Horsing Around

8 April 2012 | 9:00 am | Chris Yates

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Well, the horses and video clip go hand in hand. Wigmore has spent the day riding bareback in the Village Roadshow movie lot on the Gold Coast filming the promo for If Only, the second single lifted from her second album.

“It's been touch and go trying to get the horse to do what I want,” she says wearily but still full of enthusiasm. “Like trying to squeeze a diamond into a square shaped box. I'm in awe of horses, slightly fearful but in love with them at the same time. It feels like they could switch at any moment. It's quite frightening, but great at the same time. I was trying to do a performance, singing, while also trying to look relaxed and calm.”

Maintaining her calm would be a hard feat for Wigmore at the moment, horses or not. She's just returned to her native New Zealand after a stint abroad recording the follow up to her massive debut, Holy Smoke. The album's success both in her homeland and abroad has given her the opportunity to do some exciting things for her follow up. She headed to the deep south of the USA to get down to the roots and try and soak up the atmosphere of a musical legacy which has informed her work so much. Her overwhelming excitement when recanting these stories is parallel to her enthusiasm about her new record, and really just her life in general as it stands at the moment.

“Prior to the record, I spent about two months driving around the south all by myself, finding stories, exploring and going to Graceland and learning about Elvis and going to Stax Records and Sun Studios...” she says in one breath, clearly still relishing the experience. “It was wicked and a totally life-changing trip. Clarksdale [Mississippi, the birthplace of blues where Robert Johnson sold his soul to the devil] was out of this world. It was just so amazing. To find myself drinking moonshine in a juke joint was just insane.”

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For her debut, Wigmore found herself going from her bedroom to recording in the Capitol Records Studio in a heartbeat, and she confesses that it was a big leap and there were times when she didn't really know what was going on. For Gravel & Wine she's taken a different approach, enlisting the help of an industry producer who himself has a firm grasp on American music and its history. Butch Walker has helped write and record songs for everyone from Avril Lavigne to Weezer, and Ginmore says his contributions to the album had a massive impact.

“What I wanted was something not too polished – a bit gritty,” she explains. “Maybe a little bit unfinished, like it hasn't had the last layer of varnish. I wanted a really tough record and hopefully I've achieved that. Butch is very much a no-bullshit kinda dude. Having his mind working on the record was really crucial. I had Butch's whole band The Black Widows playing on the record, who are also from the south. It has this great familiarity with all the players because they all know each other so well, they've got a real grassroots and hillbilly style, so it was very professional but with a lounge room kind of vibe. We had a really nice friendship throughout the recording as well which I think really comes across on the record. All the banter and bullshit and fun we had – It's like anything. If you like you can have a beer with somebody after a day's work, then you're winning!”