Following the success of Kimbra’s 2011 debut album Vows, the 24-year old Kiwi embarks on a nationwide tour this month to promote her sophomore LP, The Golden Echo.
I chatted with the singer-songwriter on her new sound, “that Gotye song,” and her spiritual awakening in a sheep farm.
Photo by Thom Kerr
CC: Your new album definitely sounds like a departure from Vows. It feels freer. Why did you decide to make this transition?
K: I think it’s natural, you know? You start moving in a new direction as you get older. I have a lot more life experience, so I wanted the record to feel more explosive and tougher. So it was like a playground; I learned a lot about myself as an artist, a producer, and a vocalist.
I’ve always been very excited by the technical world of music. I learned a lot more about arranging a song; how you balance different elements. It’s always a balancing act for me, having like a hundred sounds going on, but also trying to strip things back to more emotion.
CC: I heard something about you moving to a sheep farm in LA to pen The Golden Echo?
K: Yeah, there were a bunch of chickens, sheep, baby lambs, sheepdogs to look after them… It was great, just a place to re-center and focus again.
CC: What about that particular environment shaped your new sound?
K: The album has the sentiment of listening deeper into your life – nothing kinesthetic. I wanted it to be a tapestry album that you lived in, and have those echoes come back at you. The farm got me thinking a lot more about creating stillness in my life – and chaos as well.
CC: Speaking of echoes, I read the title of your record, The Golden Echo, came to you during some sort of in-between state where you were about to fall asleep…and when you looked it up you found that it actually referred to someone’s goal. So I’m curious; did you end up finding your “Golden Echo” in the process of all of this?
K: I think it’s like an ongoing journey for me. To me, it’s symbolic of the frequency of the universe and its particular vibration that causes us to engage with the deepest side of ourselves. And that’s the place where we go when I make music, or when I’m on stage.
I feel like sometimes the human experience is kind of like a pendulum between being so caught up in our heads with the analysis of every experience, and the vision in our hearts, and that’s where we find our “Golden Echo.” Slowly, I find myself getting closer to feeling whatever that is the more I let go of fears.
CC: It’s interesting, because when I first listened to the album, the first thing I thought about doing was dancing. Did you think first, “I need to write something that gets people on the dancefloor, then make them think?”
K: It’s more like I just went with emotion. Like, “Miracle” came at the end of this record because it didn’t have a celebration song. It was more about, “Have I covered all the emotions that I want to experience?”
CC: By the way, do you ever get tired of those references to Gotye and “Somebody that I Used to Know?”
K: (laughs) I mean, I totally understand that it’s something people want to discuss because it’s not only about me, but it’s part of pop culture as well. I’m proud that we were able to create something that we certainly didn’t expect. It can be a good thing to push you and make you work hard. I don’t believe in trying to repeat something in the exact same way, you know? And I don’t think that Gotye would want to do that either. It happened, and I’ll always want to push into a new space.
CC: Now that you’re about to embark on your U.S. tour, how do you feel? What’s in store for your audience?
K: I’m super excited to get back on the road. It’s been a really long time. It’s wonderful making records and being in the studio, but there’s something really special about spontaneity. On stage when you play a song, it’s like that one moment that you have with the particular group of people with that particular energy in the room. I’m so ready to just get back in that place of really being in the moment.
Kimbra will be performing at Salt Lake’s In the Venue on Monday, October 27.