JACKI LYDEN, HOST:
If you're just joining us, this is WEEKENDS on ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Jacki Lyden. And it's time now for music.
(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)
LYDEN: Sometimes, a background player on a movie or TV screen will command the attention of the viewer and force you to ask: Who is that? That's what happened with Gin Wigmore's performance in a series of Heineken ads featuring actor Daniel Craig as, who else, James Bond about to take a dive out of a high-speed train.
(SOUNDBITE OF HEINEKEN AD)
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "MAN LIKE THAT")
GIN WIGMORE: (Singing) Ooh, ooh. Girl, you better wake up. Ooh, ooh. Girl, you better run.
LYDEN: Gin Wigmore was only on the screen for a fleeting moment, but the music that scored the chase scene absolutely stood out. And now, the New Zealand native - 26 - has a full record for us here in the States. It's called "Gravel & Wine." And Gin Wigmore joins us from our studios in Culver City. Gin, welcome.
WIGMORE: Thank you very much. It's fantastic to be here.
LYDEN: You know, the song that they used in this kicky, just amazing ad that really hooked me in, it's called "Man Like That." I want everybody to be able to hear it like we did, so let's take a closer listen.
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "MAN LIKE THAT")
WIGMORE: (Singing) I don't really wanna wake you. I just came to get my things. But the pretty little thing lying there beside you better take off my wedding ring. Hey, girl, do you really wanna do this. You don't know what you're stepping in. He's got more where that came from. You're not so special in the end.
LYDEN: I've been listening to this for a couple of days with - in the car, and it's amazing I haven't gotten a ticket yet. It just reaches out and grabs you. You know, there are reviewers who say that you're basically telling men off in a lot of your lyrics, that there's revenge, twisted gothic, lavish love. I mean, were you in some kind of vengeful state of mind, because you're a really lovely person to talk to.
WIGMORE: Yeah. I think - I change moods regularly. But I kind of like playing in this world of a little bit of fantasy when I write music. I think writing music is such a freeing exercise, and it's really nice to play in that world of being this, you know, confident, vengeful, kind of, getting back at all the bad boyfriends and all these things. It's like the conversation that you didn't have that you thought of having five minutes later.
You know, you break up, and you say something. It could be like, oh, you don't even speak at all when someone's telling you they don't love you anymore. But then you think about it five minutes later, and you have all these great comebacks. And that's the cool thing about songwriting is, you know, you have that time to have perspective and look back and think about all the things you'd want to say that at the time you wish you had.
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "MAN LIKE THAT")
WIGMORE: (Singing) Ooh, ooh. Girl, you better wake up. Ooh, ooh. Girl, you better run. He's gone. First thing in the morning faster than a bullet coming out of that gun. Ooh, ooh. Tells you that he loves you. Ooh, ooh. Then he take it all back. Girl, you gotta wonder, girl, you gotta wonder, girl, you gotta wonder about a man like that. Girl, you gotta wonder...
LYDEN: Gin, you're only 26, and you've been writing music for a really long time. I think your voice too - I mean, everyone's going to have a different take on it, but I was thinking, I don't know, you know, sort of Eartha Kitt meets Willie Nelson. I mean, there's a snarl here, too, that certainly has retro soul. On this song, "Black Sheep," you're almost snarling this delivery. Let's hear some of "Black Sheep."
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "BLACK SHEEP")
WIGMORE: (Singing) I got lots of jealous lovers that all wish they had me back. Got a pistol for a mouth, my old mama gave me that, making my own road out of gravel and some wine. And if I have to fall then it won't be in your line. Everybody's doing it so why the hell should I. Everybody's doing it so why the hell should I. I'm a bad woman to keep. Make me mad...
LYDEN: So making own road out of gravel and some wine, kind of. Do you approach these knowing you're going to snarl in this delivery?
WIGMORE: You have a sense of what it needs. When you write the lyrics, you kind of go, well, obviously, I can't sing this really sweetly. If you sang I have a pistol for a mouth, you don't want to be singing that like you've got sunshines and lollipops running through your mind.
But it's - but, you know, so I think you've got an idea of how you want to deliver it. But then you've really got to think about artists that you like, how they deliver things and things like that when you're singing it. It's very important to have them at the front of your mind.
LYDEN: So who are you thinking about, other artists that, you know, have come before that you're sort of channeling?
WIGMORE: During this record, it's - strangely enough, I mean, we listened to a lot of T. Rex. And there was the- specially for "Black Sheep," we were listening to that and getting in that kind of glam, slightly snarly in that respect. But there's a kind of confidence to it.
There's such a confidence to that in a I-don't-kind-of-care attitude that I think a lot of these songs required on this record. And I was: I'll try it. And it's something like, finally, I was thinking in the world of Elvis quite a lot for "Gravel & Wine," especially during the recording, singing part of it.
