Get Ready for Gotye
The Australian-Belgian sensation brings his melodic, chart-blasting set to the Bayfront Amphitheater this month.
October 01, 2012
Gotye during a set at London’s O2 Shepherd’s Bush Empire earlier this year
There’s almost nothing about Gotye, the 32-year-old behind the chart megasmash “Somebody That I Used to Know,” that suggests “mainstream star.” First, there’s his mystifying-to-articulate artistic name (pronounced “go-teeyay”): an alteration of Gauthier, the French version of his Flemish given name, Wouter. But of course, there’s also his music. Though “Somebody That I Used to Know” spent weeks at number one on the Billboard 100, the whispery ditty—with acoustic guitar pops, the tinkle of a distant organ, and an explosive chorus—was unlike anything else in the chart’s upper echelons. In a time when pop music hinges on mechanistic, hard-edged dance-pop based on rigid structural formulas, “Somebody That I Used to Know” is a direct antithesis to that convention.
That may be precisely why it struck such a chord with audiences. This also means that when Gotye arrives in the United States this fall for his first thorough national tour, landing in Miami on October 7 at Bayfront Park’s Klipsch Amphitheater, he will have already graduated far past the club and theater levels. Keeping the performance true to his independent beginnings is at the top of his mind.
“There’s actually a lot of stuff I do that’s not so much about me being the guy singing in the front and more about the texture of the sounds, and the combinations of the arrangement and the visuals,” Gotye says. “But then there are other songs where I know the audience would really want that from me, so I’d want to be as unencumbered by technology and gear as possible, as close to the audience as possible. I’m hoping there are some more stripped-back moments in the set that can still translate to large audiences.”
In fact, Gotye has always chosen that kind of direct involvement with his fans as well as his musical creations. His early releases—the 2003 album Boardface and the 2006 follow-up Like Drawing Blood—were staunchly do-it-yourself affairs: self-recorded, self-produced, and more or less self-released. After increased commercial exposure, 2011’s Making Mirrors yielded his megahit. That’s when he finally relinquished some of the reins. “One of the challenges in the last couple of years is to not be a micromanager of everything, because you can’t when there’s so much going on,” he says.
But Gotye is still proudly keeping total control over his artistic output. While “Somebody That I Used to Know” became a pop smash, the rest of Making Mirrors is often unapologetically strange. T here a re entire t racks featuring robotic, distant vocals and soundscapes, such as the reggae of “State of the Art,” or, at other turns, yacht-rocky slabs of blue-eyed soul, like “I Feel Better.”
With the thousands of new fans who will attend Gotye’s US shows, the artist hopes to also draw people in with the more unexpected material. “Even though I’m proud of everything I do, I sometimes feel like the things that are more esoteric or hiding on the records are closer to my heart,” he says. “But for one song to get so super massive, it’s been incredible to experience, and there have been a lot of curious, and surprising, and exciting things to come from it.” Gotye, 7 pm, Sunday, October 7, at the Klipsch Amphitheater in Bayfront Park, 301 N. Biscayne Blvd., Miami; livenation.com
Cover shoot: Behind the scenes with Pitbull for the October 2014 issue of Ocean Drive magazine.