Kimbra: All About the Big Picture | Under the Radar - Music Magazine
Wednesday, October 21st, 2020  

Kimbra

All About the Big Picture

Jul 01, 2014
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Kimbra admits that she loves being surrounded by an onslaught of ideas. It’s a confession that she backs up in conversation, showing equal enthusiasm for her artistic heroes (Gaudi, Dali, Madonna, Kate Bush) as she does for her home base—an urban farm located in Los Angeles’ Silver Lake neighborhood that also houses twenty chickens and eight sheep.

This wide net of interests should come as no surprise to fans. The maximalist tunes of Kimbra’s sophomore album Golden Echo burst at the seams with a rainbow of textures, tones, and musical guests. (Among them: Van Dyke Parks, Thundercat, Bilal, and Mars Volta’s Omar Rodriguez-Lopez.) It’s a Technicolor outing; the twenty-four year old’s music seemingly dipping with every flavor of dance, pop, and R&B.

“We’re multi-faceted people,” she points out. “We have a lot going on in our brains. We have different ways that we express ourselves. They’re all part of the story. I’m personally not fixated on one part of the human experience…To explain what you’re about and what you’re informed by, you need many different colors to paint that picture.”

But for all its playful moments and lush layers, the theme and direction of what might be the best sonic dance party of the year originated from a moment of stillness. As Kimbra explains it, the title Golden Echo came to her moments before falling asleep. Not one to remember her dreams, the very fact she could recall the phrase the next morning gave her pause. Her subconscious was clearly speaking. Not only is Narcissus Golden Echo a type of daffodil, over time the flower has come to act as a symbol of the Greek myth of Narcissus, where the handsome young man caught a glimpse of his own reflection in the surface of a pond and fell in love.

“When I looked into what that world meant, it opened such a crazy world of connecting the dots between the flower, and Greek Mythology, and poetry,” she says, her New Zealand lilt softened by a year in California. “It paralleled everything I had been interested in.”

For Kimbra, all those seemingly disparate interests were connected by a simple theme: she had to dig to understand where they were coming from and why they were important to her. The best ideas, she realized, are rarely surface level. It’s a realization that she hopes will give fans pause, and force them to interact with both her music and their lives in a different light. They’ll come for the pop hooks, but with any luck they’ll stick around for the storytelling. 

“I think that in the world that we live in, there’s so much stimulus coming at us from every angle that it’s hard to engage with the world around you,” she explains. “It’s easy to say, ‘oh this is a piece of art and I don’t get it’ and turn it off. I want people to really live inside these songs and engage with it and give it that extra attention. Things have the ability to reveal themselves to you when you choose to have a dialogue with the world around you rather than a five second attention span.”

So, that’s an area of Kimbra’s life that she’s got under control…right?

“Yeah dude!” she says, her voice conveying playful sarcasm. “I’m no freaking convert of this stuff. I catch myself everyday doing the same thing, listening to something, giving it five seconds, and walking away. You have to work with it, live with it, give it time. A simple flower looks like a daffodil and you forget about it. But it unpacks the story of Greek mythology, of beauty and harmony and living with nature. If I hadn’t taken time to look into that, I wouldn’t even be here. I would have made a different album.”



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