Kimbra talks echoes, dreams and her latest album

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Ditch the gloomy weather with a pair of headphones and Kimbra’s new album, The Golden Echo. Filled with R&B influenced beats, her sounds have gotten more technologically savvy in her sophomore album, which features a variety of artists ranging from Bilal to John Legend. The up-and-coming New Zealand musician, best known for her part in Gotye’s “Somebody That I Used to Know,” definitely aims to push the envelope on technical production. Consider her 2011 album, Vows, for which she wrote the majority of the songs in her bedroom. Fresh out of a yoga class on a hot, sunny Wednesday in Los Angeles, the experimental artist took some time to speak with The Daily Californian over the phone about her tour and album.

The Daily Californian: How would you describe the transition from Vows to The Golden Echo?

Kimbra: I made that first record in my bedroom, and I’m proud of that record, but I definitely wanted to push myself a lot more on this album. I wanted to have a tougher rhythm and bigger backbone. What’s going to be really interesting is for people to come and hear these songs live because they take on a very different life live … I think it gives them a new story when you hear them with the band.

DC: How has being more involved with the production impacted your music?

K: I did produce on Vows as well, but on this one, I was far more technically involved. I was the one cutting up all the beats, putting all the parts together, bringing musicians in and spending hours cutting up the things they laid down.

I see the production side of things as another instrument — not as an obstacle. What snare you’re going to use has a very direct emotional response (for) people, even if they don’t know they’re feeling that. Working on the production, sitting and working on a guitar tone or putting together a drum beat is part of writing for me … It’s changed my writing — it’s made me more ambitious in the way I arrange vocals because I think of it as instruments now.

DC: What was the inspiration behind The Golden Echo?

K: The words “golden echo” came to me in a dream. Essentially, there’s this poem called the “Golden Echo.” It asks the question of how to keep beauty from vanishing away and to give beauty back. The idea became this theme for me of going deep within yourself to explore emotions, to recognize things about yourself and to give some beauty back and to let that be an echo, a chain reaction of people (and) an inspiration.

DC: What do you want people to take away from The Golden Echo?

K: I really want people to live inside this album and unpack it … It’s really about treating it like an echo you have to listen for, and hopefully once you receive something from it, you can then give it back in your own form of inspiration.

DC: Have you already started working on the next album?

K: I’m already writing new music. I’ve become really inspired. I don’t really think about albums as the only way you can put out music … You can have singles, and you can have EPs. I want to be the type of artist who continues to create between albums …  A lot of that will start coming out next year. I think that’s the way to stay sane  — to continue to create and continue to release music for people and to have an outlet constantly to share.

Kimbra is performing at the Independent in San Francisco on Monday.

Contact Ilaf Esuf at [email protected].