On Stage: Kimbra’s album delayed, but not her passion

By Denny Dyroff, Staff Writer, The Times


Originally, Kimbra’s show on January 31 at Union Transfer (1026 Spring Garden Street, Philadelphia, 215-232-2100, www.utphilly.com) was supposed to be one of the earliest gigs on a tour supporting her new album “Primal Heart” on Warner Bros. Records.

“The album was supposed to be released on January 19,” said Kimbra, during a recent phone interview from her home in New York City. “Now, the album release date has been pushed back to April 20 and I’ll be releasing a single on January 19.”

The two-time GRAMMY® Award-winning, critically-acclaimed New Zealand singer explained in a personal statement to fans via her mailing list, “First of all, I have plans to release more music than ever this year and I am so excited by the sheer volume of work I have ready to share (and I mean this month)! So, with that in mind, let me provide you with some more context for my decision to reschedule the release date of this full body of work.

“Releasing an album has got to be one of the most exciting yet emotionally-exhausting endeavours I’ve ever known. It’s like building a relationship with someone you are growing to love. There’s a wild cacophony of romance, ambition, expectation, fear, idealism, hope, faith and exertion. As many of us know from experience, perhaps what creates the best environment for a relationship, and the chance for it to grow to its best potential, is almost always a case of timing.

“In service of the long-term relationship I want you to build with this album, plus the final tweaks I’d like to make so this music can be released at it’s very best, the new album release date will be April 20.”

Kimbra is only 27 but she has been writing songs and performing in public almost two-thirds of her life – initially in her native country New Zealand. Her professional career started taking off 10 years ago.

In 2007, her single “Simply on My Lips” won the Juice TV award for “Best Breakthrough” music video. The video caught the eyes and ears of Mark Richardson, who owns a management company and independent record label (Forum 5) in Melbourne, Australia.

“The first big thing was getting Mark Richardson as my manager when I was 17,” said Kimbra. “When I signed with him, I moved from New Zealand to Melbourne.”

Her first big hit single down under was a catchy sing called “Settle Down”, which climbed the charts in 1010, and the next was “Cameo Lover” in 2011.

In June 2011, Kimbra signed to Warner Bros. Records New Zealand for distribution in New Zealand and Australia and a worldwide deal for other countries (including Warner Bros. Records in the states.

“The next big thing was signing with Warner Bros. in the United States,” said Kimbra, whose full name is Kimbra Lee Johnson. “That was a major step forward in my career. ‘Settle Down’ got their attention and after that, it was ‘Cameo Lover.’”

Another huge boost came when Kimbra sang on Gotye’s massive hit single “Somebody That I Used to Know.” The song sold over 5 million units in the United States alone.

“Performing on that song with Gotye really helped introduce me to listeners around the world — especially in the United States,” said Kimbra.

Kimbra’s debut album “Vows” was released in Australia in August 2011 and won the 2011 ARIA (Australian Grammy) for Best Female Artist. “Cameo Lover” recently won the Grand Prize in the 2011 International Songwriting Competition and was nominated for an APRA (Australasian Performing Right Association) award for “Song of the Year.”

Kimbra’s second album “The Golden Echo” came out in 2014.

Kimbra has quietly spent the past two years assembling the 11-track album with hit-machine Skrillex (“Top of the World”), among other producers in Los Angeles and New Zealand. Stripping down Kimbra’s music to bare emotion and heart, the record invites listeners to experience the inherent vulnerability in her voice, conveying raw feeling throughout each song.

“I’m always writing for an album,” said Kimbra. “I was touring ever since the last album and brainstorming ideas. At the star of 2016, I really started writing with real direction. I spent a lot of 2017 working on the project with producer John Congleton.

“It took a decent amount of time. At the same time, I was recording faster than usual. John Congleton likes to work quickly. We’d do stuff in his studio and then I’d take the tracks back to New York.

“I took my time to write and refine the songs. I produced a lot of songs at home and brought them to fruition at my studio in New York. I work on ProTools.  I’ve collected a lot of synthesizers, controllers and Wurlitzers. I want to keep developing it.”

