NXNE Preview: Lenka

Lenka NXNE 2011 Interview By: Sheena Lyonnais
June 14, 2011

Australia’s uber sweet Lenka is rolling into town the night NXNE really kicks off, and while it’s not technically part of the festival we thought we’d give her a chance to speak her mind anyway.  Her alluringly sweet and catchy tracks like “Heart Skips A Beat” and “The Show” have landed her music in everything from Grey’s Anatomy to Easy A, not to mention numerous late night television performances. She talks to us about her new album Two and returning to the city that hosted her first sold-out show.

How are you doing and where are you right now?

I’m at ‘home’ in Brooklyn and doing very well thank you!

Your show is taking place in the midst of Toronto’s infamous NXNE, why should we stray from the pack to check out your performance at Lee’s Palace?

Well, I will attempt to calm your nerves and put a smile on your face so you are ready to face the fracas again. Also, I rarely get to come to Toronto, so this may be the one Lenka gig for 2011.

Your first ever sold-out show was in Toronto in 2009, how does it feel to be back?

Very good indeed. Toronto is a cool town and I have great memories from my last show there.
Since then, you’ve had ocean-crossing touring success, YouTube plays in the millions, appearances and performances on multiple late night television shows such as Conan O’Brien and Jimmy Kimmel, and your songs have appeared on shows like Grey’s Anatomy, countless commercials and movies such as Easy A.  How do you stay grounded amidst such a whirlwind of success? 

I feel very lucky and blessed to have reached an audience in this way.  This era of the music biz seems to be all about finding new ways to connect music to fans. If I can keep doing that then I’ll be very happy. Its not hard to be grounded I don’t think. I just want to share my music with people – it’s not all that lofty.

Tell us a little bit about your recently released sophomore album Two, the people you worked with on it and what separates it from your 2008 debut. 

This album is my up-beat-love-song-pop-dance album. It’s faster on the whole than my first album and there’s more electronic elements. I worked with some great London producers, like Guy Sigsworth, who was in Frou Frou and collaborated with Bjork, and David Kosten, who produced the Bat For Lashes albums. It was inspiring to work with these guys and we experimented with more computer beats and synths and things. But there’s still a lot of piano and acoustic instrumentation – I tried to get an even balance.

Your track “Heart Skips A Beat” was rumoured to be inspired by a visit to the doctor’s office.  Tell us about the process of creating this song.  Is this how you often find inspiration?
Haha, not usually, no! It was actually a friend’s dad, who is a doctor. I spoke to him about these heart spasms I was getting and he made a joke about how I must be in love. Well, it was actually stress and too much caffeine, but it reminded me of when I first fell in love with my husband, how it was a physical feeling in my heart muscle that made me aware of it. It also happens for me when I’m neglecting to follow my heart on some matter. It’ll give a little jump and remind me of its importance.
You play shows with multiple arrangements, but not really ever solo.  What are the advantages of each and how do they allow you to express yourself differently as an artist? 
I’m either playing in a five-piece or a trio usually. I don’t really like playing solo – I bore myself! I love musicians and what they bring to my songs. The full band is better for this new album because the songs are so rhythm-based. We’re also using some beats tracks as well, so the energy is really high. The smaller set up is great for intimate shows though, sometimes it can be more special.
You’ve played in over 21 countries.  Are there any particular performances that truly shine from the rest?  Where did they take place and what made them so magical?
Recently we played in Prague and it was so, so special for me. I’m half Czech, so I had lots of cousins in the audience. Also it was my first gig there and it didn’t realize i had such a strong fan base, so that was a nice surprise. At the end of the show, they were chanting my name (with perfect Czech pronunciation) and demanded several encores. It was so fun!
What are you working on at the moment?
I am editing loads of hand-clap videos together for the song “Two.”  Fans have sent in their own videos and I’m putting it all together.  I’m also shooting audiences clapping to the song and hope to get your Toronto hands in on it! (see Lenkamusic.com  for deets)
You’ve had some success with acting in both television and film in your Australian homeland, do you ever think about returning to the screen? 
I wouldn’t mind acting again. It is a very interesting craft and I do love pretending to be other people. But I could happily live my whole life without ever going to another audition. They’re horrible.
Where can we find out more about you?
All my pages and social networking thingys are called LENKAMUSIC.
Any last parting words for us music-hungry Toronto folk?
I want to feed you!

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