Who Is Gotye, And Do You Need To Care?

The big-lipped, body-painted Australian has recently stepped into the spotlight thanks to the success of ‘Somebody That I Used To Know’. So, then, what do you need to know about 31 year old Gotye (pronounced as in Gaultier, real name Wouter de Backer)?


1‘Somebody That I Used To Know’
Based on a sample of Luiz Bonfå’s ‘Seville’, this sleeper hit was the beginning of everything. Written and recorded in Gotye’s home studio in South-East Melbourne, Gotye got Kiwi vocalist Kimbra in to sing the female parts. The track was picked up by indie radio station Triple J in Australia and things began to snowball. It’s since been the longest running Australian track since Savage Garden’s ‘Truly, Madly, Deeply’ and the video for the song has had over 70m views.

2He’s been around the block

Though ‘Somebody’ was Gotye’s break-through hit, he’s been on the scene for quite a while. Not only is ‘Making Mirrors’ Gotye’s third album (he began performing under the name is 2001), he’s also a member of Aussie indie band The Basics. No? One of their tracks was in Scrubs? This one, in case you’re interested.


3He’s really into vintage organs
Like, really into them. So much so that there’s a track on his album devoted to them (‘State of the Art’). He’s also done an interview solely about his favourite functions on his favourite home organ. “I got so into the sounds on this organ that I wrote a song not just to showcase them, but also a self-reflexive lyric that mused on how fascinated I was with their peculiar sonic qualities. The song, ‘State Of The Art’, is one of my faves on my recent record, and it features a whole bunch of Cotillion sounds.”

4He’s really picky

Don’t ever remix without checking with him first. Due to most of his music being based on samples, the vocal tracks are often in a unusual key. Which means that when remixers plough on without checking, it sounds like Gotye and Kimbra can’t sing in tune.

5Don’t expect more of the same

Now that he’s got everyone’s attention, he’s determined to get weirder. He’s already sampled a musical fence on ‘Making Mirrors’ and tends to ‘to travel with a little stereo, a portable recorder. They are very lightweight so it fits in your hand, you can sort of walk around with it’- so who knows what will end up on album number 4.

So is ‘Somebody…’ a one-off, or is Gotye worth sticking with? Perhaps, as long as you’re not hankering after more pop. Experimentalism is where he’s headed next, as ‘Making Mirrors’ sways uneasily between genres- from Motown to Kraftwerk- touching electicism but not holding on firmly enough.