Born and raised in the Australian “bush” (her words, “… it’s not the outback, it’s just known as the bush.”) Lenka Kripac, who goes simply by her first name in the music world, has recently seen her poppy, happy, and all around fun single Everything at Once the centre of quite a lot of attention thanks to it’s use by Microsoft 8’s newest commercial and tag-line for the product that states, ready for it, that Microsoft 8 is, “Everything at Once.” I know… original thinking in marketing has always been a staple at Microsoft, at least they’re fantastically gifted at choosing great music.
Lenka’s career in music started long ago and not specifically aimed at just one form of artistic impression: “I was running and dancing since the day I knew how and singing to the gumtrees…” she states over the phone just before heading on stage in L.A., “I began ballet when I was four but I remember always wanting the little solos or the sort of, spotlight parts, even that young.” As someone that clearly finds the arts all-encompassing, being creative seems to be a part of who she is as much as it is something she does for a living now. Curious about a first memory she might be able to recall in terms of really grabbing the spotlight, she laughed and then answered immediately, “There’s this picture of me wearing an elf-costume when I’m about five years old, I think, and, again, it’s just one of those plays where the teachers must have recognized the fact that I wasn’t afraid to step out on my own in front of an audience cause it’s just me in my elf costume!”
After her stint as one of Santa’s helpers, Lenka and her family left the “bush” and headed to Sydney where she studied acting at the Australian Theatre for Young People. She was quite inspired by one of the young instructors there and wasn’t afraid to let the world know, “… Cate (Blanchett) was a teacher, of sorts, for a bit when I was there. She was probably 20, or at least in her young 20s, when I was still a teen. She was wonderful though and is definitely one of the reasons I kept pursuing acting. She really was a terrific teacher.” From soaps to teen series, Lenka starred or guest starred in a number of Australian productions and feels that her music being tied to film and television isn’t so much of a mystery if you really think about it, “I’ve always been tied to that [film and television] world so I don’t think it’s a coincidence…” she states very matter-of-factly, “There’s something very visual about many of my lyrics that people seem to respond to and see a use for in their projects.” One such person was a young Kerris Dorsey, the American actress that is now best known for her role as Billy Beane’s (played by Brad Pitt) daughter. “It’s so fantastic that it was used in the film…” she laughingly states of her song The Show. “I really owe a lot to that young actress, Kerris. She was a fan of mine I guess and actually played that song in her audition. [The studio] decided they wanted her for the part and that song for the scene on the spot, or so I heard.” A touching scene between a father and his daughter in a guitar store, Lenka says that the lyrics weren’t meant for that sort of situation but that, “… the small part of the song that Kerris sings to her screen dad just worked so well. It was interesting to hear the song that way. I was really proud of that.”
Having music in advertising isn’t as easy of a decision as when your management calls and tells you that your song could possibly be in the next Brad Pitt money-maker. Stating that she usually does research on any companies asking for her work before hand, she’s also, at the same time, not concerned with the idea of selling out: “I want to make sure they’re not evil corporations or anything but really, most of my songs are used for really cute spots or happy ones and that’s the sort of music that I make. So of course!” She’s also not one to complain about her songs being used in other mediums such as television shows or YouTube compilations, “There are so many channels for musicians to get their work out to fans now and this is just one way that I feel very fortunate people are responding so positively towards.”
When asked about her music and its happy vibe she just laughs in a most delighted way. “I think people always need happy music!” Her newest album, however, is much softer… still happy, but the full length album Shadows has been described as a lullaby album for adults and she confirms that was her very intention, “I was pregnant during some and had just had my son for the rest so I intentionally made it as much of a lullaby album as possible. It’s very soft, very comforting I feel.” She pauses, I’m guessing to reflect on how to properly describe what she was feeling at the time of making the album, “My previous albums and music are absolutely wonderful but there’s plenty of full volume vocals, drum spikes, and a feeling of faster tempo pop music… which is great! But I love softer music you can put on to fall asleep to as well and this was my chance to make an album like that.” After a moment, she adds a final thought to that train, “I obviously want to please my fans but this was as much for me and my new family as for my fans.”
But as her success is tied to very happy and poppy music, I was curious if she was heading in a new direction? “I don’t ever want to make angry or moody, depressing music. I’m a very happy person and I enjoy listening to upbeat music so that’s what I strive to create!” I wonder if her happiness can now be directly correlated to having her husband and young child on tour with her and she’s quick to agree and yet set the record straight, “It’s difficult at times and so not always feasible. We choose ‘home bases’ where they can stay, like New York as I do an east coast tour or L.A. for a west coast one. It works for now because my boy is really into maps [laughs] so he loves travelling! I love having them around though and it’s so great to be able to see them in between shows!”
As for new projects, don’t you worry, you big fan of Lenka, you. She’s just about to release a new video for a song that her husband, visual artist James Gulliver Hancock, has wanted to do for a long time. “We turned my body into the landscape for the video so I had model makers, miniature specialists, and so many others around using little train sets and buildings on my body! It was a much larger endeavor that anything we’ve ever done before but it was absolutely worth it.” I can tell she’s smiling even over the phone, “It’s such an amazing video.”
Lenka played only a select few dates in a handful of major Canadian cities but I was there in Vancouver with a smile on my face as her “happy” music kept me in a great mood for the entirety of her set. And then the smile just wouldn’t go away as her catchy hooks kept rolling around in my head, and I hope they stay right where they are for as long as possible.
Lenka’s newest album, Shadows is available on iTunes now as are her previous two solo albums, the self-titled Lenka and her sophomore follow-up, aptly titled, Two.