Kimbra On Her First-Ever DJ Set, Writing A Fourth Album & More
"I have a big love of sound design and really sculpturing music to make you feel something," the GRAMMY-winning singer told the Recording Academy after her set at Corona Capital in Mexico
GRAMMY-winning singer/songwriter Kimbra is the definition of bold. Her sound, encompassing jazz, R&B, pop and rock influences, knows no creative limits—last fall she even joined the Howard Gospel Choir on stage for a performance.
The New Zealander, who won two GRAMMYs for her duet with Gotye on his 2012 megahit "Somebody That I Used To Know" and released her third album, Primal Heart, in early 2018, recently took her love music and connecting with others to the turntables, playing her first-ever DJ set in South America.
Her creative spirit flows outside of music as well. An artist who is as thoughtful about her music as she is about her visuals, she uses costumes and fashion as yet another way to engage with audiences. "When you're listening to music, it's cool if you're also stimulated with your eyes," she told the Recording Academy.
We caught up with Kimbra during her first visit to Mexico at Corona Capital Guadalajara to chat about how she incorporates creativity in different aspects of her music, what it means for her to bring her music to new places, the need for more opportunities for women, what she's working on next and more.
This is your first time in Mexico. How do you feel being here?
It's crazy. It's such a long time coming. I've heard from so many people about coming to Mexico. I know I've got so many fans from here. The crowds are unbelievable. They're just so crazy ... they just know every word, to every song, which is so crazy to me. Any time I interact with the crowd, they go so crazy. Yeah, it's a really amazing feeling. They're also just super passionate music lovers. I can tell they're really listening to everything. I've met some of the fans out here; They've been following sometimes for 10 years in the music. It's awesome.
The mission of Corona Capital is to bring more international acts to different cities in Mexico. How does it feel for you to come to a city that you've never been to before?
I mean, I make the effort to try as much of the local food and to meet as many of the people and just get a sense of how each place is different. Already, Guadalajara is so different to Mexico City. It's a really amazing opportunity; the places I might never go unless music took me there so it's very exciting. I've wanted to come to Mexico especially for a long time ... I just hear so much about it. Everyone who goes to Mexico comes back just talking about how it is, just such a vibrant culture and such amazing people. Of course, I'm a huge food lover of Mexican [food], so that helps to be able to eat so well over here.
You just did your first DJ set, not so long ago.
Yeah. I did it in Brazil for the first time. That was awesome. It was actually really fun. I've always kind of wanted to give it a try, but never really just dived head first into it. I really enjoy sharing music that I like with people. I did stuff from Arca to Bjork, to Tame Impala. It was very diverse. Yeah, it was just a lot of fun to show a bit of my taste.
You're a singer, a songwriter, and a producer. What does it mean for you to be so involved with your music?
I think it's about getting to give as much of your unique sound across all the different parts of the process. I have a big love of sound design and really sculpturing music to make you feel something. Of course, the lyrics are important, but also the sound of the base that we choose or the particular drummer or the exact synthesizer preset that we use. All of this stuff is important to me. I think it's a way of injecting my personality into the music and giving more to the people who listen to it, rather than just singing and that's it.
A recent study by USC found that women who identify as songwriters and producers are vastly outnumbered by their male counterparts. Do you have any thoughts around that?
Well, in my experience, I think there are plenty of women in this industry or at least involved in the business side of it. You know, I've worked with so many women at both record labels and my tour manager and my crew and certainly so many female musicians that I looked up to. It's just that, in the public sphere in places like festivals, places like ... Yeah, just big headline shows, we're not seeing as much opportunity for females. It's not that they're not there. They are there. They're working, amazing artists, but I think we just need to change our idea of what success is in the public sphere and letting the decisions be made. Letting there be more focus on women in the industry as opposed to saying, they're underrepresented, there's not as many women as men. There are [as many women], it's just that we need to be giving them as many opportunities in production and showing that there are examples of them in the industry higher up, not just on the ground.
You're a lover of fashion. How does that help you express yourself?
Well, it's about how you sit in your body, right? The clothes you wear, the fabrics. It all helps you feel more engaged with, even your skin and just the way you hold yourself. I think the clothes that I wear on stage are part of me, stepping into a persona, an exaggerated version of myself and color and texture has always been exciting to me because it's visually, it's stimulating. When you're listening to music, it's cool if you're also stimulated with your eyes. It helps me to move as well. If I have fabric that I can play with or things that I can interact with on stage, it makes the performance more physical for me, which then makes me more passionate and expressive.
What's next for you after Corona Capital? What are you up to?
Go back to New York. That's where I'm living. I'm about to start LP four. Yeah. Fourth album. Taking some time, off touring and getting back into writing.
Anything you can tell us about your new music?
It's so new. I'm only just starting now. I've been writing at the piano, which is different for me. Usually, I write with a lot of beats and stuff. Now it'll be a bit more, just trying a new instrument, and seeing what happens with that. Yeah. I'm not sure yet, who I'm going to collaborate with or if I'm going to produce myself. I'm still working that out. It's all a big bag of surprises right now.
