be with no wildlife/ It would be such a shame to go to Asia or Africa and know that there were no elephants, no tigers, no pandas, no cheetahs, nothing — animals would be something that you just read about in books. That’s sad, and we did that — humans. We’re like a cancer. Therefore, if we are the disease, we also need to be the cure. And I think it’s really important to take on that responsibility, to look at ourselves and confront ourselves, and go, “Okay — we are the reason for this, so we need to change it because we CAN.” Humans are remarkably powerful and can do so much when brought together for a good cause. So I want to make sure that something like tigers have a future. I went down to Antarctica a couple of years ago. I was invited down with a bunch of scientists who have dedicated their whole lives to researching climate change, and they said, “It’s so crazy that humans keep saying that they need to save the world because the world is going to be fine — it’s US who are in trouble because we’re going to go extinct. The world will regenerate like it always has.” So again, it’s wild for us to think that we’re in that much control that we can save the Earth. What a grandiose, and truly absurd idea! But then again, that’s why I have a ‘Glass is half full’ mentality, because otherwise, what’s the point?

IE: What else is coming, musically?

GW: Well, it’s been cool because I’m in a position now where I’ve finally gotten off my label after ten years, and it feels so good. Not that the past decade was bad — it got me to this point. And if you like your present, then you can’t negate your past, because all those building blocks got you to here, and I’m so grateful for that. Because now there are no rules, no map, nothing. So it just feels like uncompromising art at this point, and that’s such a lovely space to be in. So I’m not going to sweat the small stuff anymore — I’m just going to do what really feels right. And that’s kind of been the wash across my music now — there’s been no real common thread, per se. I mean, my voice ties it all together, but there’s no common thread in terms of genre, style, or even in the way I’m releasing it. I’m just releasing material every six weeks, so there will be a new single out for the foreseeable future. And I have one song called “Rodeo” coming up that I wrote in Virginia on electric guitar, and it sounds like Oasis meets Green Day with a little bit of Weezer thrown in, because I love ‘90s rock, with loud guitars and buzzing amps. And I recorded the track four days before I gave birth — I had actually started having contractions while I was still in the studio.

IE: So is it cool to wake up every day next to your label boss and musical collaborator, despite this pandemic?

GW; It’s been the coolest thing, being married to him — we have great respect and love for each other, creatively, and I don’t even think it would fucking work if we didn’t. There would be too much offensiveness going on all the time because we are brutal with our thoughts and feelings on each other’s work. Which is great — you really need that. So it’s good that he added me to his label. We do so much together — we brainstorm and work and write and create and throw ideas around, and we’re constantly firing on all cylinders. And he’s really trying to build an empire, basically, so it’s cool to be a part of that world, as well.

-Tom Lanham

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