Kimberly Anne rocked up the stairs after her soundcheck to meet me in the cafe of Glasgow’s Stereo and immediately gave me a big hug. Her massive fro’ makes her look larger than life, and every inch a diva. The truth is, she couldn’t be more un-diva like if she tried, and is instead, honest, bubbly, and endearing.
This is a girl who has figured out that not only is she in the music business; she is in the people business. When she is not rehearsing, recording or writing music, she is most likely having a tea party with her twitter followers, answering their questions and playing them her new songs.
Let’s start at the beginning, who is Kimberley Anne?
Kimberly Anne is a singer songwriter from South London who is into indie as well as African and Brazilian music, who had the weird idea to merge them all together in this pop outfit called Kimberly Anne.
How would you describe your sound to those who’ve never heard you before?
I describe it in a domestic sense cause that’s the only way I can think of it. So, I describe it as acoustic pop in a long-term marriage to indie having a sordid bit on the side with African and Brazilian Rhythm. That’s what makes sense to me. (laughs).
You recorded a self-released EP in 2012 before the record labels came knocking. What was that time like, was it your goal to get signed?
I was just messing around a little bit. I had stopped making music before that. I made music when I came out of college and I guess I wanted the life of a musician without living the life of a musician yet. I was writing lots of songs that I thought were good and that I thought would be on trend, but I hadn’t really lived enough to know what I wanted to say. So, I felt like I was making lots of crap music for a while and stopped. Then when I came back to writing I was just doing it for myself.
I didn’t really care too much what anyone else thought. I had saved up this money (I got a full-time job when I gave up music working with young people in the arts) and I thought, cool, why don’t you just, for your own sake, make an EP and the main objective is just to enjoy the whole process. So I did it and made it available on iTunes and there wasn’t really any motive other than that. When I released it, I was like, maybe this is something I really wanna do, how do I figure out how to do that. Then luckily record labels were kind of into it, which was a surprise, especially with major record labels, cause I thought they were just into really bubbly young pop bands.
So yeah, it was a bit of a surprise (that I got signed).
How different was recording your second EP with Polydor?
Yeah, it was different. It was different to have support and to have financial means, not scrimping and saving, not always trying to blag a favour off someone, or volunteering to sing at everyone’s wedding. So it was good, but I was also like: you are working in a team now and with that comes consulting with other people. I am really like headstrong and independent, so I will come up with an idea and someone will be like, maybe there is a different idea and I am like, no.
So it was a part of growing up and learning about working (as part of) something bigger where everyone is trying to go for the same goal. There wasn’t too much compromise. It’s just about understanding that it is a business (the record company), so the people paying need to be able to have their say, so I was like ok, cool.
When you were doing your own EP, you were quite creative in the videos that you made: filming in your mum’s shed throwing talcum powder over yourself for example. Is that something you want to continue – to use that outside the box creativity?
I think most of it stems from limited funds, to be honest with you.
But sometimes the best ideas come from that?
Yeah, when you don’t have that much of a budget to play with you have to get a bit inventive and come up with these innovative ideas. Some of it feels a bit crazy but often just with a little help from friends, you can pull off most things. So yeah, most of my videos have come out of ideas and friends being lovely and doing everything for food, so I haven’t spent any crazy money on videos and I don’t think I ever will.
I don’t think that kind of thing really suits me and it would just feel a bit weird. It’s an insane amount of money to spend on something. I like to keep it a bit innovative and a bit cheap.
Talk us through the process of how you write music? For example do you hear things in your head that you try to recreate or do you write the lyrics first and then write the music?
Yeah sometimes, it depends. Songs normally come to me at really inconvenient times, like usually when I am meant to be doing something else – usually in the shower. I get lots of lyrics in the shower, I don’t know why. Or, when I’m driving, but I like it cause then lyrics come to you more subconsciously.
When I sit down and say, I am going to write a song right now, sometimes the lyrics can come out a bit contrived, a bit rubbish and a bit clichéd but when I am just driving along, I think, ah that’s interesting. Sometimes I hear songs on the radio and they start a sentence and I think, aw, if they are about to say this – that is fucking cool. And, if they say something else – I am like, right cool, I am going to say that. But, sometimes I find out they did say that and I am like, damn.
What is your one stand out track everyone should hear?
If they hadn’t heard you before, what is the one that you would say, listen to this one?
Oh. Oh, ok, em… I suppose a song that pulls everything together is a track that is called ‘Hard as Hello’. Yeah, it’s got a bit of African xylophone on it. I went to West Africa and did some training on this huge African xylophone, so it features that on it but it is also kind of acoustic and a little bit indie at the same time, so I think that has everything all in one. So I would say that one is more of an everything-in-one-tin. Like those weird breakfast tins, have you seen them? They’re like an English breakfast with everything inside, have you seen them?
