7 Oct 2017

Who is the real Kimbra?

From RNZ Music, 1:15 pm on 7 October 2017

Kimbra Photo: RNZ / Claire Eastham-Farrelly

Alex Behan

One of our finest musical exports has also been one of our most elusive: who is the real Kimbra? Is it disco Kimbra? Settle Down Kimbra? 90's Music Kimbra? Experimental Kimbra? We may be about to find out with her forthcoming third album Primal Heart.

"It’s totally scary to share the more vulnerable side of who we are. It’s like when you have a crush on someone at school and you just talk lots to distract them, instead of saying [what] you really want to.

At the age of 27, Kimba is embracing that vulnerable side: "It probably comes down to (it sounds so boring) some maturity you know? You grow and you learn things and you experience more pain and struggle and you kind of want to speak to that ... you realise [we have] the gift of music to really connect us through those things."

RNZ's Alex Behan and Kimbra

RNZ's Alex Behan and Kimbra Photo: RNZ / Claire Eastham-Farrelly

A lot has changed for the Hamilton-born musician in the last couple of years. After making her second album, The Golden Echo, in Los Angeles Kimbra made the move to New York, an experience which seems to have pushed her boundaries both personally and professionally. 

She seems set to reveal more of herself on her upcoming album, and musically has been focussing on simplicity, which she admits is not her natural tendency.

"Every project is a reaction to the one before and The Golden Echo was so dense and imaginative so I think what felt exciting at this point was to do something that was more about looking the person in the eye and bringing the voice to the forefront and really trying to find that thing that connects us all at the core.

"There’s a boldness or a directness in this record that feels like exposing myself in a different way. Shedding some of the layers, maybe some of the characters that I’ve had along the years.

"I think for me some of the most powerful music is the simplest and I’ve always struggled as an artist to master simplicity because I get so excited by details”

The first single from Primal Heart is 'Everybody Knows', an anthem about courage and seeing things through fresh eyes.

Kimbra on 'Everbody Knows'

After the release of The Golden Echo, Kimbra spent time in L.A writing for other musicians: "[It was] this idea of, 'Why don’t I give it a try? Maybe I could write for some of the big pop stars!'"

She wrote 'Everybody Knows' during this period, and ended up connecting emotionally with the song: "It felt like something that was more my story."

"The song generally is about courage and about seeing things afresh, and the storms we create when we silence things in our lives or deny them.

"For me it’s a big anthem for truth and boldness, and hopefully, that’s relateable for a lot of people."