Here’s what’s magical about Kimbra: Even though the long-distance phone line crackles and sputters venomously throughout our conversation, her voice penetrates with the clarity of wind chimes on a blustery day.
That voice is hypnotising and inviting and masks the fact that the aforementioned cranky phone line is lending itself to a rather awkward interview, where Kimbra and I repeat ourselves often, trip over our questions and answers and strain to hear what the other has just said.
But still, there is that voice. It makes up for everything and I find myself clamping my mobile phone tight against my ear, eager to hear more. Evidently, I can’t get enough of the New Zealand native’s pipes and unsurprisingly, neither can the rest of the world.
Kimbra (and her voice) made the ascent to pop superstardom with 2012’s effortlessly infectious Somebody That I Used To Know, a collaborative effort with Aussie singer Gotye that featured a music video of the two naked, save for artfully splattered body paint.
The playful little track grew into a huge phenomenon, sold nearly eight million copies and earned the duo Grammys for Record of the Year and Best Pop Duo/Group Performance at the 55th Annual Grammy Awards.
In August this year, Kimbra released her sophomore album The Golden Echo, a CD rich in diverse musical influences with collaborators including John Legend, Muse’s Matt Bellamy and Foster the People’s Mark Foster.
The album also yielded the wickedly quirky track 90s Music – one of the year’s more memorable songs that drew on her love for music from the 1990s – and quickly resonated with audiences across the world.
Clearly, Kimbra is slowly but surely climbing up that elusive ladder to success and methinks she’s unlikely to stop until she reaches her final destination.
And soon – indeed, very soon – us lucky Malaysians will feel the pull of her magnetic presence as she makes her much-heralded Malaysian debut at this year’s Urbanscapes 2014 on Dec 6.
To whet your appetite before the show, we’ve uncovered six things you may not have known about Kimbra.
1 She doesn’t regret giving up university for the sake of a record deal.
“I have a very strong sense of music being what I was meant to do. It is my way of influencing the world and giving back in some way, and I’ve never really doubted that. But there were, of course, moments when I thought about how great it would be to go to university and learn things with my friends. But I think I had a different kind of university – I chose the kind that was about learning the craft of music and having this amazing chance to inspire other people with what I was doing, so, I still managed to use my brain and have a sense of academic life from that.”
2 She didn’t feel any pressure to live up to the success of her hit song when she was making her sophomore album The Golden Echo.
“Um, it’s one of my beliefs that you can’t repeat the same moment over and over again, so, I don’t think I ever put that pressure on myself because moments happen and they are unique and beautiful for what they are. I think my aim was to continue to push myself and say, ‘Okay, where can I go next?’. Also, having expectations for the record was a good thing because it made me be really bold and take risks and have that sense of determination to do something great. I think if there’s no expectation or pressure on an artiste, you might just become too comfortable and complacent.”
3 She might just have discovered the secret to making it in the United States.
“It’s a lot about the right timing and the right place and all of that, but I think you need to have a strong vision and a strong sense of who you are to make a mark in America – that’s really what makes a difference in those markets. One of the things I did was take the time to test the waters and try things out at home, so that when I came to America, I had a body of work, a solid album and also, a strong live performance track record. You’ve got to work hard – it isn’t something that happens instantly.”
4 She doesn’t really have the time to date.
“You have to try to make the time just to do normal things and the thing about being a musician is that it’s not a nine-to-five job where you can finish up at 5pm. You are always consumed by the next thing that you’re working on, so, I try to create a routine where I get to spend time with my girlfriends. But there haven’t been many dates because I’ve been so focused on touring and the album, and I think there is still plenty of time for that (dating).”
5 She thinks female entertainers don’t have to live up to unrealistic ideals.
“We have so many artistes out there who are also dancers and models and seem like superwomen, so it can seem like that’s the standard, you know – that everyone should be like that. But I feel excited that right now, there is such a large number of females doing well in the industry and showing that there is no prototype to being successful or influential. I guess I myself feel that the most important thing in a female artiste is to find what’s special to you and take ownership of that, as opposed to trying to be absolutely everything at once.”
6 She’s planning quite the show for Urbanscapes 2014!
“We change up the songs quite a bit live, so I think it’s gonna be quite exciting for fans to come down who have heard me before but without the translation of the live band. We put a lot of effort into making it a theatrical experience for people, where they get to step inside a little world. I also get to wear fun dresses and there are visual elements which really make it an exciting experience.”
R.AGE is the official media partner of Urbanscapes 2014, which will be held on Dec 6 at Horse Ranch, Resorts World Genting. For more content and info, go to rage.com.my/urbanscapes2014.