Me: No, no don’t think I have. Do you get them in hotels?
KA: Ha! Good for you, good for you. No you get them in like, dodgy corner shops. It’s like a breakfast all-in-one-can, so it’s like egg, sausage, bacon all in one can.
Me: Aw yeah, aw yuck (laughing).
KA: (laughs) yeah it’s awful.
So, your new single, ‘Bury it There’ is out on the 5th October, is there an album on its way?
Yeah the album is on its way early next year and making albums especially with a major record label takes so long that I wanna’ share the album making process with people following my music, so as of tonight at about 9.30pm as soon as I go onstage I am going to make one of my home demos available online for free and I am going to start doing that over the next few months.
I wanna show where the songs start, like in my bedroom at home with me. Just random stuff, and then when they hear it (on the album) it will have evolved. I think, just give it away. Give people music. People want new music.
Are your record company ok with that?
KA: We’ll find out. (laughs)
Me: Yeah, (laughing) do it first and ask for permission later.
What would be the best thing that could happen once this tour has finished?
In an ideal world, someone, let’s say Sam Smith’s Uncle, came to my gig and was like: “Hey Sam, you need to check out this girl”, and Sam’s like: “Aw amazing, I am going to take Kimberly Anne on a world tour. She can go and test out all of her new album material.” And when the album comes out people will be like, aw we saw her in Italy.
Basically I want to travel around the world, I don’t even know exactly how it’s gonna happen yet, but I am going to make it happen.
Me: Well they say, all you’ve got to focus on is the goal, and then don’t worry about how it happens.
KA: Yeah, don’t worry about in between. Yeah, I just wanna take the album around the world, either before or after it comes out. I just wanna get out and be paid and see the world with my music.
So are you a big fan of Sam Smith?
Yeah I think he’s great, but also I was just trying to think of someone who could go on a world tour right now and he could just easily do that.
You are an avid Tweeter, is this the best way for your fans to keep up to date with what you are up to and what you are doing next?
It is, yeah. It is a little bit like a stream of consciousness (Twitter). Sometimes I am just ridiculously trying to be funny or childish or immature and sometimes I wanna talk about what is happening in the news and start some kind of political debate. That is just how my brain works. I just flip from second to second between things that seem to be massively important to me. Every Monday, I encourage everyone to share really bad Dad jokes to make Mondays a bit better, so tomorrow we are in Manchester and I am going to do an onstage bad joke Monday.
I hear the last time you played Glasgow it was in a launderette – how did that come about?
Yeah I did a fan… oh I have never called people fans before. I normally call them followers. Scratch that, I did a follower curated tour. So, I said, I am going to do a UK tour, you guys (my followers) need to decide where. Well, I picked the cities, but they had to find the locations. The only rule was it couldn’t be in any venues, so the one in Glasgow was in a launderette, it was amazing. So many people turned up. We had to stop the gig to part a way in the crowd for this little guy to come in to wash his pants. We were like: ‘let him through, let him through’. That was hilarious. We played a clothes shop and on Brighton beach as well, we just played everywhere. Who knows, maybe people from the launderette will be here tonight. I gave them a free gig so they could come at least.
Me: I am sure they will be here. Well thanks very much.
KA: Aw thank you, thanks for coming to hang out. Nice one.
As for her show, it seems that her launderette fans did turn up to support her. She kept her wonderful attitude throughout the show, banging on her drums, and even convincing her audience to sing the backing ‘La Las’ (rather nicely I thought) for ‘Liar”. Throughout the show, Kimberly Anne displayed a confidence that suggests she is entirely comfortable on stage.
My standout track was ‘Shackles of You’ from her new album which will be released in early 2016. An incredibly funky intro, from her African xylophone/drum machine, evolves into a really bouncy rhythmic track with a catchy “Aeo, Aeo” throughout, before an explosive drum solo. It sounds like a celebration and deseves to be a hit single.
What I like about her music is very similar to what I like about her – it is a wonderful mix of contradictions. She comes across as strong, confident and intelligent, but is not afraid to show that she has a real vulnerability. Her lyrics are refreshingly honest and current. Her music has a very unique sound, something that it seems she is focused on honing. African xylophone and drums are welcome additions to acoustic guitar melodies and her strong voice is instantly recognisable.
Her eclectic influences are evident in a fusion of old and new sounds that seem to work perfectly. She has a fearlessness, and her impromptu tours around launderettes and clothes shops an indication that she will not sit about waiting for things to happen. This coupled with a cheeky, but loveable rebelliousness are all promising traits for an extremely interesting musical career.
I would actually be dumbfounded if everyone has not heard of Kimberly Anne by this time next year and so they should. At an incredibly young age, she has discovered what music is all about: having fun, pushing boundaries and saying something people can relate to.