Hamilton born Kimbra Lee Johnson was singing in public at age 10. At 12, she featured as a wannabe pop star on kids' TV show What Now. Two years later she came second in the Rockquest schools' music competition. After winning Juice TV's Breakthrough video award in 2007, she was signed by an Australian management company. In 2011 she sang on Gotye's global hit 'Somebody I Used to Know'. Her debut album Vows won six gongs at the 2012 NZ Music Awards. Kimbra relocated to Los Angeles for follow-up The Golden Echo. Primal Heart landed in 2018. Kimbra made her acting debut in 2019 musical Daffodils.
The second single from Kimbra's debut album Vows is a plea to a disconnected and emotionally unavailable male character to abandon the dark side and embrace the world. Against a dazzling, infinite white background Kimbra and her crew are a riot of colour as they attempt to win over this would-be object of her attentions with song, dance, colour, tambourines and confetti. Australian director Guy Franklin's video was shot in Melbourne and features a cameo appearance from the young girls who appeared in Kimbra's previous video 'Settle Down'.
Kimbra's second single, the jazz inflected 'Simply on my Lips', was recorded when the future pop star was 16 and still at school. The starkly simple black and white video was directed and animated by Joel Kefali (later one half of award-winning video team Special Problems). It placed Kimbra with her guitar in the corner of a room, whose walls became a canvas for Kefali's line drawings. The result won the Best Breakthrough category at the 2007 Juice TV awards. Within months, Kimbra had signed an international management contract and relocated to Melbourne.
International chart-topper Kimbra Johnson did a lot of musical growing up in public. Twelve months after featuring on kids' TV show What Now?, and two years before her first Rockquest success, this NZ Music Commission piece offers a tantalising glimpse of her as a remarkably unselfconscious 12-year-old — working with schools' music mentor Chris Diprose at her Hamilton intermediate. She's already very comfortable with the recording process and considerably more advanced in her music making than some off-camera classmates, who provide an unseen Greek chorus.
A decade before joining Gotye at the top spot of the American singles chart, future pop star Kimbra Lee Johnson was an effervescent 11-year-old, investigating the mechanics of making a hit recording. This is one of a series of segments she presented for TVNZ kids show What Now?. After meeting up with producers Rikki Morris and Stephen Small, she's ready to record her song 'Smile'. The venue is Morris' Devonport studio; the duo have an arrangement all set to go, so Kimbra can lay down her vocal.