Australian songstress Kimbra came to Los Angeles this month to be the artist spotlight at the 2015 Los Angeles Music Video Festival. First gaining international recognition alongside Gotye in the song nobody could escape, "Somebody That I Used To Know," with her body painted in geometric shapes, Kimbra continued to push the landscape when it came to transforming songs to visual media. With dolls on fire in "Settle Down," noir theatrics in "Good Intent," and even stepping into the shoes of Disney royalty, she continues to shock and excite viewers. We chat with Kimbra after the fest to talk favorite videos, why they're important, and what she's looking to tackle next.
What is a music video that has always stuck with you and what about it made such a lasting impression?
Cornelius - ‘Music'. The colors are hypnotizing and you feel like you’re kind of moving outside of space and time when you watch it. The children are sort of hovering in the landscape so it feels very surreal but also really based around common shapes and tangible objects like instruments and body parts. I love the fact that it is so simple and at once quite psychedelic.
To you, what is the importance of the music video to a song?
It’s the world you build around the song. When I write and produce music, I'm painting a picture with tone and textures. These are all there to evoke different emotions and it’s exactly the same when making music, it’s a chance to bring the listener into a deeper relationship with the song and emotion and help people to hear the song in a new way.
What is your typical approach to videos? Do you like to use them to enhance a song's message, is it meant to bring a different experience to the music, or something else entirely?
I definitely like when a video spins a different meaning on the song. Maybe it’s something that is subconsciously hinted at in the lyric and then it comes to the forefront. It’s always exciting when a video shows you a new way of interpreting a lyric. When Guy used the young children to tell the story of "Settle Down" it took on a much more compelling meaning and challenged all the the ideals you grow up with in a really engaging way.
Your Snow White video "Kimbra's Wish" is insane. Did you see footage as it was being edited or not until the final product? What was your reaction like?
I could see peeks of how it would be composited even while I was on set because I was miming to a shadow on Snow White, I had to follow her movements down to every detail so I was watching myself as a part of the scene and it helped me to engage with the character even more. I was so blown away at how seamless it looked even without all the detail work done. It kept getting better and better as Adam would show me. I felt like I was literally coming to life inside a Disney film! A kid’s dream.
"Kimbra's Wish" used greenscreen and "Goldmine" relied on stop-motion for its effects. How was it working with both mediums? Also, what's left to tackle next?
There’s a lot left to tackle and that’s what keeps this exciting. Technology is moving faster than ever and as artists we can give a rising platform to a lot of this stuff and find new ways to use it artistically.
What's one of the craziest moments you've had on set while filming a music video?
Setting a backdrop of porcelain dolls on fire was pretty wild.
If you had the opportunity to work with any director in the world, who would you want to collab with and what kind of video might you two shoot?
Hayao Miyazaki. Together we would recreate Howls Moving Castle in real life and I’d do a live performance on top of it while it moved.
story by Jordan Blakeman
images by Thom Kerr