Fame is a fickle creature, especially when it comes to being well-known overseas and in the United States.
Gotye, who was born in Belgium and is from Australia, is learning the perils of dealing with that divide as his album, "Making Mirrors," enters the mainstream.
"It's exciting on one hand and definitely scary on the other. I don't know if I feel comfortable wandering down the street without people accosting me," the 31-year-old joked in a phone interview.
Gotye is playing a show Monday at Pease Auditorium in Ypsilanti, Mich., as part of his North American tour.
"Somebody That I Used to Know," the first single off his third album, peaked at No. 5 on Billboard's Hot 100 chart. The song features singer Kimbra and chronicles the heart-wrenching aftermath of a breakup.
Gotye quietly sings, "You can get addicted to a certain kind of sadness, like resignation to the end, always the end," at the beginning of the track before belting out its main lyric, "Now you're just somebody that I used to know," in the chorus.
"The first line of a lyric is probably the most instructive," said Gotye, whose real name is Wally De Backer. "I kind of was going through the memories of various relationships that had come and gone throughout the years. There's also an element of fiction."
The song, like the rest of the album, is the product of a labor-intensive process that took years to perfect. The first versions of the song only included Gotye, but Kimbra was added later to give it another dimension.
"My songs take a lot of time. None of my records are finished very quickly," Gotye said. "'Somebody That I Used to Know' was a fairly large hurdle to overcome."
The album is a mash up of sounds that come together to form what Gotye said is an eclectic experience. Its range spans acoustic, funk, Motown, and modern rock.
"There is just a lot of trial and error involved. It was a challenge to get this record to sound right. I mixed a lot of songs. It took a while to get close to what I wanted in the end," he said. "Some of it is a kind of distillation of things I have done before -- it's a more coherent arc to what the songs tell."
The storytelling doesn't end with the album. Gotye is heavily involved with the creation of his music videos, which often feature animation or take a conceptual approach to illustrating his music.
The video for "Somebody That I Used to Know" depicts Gotye and Kimbra as part of an abstract painting. The pair shed their clothes for the shoot, which shows how they once fit together as elements of the picture with body paint.
"My main contribution to it was deciding what artwork would be used on the wall and my and Kira's bodies," Gotye said, adding that the video called for some close up shots when it was presented to him by the director. "Kira [Kimbra] was pretty good about it. Her reaction was, 'Did you know that I just did a bunch of body painting stuff for my album?' She was totally up for it."
Although Gotye is adjusting to his newfound success in the United States, he's OK with it if it means his music reaches more people.
"I can't complain with what's happening now with so many people listening to my stuff," he said.
Contact Kris Turner at firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6103.
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