TRON STAR

Black Magazine - - Black End -

SHE WA WASS WORLD FA­MOUS, ANDND NOT­NOT JUST I N PAEROA, WHEN SHE BE­CAMEME THE FIRST NEW ZEALAN­DER TO TOP THE US CHARTS AS THE YIN TO GO­TYE'S YANG ON 'SOMEBODY I USED TO KNOW'. SHE SHUNS LOW CON­TACT SNAPS WITH FANS I N FAVOUR OF ONE-ON-ONE MEET­INGS AFTER SHOWS, ADORES WRITER THOMAS MER­TON AND HOPES HER FANS EX­PE­RI­ENCE HER MU­SIC WITH HEART, SOUL AND MIND. SHE IS KIM­BRA, FOUND­ING MEM­BER OF AOTEAROA'S BUR­GEON­ING QUIVER OF POP PRINCESSES. ON THE EVE OF TOUR­ING WITH JANELLE MONAE AND RE­LEAS­ING A NEW AL­BUM, THOM KERR HEARS THE EX­CITE­MENT I N HER VOICE...

Thom Kerr: Sit­ting where you are now, look­ing back at ev­ery­thing that has un­folded, did you ever think your jour­ney would take you this far away from your home­town of Hamil­ton? Kim­bra: I al­ways imag­ined my­self trav­el­ling but I couldn’t have guessed that Amer­ica would be a place I would spend so much time. I al­ways had a strong con­vic­tion about mak­ing mu­sic beyond the con­fines of my bed­room and to some­how share it with the world so I thought a lot about that when I was younger but I could never have imag­ined the ex­pe­ri­ences I’ve now had and the peo­ple I’ve worked with. It’s ex­cit­ing to know that as many plans as you make in life you al­ways end up be­ing sur­prised. It's been a pretty crazy few years, how do you make sense of it all, highs and lows in­cluded? I try make sense of mo­ments by re­mem­ber­ing my­self as part of a great whole. One of my favourite au­thors, Thomas Mer­ton, talks about us be­ing like one or­gan­ism, where our highs and lows are in­formed and pro­duced by the highs and lows of oth­ers so we can never be­come too con­cerned with our own sin­gu­lar nar­ra­tive. I find this very ground­ing. "Only when we see our­selves in our true hu­man con­text, as mem­bers of a race which is in­tended to be one or­gan­ism and ‘one body,’ will we be­gin to un­der­stand the pos­i­tive im­por­tance not only of the suc­cesses but of the fail­ures and ac­ci­dents in our lives. My suc­cesses are not my own. The way to them was pre­pared by oth­ers. The fruit of my labors is not my own: for I am pre­par­ing the way for the achieve­ments of another. Nor are my fail­ures my own. They may spring from fail­ure of another, but they are also com­pen­sated for by another’s achieve­ment. There­fore the mean­ing of my life is seen only in the com­plete in­te­gra­tion of my achieve­ments and fail­ures with the achieve­ments and fail­ures of my own gen­er­a­tion, and so­ci­ety, and time." What has been your ex­pe­ri­ence as a fe­male artist ris­ing in this in­dus­try? Of­ten I've re­ally ad­mired your de­ter­mi­na­tion be­cause there are many ex­pec­ta­tions placed upon you that men don't re­ally have to deal with... You cer­tainly have to be tough, and yet grace­ful. The ex­pec­ta­tions can be hard to man­age, but even harder are the ex­pec­ta­tions we place on our­selves. I think as a women in the in­dus­try it is so im­por­tant to be dis­ci­plined about what drives you be­cause the pe­riph­eral roles can so quickly be­come the fo­cus and the art takes a back seat along the way. I am lucky to know a lot of amaz­ing fe­male role mod­els who have con­tin­u­ally re­minded me of the im­por­tance of realign­ing with your vi­sion every­day and sur­round­ing your­self with a team of peo­ple who are con­nected with that. This has been cru­cial for me. Does it weird you out the way in which fans can idolise your im­age? It is es­pe­cially harder nowa­days with the in­ter­net be­cause peo­ple ex­press them­selves in ways they wouldn’t in per­son. I try not to pay too much at­ten­tion to that but even in face-to-face sce­nar­ios it can be very strange to see how peo­ple put you on a pedestal. It is won­der­ful to be thanked for the work you do and how you touch peo­ple but to be idolised as some­one who is some­how dif­fer­ent or em­bod­ies an ‘ideal’ can be dif­fi­cult - es­pe­cially be­cause I want the work to be the cen­tre of what I do. I never want the im­age to be­come more im­por­tant than the mu­sic, it should help peo­ple en­gage fur­ther into the ex­pe­ri­ence, but not be­come the ex­pe­ri­ence it­self. How spe­cial is that con­nec­tion with your au­di­ence? How would you de­scribe your re­la­tion­ship with your fans? I re­ally value en­gag­ing with peo­ple one on one, this is where I feel most nat­u­ral so­cially and mu­si­cally. I have never felt com­fort­able with the cul­ture of peo­ple lin­ing up for a photo or an au­to­graph and not say­ing a word to the artist, so I try to take op­por­tu­ni­ties to cre­ate mo­ments of con­nect in smaller groups after a show - the

