When Kimbra was only 19, Melbourne label Forum5 found her on MySpace, and decided to head to her home turf of New Zealand to encourage her to move to Melbourne. She did, and in only two years Kimbra has written and recorded her debut album, Vows (due out in February/March 2011), pairing up with producers Francois Tetaz (Architecture in Helsinki, Gotye) and Australian Urban/Hip-Hop export M-Phazes.
Since releasing her first single, Settle Down, alongside a killer film clip to match, a definite buzz has been surrounding this singer’s career. Notorious American blogger Perez Hilton even added her film clip to his site and labelled her the ‘next big thing’. And Miami Horror’s hit track Look to You, which features Kimbra’s vocals, has been added to high rotation to Triple J, heightening the well-deserved hype surrounding her. But even with all of this under her belt, Kimbra remains humble, politely noting “I have been sharing my music for a long time, so I guess I have not looked too far ahead or expected too much.”
On listening to Kimbra’s smoky, soulful voice you can see why she has been noted as an artist to watch. Inspired by jazz greats such as Nina Simone, she has even tackled covering the track Plain Gold Ring – which she does with ease and a voice that belies her age, adding a contemporary edge that shows her daring character.
On stage she is fiery and passionate, moving her arms as her voice swoons; audiences have been left intrigued. But what sets her apart is her need to push the limits, stylistically. First single, Settle Down, showcases this perfectly through its a rhythmic collection of voice sounds and effects, which are matched with lyrics.
As Kimbra explains, “Settle Down is a good introduction to the lyric themes in the album: it kind of touches on the idea of vows, and commitment and promises. The album itself (titled Vows) is about promises to people and also breaking those promises. I guess those ideas intrigued me. It’s not something I have dealt with firsthand though – I am not married,” she says, laughing.
In the making of Vows, Kimbra says there have been times when patience has been her virtue. “The album is now at the stage where it’s in its final mixing tweaks, so it’s pretty much done, which feels really good. Sometimes I have had to be patient, but I guess you just really want to make something that is a good debut, so I took my time. I worked with some great producers. Francois Tetaz was a lot more indie and added quirky pop sounds, whereas M-Phazes added a lot more of an urban sound. But I enjoyed having two really different perspectives on the record, to give two very different [sounds].”
To add to Kimbra’s exciting ride, she has recently been added as support to the Little Red national tour, which kicked off around the country at the start of October. On touring with Little Red, Kimbra notes, “It has been awesome so far. We are playing at the Hifi Bar tonight in Brisbane, and all of the shows have been packed, which has been awesome. The crowds have been really receptive, and have been vibing on all of it which has been really good.”
Kimbra mentions that this is her first tour with her talented band and her drummer has decided to change his hairstyle to match the tour vibe. “My drummer kind of looks like MC Hammer: he has a massive flat-top Afro. So it’s a lot of fun walking around with him,” she says with a giggle.
In a matter of weeks Kimbra will be performing at the Forum Theatre alongside Little Red, showcasing all of her new material. On performing at such an iconic venue Kimbra’s voice becomes more excited. “I am pretty thrilled because it’s hands down my favourite venue in Melbourne. Every time I have been there I have thought to myself if I play at this place I will be very happy.”
So for Kimbra, dreams are coming true and there will be no time to Settle Down, with a summer ahead full of festivals, and the release of her debut album. The future is going to be a wonderful ride. It has only just begun.
Kimbra performs at the Forum Theatre on the October 29 and 30. Settle Down is out now through Forum5.