A minute with Gotye


Can a song change your life? If you are Gotye the answer is yes.

The word ‘overnight success’ is an easy but flawed description often used to introduce the artiste, but the 32-year-old Australian, real name Wouter De Backer, is not complaining. He has been a popular fixture in the niche universe of indie-music for the past decade, but now the world is singing along to his hit number Somebody That I Used To Know.

The break-up anthem which is a hit on radio stations from New York to New Delhi, recently got the ultimate pop-culture stamp of approval, a cover on cult hit TV show Glee and a stint on Saturday Night Live for the singer-instrumentalist. Gotye talks to India Today about life post fame.

Q. You have been making music for a long time but the fame has come suddenly? How has life changed and how are you coping?
A. After ten years in the music business I feel that mine is indeed a classic overnight success. The atmosphere has changed and there’ve been a lot of surprise. I’m really amazed with the responses the track ‘Somebody I Used To Know’ has received. I’m doing a lot of new stuff as well and feel exposed – people recognizing me, more followers on Twitter. It was not something that I had expected and it feels great.

Q. Your music amalgamates a lot of varied genres. You grew up in Australia which has a huge Indian diaspora. Has music from this part of the world been an influence?
I listen to different kinds of music and on this album I’ve made diverse music. For me a big part of making music is the discovery aspect and surprise element. I would love to listen to Indian music as well. There are many people who have influenced me musically – Peter Gabriel, Kate Bush, Gregg Gillis to name a few.

Q. You are reportedly being courted by big names for collaborations? Any good news on that front?
A. There are people who I’d like to collaborate with. If things work out then you’ll definitely know. I met Nick Launay, producer of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and Arcade Fire, and I’ve always loved records mixed by him. He is a lovely to meet in person as well. There are some people you just tend to connect with instantly who have a similar focus in terms of what’s important, the kind of passion in music. It’s refreshing when you are able to connect with someone on that level.

Q. ‘Somebody that I used to know’ has become the break-up song of the moment. Was there a real life inspiration/incident behind the number?
A. Yes, the song was drawn from real life experiences and incidents. When a relationship fails, two people have completely different recollection of their times together. They think of instances differently, go through mixed emotions and have different opinions of the situation and how they broke up. It is an amalgamation of different feelings. That is what I tried to bring out in the song.

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