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Kimbra – Queen of Touch
Kimbra is the rarest kind of artist, one whose intellect and talent are stacked so perfectly against each other that the musical promise seems truly boundless. One who moves with a natural curiosity and openness that readily allows her to be inspired by everything from Meshuggah to Nina Simone and turn her fascination into new and intriguing pieces of art.
Appropriately, her debut album “Vows” (2012) is a heady mixture of different moods and styles, not easily digested, but savored. She prepares like an athlete for her live performances and goes off like a rocket once the stage lights hit, designer dresses a flurry with dramatic postures fueled by the sheer kinetic force of the music. It is a remarkable change from the thoughtful and astute person she is in conversation, but there is no rift. At the center of it all is a voice bigger than the person, a timbre equally at home with beautiful rounded modulations and baited sneers, and as such it accurately reflects Kimbra’s approach to art and its exploration: taking in what challenges and excites the curious mind – and making it your own.
Interview: On VoiceLive Touch, looping and tech for singers
This way of engaging the world also influences the more technical aspects of her songwriting. Not one to limit herself creatively, Kimbra – a self-confessed techie – has adopted the VoiceLive Touch as her main vocal performance and live composition tool. Notably, she has turned her breakout hit ‘Settle Down’ into a masterly loop-oriented tune, which easily supports both full band backing, simple iPad assistance, or even solo improvisation.
The upfront ingenuity and skilled handling of live vocal tech and looping has served as a tremendous source of inspiration for listeners and fellow vocalists alike. Like Hendrix did for a generation of guitarists, Kimbra shows singers a way out of the pigeonhole. She is at the forefront of a vocal performance revolution, lighting the way with unbridled creativity. Naturally, we are avid followers.
‘Settle Down’ (Looping Showcase)
“For me the color of the voice is such an exciting thing, and you can get so many different tones out of the voice as an instrument – and the VoiceLive is exciting because it helps you to do that on the fly, without needing to be in a studio”.
- Kimbra on VoiceLive Touch
“There’s really no clear-cut formula for how I write songs. Anything can be a form of inspiration. I find that I’m usually triggered by a drumbeat or a groove. My ears will prick up for a certain rhythm, a beat, and I will have ideas – vocally – to bounce off that. Most of the demos I write are done completely with the voice, full a cappella arrangements, and then I’ll go work on replacing the various sounds with, you know, guitar, bass, horns”.
- Kimbra on composing songs