Interview by Scott Preston
Lenka is an Australian singer-songwriter. Her parents immigrated to Australia from Yugoslavia. She was self-confessedly born and raised “in the bush”, but as a 6-year-old child moved to Sydney, where she got her schooling, extensive music training, and started her music career.
She functioned as a member of the Australian electronic-rock crossover band Decoder Ring for two of their albums. Then, she moved to California in 2007.
After confusingly adopting her first name as her sole artistic name, Lenka released an eponymous album on 24 September 2008. The album has thus far peaked at number 142 on the Billboard 200.
The first single from the album is the catchy and melodious but derivative Regina Spektor/Feist/Yael Naim/Edie Brickell deliberate vocal styling, kept in a mix of pop/un-folk idiom, titled “The Show”. “The Show” has been featured as soundtrack for an Old Navy as well as an Ugly Betty commercial. It was promoted as a iTunes Free Single of the Week. Its video appears to be well-received on YouTube. (1)
Cincy Groove: What was the recording process like for your first solo record?
Lenka: It took about 4 months. We did it in numerous pockets of recording time. We started it in December last year and finished around March/April of this year. We started recording in Montreal and did the rest in Los Angeles. We just wanted to work with a few different producers and that happens to be where they were. It was fun for me because I have never been to Canada before that.
Cincy Groove: I know you were recently on The Tonight Show, how did that go?
Lenka: Yes I was, It was on the 16th of October. It was very nerve racking and an adrenaline rush. Its not live, but hey shoot it a couple hours before. Its still before a live audience, so once they come back from commercial they introduce you and your on. No time to make mistakes. All that pressure and preparation and its only 3 minutes. But we still had a lot of fun. Jay Leno even came by our dressing room before the show and said hi. What was really funny was that he came over after we played and reached out his hand to help me over some speakers. I must have been really nervous because I didn’t let go of his hand. We were still shaking hands as he was talking to the camera.
Cincy Groove: What was your experience like making the video for your song “The Show”?
Lenka: It was very challenging and very uncomfortable when I decided to do the harness work. When we had our first rehearsal, even the stunt guys couldn’t believe I agreed to do this. They thought I was crazy because it was uncomfortable. Your entire body weight is resting on your inner thigh and shins. I was beginning to regret it after I was hanging in the air for hours and hours. I have to say it was fun flying through the air. It took about 2 1/2 to 3 days to shoot.
Cincy Groove: How has it been since you moved to the U.S. from Australia about a year ago?
Lenka: Busy would be the first word that comes to mind. Very exciting, there are moments that I just can’t believe that this is my life. I have been traveling and touring so much I really only settled on the west coast back in March. Its really nice to do all the things that make a home a home, but I’m not here that much.
Cincy Groove: How do you feel about joining the Hotel Cafe Tour in about a week?
Lenka: Its going to be fun. I really like the format of the show, where each person comes up and does a coupe songs then the next person comes up. Its kind of like an old fashion revue. I will be jumping on the tour for the Denver show on November 11. I’ll get there the day of the show and rehearse with the band and then play that night. Nobody else is really doing something like this right now, so its exciting.
Cincy Groove: How did you end up getting some of your songs into tv shows and commercials?
Lenka: I’m not sure, when people started hearing my music they told me it was very license able. I didn’t know what that meant at the time. Singer songwriters that have an infinite vocal style are very popular to put on drama’s. I love the show Ugly Betty and the character. So it was very exciting to have one of my songs in the show. I literally had goose bumps the first time I heard my song on the show. I’m a big fan of the show, so it was a big moment.
Cincy Groove: Who do you consider to be some of your influences?
Lenka: The Beatles, I was constantly referencing them in the studio when I was recording the album. Bert Bacharach, Bjork, Elliot Smith. As you can tell I have a very diverse taste in music.
Upcoming Lenka tour dates:
for complete show details visit http://www.lenkamusic.com
Nov 11 2008 Denver, CO Bluebird
Nov 12 2008 Salt Lake City, UT Avalon Theater
Nov 13 2008 Boise, ID Knitting Factory
Nov 14 2008 Portland, OR Doug Fir
Nov 15 2008Seattle, WA Chop Suey
Nov 17 2008 San Francisco, CA Great American Music Hall
Nov 18 2008 Los Angeles, CA Henry Fonda Theater
Nov 19 2008 Los Angeles, CA Hotel Cafe
(1) from Lenka’s Wikipedia page