Any new artist has to get used to a hectic schedule, but New Zealand’s Kimbra seems to have a more complicated life than most. When State speaks to the musician she is in London for twenty four hours, having just arrived from Istanbul and about to head to Australia for a series of shows. After that it’s off to Montreal to work on new material for the follow up to debut album Vows. Although that particular record is new to us, for Kimbra it is old news – having been first released in her home country and adopted home of Australia last year. With her contribution to Gotye’s huge ‘Somebody That I Used To Know’, however, the rest of the world is starting to listen. Is it, we wonder, frustrating to go back to the record after all this time?
“I’m keen to start writing new music because I have ideas floating around, there are new influences from the experiences I’ve been having and from the people that I’ve been meeting. I’ll take the time that it needs, but it’s more I also to get things off my chest after working on the same material for three and a half years that I did on Vows. It’s for my head space, it’ll be refreshing to get into new stuff. In saying that there are six new tracks on this version of the record that were only written at the end of last year so it’s cool to still feel as though there are new elements.”
After a successful teenage career in New Zealand, you disappeared off the scene, found a British manager and ended up in Melbourne. How important was the move to a new country?
“I was purely playing guitar into an eight track, then I wandered into an apartment with Pro Tools and learnt how to arrange strings and horns. Meeting different people and hearing new music gave me the mindset to take risks. I started with simple pop music and wanted to see how I could find a slightly different angle and do different things. Melbourne took me out of my comfort zone.”
Is that a reflection on New Zealand?
“It’s just a matter of population really. Some of the most innovative music comes out of New Zealand, perhaps because we are so isolated and have something to prove to the world. We take influence from all of the incredible landscape and scenery that we have, which contributes to the sound. In saying that there are only four million people in the whole country so there comes a time when you have to step out and be in a bigger market for a bit. Australia was perfect for that but I’m so grateful to have grown up there and got my early influences there.”
Vows isn’t a record that seems happy to settle on one style or sound. Given that you produced it yourself, is that indicative of you as an individual?
“Totally, my head is a melting pot of different sounds and colours. That’s reflected in my music. It would feel contrived to stick to one sound, the best way to express myself is to dabble in different influences. It’s really just about what the song deserves, each different emotion will suit a different approach – be it soul and funk or a fragile arrangement. I try to stay honest, it’s not about what kind of artist you should be, especially at this point. When you’re starting out you should explore and see what elements will stick. I like to be free. I try not to listen to too many singers that sound like me, I want to unlock my creativity.”
Vows is out now on Warners.