By Madison Hagey & Katy Carrier
We had a chat with singer/songwriter/musician Kimbra Johnson in advance of her trip out the desert to perform at Coachella 2015. The New Zealand native, now residing in Los Angeles, is also the headliner at the free Tachevah block party in downtown Palm Springs on Wednesday, April 15.
PSS: How would you describe your sound?
Kimbra: Progressive pop music for the soul!
What are you looking forward to most about playing Coachella?
Showcasing my amazing band to people. They are fire!
Are there any artists that you are particularly excited to see perform at Coachella?
I’m most excited to watch Todd Terje, Interpol and Tame Impala!
We love your performance fashion! Can you tell us a little bit about that? Do you have your Coachella looks designed yet?
The performance outfits provide a platform for me to create another element of imagination and creativity to the live show. I love to use it as a way to showcase some of the talented designers I work with (like Cassandra Scott-Finn who designs a lot of my stage outfits) and also as a way to extend the world of the songs and combine a visual element with the sonic experience. We are currently designing the next incarnation as we speak!
What was it like to be a part of the phenomenon that was Gotye’s “Somebody That I Used to Know”? Did that experience influence you in the making of your latest album, The Golden Echo?
It pushed me to be more daring in a lot of ways, I felt empowered by the success of that song and how it broke a lot of rules in terms of what a pop hit could be. It was amazing to be a part of that journey and see how deeply that song moved people. It also gave me the opportunity to meet and connect with a lot of amazing people who went on to be a part of The Golden Echo.
You worked with so many great folks on The Golden Echo, like Mark Foster, Matt Bellamy, John Legend, Daniel Johns — how did that come about? What was that experience like?
I had worked with Mark before but many of the other collaborations came about through the internet or crossing paths through mutual friends. John Legend and I first started talking on Twitter. I met Matt Bellamy through my co-producer Rich Costey and Daniel Johns through Van Dyke Parks. This record had an amazing magnetic energy about it where it seemed to draw in incredible people, who were excited to work with me on the songs. Working with Daniel was especially standout because I have been a fan of his work with Silverchair since I was about 13. Writing with him was so fluid and natural because of our similar instincts but we were also able to challenge each other which is the best part about collaborative work.
One track from The Golden Echo that everyone should go listen to now?
“Madhouse.” On headphones. Loud!
Photography by Thom Kerr