From chin up, Gin Wigmore looks like a sexy pop siren with her bleach blonde hair and bright baby blues usually made to pop by smoldering dark makeup. A glance down at the impulsively begat tattoos colorfully adorning her arms in a near-sleeve capacity and you could take Gin for a sexy punk rocker. But one listen to any number of tracks off her album Gravel & Wine and all of the notions of her music style and who she is go out the window (well, she’s still sexy).
When we saw VH1’s May You Oughta Know artist at some shows last month amid a whirlwind press tour sandwiched between a busy touring schedule that includes anticipated Warped tour sets this summer, we grappled with how to describe Gin’s sound. “It’s a little bit like Johnny Cash, meets Janis Joplin, meets Stray Cats,” Gin explained.
Gin gives a taste of Gravel & Wine through wines that share the same flavors.
We hear that. But may we also suggest Gin’s sound is a little bit like she used Ursula voice-stealing magic to snatch Macy Gray’s arresting hoarse whisper and mated it with Amy Winehouse’s soulful vintage whine to create her soul-pop, rockabilly tone. Adding to the confusion is the 26-year-old singer-songwriter’s acute accent from growing up around Auckland, New Zealand. Gin jokes that no one on this side of the equator understand her. Well, we’ll try to translate and clear up exactly how this tequila-shooting, pistol-mouthed, rock-soul-country-blues-fusion whirlwind came to capture the industry and fan attention.
“Genuinely, it’s very surprising to hear that someone wants to listen to my voice whether it be speaking complete s**t or singing,” Gin said. Considering she is already a multi-platinum selling artist to her fellow Kiwis where her sophomore album Gravel & Wine dropped in 2011, Gin’s humble appreciation of her acclaim is hard to believe. Then again, the “Black Sheep” singer said she only really “decided to give the musician thing a go” a short five years ago.
“I wanted to be a teacher, but I was really sucking at University and nothing really jumped out to me,” Gin said. “Everyone else had this big five-year plan, and I had like a one-day plan. I thought, ’Cool music would be awesome.'”
Well now she’s singing at colleges all over the country on tour with Phillip Phillips, but the Heineken Bond girl didn’t start cold. Back when Gin was still young and virginal Virginia Wigmore she would sing “Castle On A Cloud” from Broadway’s Les Miserable while her mom played piano during Christmas parties. “That was probably when people wanted to listen to me in my family [growing up],” Gin said with a laugh. “It’s gone downhill from there. No more “Castle On A Cloud” moments.”
HEARTBREAK OVER FAMILY TRAGEDY LEADS TO BIG BREAK
Gin wasn’t exactly invisible to her family after her child caroling days ended. After her father died when the budding singer was 16, Gin penned a song to deal with the grief. “’Halleluja’ was everything I wanted to say to Dad that I couldn’t at the time, because at 16 years old you don’t know to speak properly, let alone articulate what you want to say to your dad and how much you love him,” Gin said. It was big sister Lucy who pushed Gin to submit “Halleluja” to the International Songwriting Contest where it went on to make Gin the competition’s youngest winner.
Eventually, Gin released the award-winning track on her debut EP in 2008. “Now I look back and think, ’That’s so cool that my first successful song has come from my family and my dad who’s not here anymore.”
But as lovely as Gin’s tribute to her dad was, she sure as hell doesn’t pull punches in her Adele-like lyrics treatment of the men that done her wrong on Gravel & Wine. So is she as angry as she seems in “Man Like That” and “Poison?”
“I think the guys were the seed for the piss off, and I’m quite dramatic, so I really took it to another level,” Gin said. “And I hold grudges, so I remember those, hold onto it and I can write about it for years to come.”
Good. Should Gin remain happily domesticated with boyfriend, a dog and career that’s just getting started in the States, we can still rely on her bitter memory to give us more of the take-no-prisoners attitude aggressive pop rock bangers like “Kill of the Night” to rile us up.
Don’t stop doing what you do, Gin! And YOU don’t stop checking Tuner all month for all things Gin Wigmore as we follow her through her turn as VH1’s May 2013 You Oughta Know artist. A full list of the wines and song pairings from Gin’s track tasting below.
“Kill of the Night” – Teso la Monja Toro Romanico Tempranillo (2010) $16
“Black Sheep” – Julien Labet Poulsard “En Billat” (2011) $30
“If Only” – Spy Valley Sauvignon Blanc (2011)
“Man Like That” – Franzia Chardonnay
“Poison” – Pinot Patch Pinot NOir (2011) $18