On a recent School's Tour to Wellington with Moana Ete, Kimbra caught up with me for a quick chat before a gig. Much younger and shorter than I expected, Kimbra nonetheless comes across as intelligent and mature beyond her years. Like many NZ artists, Kimbra first came to attention as a finalist in the 2004 Smokefree Rockquest. With two singles under her belt and plenty of interest, Kimbra's future looks bright.
Charlette Hannah: How has the Schools Tour been going, and how did you get involved with that?
Kimbra: Yeah, it's been going really good so far, we've done two schools now and the response has been really good. We weren't really sure but lots of kids have been coming along and enjoying it, and they knew my single which is good. People were singing along which is fun. A venue that has just opened in Cuba St called Zeal are helping out with a few tours for bands and stuff, and they asked me if I'd like to help them out with it, so of course I was like 'yeah sure'. Good opportunity to come down to Wellington. So as well as the School's Tour which is a really great opportunity, I've been trying to get as much as I can in the evenings.
Charlette: You've already managed to generate a fair amount of attention for yourself. Do you have a manager or do you do the hard yards yourself?
Kimbra: I'm just doing it by myself at the moment, which has been fine. Obviously it means you have to spend a little bit more time on the computer side of things, and obviously it would be nice to hand it over to someone else and let them do it. At the same time it's good to know that you're in control of what's happening, what's being portrayed. I'm moving to Auckland next year and maybe I'll think about getting a manager then. Probably not until the point where it becomes a real imperative.
Charlette: You've had a lot of support so far from NZ On Air, have you had any interest from record labels?
Kimbra: I've been fortunate to be able to talk with some labels and get advice which has been cool, but at this point I'm just waiting out for the right deal or situation. And yeah, NZ On Air has helped me out a lot with the singles and the funding side of things, which is similiar to what a record company would provide. Obviously when I come to recording an album I may look into labels more seriously. At the moment I'm just taking it slow, I'm not in any rush to sign up to anything unless I'm sure it's going to allow for the plans I have in the future.
Charlette: Have you got any plans for an album or an EP soon?
Kimbra: Yeah, I would like to get onto something soon now that I've done the two singles. NZ On Air often fund for an album. That's definitely something I want to get onto soon. But at the same time I feel like you only get one shot at a first album and I want it to be good so I don't want to rush into anything too soon. That might mean doing an EP first or something of a shorter length before I jump into an album.
Charlette: Do you have band that you work with?
Kimbra: I have worked with bands in Hamilton, but it's a lot easier to just roll up with my guitar in terms of live performance. Next year I'm looking at getting a simple band together, just drums, bass, to complement the music a bit more. But at the same time, I try to bring together the elements of a band on stage when I play, and try to think dynamically like that.
Charlette: A couple of random questions... How would you describe your music to a deaf person?
Kimbra: Golly, that's a hard one. I suppose there's a lot of roots of soul in my music, I listen to a lot of that as well. It's generally acoustic, there's quite a jazz vibe to my music, jazz and soul. I'm quite rhythm focused so I really enjoy interesting rhythms and melodies is a big thing for me, I like to write really melodic music. I'm hoping there's a unique twist to the music, that it's not too cliche, hopefully it steps out a bit.
Charlette: Would you have plastic surgery when you get old and wrinkled?
Kimbra: I'd say no. I know image is a big thing in the music industry, but to me, if I can still make music at that age and have to sacrifice looking good then I don't really care. I wouldn't really spend all that money on it when it could go to so much betteruse . Plastic surgery, blurgh.
Charlette: Do you want to be world famous?
Kimbra: I'd like my music to reach as many people as it possibly can, and if that means fame, then so be it. It's not something I'm really aspiring to. I'm not passionate about all the stuff that comes along with the music industry, but I'd definitely like my music to reach lots and lots of people, and of all different backgrounds and beliefs, so in that sense, yes.
Charlette: In the 2004 Smokefree Rockquest you were a finalist... Do you think you should have won?
Kimbra: Um [Charlette: I'm just joking!]. I'm glad I didn't win. It was so absolutely unexpected that I came second, and I would never be gutted that I didn't win! Second place can sometimes be a blessing as well, as you get all the exposure of Rockquest, but you're able to break away from it if need be. Whereas sometimes coming first can be hard to come outside of the whole realm of the Rockquest label. Yeah, it was a big year that year, and the bands who got placed were definitely well deserving.
Charlette: You've said that your experience at the All Blacks vs. Ireland match has made you more confident on stage... How do you feel when you're performing, in general? Do you get nervous?
Kimbra: Yeah, as I've said, after doing that game it's been a lot easier to conquer nerves. Every gig I played after that just seemed so much easier, as nothing can quite measure up to singing to 30,000 people at a stadium! All things fly around when I'm performing. I try to come across honest and sincere on stage, so I try not to crowd my head with thoughts of 'how do I come across' because I think it's really cool as a performer when you see someone just as they really are. Not vulnerable, but just honest, yeah.
Charlette: What musicians would you like to collaborate with if you could?
Kimbra: I've always dreamed of singing with a real wicked gospel singer. In New Zealand I'd say someone like Hollie Smith, but overseas, people like Jill Scott. If Jeff Buckley was still alive, singing a song with him would be an absolute dream come true. There's just so many people I admire.