AMBY recently sat down with Lenka Kripac, an Australian musician who just released her fourth studio album, The Bright Side. A few hours before her show at the Horseshoe Tavern, she spoke about going to a strip club in Portland, ultrasound beats, and dairy woes.
AMBY: First off, welcome to Toronto, and thanks for speaking with us today.
LENKA: Thank you.
AMBY: Your fourth and most recent album is titled The Bright Side. Your third album was called Shadows. How did you decide on these titles? Are the contrasting titles intentional?
LENKA: Yes, the contrast is definitely intentional. I wanted to do something that was entirely flipped from the last album, and it is, energetically. Shadows is a very quiet album, it’s a lullaby album. It’s really atmospheric and ambient. And then this album [The Bright Side] is so different. It really is right back into the light and it’s all quite upbeat; there’s only two semi-ballads on the whole thing. It’s pretty beats based and it’s all about being happy.
AMBY: You’re more than halfway through your current tour. Do you have any particularly memorable moments from the tour so far?
LENKA: Yes, definitely, good and bad. We had a lovely weekend in Portland, which is always a good place to have some time off. We went hiking, went to a strip club—got the balanced Oregon tour experience. I had a great day today, walking around Toronto. It was absolutely beautiful today—beautiful weather, happy people. There was a festival going on. I went shopping. Usually my highlights involve days off. My favorite gig, actually, was in Dallas Texas, just because we played really well; it was one of those times where it really gelled.
AMBY: In reading your previous interviews, I was fascinated by your remarks on songwriting and pregnancy. When you spoke with AMBY in 2013, you mentioned being in Woodstock New York, in a barn, singing a song about your then unborn child, and that “Two Heartbeats” includes the “in-utero Doppler heartbeat” of the baby. Now that your son is a toddler, do you play him those songs? How does it feel to play him a song that was set to his heartbeat?
LENKA: You know, I haven’t actually done that yet. He’s only three. I will do that; I definitely will explain to him that that’s his heartbeat. And he probably won’t care, because for him it’s completely normal. His dad is an illustrator, his dad makes kids book. The other day we were somewhere, where were we… Oh, we were in a bookstore, right? At like the MOMA art store, design shop. And James’ [Lenka’s husband] book was there, up on the wall. And I’m like, ‘Look Quinn, your daddy drew that book.’ And he’s like, ‘Yeah.’ That’s just normal. Doesn’t everyone’s dad draw a book that’s in the bookshop and doesn’t everyone’s mom write songs about them?
AMBY: Since Shadows, has your songwriting process changed? How so?
LENKA: Well, on a boring, practical level it’s changed in that I cant indulge in pure inspiration anymore, because I kind of have to schedule it. So if I get an idea for a song, the best I can hope for is to just jot down the idea and make a little note on my iPhone, and then it might be a week before I can actually finish it and sit down at the piano. It’s better now that my kid is going to school and stuff, but when he was a baby… Often in the middle of the night, breastfeeding, I’d get an idea for a song and I’d just be like—I have all of these recording notes—[makes singing-whispering sounds] just quietly whispering into the phone. So it’s a lot less indulgent, and studio time has to be scheduled. And recording an album, I don’t get to really hang around and experiment with instruments and stuff. Its usually like I come in to play, I play my part, I sing my songs, and I leave. And I let the musicians and the producers do the rest. Because I cant just be like, bye husband, I’ll be home at two in the morning. You know, I’m just going to be in the studio all day.
AMBY: Do you have a favourite track off of The Bright Side that you’re looking forward to playing tonight?
LENKA: “Two Heartbeats” is really cool actually. We sort of have this re-birthing experience, as a group, and its a little bit tongue-in-cheek but also really cool in a hippie kind of way.
AMBY: Your tour wraps up at the end of July, in Atlanta, Georgia. What are you doing afterwards to celebrate that last show of this tour?
LENKA: I’ll just be going back to being a mom. I’ll probably, like, eat some dairy, because I’ve been trying not to; I’ve got a bit of a cough so I’m trying to be really healthy and haven’t been able to have any cheese for ages. So I’ll probably eat some cheese. It’s going to be [a] pretty wild party [laughs.] Wine and cheese.
AMBY: Lastly, what’s coming up next for you? When could listeners expect another album—even though this one’s just released?
LENKA: Oh my god, are you joking? For God’s sake, people are so demanding. I just put out and album like two weeks ago. I have no idea—probably years.
AMBY: Thanks so much, Lenka, for taking the time to do this interview.
LENKA: Thank you, my pleasure. Thanks for your support.
AMBY: We’re really looking forward to the show tonight.
LENKA: Yeah, cool. It’s going to be a late one. We’re on at ten thirty.
Thank you Lenka, for giving us your answers!
Interview by Leah Edwards | @leahhedwards
Edited for clarity and length.