Rotimi On Performing At ESSENCE Fest, Growing Up African-American & More
The Nigerian-American singer and actor sat down with the Recording Academy to talk about what inspired his latest album, 'Walk With Me'
In 2015, Rotimi stepped into the New Orleans Superdome for the first time to experience the magic of ESSENCE Fest. Four years later, in 2019, the "Love Riddim" singer returned to the celebration as a performer, something he said was spoken into existence.
"Last year me and my manager had a conversation and I said, 'Listen, I'm going to be on the [ESSENCE] mainstage this year. 365 days later, we did it," Rotimi told the Recording Academy at the 25th annual ESSENCE Fest.
Rotimi, also an actor on Starz' "Power," has evolved since his last album, 2017's Jeep Music, Vol.1. The singer said he really hit home with its follow-up, the recently released Walk With Me, a project he worked hard for, putting in hours in the studio after filming on set.
"Walk With Me is the first time I actually felt like I was giving myself as an artist, and personally I feel like with everything else I have going on I wanted to show people that this is really what I do," he said. "I wanted people to understand who Rotimi is, who Rotimi was before, who I want to be and just understand my growth and the journey and my passion for what I do."
Part of why the album felt like such a representation of him is because it embodies beats of his African roots, something he said was very present growing up Nigerian-American.
"I grew up with a lot of Fela Kuti and I grew up with Bob Marley," he said of his musical roots. "But I also grew up with Carl Thomas and Genuine and Usher, so there was a genuine mixture of who I am and what I've grown up to listen to. The actual Walk With Me project was a mixture of influences of Akon and Craig David."
Photo: Carlos Alvarez/Getty Images
Rosalía Announces First Solo North American Tour
El Mal Querer Tour, named after the Spanish pop star's latest album, will come to Los Angeles on April 17 in between her Coachella performances
Rosalía is set to perform at some of the most popular music festivals around the globe, including Primavera Sound in Spain, Lollapalooza (Argentina and Chile) and Coachella, but the Spanish pop star isn't stopping there when she gets to the States. Now, she has announced her first solo North American Tour with a string of dates that will bring her to select cities in the U.S. and Canada.
El Mal Querer Tour, named after her latest album, will come to Los Angeles on April 17 in between her Coachella performances. Then she'll play San Francisco on April 22, New York on April 30 and close out in Toronto on May 2.
"I’m so happy to announce my first solo North American tour dates," the singer tweeted.
Rosalía won Best Alternative Song and Best Fusion/ Urban Interpretation at the 19th Latin GRAMMY Awards in November and has been praised for bringing flamenco to the limelight with her hip-hop and pop beats. During her acceptance speech she gave a special shout-out to female artists who came before her, including Lauryn Hill and Bjork.
Rosalía has been getting some love herself lately, most notably from Alicia Keys, who gave the Spanish star a shout-out during an acceptance speech, and Madonna, who featured her on her Spotify International Women's Day Playlist.
Tickets for the tour go on sale March 22. For more tour dates, visit Rosalía's website.
Kevin Parker of Tame Impala
Photo: Rick Kern/WireImage
Listen: Tame Impala Release New Track "Patience"
It's been four years since we've heard new music from Tame Impala, but their new release has come just in time for festival season
Tame Impala have released a new single appropriately called "Patience." The GRAMMY-nominated music project by Australian singer and musician Kevin Parker had not released any new tracks since 2015's Currents.
The long-awaited latest release embodies the exact feeling of having to wait for something: "Has it really been that long? / Did I count the days wrong? ... I've been waiting here / Waiting for the day to come," Parker's soft voice sings on the track featuring an equally soft piano.
Parker, who has come to fame for the psychedelic, dreamy pop sound he shares as Tame Impala, teased the single on Instagram last night. "New track. 1 hour. Speakers/headphones people," the post said.
"I'd be really disappointed if we didn't have something out by then." Parker told Matt Wilkinson on Beats 1. "I love playing the songs live, I love playing Currents songs I love playing Lonerism songs and everything but I think I'm ready to play some other songs live."
Lila Downs Announces New Album Paying Tribute To The Chile Pepper, Releases Tour Info
The announcement was made with the release of the first single, a cover of the Peruvian cumbia classic "Cariñito"
GRAMMY-winning singer/songwriter Lila Downs, known for her eclectic mixture sounds from Mexico and beyond, has announced that her latest album, Al Chile, will pay tribute to the chile pepper and will drop May 3. The news came with the release of the first single, "Cariñito."
Al Chile, produced by the GRAMMY-nominated DJ and producer Camilo Lara (Mexican Institute of Sound) and mixed by Mario Caldato Jr., who has worked with the Beastie Boys and Jack Johnson, is not a joke; it sincerely shows love for the fruit.
"Yes, the music is a tribute to the fruit that causes us so much craving and suffering, but that we really love!" Downs said in a statement. "We fry the chile, add beats from the city, then saxophones, trumpets and drums from the Mexican coast to keep the dance going. The village and the city are united by the same beat. With a mezcal in hand, we dream of a place with a palm tree where one falls in love and reflects."
The first single is Down's take on a Peruvian cumbia classic. The singer also released dates for the album's supporting tour that will take her to Los Angeles' Walt Disney Concert Hall, New York City, Seattle and other cities across the U.S.
For more information on the tour, visit Downs' website.