Pho­tog­ra­phy: Thom kerr at In­de­pen­dent Artist Man­age­ment Hair & Make-up: Justin henry at Vivien's Cre­ative us­ing make-up by Kevin Au­coin Beauty and wig from Wes­tend Hair Ex­ten­sions / Fash­ion ed­i­tor: lysa cooper

kim­bra wears: Coat by amato cou­ture By Furne one, Shot at: smoky hol­low stu­dios, Los An­ge­les

"I JUST COULDN’T BE­LIEVE THAT OUT OF ALL PEO­PLE IT HAP­PENED TO BE PRINCE. I RE­MEM­BERED HIM GET­TING UP TO PRESENT THE AWARD AND THINK­ING ‘WOW, WHO­EVER GETS TO RE­CEIVE THIS AWARD FROM PRINCE IS GO­ING TO LOSE IT….."

op­por­tu­nity to en­gage with an artist in con­ver­sa­tion is some­thing you take away for a lifetime rather than an au­to­graph so I want to be able to give fans that chance wher­ever pos­si­ble. I have also been hum­bled to see how artis­tic a lot of my fans are, I see a lot of the art­work they send in it’s cool to see that the art I cre­ate in­spires my au­di­ence to also be artis­tic - it be­comes a shared space. What re­spon­si­bil­i­ties do you feel as an artist when you re­lease your work to the pub­lic? To be com­mit­ted and au­then­tic in the work I do. This means fol­low­ing my instincts when I cre­ate and shar­ing from a place of open­ness. I think when an artist speaks their truth and an­chors deeply to an emo­tion, it gives ev­ery­one else per­mis­sion to do the same. What runs through your mind just be­fore a big per­for­mance? I think of my­self be­com­ing the mu­sic, I fo­cus on mov­ing out of the mind and into the heart, chan­nelling from that place in­stead. It’s very im­por­tant to walk on stage with that sense of joy and grat­i­tude for me. I try to prac­tise a real sur­ren­der to the mo­ment and let it be new and fresh ev­ery time. How did you feel about fea­tur­ing on Go­tye's track after it was num­ber one around the world? It was ex­cit­ing to see that peo­ple were grav­i­tat­ing to some­thing dif­fer­ent in pop mu­sic and drawn in by the vul­ner­a­bil­ity of the per­for­mances - and the artis­tic ap­proach of the video clip. It gave me a plat­form to be am­bi­tious and fear­less with the mu­sic I went on to write - and an au­di­ence who felt a con­nec­tion to my mu­sic. It was a crazy ex­pe­ri­ence watch­ing some­thing blow up around the world es­pe­cially when we had no ex­pec­ta­tions for it to work out like that. Did you ever worry that the sin­gles suc­cess eclipsed your own voice as an artist? I al­ways saw it as an amaz­ing chance to share my mu­sic with a wider au­di­ence. I never ex­pected to sell out nu­mer­ous shows on my first solo US tour and see crowds singing along to all the words on Vows so that was a real con­fir­ma­tion that my mu­sic had con­nected out­side of that one song. I’ve been sur­prised to meet many fans who had been fol­low­ing the mu­sic long be­fore I worked with Go­tye and also peo­ple who were led to my mu­sic through that song and have now been able to dis­cover a whole new body of work. I think if there had been no mu­sic avail­able for peo­ple around the time of the sin­gle it could have been hard to find my own path, but I’d worked so hard on my al­bum and live show lead­ing up to that point so it be­came a plat­form to be able to share that. What was run­ning through your mind when Prince him­self was pre­sent­ing you a grammy? I just couldn’t be­lieve that out of all peo­ple it hap­pened to be Prince. I re­mem­bered him get­ting up to present the award and think­ing ‘wow, who­ever gets to re­ceive this award from Prince is go­ing to lose it’… Wally and I were just freak­ing out over the fact that he was even at the Gram­mys, let alone pre­sent­ing an award, and fur­ther, an award