Within the past year, Kimbra has won an ARIA award for Best Female Artist, millions of hits on YouTube, and Gotye's seal of approval. But even with these recent accomplishments, the New Zealand-born musician is anything but a breakout sensation; in fact, the 21-year-old first started performing around age ten and was singing for crowds of 27,000 by twelve. In other words she's been perfecting her clap-happy jazz-meets-pop sound for a while now, and is finally gearing up to head stateside with her debut album. Following Kimbra's ARIA win, we chatted with the Melbourne resident about dressing up, Nine Inch Nails, and the trouble with commitment.
Hey Kimbra. So where are you calling from right now?
I'm in Melbourne where I live now. I'm resting up a bit because it's been super non-stop!
It seems like it. Congrats on your ARIA win!
Thanks! I wasn't really expecting it to be honest; my album wasn't even eligible for the awards this year. It was just based off one of my singles, "Cameo Lover," which was a lovely surprise...
Will you tell us about your awesome dress?
I had a pretty amazing designer help out named Jamie Lee, and made me 2 demi couture dresses. It was a huge honor to support a local designer.
How do you decide what to wear when you perform?
My look onstage is pretty theatrical; I wouldn't wear the dresses walking down the street [laughing]. I like to wear doll dresses and then add my own edge. I used to be into buying old dresses and then do some sewing on them- terribly, but I try!
Your debut album, Vows, hasn't come out yet in America, but many people know you from the Gotye video. How did you get involved in that?
I met Gotye through a mutual producer friend who had worked on his first record. Later on, Gotye called me up and asked me to be in it.
Have you performed in America yet?
I've never performed my own stuff in America, actually. I did a couple of showcases with Gotye a few months ago, but that's it. I can't wait to come back.
For everyone who hasn't heard Vows, how would you describe it?
I think it covers a lot of different grounds and many different influences. I mean, the album followed me from being 17-21 years old so it was a lot of changes in my life. It deals with growing up and coming to terms with attachment and commitment, which is why it's called Vows. There are pop, soul, jazz influences, and this theatrical element to it as well.
What type of music did you like to listen to growing up?
I went through a lot of phases; when I first started getting into it, I loved R&B and gospel and soul. Then I started listening to jazz artists like Nina Simone- they just have such a color and expression that I love. Then I went through a prog rock phase, like Nine Inch Nails [laughing]. So you can see I've delved into tons of musical genres. But I believe you can get as much inspiration from Trent Reznor as you can from Michael Jackson, if you look for it.
What are some Australian bands that you think people in America should know about?
My favorite band is called Silverchair, and they're incredible. Another band that people might already know about is Tame Impala....if you don't know them, you should! And then of course, Gotye!