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Kim Smith’s life of cabaret is a per­sonal jour­ney through a dark and se­duc­tive land­scape. The enig­matic Aus­tralian per­former has been do­ing the hard and in­ter­est­ing yards around New York, where he is cur­rently based.

Smith ex­plores the dark side of cabaret in his show Nova Noir, evok­ing cabaret of the 1920s in a thor­oughly con­tem­po­rary way.

“Cabaret is a very per­sonal ex­pe­ri­ence, im­pos­si­ble to de­fine,” he says.

“It’s in­ti­mate, un­adorned, it’s as close as I can be on stage ... to just be­ing me.”

With a sharp-edged sense of hu­mour, Smith has the abil­ity to make you laugh and feel un­com­fort­able at the same time.

With its sharp po­lit­i­cal satire, cyn­i­cism and gen­der am­bi­gu­ity, the style and in­spi­ra­tion for Nova Noir de­rives from Weimarpe­riod Ger­man cabaret.

Smith gives his own songs a deca­dent 1920s treat­ment and per­forms them along­side some in­ven­tive mash-ups.

From the Wiemar era to Friedrich Hol­laen­der, Cher, The Supremes and even Kylie, Smith gives the stan­dards very non­stan­dard treat­ment.

“My mu­si­cal di­rec­tor, ac­com­pa­nist and ac­cor­dion­ist is the very skilled Ben­jamin Ick­ies, and we have a syn­ergy that works in the cabaret mi­lieu,” Smith says.

“There’s noth­ing but black all around: it’s a mu­si­cal mir­ror where the text is much more real than some­one just singing songs. You are … telling the au­di­ence a story where they get to use their imag­i­na­tion.”

While some per­form­ers like to set up a song and tell people who wrote it and why, this is not the case for Smith.

“I let the au­di­ence find their mean­ing, be­cause each one of them will have their own per­spec­tive,” he says.

While Smith evens the dark tone of his per­for­mance with some love songs and a sprin­kling of elec­tro-pop, the dark­ness is al­ways present. Kim Smith, The Arts Cen­tre Gold Coast, Satur­day night.

Kim Smith

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