Catching Up With Kimbra
By Jerry Portwood
Photo by Craig Banks
For many U.S. listeners, Kimbra first got on their radar when her duet with Gotye, "Somebody That I Used To Know," hit it big with listeners. The 22-year-old New Zealander was subsequently on Jimmy Kimmel with him, and has been making the rounds, even playing a bunch of sets of her jazz-and-funk influenced songs at Austin's SXSW festival. Her vocals are also featured on Miami Horror’s ethereal electro-disco track "I Look To You."
And, of course, now we have her lovely debut album, Vows, with the sure-to-be-summer hit "Settle Down." Which is an example of an example of a "bittersweet track," she explains. "It’s quite dark, about a manipulative housewife, and I tried to cross the line between light and dark. Even the bright, upbeat, colorful songs, I think there’s a real range of light or dark moments. It's a bit of a ride with the emotions—melancholy and joy and triumph—and that surprises me and plays on your emoitions."
When we recently caught up with Kimbra while she was on tour, she remained upbeat about crisscrossing the country. Although some could be annoyed having to keep singing a hit over and over again, Kimbra said she still enjoyed the opportunities on stage with Gotye, explaining that she was "a big fan of Wally's [Gotye's familiar name] music" before they were introduced by their mutual producer.
Her eclectic sound has many influences, and Kimbra notes she particularly enjoys listening to Minnie Riperton, Rufus Wainwright, Dirty Projectors, and St. Vincent to get her creative juices flowing. Along with checking out Salvador Dali paintings.
Of course, she also has an amazing style and look, and we wondered how she came up with the strong silhouettes and metalic dresses that seem to combine old Hollywood galmor with some sort of funky space-age feel. "That stuff is icing on the cake," she says. "I think I've gravitated to something very playful and feminine and it's fun to have that sort of visual with the music—something whimsical and celebratory." But what about those bangs? Is she worried people will lump her in with the Zooey Deschanel bunch and write her off as too twee? "No, not really. People will just have to see that there's more to me than just a 'look.' It's also how I've looked since I was 16 or something." Which was... only six years ago. But who's counting.
Check out the wonderfully choreographed video for "Cameo Lover" out now. You can watch it below. And find Kimbra's Vows on iTunes.