Snakes in the roof and dogs in the park, spending an arvo with Le Pie and Rocket

After what has been a massive 2015 with the release of her debut EP and a knockout show at BIGSOUND, Le Pie is ready to take on Newtown Festival. Enjoying a sunny Friday arvo, she chats festivities, children’s choirs, sexism and snakes living in her roof.

Le Pie Newtown Festival

Photos by Liam Cameron

HAPPY: Have you always been a dog person?

Yeah I have. I had my last dog for 13 years, so it was pretty sad when he passed away.

HAPPY: What kind of dog was he?

LE PIE: He was a Bullmastiff, so I’ve always had massive dogs.

HAPPY: Is this Rocket’s first photo shoot?

LE PIE: Yeah it is!

HAPPY: And everyone around is loving her! My old dog used to sit in the middle of the dance floor at house parties.

LE PIE: That’s what I love about dogs! Cats are a totally different thing. I’ve got a cat as well and she’s such a bitch. I love her, but she’s such a bitch. I’ve had her for about 9 years so she’s the boss of the dog. Rocket is still a puppy, so the cat will go over and muscle her out of her bowl.

HAPPY: Really?

LE PIE: Yeah, the cat will be like “Time for you to go” and the dog will run inside. It’s pretty funny. Rocket is totally scared of the cat, and she doesn’t realise that she’s bigger than the cat now.

HAPPY: Has she ever brought any dead things home before?

LE PIE: No, Rocket isn’t into killing. The cat does, she brings rats, birds, lizards. She’ll bring them into the house and leave them on a pile of washing. Clean washing, just looking at me like “Oh hey, I brought you a present“.

HAPPY: (laughs) Yes! They always look so proud about that!

LE PIE: Yeah they do. Hmm, Rocket what are you looking at? Oh the birds. You’ll never catch them mate. I might just let her go. Go play!

Rocket gets let off the leash and begins running after the birds.

HAPPY: Did you ever take her to obedience school or anything like that? She’s pretty well trained.

LE PIE: No, because I heard they don’t really work. I’d really have to reinforce everything at home anyway, so I just trained her myself. I think if you spend heaps of time with them and just talk to them all the time, and I take her to the park all the time too. She’s still an idiot though (laughs).

Rocket takes off and begins playing with every dog in the park.

HAPPY: Wow she is totally disrupting the peace.

LE PIE: Yeah that’s what she does. She just has to get up in everyone’s business.

HAPPY: Well you can think of it as a preview for how mental it will be here when Newtown Fest is on.

LE PIE: Is this a bad time for me to say that I’ve never been to Newtown Fest?

HAPPY:  Dude really? And that’s totally on the record too!

LE PIE: (laughs) I think I just keep missing it. I’ve been away a couple of times, and other times I’ve just been too hungover. But that’s about as far as my excuses stretch. So this year will be cool, I’ll get to play and go to Newtown Festival for the first time.

HAPPY: Well you’re kind of obligated to go (laughs).

LE PIE: Yeah but it’s a good obligation!

HAPPY: If it makes you feel any better I’ve never been either, but I chalk that up to living in the western suburbs.

LE PIE: I used to live down that road over there! I would have seen the festival a couple of times.

HAPPY: And heard it and smelt it. Did you know there is a dog show as well?

LE PIE: Ooooh! I didn’t know that!

HAPPY: So you could take Rocket and she can wear her fashionable scarf.

LE PIE: She can win cutest dog, but I don’t think she’ll take best behaved. She takes after me.

HAPPY: Really?

LE PIE: Nah, I’m alright (laughs)

Le Pie Come Over Here

HAPPY: Well they do say dogs take after their owners.

LE PIE: Well she’s really stupid so I hope not (laughs).

HAPPY: Is she really that stupid?

LE PIE: She really is. Like she’ll belt her head hard really on something and she won’t notice, she’ll just keep on walking. I don’t do that, if I belted my head on something I’d definitely notice. Her head is too big.

HAPPY: (laughs) Her head still hasn’t caught up to her puppy body?

LE PIE: No I just think she’ll have a massive head.

HAPPY: You know what you should do? You should take her up on stage with you at Newtown Fest.

LE PIE: No, she doesn’t like the music. We jam at my house and she doesn’t like it at all. She usually has to go outside because she can’t handle the volume. I don’t know if she can go up on stage.

HAPPY: So she wasn’t a big fan of the EP then?