for our song. It was very much like a dream. Prince is prob­a­bly the most in­flu­en­tial artist for both Wally and I so to be up there ac­knowl­edged by the man him­self was a very surreal mo­ment. What do you want peo­ple to un­der­stand about you most as an artist? That my high­est value’s are in­no­va­tion and cre­ativ­ity and chal­leng­ing peo­ple to ex­pe­ri­ence mu­sic with their heart, soul and also their mind. What are some of the mis­con­cep­tions about you that you find frus­trat­ing? There will al­ways be mis­con­cep­tions. Es­pe­cially with artists who don’t fall neatly into a box - I don’t put any bound­aries on the mu­sic and I let each song be its own story and visual world so this can at times lead peo­ple to make as­sump­tions about the kind of artist I am per­haps from one an­gle they get. It is frus­trat­ing when peo­ple judge art with a du­al­is­tic mind­set be­cause the mu­sic I want to make is the kind that works as a body, and is un­der­stood in light of all the dif­fer­ent mov­ing parts. But there is a pos­i­tive chal­lenge in work­ing with mis­con­cep­tions or ex­pec­ta­tions, it pushes me to never get com­fort­able and to keep grow­ing. How do you feel about the suc­cess of artists like Lorde in terms of New Zealand mu­sic be­ing ex­posed to a global au­di­ence? I’ve al­ways felt there’s some­thing re­ally unique and spe­cial about New Zealand mu­sic. Maybe it’s the fact that we get a trickle of so much mu­sic from around the world but we’re not sat­u­rated in as much di­rect in­flu­ence so there’s a bit more space to cul­ti­vate one’s own sound and style. Be­ing so far away from the world there’s also a cer­tain kind of drive and am­bi­tion for peo­ple to get over­seas and travel to get their voice heard. It’s al­ways been seen as so dif­fi­cult for artists from NZ to break into the US mar­ket so it’s ex­cit­ing to see that peo­ple are now re­ally switched onto mu­sic com­ing out from down un­der. As we draw closer to the re­lease of your new al­bum, are you ner­vous about how peo­ple will re­spond to the evo­lu­tion of your sound? I’m pre­pared for some of the mu­sic be­ing di­vi­sive, I think when­ever you are am­bi­tious and take risks there are peo­ple who will feel chal­lenged by it and miss what you did be­fore. It’s hard be­ing held to a sound you pro­duced in the past be­cause we are all chang­ing and evolv­ing each day and as an artist you wouldn’t be stay­ing au­then­tic if you didn’t also follow that call to evolve. How­ever I feel the new mu­sic is still a nat­u­ral pro­gres­sion from the ideas I touched on with Vows but it’s a lot tougher. I grew so much as a pro­ducer on this record, I’ve been deeply in­volved with ev­ery as­pect so there is an in­tense love and at­ten­tion to­wards all the sounds, sto­ries and tex­tures. It feels like a very soul­ful body of work so I’m ex­cited to share it and have peo­ple grow with me into the next phase. What ad­vice do you have to as­pir­ing mu­si­cians dream­ing of a sim­i­lar ca­reer tra­jec­tory to you? Know deeply the rea­sons why you make mu­sic and the val­ues you want to hold onto along the way. Then re­align with them every­day if nec­es­sary to stay close to that in­ten­tion and sense of pur­pose. This ad­vice has al­ways helped me to stay fo­cused. What has been the great­est les­son you've learnt so far on this jour­ney? That life is an on­go­ing se­ries of lessons and it’s okay when we take a few times to learn them. To­mor­row’s al­ways a new day. What can we ex­pect next from Kim­bra dur­ing 2014? Just you wait :)

www.kim­bra­mu­sic.com

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