Kimbra – What’s in My Bag?
Hi my name is Kimbra and I’m at Amoeba Music. This is What’s in My Bag. The first thing that caught my eye was Björk’s ‘Post.’ It was standing out as soon as I walked in. I was quite young when I first heard it, and at the time I was really into jazz. I remember being so intrigued by Björk because I remember the melodic intuition being so emotional. Songs like ‘Possibly Maybe’ and, of course, ‘It’s Oh So Quiet’ was such an incredible statement. She kind of was my portal into the avant-garde but still retained much of what I love about jazz, you know? Another artist that probably isn’t considered jazz to most people but to me, he has a very jazz mindset, is Cornelius. This album ‘Mellow Waves’ is his most recent. I discovered Cornelius in high school, with his album ‘Sensuous.’ A friend introduced me to it and I remember it being one of the first records I sat down with headphones on and thought, I want to create soundscapes like this. I want to find a way to make wide music, y’know the way things ping-ponged around. He’s the master of syncopation. He has sort of ritual in his music where he’ll start with one particular sound bonk, bonk, bonk and then kind of layer it with all these new sounds. I think that’s something I’ve continued to love as a songwriter as well you know. Finding lots of different sounds to contrast against each other and creating interesting rhythms. Speaking of my love of syncopation and rhythm, Radiohead, ‘In Rainbows.’ Most people refer ence older Radiohead records, and I’m a fan of all of them but there was something that stood out about this record. I loved the drum production on it and just the opening track ’15 Step.’ The relentless kind of drum beat, the way it kicks in, the melodies, I mean… ‘House of Cards,’ ‘Weird Fishes,’ there’s just so many incredible songs. ‘Videotaped.’ This is a highly emotional record. That one really stands out for me. I went through a really big phase in high school of prog rock and y’know more experimental, heavy music. I really loved the theatrics of bands that could start one place and then end up in a totally unexpected realm. And also bands that could be aggressive but also have a lot of groove and that’s like The Mars Volta, for me, encompassed that. The first band that I was almost uncomfortable listening to them, y’know, I was only about 15 and it was so different to the R&B that I listened to on the radio. Destiny’s Child, which I love, y’know, that’s my world. But this stuff, this took me into a space of imagination, psychedelia and this is what made me want to work with Rich Costey because he was a big part of helping produce and mix this record. Another band that I was really into for a period of my life, and still am, is Grizzly Bear. I consider Daniel Rossen to be one of the best songwriters of our time. Incredible string arrangements on this record. ‘Little Brother,’ just incredible. This album I was listening to a lot when I moved to Melbourne at 17 and I was dating someone at the time that would play this in the car you know everyday and I got obsessed with it. It was the soundtrack to the first kind of big move that I made in my life. Having to start from the ground up, making new friends and I think this was a kind of solace for me. Speaking of home, I’m from New Zealand and I was quite into punk rock around, you know, 15 and there was a band called The Mint Chicks that used to play in my hometown Hamilton. At their shows they would go absolutely wild. Kind of in a vein similar to the Mars Volta. It was a super-theatrical show. Ruben Nielsen, who went on to create Unknown Mortal Orchestra, was the guitarist in that band and his brother was the singer. So his brother was the crazy one and Ruben would just hang back doing the sneaky, vibey riffs. And then he moved to Portland with his family and developed this band super low-key, like, eh I’ll just make an album. It ended up blowing up, y’know, and we’ve become you know very good friends. Of course I’ve been a fan of his work since I was a kid I mean this record, ‘Can’t Keep Checking My Phone,’ it’s just such a funky song. This stuff is pulling on Prince, Jimi Hendrix of course. ‘The World is Crowded,’ I mean that’s a soul song. It’s just an amazing album and kind of a real testament to him as a real songwriter. Speaking of my punk rock/kind of metal phase I was really into the Blood Brothers. I have memories of me and my brother in my bedroom, we were screaming this stuff at the top of our lungs. ‘Trash Favored Trash,’ ‘Love Rhymes With Hideous Car Wreck.’ ‘Teen Heat’ was one of my favorite songs on this record. And I later went on to title one of my own songs ‘Teen Heat’ off my last album, ‘The Golden Echo.’ I wondered if anyone would notice that I’d kind of stolen that from The Blood Brothers. Now you know. Let’s move on to some of my classical tastes. Rich Costey, who co-produced ‘The Golden Echo,’ he introduced me to Steve Reich who I didn’t really know before then. So this is a new interest of mine but I’ve got to say, I probably listen to this album once a day. If not once a day, every couple of days. It’s become meditative for me. It’s become a very important part of my ritual of grounding myself. And I respond very well to patterned music, music that’s highly repetitive. And something about this album, it just physically calms me. I’m excited to share this one because Rich Costey also introduced me to it and It’s a fascinating story how it came together. From what I understand the composer recorded an old homeless man on the street singing a hymn to himself, an old gospel hymn which was titled ‘Jesus’ Blood Never Failed Me Yet.’ The recording just starts with this man’s voice, and it’s a very broken recording, very gritty. And then as the piece progresses, an orchestra develops around it and it flourishes it into a symphony of beauty around this broken voice. And, man, if I’m ever getting a little lost in life or feeling like I need to kind of feel that sense of hope again, you know, this record kind of takes me somewhere. D’angelo, ‘Voodoo,’ classic. Just timeless. I don’t think this record will ever date or get old. It’s just the musicality is so incredible. Of course Questlove absolutely killing the pocket. Pino Paladino, I mean the bass playing is incredible. It’s the epitome of groove, this album. I mean, you can’t not move. The production is so interesting. The snares are mixed so loud always kind of above D’Angelo’s voice. So it’s really challenging to listen to the first time because, for me, it felt different to other records in the way everything was placed. He’s learned from the best. He’s obviously so inspired by Prince and all the greats, so I feel like he opened me up to a lot of other music as well. I think I’ve covered all of them. It was fabulous.