LE PIE: Yeah, she was like “It’s alright mum, you can probably do better“.

HAPPY: You could totally do a Pet Sounds thing and get Rocket on track.

LE PIE: Oooohh! That’s a good idea! Although she’s not a barker either. You have to really rough her up to get her to bark.

HAPPY: Really? Maybe you can just have her panting in the background and just have that sitting really low in the mix.

LE PIE: Like a little sample.

HAPPY: You can just get rid of all the bass, and have…

LE PIE: Dog panting! (laughs).

HAPPY: Yep, when I think about it now I can hear it on I Don’t Believe, I think it could work. Easily.

LE PIE: (Laughs). Why don’t we have a drink at the Courtie, that’s a favourite hang. Hey Rocket, do you want to go to the Courtie? I used to always work on a Friday but now it’s my second Friday off, so I’m pretty keen to start doing the Friday thing.

HAPPY: Where do you usually work?

LE PIE: So I run my own business. I went to creative arts, so I started an art teaching business. It’s called Young Arts, Run Free. Just school kids from 3 to 5. It fits in really well with music stuff.

HAPPY: So what do you teach?

LE PIE: Everything! Everything I learned at uni, apart form installation. Installation would be too hard! But sculpture, painting, drawing, print making, all the standard stuff.

HAPPY: That’s pretty cool. So for the next EP you can have Rocket on the track slobbering away, and a children’s choir.

LE PIE: Oh yeah! I’ve actually been thinking about a children’s choir, it’s weird that you said that. I wanted to have a children’s choir on tour with me. But obviously that’s impossible because the tour itself was hard enough.

HAPPY: Nah, it can be like a field trip.

LE PIE: Well, that’s kind of my ultimate goal, to go on tour with a small choir in tow. High school students, I teach primary but high school students would be best.

HAPPY: But high schoolers get caught up in all kinds of shenanigans…

LE PIE: But that’s good though! Someone else can look after them (laughs).

HAPPY: Yeah you can just make your manager do it! He seemed like a nice guy at BIGSOUND.

LE PIE: You were at BIGSOUND? Wait did we meet before?

HAPPY: No we saw you play though, I would’ve been too shy to come up and say hello at the time.

LE PIE: You were shy? I was shy! I was so intimidated! I’d never been to anything like that before and there were loads of industry people there too. I felt heaps out of my depth! Did you know that dogs get treats from behind the bar here at the Courthouse?

HAPPY: No I didn’t.

Le Pie And He Said Honey You Looked So Fine

LE PIE: Yep, that’s why this is Rocket’s favourite place. Everyone loves talking to her. Tell you what, having a dog in Newtown is the best way to meet people. Everyone has one and they all want to pat your dog and talk to them. I’m a big beer drinker, there are times when I think I have too much beer.

HAPPY: Can you really say there’s such a thing as too much beer though?

LE PIE: There is when you get a beer gut. When I start getting a little bit of a beer bulge I think “Hmmm, maybe I’ll switch to gin for a while“, I won’t stop drinking, I’ll just switch (laughs). Oh man, I need to get a bag. Every grown woman I know has a bag, but here’s me struggling to hold all my stuff.

HAPPY: True that, dresses have no practicality, you can’t put your stuff anywhere!

LE PIE: Yeah! Right now I have no pockets in this outfit and it’s pretty annoying! Anyway, cheers! I was surprised at BIGSOUND how everyone was drunk. I got drunk one of the days but the rest of the time I was trying to be professional.  I had a bunch of meetings lined up on the Thursday, and every single person was blind drunk.

HAPPY: True, everyone we saw was either drunk or trying get over their hangover by getting drunk again.

LE PIE: We had our show on the Wednesday, had meetings on the Thursday and the EP launch show on the Friday, so I couldn’t really party. I don’t pull up very well. I can party, I can stay out all night, but the next day I’m out.

HAPPY: You’re just knocked out for a couple of hours?

LE PIE: Mate I’m out for the whole day. I’m hopeless.

HAPPY: Like a middle-aged person?

LE PIE: (laughs) Exactly! My issue is that I can’t sleep in though, once I’m awake I’m awake. Lots of people are like “Oh I’m really hungover, I slept until 2!” I’m like nice life!

HAPPY: Well you can’t, once you have a dog in your life you can never sleep in.

LE PIE: And the cat! They both came in to the bed this morning. The cat and the dog were both like “Oh hey, it’s time to get up!

