It's a memorable clip reminiscent of classic stop-motion vids by Peter Gabriel -- an artist to whom Gotye is often compared -- and even though it required her to bare all, Kimbra knew it was for the greater good.
"It was pretty nerve-wracking on the day of the shoot," she tells Spinner, checking in from Australia days before hopping a plane to play SXSW and embark on her first-ever U.S. tour.
"We're there to get a job done, and we both could see it was going to be an innovative video with incredible emotion," she adds. "That clouds any kind of nerves you might have about it or inhibitions about exposing yourself like that. We realized that what we were trying to create was much bigger than being nude for a few hours."
The video debuted in July, and three months later, Kimbra followed that strong first impression with her U.S. debut, 'Settle Down,' a four-song EP showcasing her vibrant, glitchy take on Top 40 pop. She'll spend much of this month and April opening for Gotye, and by the time she hits the road in May with Foster the People, she'll have dropped her first stateside full-length, 'Vows.'
The album came out last year in Australia and New Zealand, but Kimbra is updating the original version -- which was recorded over a period of four years -- with a handful of new tracks cut specially for the U.S. market.
"I think people will hear quite a distinct progression when they hear the American songs," Kimbra says. "It's really exciting for me to be adding these new songs to 'Vows,' because it's now quite a journey that takes me from the age of 17 or 18, just finding my feet as an artist, right up until some of the more recent additions."
While she's thus far known more for the Gotye team-up than for her own music, Kimbra says she's pleased to have made her name as a guest artist. The Swedish electro-pop trio Little Dragon did likewise with Gorillaz, she's quick to point out, and the comparison is apt. Much like that group, she makes artsy yet accessible R&B, drawing on a myriad influences.
On 'Settle Down,' her vocals sometimes recall throwback Brit-soul, a la Adele or Amy Winehouse, but her structures and accompaniments suggest Santigold, Kate Bush and even Lady Gaga. She admits to being a huge fan of Prince and Michael Jackson, but her musical curiosity doesn't stop there.
"When I was around 15, 16, I started getting into a lot of experimental music -- bands like the Mars Volta or Miles Davis, stuff that really pushed me to listen to things like time signatures or get interested in discordant harmonies," she says. "For someone who'd been writing pop songs as a kid, to discover this music, it was like, 'Wow, how can I combine these two worlds?'"
It's a good question -- and one audiences will have to wait until May 22, when 'Vows' arrives on U.S. shores, to find out.
"It's not about being consciously weird and trying to mess with people," Kimbra says. "It's about trying to convey a truthful emotion but doing it in a way that doesn't feel tired and contrived. In order to do that, you have to draw on some alternative influences in order to not repeat everything that's been going on in mainstream music."