Leaning into the restlessness: Kimbra on her latest album and upcoming Melbourne Recital Centre show

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Leaning into the restlessness: Kimbra on her latest album and upcoming Melbourne Recital Centre show

Words by Amelia Szabo

Kimbra is cool, calm and impassioned when speaking on her latest record, A Reckoning, and her upcoming performances.

Melbourne is truly gaining a unique experience by offering the beautiful Melbourne Recital Centre on June 2 as a refuge and launchpad for the artist and her latest album.

Keep up with the latest music news, festivals, interviews and reviews here.

The intention with which the two-time Grammy award winner chooses her words in a casual conversation over Zoom only represents one piece of the mirror ball of self-reflection and thoughtfulness that have gone into her latest album, A Reckoning.

Touching on her development as an artist, the impact of a space on live performances and the importance of togetherness, Kimbra exudes experimentation while being grounded in purpose and introspection.

It’s clear from speaking with the New Zealand artist that her album, A Reckoning, is much deeper than just a sonic experience. It’s an emotional pool that became an ocean when the album was released in January of this year. 

Regarding her creative process for the record, an intriguing juxtaposition of intention and freedom is evident. With regard to the production of the album, Kimbra was drawn to Son Lux’s Ryan Lott’s “soundtrack-y…bold… and sometimes even violent approach” to making music and how she knew “it would be so interesting to make a pop record with someone in that world”.

She speaks of her highly purposeful choice behind the creative collaboration with Lott as the executive producer of the album. In particular, it empowered her to “lean into a delivery” she hadn’t explored as deeply on previous albums. Additionally, while “everything came through [her] ears and fingers” their forthright communication and reciprocal trust allowed her to “get out of [her] own way…and be a real storyteller”. 

And a storyteller she is. The album tastefully fuses maximalist beats with heartbreakingly hopeful lyrics which thematically explore the intensity of the mother-daughter relationship, personal transformation and one’s relationship with others and their own being. To Kimbra, the record is “bold, self-reflective and feminine” – three descriptors that encompass an untroubled intensity the listener can take on when absorbing the 10-track album. 

Alt-pop also mingles with hip-hop and electronica on the record, therefore further expanding upon the aesthetically abundant sound.  

To put it simply – or potentially complexly – Kimbra built the fence around the album’s playground and then absorbed every abrasive colour and oddly shaped apparatus. Thus, within the limits of intention, the creative possibilities were limitless.

The release of the album into the world has been no less emotionally charged. In Kimbra’s own words, she underwent “a real catharsis…from having it out there” and experienced a natural curiosity of how her art would be absorbed by listeners. The artist also acknowledged through the album’s release, a space has “opened up in [her] own heart for new experiences and new songs that want to be born.”  

Having already taken the album to the US, Europe and New Zealand, Kimbra divulged that her shows in Australia will have a distinct quality about them in comparison to previous performances in her global tour. On the brink of performing at the Sydney Opera House, Princess Theatre and of course the Melbourne Recital Centre, Kimbra notes that she is especially “inspired by the spaces” and she recognises that these venues provide an opportunity “to play with an intimacy” she doesn’t always have agency to in other locations.  

Although Kimbra is keeping her cards close to her chest in regard to what audience members can expect from her Melbourne performance, she hopes that the concert-goers will meet her in the middle of the Venn diagram between audience and performer and “walk in open-minded and curious”. Kimbra also emphasises her passion for “helping facilitate spaces for people to feel a sense of togetherness,” – an idea that goes hand in hand with a willingness to engage in personal reflection along with the artist. Unsurprising, given the title of both the album and the tour. 

Ultimately, Kimbra also hopes her audience will walk away with a “unique experience,” and more specifically one in which both parties are fully immersed. Kimbra notes that “we’re just in such a distracted time”, and she observes the effects of technological overstimulation on how close she feels to her audience at times. She poses the question “are we having the full experience of a moment when we witness it indirectly?”. Thus, Kimbra strives to challenge the polarity between ‘artist’ and ‘performer’ and urges “people to leave the show rethinking some of those ideas.”

Reflection and intention are front and centre for what is sure to be an unforgettable realisation of the album along with other well-loved songs. With special guest Bec Sandridge, Kimbra’s performance at the Melbourne Recital Centre on June 2 is a must-see. 

Catch Kimbra’s performance at Melbourne Recital Centre on June 2 by heading here.