Kimbra is one of those artists that tend to sneak up onto your playlist. Once you start listening, you’re left wondering where she’s been all your life. Fact is, Kimbra has been making music most of her life, but likely your first taste of her talent came from being featured on Gotye’s smash hit, “Somebody That I Used To Know”.
Dressed in her signature look of adorableness with perfectly painted red lips, Kimbra hangs out with Pop Counter//Culture backstage before kicking off her first headlining North American tour. She is insightful, intelligent and beautiful. And her music vows to wow audiences around the world, especially with the release of her new album, incidentally entitled, Vows.
Kicking off your North American tour, is there anything you’re especially excited about headlining this time around?
It’s pretty iconic for me because this is the third tour of North America, but it’s the first time headlining. It’s a bit of a proud moment knowing many of the dates have sold out, getting to bring along some exciting visuals, and the backdrop. And bringing Stepkids, who are one of my favourite bands on tour with me…I also really love Canada and I’m not just saying that. I went and stayed in Montreal for two and a half weeks because I loved it.
It’s been quite the big year for you releasing Vows around the world. How would you sum up the culmination of experiences that led up to the creation of this album?
There’s just so much because there’s so many phases I went through in the making of the record. My youth played a big part of it because I explored me as a seventeen-year-old maturing and womanhood and self-discovery, love…it was my chance to throw all of my colours at the canvas and really experiment. Those years from seventeen to twenty-one are really defining.
The track “Posse” goes against all the status quos in life, which is great. When you were growing up, was there a time where you really struggled with confidence?
I was a happy kid at school. As a teenager I was doing a lot of things like drama and art and music. I was lucky to go to a high school that gave me all those opportunities. In saying that, I definitely, like all young girls, struggled with the idea of where do I fit in…Although it’s not completely biographical, I relate to the ideas in that song of just being that age and deciding that you want to be a bit different and not just go with what everyone else is doing. Of course nowadays it can be seen as hip to be a bit different or you just find the neighbourhood where you fit in.
With the track “Warrior”, how much of a conscious effort did you put into including tracks that are empowering and that have a positive message?
“Warrior”, I liked that word and I had a few select lines and as I kept going with it, it started to present itself as a socially conscious song. Mark [Foster] suggested to me let’s write this song about something that threatens to take away our joy. That was his idea for it. I wrote all the lyric, but it’s born from that idea of what’s something that threatens to take away our joy. I decided that that was our modern age, that thing that takes away our awe and wonder and being childlike – wanting to explain everything to the point of there’s no magic left anymore.
Speaking of the track “Warrior”, you get to wear a kickass wrestling leotard. What inspires your outfit decisions, on and off stage or in music videos?
It has to extend the world of the music, always. It’s music first and foremost for me, but because the music has a sense of being theatrical and another world, it helps me to prepare for that world by taking on a kind of a character with the dresses. I love Disney films, I love psychedelia, colour, imagination, and art. Incorporating that with the dresses I wear just helps to make a more exciting experience for people that come along.
Your newest video is “Come Into My Head”. Your blog says that it was the most difficult to shoot, but your favourite. Why?
I had to play someone quite disturbed and because I wrote the song about feeling locked up inside my own head at times, which we’ve all felt – that idea of wanting to communicate what you’re feeling, but not being able to get through. To have to play that emotion out with a scalpel in my hand in a mental asylum that was actually a mental asylum – it’s an abandoned mental asylum. To do that, you get that feeling of what it must be like to be an actor. You have to embrace a role and there were moments where I felt quite confronted about it all, finding it hard to hold it together and stay focused. That was why it was challenging – because it was such an intense character to be playing.
The reason why it’s one of my favourites is because it’s one of my favourite songs on the album. It’s one of the newer ones on there. I had Deantoni Park who plays with The Mars Volta play drums on that track. That was really exciting for me. I love that band. And the video itself I feel is a nice progression from the other ones we’ve done. It has something cinematic about it.
One of the biggest songs of the year is Gotye’s “Somebody That I Used To Know”. The argument in the song is interesting in that it’s not one-side. You sing the rebuttal. Which perspective do you identify more with?
I’m so connected to the role I play in that song that I feel more connected to that one. I think the cool thing about that song though, is that you connect with both. You hear his part and you’re like, “Yeah, that’s true.” When I come in, it’s like, “Ah yeah, I see what you mean as well.” You see both sides. Essentially they’re both saying the same thing as well. It’s not really about which side. It’s more about perspective. I don’t think I can pick one because I resonate with both.
Many people have discovered your music through collaborations you’ve done. Do you feel that there is added pressure when doing shows to really wow audiences with your own material?
Yeah, I do, but I like it. I think it’s good to have a challenge. I like the idea of people coming along with an idea of what the music is and then walking away with something different and hopefully as long as it’s better, as long as it’s not rubbish, it’s our chance to prove ourselves in a way. There’s more than just one song here…I think sometimes you need that sense of expectation here so that you work harder to make it a great show.
Having been born in a time where you can still remember the Internet not being an integral part of the music industry, what are your thoughts on the pros and cons on the immersive nature of the Internet and the music industry now?
There are pros and cons for sure, the pro being that it’s now so much easier to get your music out there. For someone like me, that’s been a great thing. Even a track like “Settle Down”, I mean it’s up to 20 million views. And even before I worked with Gotye, it had two million views. Just as me putting it out there, a blogger picked up on it. For those reason it’s fantastic, but it also means that everything is so accessible now.
I remember buying, it was a Silverchair CD and actually Amy Winehouse’s first album – I remember buying that and the excitement of having spent my own money on it. I played it so many times and who cares if I didn’t like it the first time. I would play it so many times. I spent money on it. I wanted to get the most out of it. I see the way I listen to music now. I flip through iTunes wanting to listen to this and that and not wanting to pay attention. That’s a con I think of the Internet making things so at our hands. It’s like the music industry always has gone through changes. It’s not like this is the first time so I just see it as a chance to for us to be forward thinking about it and how to now put value on music and how to make it still an industry that is productive for everyone.
Being a young female musician that obviously many boys and girls look up to, who is some of your major idols whether in the music industry or elsewhere?
I love a lot of authors. They’re just personal inspirations to me. I read a lot of C.S. Lewis, I got into a lot of Helen Keller’s books for awhile. She’s an inspirational woman. Musically it ranges from like Trent Reznor, to Jeff Buckley, to Rufus Wainwright, more recently Janelle Monae, Minnie Riperton…a lot of African American soul artists, gospel, R&B, but also experimental stuff.
var _gaq = _gaq || ; _gaq.push(['_setAccount', 'UA-35560095-1']); _gaq.push(['_trackPageview']);