LYDEN: No one snarled like he did.
WIGMORE: Yeah. Well, there we go..
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "IF ONLY")
WIGMORE: (Singing) If only, if only my head would let me free, then won't you take a chance on me? If only your story was who I want to be, if only you would roll it all on me.
LYDEN: My guest is Gin Wigmore. Her new album is called "Gravel & Wine." You know, you mentioned Elvis, and you toured the South when you were younger right?
LYDEN: I know you went to Stax Records. Did you go to Graceland? Where else did you go, Nashville...
WIGMORE: I did, I did. I went to Sun Studios, I went to Graceland. I went to Clarksdale in Mississippi, which was my favorite. It was fantastic. It was really cool. It was Bessie Smith and Muddy Waters and Robert Johnson's kind of stomping ground back in the day, so it had all that kind of flavor down there. And being introduced to a, you know, a juke joint for the first time and drinking this moonshine that I've heard of in movies, you know? Like, it was really cool exploring all this. And...
LYDEN: So when you were there, you walk in, there's this little - you're delicate, you're young, flowing blonde hair. Did you say: Hey, I'm here in Clarksdale, Mississippi. I want to sing blues.
WIGMORE: Yes, I did. I did exactly that. What a dork. I went into this juke joint. There's nothing - I think it's closed. It looked closed. It had junk all out front, looked pretty dreary. But anyway, we went there, and it was open. There were three dudes here. And I ball on in - as you say, pretty delicate at the time with flowing blonde hair - and say - and they're like, you know, they look at me pretty much up and down about 50 times and say, what are you doing? I said: Well, I'm from New Zealand. I'm here to make a blues record. And they're like: Oh, yeah.
LYDEN: You're at the crossing.
WIGMORE: Right, sure. Good luck with that. So it's - it was pretty cool. It was a nice rude awakening, you know, really, that I knew nothing about the blues and that if, you know, he quickly advised me that if I found myself from getting from New Zealand to Clarksdale, Mississippi, that I'd never have the blues because I could afford the plane ticket.
So I really kind of - I kind of was shocked by that. And also, I had a ton of realization that I had no right being down there and making this blues record. But, really, I just wanted to get all these ingredients and these stories and talk to these guys and get a little influence of it. And I think all these little influences found their way onto "Gravel & Wine."
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "DIRTY LOVE")
WIGMORE: (Singing) You dirty love, you shot me twice that night in the cold moonlight when my back was turned. You dirty love, I'm buried on that hill. You said love would kill. Still I want you dirty love.
LYDEN: You visited the Reverend Al Green's church in Memphis.
WIGMORE: Yes, yes.
LYDEN: It's a place I've always wanted to go. What was that like?
WIGMORE: That was incredible. Oh, my gosh. I went - drove down to the kind of outskirts of Memphis, driving along on Sunday morning. I think that's the first time I've been up on a Sunday before 12 midday. So that was a highlight in itself. And driving down there, and I dropped in in an old band T-shirt, which was not the thing to do, because everyone was so beautifully dressed.
LYDEN: Oh, yes, very beautifully dressed.
WIGMORE: Yeah. And, you know, Al Green comes out and says - he's got a bit of a rusty voice this morning, yet he still nails it, sings every song. And it's this total celebration. And people are, you know, fainting, and there's white sheets being run out over people. And it was just totally eye opening.
And I was - I walked out of there, and I was like, right, I'm committed. I'm totally - religion is my thing. I'm going to church every Sunday. This is odd. And then I kind of thought about it for about another five minutes and thought, well...
WIGMORE: ...if they were actually going to be like this ever again, and it means I have to get up at 10 a.m. every Sunday. I don't think that's going to happen.
LYDEN: Yeah, that would make those Saturday night gigs different.
WIGMORE: That was - yeah. Exactly. That was - that ruled that right out.
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "DEVIL IN ME")
WIGMORE: (Singing) I got the devil's disease...
LYDEN: And that's Gin Wigmore. Her latest album is called "Gravel & Wine." And you can watch a few of her new videos at nprmusic.org. Congrats. And good luck.
WIGMORE: Thank you very much. It's been lovely to talk to you.
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "DEVIL IN ME")
WIGMORE: (Singing) When he said he would leave after he stole my heart and broke it apart you know that hell ends with me. I am your ticket to free.
LYDEN: And for Saturday, that's WEEKENDS on ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Jacki Lyden. Check out our weekly podcast. Search for WEEKENDS on ALL THINGS CONSIDERED on iTunes or on the NPR app. Click on Programs and scroll down. We are back on the radio tomorrow. Until then, thanks for listening. Have a great night.
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