HAPPY: When you have a cat you don’t need an alarm clock, they’ll wake you regardless. Which reminds me, have you heard how cats have healing powers?

LE PIE: Yes! Are you talking about the exhibition?

HAPPY: No from personal experience. I had a bad migraine and the cat sat on my head, like he knew that’s where I was sick. Apparently they can sense it.

LE PIE: Yeah they can! And their purring is meditative. Though my cat is still a massive bitch. I opened the back door the other day and she was sitting on this cabinet. I open the door and she just gave me the biggest resting bitch face ever. She was like “Why are you opening the door and looking at me?” (laughs).

HAPPY: It’s amazing how aware of their space cats are. Usually they leave when there’s a disruptive influence that enters their space.

LE PIE: No, she is so domineering.

HAPPY: Did you ever watch that show Catdog? I figured all cats and dogs got along like that when I was little.

LE PIE: I loved that theme song! When I was really little I thought dogs were boys and cats were girls. My mum had to set me straight one day, I was like three or four I think. It would be embarrassing if I was ten (laughs).

HAPPY: Isn’t that interesting though? We associate rowdiness and loudness with boys, and something more reserved or sophisticated is female. It’s a little sexist.

LE PIE: It’s very sexist! A lot of the women I know, myself included, are not the standard, socially acceptable females. I’ve got a group of pretty gangly girls. Just girls who know how to stand up for themselves. I don’t have any friends who wouldn’t front on a dude in any situation. Like a lot of girls will shy away, but I might be a bit too gnarly. I just go looking for trouble (laughs). I’ve been described as scary a few times. By dudes though, it’s only dudes who think I’m scary. Girls are like “She’s a sassy bitch“, but guys will be like “Yeah, she’s scary“.

HAPPY: Whenever a guy would say that there’s an undercurrent to that, as if there’s something wrong with that girl.

LE PIE: It’s totally sexist, I hate it. I don’t like it at all. If I was a dude doing or acting how I was in any particular situation it would be called powerful, or something positive. But when a girl does it they say it’s scary, because there is this weird undercurrent of girls having to be polite and quiet, and not being angry or confronting.

A lady interrupts to say hello to Rocket, reminiscing about a dog just like hers.

LE PIE: It’s amazing how only dogs can do that.

HAPPY: True, you never see people start telling stories about a cat or lizard that often.

LE PIE: Have you seen the guy in Newtown who walks around with a cat on his shoulder? He just walks around the street with this cat just sitting there all casual. And there’s a guy with a python as well. You know how people would go and buy a python? My dad would just go out in to the bush and just catch one. He’d just stick it up in out roof since we lived on a farm in Mullumbimby. We lived on a dairy farm and we had heaps of rats in the ceiling, so my dad would go catch snakes and throw them up there. He’d let them live up there because that would sort the problem. There’s no spraying chemicals around our house, let’s go get a snake! At the time I thought that was pretty normal, now not so much! (laughs).

HAPPY: That’s amazing.

LE PIE: We stopped when my mum had my baby brother. At that point it was like “It’s time to get rid of this random snake from the bush“. My dad was a bit of a wild man.

HAPPY: There you go kids, if you have a rat problem…

LE PIE: Get a snake. You see, in my mind it seems reasonable. I don’t want to put bait and traps down, and pythons are harmless. I don’t have a problem with snakes. I do with cockroaches. Spiders I’m okay with, snakes I’m fine with, cockroaches, no.

HAPPY: Just the big ones or all of them?

LE PIE: It used to be all of them, but living in Newtown now I’ve started to get used to them. But the big ones still scare me.

HAPPY: Which is funny when they’re less harmful than a snake, or a dog!

LE PIE: Exactly! It’s a completely irrational fear.

HAPPY: It’s a self-control thing.

LE PIE: Yeah I heard they can get up into your ears and in your head!

HAPPY: See, control. For all we know they’re doing that all the time and we’ve been fine.

LE PIE: I don’t know about you, I’m not fine with that! (laughs). I’m not fine with that thought at all!

HAPPY: Well since we’ve arrived at such a fun point in the interview we may as well wrap things up. Besides roaches, we like to chat about things that make us happy, so what makes you happy?

LE PIE: What makes me happy? Animals mostly! I feel that’s been made pretty obvious. I don’t know, animals, music, food, beer, I should probably say family and friends as well!