Kimbra is probably still best known as the finely painted dark brunette beauty from Gotye's uber-hit Somebody That I Used To Know. But the New Zealand born singer was already a success in her own right on that side of a world long before the duo took over the internet.
“My record was pretty much finished, the Australian version of it anyway, when I met Gotye. I had a couple of songs on Youtube and they were getting some good hits. I had about 2 million views before I worked with him, so there was definitely a nice momentum going. But of course having that song come out, people seemed really interested in what I doing from that song.
“It gave me an incredible platform to then release my music in parts of the world and have an instant audience. I feel so glad for that. Also to have been involved in a collaboration that has been so well respected... it's given me a platform to now share my own record”.
The Number 1 single has currently ammassed over 287 million views on Youtube, giving Kimbra the kind of exposure that no amount of money could buy. But at the time, the singer was surprised the track was even under consideration as a single.
“I think it's been a phenomenon that no one could have predicted. When I heard the song I just sort of knew that it was very strong and that it would resonate with people. But it didn't cross my mind that it would go to the charts, just because Gotye is actually quite a left of centre artist anyway. He was this experimental, electronic indie act in Australia so even when he told me that song was going to be a single I was surprised because it seemed something that would be more of a reflective, arty moment on the record. But then everyone started to just kind of penetrate and it started to grab everyone and we were like 'Wow this is getting pretty big'”.
With her debut album Vows now repackaged with the addition of six new tracks for its western release, Kimbra looks set to make the evolution from internet sensation to pop star. But she does so on her own terms, fusing her eccentric jazz style with R'n'B beats and sunny pop hooks.
The version of Vows released here is quite different to the original released in Australia and New Zealand and the 22 year old starlet seems to have been drawn into a creative frenzy in her post-Gotye fame.
“They're songs that I recorded in America at the end of last year. I wanted to do a bonus track or one extra track for the album when it came to release it in the UK and America. But I ended up writing all these new songs. I worked with a few really great producers like Mike Elizondo who worked with Dr. Dre and Fiona Apple and Greg Kurstin who is one half of The Bird and the Bee and he's done production for the Flaming Lips and The Shins. I just really hit it off with a few people and ended up writing all this new material which I figured I would add to the record and have it as a representation of where I'm at musically now”.
Kimbra is not your typical pop singer, nor is she trying to be. Her music is as likely to reference Bjork or Kate Bush as it is to draw comparisons to Lily Allen. The record is ultimately a pop album, but one which is superbly crafted, drawing on many eclectic influences.
“I guess that just comes from so many palliative influences and trying to listen to as many different singers as I can. That helps me stretch my influences as far as possible. I enjoy the idea of involving theatrics and music and putting in twists and turns. Jazz as a genre is interesting in that sense because it's all about bringing some kind of unpredicted twists and turns. Even musical theatre is a genre that's always playing on surprise. I really enjoy artists that bring that into the pop world. It makes me think of Prince and Michael Jackson of course, as artists who have done that.
“I think my music is maybe some kind of progressive pop, or certainly has specific elements of being experimental. I would get too bored if I were to stick to too many 'perfect' formulas. I think the excitement of making music is to push the envelope a bit and see where you can take a piece of music, while still keeping it catchy and melodic for people to sing along to. I think taking some risks is what I find most fun”.