MC: What’s the importance of releasing your work on vinyl? Have you found that to be more or less popular than you expected?
Gotye: Vinyl is the best physical medium for music out there. It has longevity and sound quality (if you get the mastering and pressing right) on its side.
MC: You still play with your band, the Basics, even though it’s obviously taken a back seat to your current trajectory. How have you dealt with that shift in priority? Has it been awkward putting your friends on the back burner while your career flourishes?
Gotye: I’ve juggled both projects for over 10 years, and at different times they have supported or challenged each other. I spent two to three years working on the last Basics record and touring solidly, so I feel alright doing my own thing for a while.
MC: Tell us about your relationship with the animators who’ve worked on your videos. Do you come up with the concepts or do you just trust them to do what they do best? What is the importance of attaching a visual element to your work? And how much of that decision comes from a demand in the marketplace versus an organic decision directly inspired by the music?
Gotye: I just like working with visual artists whose work I find engaging. Sometimes the ideas are purely theirs, in response to the song. Sometimes we brainstorm together, or I come in with a specific concept in mind. It depends on the song and the style of production. I like it when it’s a close working relationship with the directors and animators, when there’s open and direct communication. Working through producers and production companies I find more difficult.
MC: How do you keep your voice in top form while on the road? Is there a ritual with which you keep your mind and voice in the right place?
Gotye: I try not to talk too much when I’m able to rest. Warming up before shows is important and sometimes throat care with things like propolis and manuka honey help get me over the line.
MC: You used a 10-piece orchestra for your performance at the Graphic Festival. How did that decision come about? Was it difficult to execute? How did that inclusion impact your performance?
Gotye: Ten musicians ended up being the size of ensemble I felt I needed to do those shows. There was lots of rehearsal and time management involved.
MC: You gained a boost in popularity after celebs like Ashton Kutcher and Lily Allen tweeted about you. How did that promotion serve you in comparison to more traditional forms of publicity, like print ads, magazine reviews and radio interviews?
Gotye: I feel the Somebodies: A YouTube Orchestra mashup I did for my YouTube channel recently served me better in terms of goodwill and connection with fans than any advertising or celebrity tweeting about my music.
MC: What is it about your DIY aesthetic that has allowed you to become as successful as you have? Would you have had the same success, do you think, if you had hooked up with a major label early on?
Gotye: Learning a little bit about all aspects of releasing music has been very beneficial, from producing and writing the music, booking my own shows for a period, taking care of all press and web stuff for years. I’ve made a bunch of mistakes and had expectations that were out of step with the reality of the industry, but I think because I’ve had time to learn from those experiences and no one needed to get “a result” from me at a particular stage (earlier stages, especially), I’ve been able to just develop what I do in a very organic way.
MC: Where are you going to take your music in the future? Will you be doing more with samples? Multimedia? How can you maintain your popularity yet still evolve and keep your art from getting stale?
Gotye: Making pieces that consider visuals and audio together from conception interests me. Maintaining my current popularity is less important to me than trying to make better, more challenging music. If I set myself the challenge of writing songs about things other people haven’t written songs about, I think that’s a good start.