MAKING it as a professional musician comes with significant sacrifice – consider the case of wunderkind Kimbra.
Coming from a privileged background (both parents are in medicine), the 21-year-old New Zealand native was just 17 when she crossed the Tasman to set up house in a one-bedroom Melbourne apartment to chase her dream.
“It was arranged by my record management for the making of (my debut record; the newly released Vows), but there were definitely tough moments,” she told Community.
“I didn’t have many friends and it was hard for my parents to part with me, but they could see I was really driven to do this.”
The singer-songwriter (born Kimbra Johnson) – whose ARIA chart topping-collaboration with Gotye on Somebody That I Used to Know is getting plenty of radio love – grew up in Hamilton in a household permeating with her parents’ “good taste in music”.
The Johnsons were supportive of their daughter’s artistic pursuits, booking guitar lessons and later, a vocal coach.
Kimbra isn’t the only creative family member – her younger brother is a talented jazz pianist, but opted for a conservative career choice: studying economics at university in Dunedin.
As for Kimbra, her journey into the world of music was more by way of self-discovery.
“I was drawn from watching musicals and movies at school and naturally loving to write from an early age,” she said.
“I picked up guitar from about age 12 and then I just became a better musician by keeping writing music, coming up with new ideas and being challenged by the music I was listening to.”
Even now, Kimbra consumes a varied musical diet and is compared to Nina Simone, Jeff Buckley, Prince, Bjork and Janelle Monae – all artists she listens to and admires.
“I try to channel a bit of everything, not just soul and pop artists, because it will help me end up with a more unique product,” she said.
The late Amy Winehouse was also influential, with the young artist saddened by the troubled Brit’s recent death at just 27.
“Frank was a record I got really excited by because it was a pop album with an R&B and jazz feel, but was dirty, playful and exciting,” she said.
“You could see the music was coming straight from the soul and wasn’t manufactured in any way; she was a true artist.”
Kimbra plays the Astor Theatre, Mt Lawley, on September 17 and the Parklife festival at Wellington Square, East Perth, on September 25.