Raised in Australia, Gotye has a completely sold out US tour, over 140 million YouTube hits, and a single ("Somebody That I Used to Know") so potent it has brought fame to groups who have covered it. Ahead of his performances at Coachella we spoke to the man otherwise known as Wally De Backer, about his recent success and getting the audience to sing along.
How did you first become interested in music?
I just gravitated towards it, and my parents were supportive enough to let me follow my own path. I started playing music when I was 16 -- I started playing drums -- and I have been pretty actively pursuing it since then.
You say you are interested in sounds. What kind of sounds?
If I hear something out and about and I have any way to capture it I will often try to do that. Whether it's musical things that I chance upon in the outback of Australia, which I sample quite heavily, or at a railroad crossing, there is often really interesting poly-rhythms or cross rhythms that happen with the signal bells and things like that, that spark my musical imagination, ya know, make me want to jump out of the car with a recorder and capture it to turn it into something.
Where did you first start producing your own albums?
My friends and I were lucky enough to have the house that I grew up in. In a bit of a role reversal, my parents moved out and a couple of my friends moved in after high school. My parents were our landlords and we lived there for a very fun three years, studying, playing sports, playing a lot of basketball, playing video games, hanging out, drinking lots of coffee, watching lots of movies. I had a really nice space to myself, in the downstairs bedroom studio, where I started getting really involved in sampling and producing records, often experimenting and trying to produce stuff on my own. It was a fun time.
Is it true you recorded your album Making Mirrors in your parents' barn?
Yes, they live on a really nice block of land, east of Melbourne, and my dad built a boathouse and built a barn and he was gracious enough to let me take over two of the upstairs rooms to build a studio for a couple of years. It's a nice place.
The past year has been huge for you. How did it happen?
Some of it is due to my persistence. Maybe it shows that what I am doing musically is getting more refined or is starting to find a potent mix of different things that I have been doing over the past few records and maybe it has come to something of a head ya know? Just the song "Somebody That I Used To Know" has had a potent response...But it does feel like its kinda huge because of those things that have happened with the record and with the single but there is also an aspect when I feel like there has been consistently upward momentum that I have had for about ten years.
So yeah, that's kinda nice. It's not completely out of nowhere but it has taken me by surprise how quickly its kinda crossed over and found a big audience here in the United States and other parts of Europe where I have not really released music for a while or before. But yeah, it's nice. It's exciting.
Why do you think "Somebody I Used to Know" has had such impact?