The 55th annual Grammy Awards took place on Feb. 10, 2013, at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. Here is what these Grammy winners said backstage in the Grammy Awards press room.
GOTYE and KIMBRA
Record of the Year (“Somebody That I Used to Know”)
Best Pop Duo/Group Performance (“Somebody That I Used to Know”)
Best Alternative Music Album (“Making Mirrors”) — award to Gotye only
What does the term “alternative music album” mean to you?
Gotye: It’s interesting. On iTunes, I selected “alternative” as the category. I’m not really sure what it means. I think I try to make interesting, idiosyncratic, adventurous music, hopefully, even though I love pop music, and I hope some of it does become popular music. So I don’t know. I don’t know.
I’m not really sure what the “alternative” word or category means to me. But actually, now that I’m thinking, just to be nominated with artists like Björk and Tom Waits and M83 and Fiona Apple, who’s a favorite of mine, that’s a pretty incredible thing. So I don’t even think so much about the name of the category. I think just to be amongst artists like that is really an honor.
Why do you think “Somebody That I Used to Know” became such a megahit worldwide?
Gotye: First of all, I love the word “megahit.” It’s one they use on Holland radio a lot … I forgot the question. I was just stuck on “megahit.”
Kimbra: I’ll speak for both of us on this one. I think, as Gotye says, when you become so wrapped up in a song, it’s hard to see it the same way that other people do. When he first showed it to me, the directness of it, how raw it was, and how the emotion cut through. Even the words I sing, “Now and then, [I think of all the times] you screwed me over,” how direct that was.
There’s no beating around the bush. It’s something I’m learning more to do in my own music on my own records. I’ve learned so much from him. I think people love to have that honesty in the charts again. And sometimes that may be not as around as much. It’s been amazing for us both to go out into crowds like Coachella and see that people have been so moved by the song and how much it tells their story — a story that everyone’s bee through. [She says to Gotye] Would you say so?
Gotye: Sometimes I felt self-conscious … It’s weird, it’s funny. I know I like a lot of music that can give you mixed feelings, that in a way seem to suggest one thing but make you feel a different way.
In that way, I can understand that a song that is all about confusion and some negative feelings or bitterness or irreparable aspects to a relationship, how that can be anthemic for people — and an aspect of healing or working through. I guess I can understand how that works and I felt a bit self-conscious about it being such a big song, being about people who don’t seem to be able to work out their differences. And the fact that people were sort of celebrating that seemed incongruous to me for a while.
How did you write “Somebody That I Used to Know”?
Gotye: As with a lot of my songs, it started with a sample. And in this case, a Brazilian guitarist who was very active in the ‘50s and ‘60s called Luiz Bonfá. And there were a few notes at the start of one of his songs called “Seville.” And the first two notes, when I took them and looped them back and forth, they just had such a hypnotic quality for me that on some level, they provided the tone for the whole song for me.
Those two notes of guitar looped back and forth directly prompted the first line of lyric and the sense of remembering old relationships in a reflective, melancholic way. And on some level, this is similar to with all the other songs, I was just trying not to lose that thread or that aura of hypnotic quality that I heard in that sample through the addition of other hooks and lyrics and parts, even if the song changed dynamically with the chorus and all that stuff. So yeah, that’s kind of how it all came about.
Are you working on your next album? And is there pressure to live up to the success o “Making Mirrors”?
Gotye: I haven’t really been writing anything. I’ve been touring so much. Just this last month, I’ve been collecting some new and interesting instruments, eBaying a lot, going to odd instrument shops and trying to find new acoustic and electronic instruments that will hopefully provide, I don’t know, weird sounds and things that inspire me to write other tracks.
And as far as pressure, I don’t know. It’s been such a surprise and a wonderful experience and exciting to see what’s happened with the tune. I don’t think it would be a good idea to pin my hopes on repeating that commercial success or needing to repeat some aspect of that type of music. So I’m probably more interested in doing something that contrasts with the music I’ve made already.
How do you think your next album will sound compared to “Making Mirrors”?
Gotye: I guess I just follow my gut making music, so I don’t think that’s going to change. There were some aspects that I knew with this album [“Making Mirrors”], even though I hadn’t really released music wide internationally before this album, there were some things that played in my mind making tracks of the audience I had in Australia. I feel like I would be less susceptible to that.
One thing I learned with the success of “Somebody That I Used to Know” is that you can make music that is purely driven by responding to the musical aspects for lyric aspects, not being driven by trying to fit into a radio format or expectation of a label or a manager or something like that, and it can connect with people. And it seems to have done so.
And that’s not to discount any of the work that labels and managers do and have done. And in my case, for the people to hear the song. But yeah, that gives me a lot of confident feelings that I can follow my instincts.
You mentioned that you’ve been buying unusual musical instruments recently. What kinds of instruments are they?
Gotye: I bought this one very huge space-age organ called the Yamaha EX-42, which came out in 1970. Kimbra saw it recently. We did some writing in my barn/studio. What else?
Kimbra: Music boxes.
Gotye: Yeah, I was just in Delhi, India, and I found a couple of electronic Tabla drum machines that are pretty sweet, so I’m looking forward to playing with those.
Kimbra, who designed your dress?
Kimbra: This is a dress from Jamie Lee Major from western Australia.
For more info: Grammy Awards website
RELATED LINKS ON snaptwig.com: