Gin Wigmore is back in New Zealand for a fleeting visit. Tonight, just hours after our interview, she'll fly back, with baby, to her home in Los Angeles. Her husband was with them on the way over, but he had to head home early; tonight, it's just baby Ivory and herself.
"I'm hoping that he just keeps his shit together," says Wigmore. "[I'll have] no one to palm him off to. It's scary".
Born September 7 at 12:43am, Ivory Nashoba Butler dramatically changed Wigmore's life. The singer and her musician husband, Jason Aalon Butler, had decided they were ready to start a family – but everything happened faster than they anticipated.
Newly pregnant, the busy pair were forced clear their schedules and essentially "chuck everything by the wayside". Almost a year on, Wigmore is still coming to grips with motherhood. A protective maternal force has risen within her – one that, at times, has pushed her towards "total mumma-bear" mode.
"My son's allergic to normal cow's milk, and he had to go on soy formula," she remembers of one particular moment. "So I rang [a woman] on the phone and asked if she had it in stock.
"And she told me that I was 'poisoning my child,' and that if I want my son to grow up with feminine features, 'just know that that's what's going to happen by giving him soy formula.' I was like, 'Cool, awesome, I'm done speaking to you.' I got in my car, drove down to the shop and gave her a f***ing reaming.
"I was like, 'I'm going to talk to you about your appalling behaviour. If I had a thinner skin than most, I'd be broken by what you said. It's disgusting behaviour, and you should be ashamed of yourself – as a mother, as a woman, as anybody, speaking to anyone like that.'
"I felt so f***ing light," she laughs. "I mumma-beared the shit out of that."
Wigmore is fed up. With prejudice, criticism and competition between women; with the way society pits women against each other. "This being unkind and competitive and Judgey McJudgerson – it's just so outdated and lame."
And so began her Girl Gang project. Wigmore's aim: to bring female creators together across different platforms. The singer took five singles from her new record, Ivory, and assigned each to a female artist she sought out, essentially commissioning a piece of artwork to accompany the song. These works were then released on social media along with the singles, culminating in a playlist and art project made by a team of female artists, including illustrators Liana Finck and Kristen Liu-Wong.
"I just thought, 'How cool would it be to gather round women, and birth this new piece of art, inspired by music?" she explains. "It's been a really fun process, and it can keep living on. You've gotta think really laterally on how to release music, and it seemed like something that had a longer life than just an album."
After more than a decade as a professional musician, Wigmore is all too familiar with the misogyny that dominates the industry. In many cases, it's not just the tangible, overt sexism that limits women – though that certainly doesn't help. It's also the insidious boys-club attitude that remains prevalent.
"You can have men in bands that sound somewhat similar, and [people] can see them all as separate bands and you can love all of them – you can be a fan of Foo Fighters, Red Hot Chilli Peppers and Muse, and it's all cool," she says.
"But with female artists, if you had an Adele or an Amy Winehouse or someone else, you'd have to pick your side. You're team Adele, or you're team Amy … and I think that's gross."
With a husband in the same industry, Wigmore finds herself hitting the glass ceiling in areas where he excels. "When you have a big idea about something… you're seen as being difficult, a diva; all these negative associations. And if you're a man, he's seen as a visionary with big ideas; a go-getter and a motivator."
In April 2018, Girl Gang has arrived at the finish line: Wigmore's new album Ivory. Ivory (the album) was written in its entirety before Ivory (the baby) came into existence, though the latter gave his name to the former. With Wigmore's life now looking drastically different to when she wrote the songs, Ivory's release comes with a strange sense of nostalgia.
"When I listen back [to the songs], I can be drawn back into those emotions, but they're not as concentrated for me," she says. "I do think of songs like Beatnik Trip and Cabrona and stuff and think, 'Must be nice eh, when I was 30 with no strings attached'.
"It's kind of like, 'Oh, that's sweet. It was so sweet when you had nothing to lose'."
Ultimately, Ivory feels turned upwards towards the sun – though still with dirt under its nails. It's lighter and freer than 2015's Blood to Bone; more in control of its complexities, with concise, fully formed ideas. It's Wigmore's second time producing her own album, which allowed her creative spirit to not get bogged down by nerves and technicalities.
"Coming out of Blood to Bone, I think I had so much to prove to myself, with being in a pretty shitty spot with the label, and then to show myself that I could produce an album," she says.
"That's why it was more relaxed on this one, because I was like, 'I've done it, and I know what goes into it'. It wasn't so meticulously thought. It was more free and relaxed, and I feel like that washes across the whole record. It's brighter, it's positive."
Who: Gin Wigmore
What: Art project Girl Gang, new album Ivory
When: Friday April 6