Kimbra recently released “Everybody Knows” and “Top Of The World” from her upcoming album. NPR included “Top Of The World,” which was co-produced by Skrillex, as one of their “Songs We Love” and said it was the ultimate “girl power song” that is an “aggressive, confident step forward into the future.”

“Lyrics are very personal for me,” said Kimbra. “I don’t collaborate very much on lyrics.”

Kimbra’s fans may have to wait a little longer for the new album but they’ll be able to get a bit of a preview by attending one of her shows on this tour.

“I’m playing a lot of the new material live,” said Kimbra. “Getting response from the crowd is important. They’ll get a chance to heat a lot of the new songs. I like the way each of the new songs sound live.”

Kimbra is not only vocal and passionate about women’s rights in her music, but also in her day-to-day life. She works closely with Tirzah, an Ethiopian-based organization that focuses on helping women with HIV build sustainable businesses.

“Tirzah just has more to do with my spirit,” said Kimbra. “I had been very touched by a video I saw. That gave me a ton of courage. And, I’ve always had a romance with Ethiopian food and music.”

Video link for Kimbra – https://youtu.be/e4FApt6z55c.

The show at Union Transfer, which has Arc Iris as the opening act, will start at 8:30 p.m. Tickets are $25.

Yoke Lore

Another New York City resident will be delivering a show of personal music when Yoke Lore headlines a show at Johnny Brenda’s (1201 North Frankford Avenue, Philadelphia, 215-739-9684, www.johnnybrendas.com).

Yoke Lore is the project of Adrian Galvin, a versatile singer-songwriter-musician who is also an accomplished dancer and choreographer.

“Yoke Lore is just me and a drummer,” said Galvin, during a phone interview last week from Chicago.

“I’m here in Chicago because I have a dance performance tonight at the Art Institute. The dance show is just a one-off that  I’m doing here.”

For the next few weeks, Galvin’s main focus will be on his music.

According to Galvin, “A ‘yoke’ is something that holds things together. ‘Lore’ means a set of stories or a collection of ideas about an event, time, or culture. I want to tell stories about how things are bound and held together. I think something’s value is in its relationship to everything else. Work in the joints; where things come together.”

Brooklyn-based project Yoke Lore is the new musical venture of Galvin, previously of Yellerkin and Walk the Moon. Yoke Lore layers the harmonies of Panda Bear, the soulful beats of M83 and the modern pop of Blackbird Blackbird to tell musical stories of how we are bound. Galvin’s songs start with the folksy timbre of a banjo and add echoing waves of vocals and percussion to create unforgettable pop music with tactile sincerity and conviction.

“Yoke Lore is just me and a drummer,” said Galvin. “I’m on banjo up-front. And, I’m also on vocals. I have a sampler I use for live triggering and loops. The drummer uses two pads that are live triggers for all the bass and synthesizer parts.
Galvin grew up in an artistic family, his mother a director and his father an actor and sculptor. He was immersed in painting, photography, and ballet from an early age, eventually finding his first musical passion in the drums. While pursuing music, his artistry in other disciplines has not faltered, even lending his own artwork as the cover of his 2016 debut EP, “Far Shore.” Galvin followed with another Yoke Lore EP in 2017 titled “Goodpain.”

“I’m still on kind of a cycle for the ‘Goodpain’ EP,” said Galvin. “I’m still exploring the life of that so I’m still playing a lot of songs from the EP.

“I just released a ‘Goodpain’ remix EP on Spotify. I curated the remix. I’m a big fan of all the artists we used. I just called people I really respected and they responded.”

The remix EP features re-works by artists such as Yeasayer, Blackbird Blackbird, Blondage, Chad Valley and Shy Girls.

“For some of them, I had tracks in mind – and some directions in mind,” said Galvin. “With others, I asked what felt right to them. With Shy Girls, he said – this is the song I want. What he did was not so much a remix but more reproduction. I didn’t really tinker with any of the remixes.

“I think I make pop music but other people have been calling it folktronica. I write banjo music and that can be kind of limiting in ways. I wanted to create a way to make the songs more dynamic.”

Video link for Yoke Lore – https://youtu.be/W9vHJhlXxg8.

The show at Johnny Brenda’s, which has Vita and the Woolf opening, will start at 8 p.m. Tickets are $12.

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