MusicI’m Kimbra and my new album Primal Heart is coming in 2018 and I have so much to tell you all! It’s been an adventure and long time coming. AMA!
Oct 25th 2017 by kimbramusic • 15 Questions • 5174 Points
My short bio:
Our indie game development company turned 5 years old today. Two years ago we were at the brink of bankruptcy with my brother, after 3 years of work we had $50 000 in debt. Today, after a long series of events caused by a Reddit post and Redditors rushing to help, I paid it off, and our company is now debt-free!
5 years ago I had embarked on an unpredictable journey with my brother, after one year of hard work we managed to release our very first game accompanied by a lot of excitement. Excitement soon turned to disappointment, total sales ended up at $1000. After some contemplation, we decided we were not ready to give up on our dream.
However, to give ourselves a chance, we needed to take a loan of $50 000. Through a series of coincidences, a third person appeared in our lives, and it quickly dawned upon us he had been the missing link. We grabbed him with us and started on a new game, which in hindsight ended up taking way too much time. After almost two years of work our second game was released and ended up with $2000 in total sales.
Devastated and with very limited funds left, we made a 180 degree turn in our strategy. Despite everyone stating premium games were dead, we decided to try anyway. We realized spending time trying to figure out how to milk money from customers wasn't for us. We wanted to create a game, ask a fair one-time price and let players play without restrictions.
Time was ticking, and we were developing our most ambitious game yet. We stretched as far as we could, but we eventually ran out of funds. With only $1000 left on our company account, I called our landlord and canceled our office tenancy agreement ahead of time. We thought we were done.
But fate would have it otherwise. In my darkest moment I decided to post here on Reddit, and found myself overwhelmed from all the help we received from you Redditors. With your help our then released game (Battlevoid: Harbinger) was to send out a message to the world that the story of this small indie game development company was not yet over, and today I can happily state the game has sold over 150 000 copies across all platforms. It feels so surreal after many years of struggle.
Through our story I want to encourage you to follow your dreams. You don't have to be super smart or know everything to try something you really want to do. We made so many mistakes on our journey, but persistence kept us alive. Let your passion guide you, stay persistent and be ready to learn new things every day.
The gaming industry is ruthless, and we continue on one game at a time. Today we released a new game into our "Battlevoid" series on Steam, Google Play and Apple App Store and once again we are excited to see how it will fare out there among all the other games. Feel free to ask me anything about our journey, our games, game development in general or the gaming industry!
My Proof: Battlevoid Twitter
Aaaah, hi Kimbra! I've been a huge fan of yours since my sister introduced me to your work via Settle Down and Cameo Lover back in 2012, and I can honestly say that watching you open for Gotye in Grand Prairie that same year was one of the most captivating performances I've ever had the privilege of witnessing!
- As a fashion marketing student, I adore the way you experiment with your look and work with new designers because in my mind, your style and music go hand in hand in the sense that they're both eclectic but not in a forced manner. Are there any designers/brands you would love to collaborate with that you haven't yet had the chance to do so?
- Your videography is still fairly small, but it's so on-point! What was your favorite video to shoot, and are there any funny stories of things that went on behind the scenes that you wouldn't mind sharing?
- Getting to hear my favorite album cut of yours (Something in the Way You Are) live was so incredible to experience! Are there any little transcendent moments you can recall from watching others perform?
Your music has definitely helped me through some challenging times, and I really can't thank you enough for that.
I'm beyond excited for Primal Heart, and I hope to catch you on tour again!
Congrats. I feel like I'm you before the big successful part... so um, you hiring?
- Mcqueen! and Molly Goddard!
- A few Maryiln Monroe moments in Everybody Knows with all that wind flying around. Me and the crew became pretty close after that haha.
- Seeing Stevie Wonder was the most transcendent live performance I've seen. Thankyou so much!
We're not big and successful yet, just out of the hole that we were in and really happy to be able to continue developing games.
Hiring, huh! Are you willing to move to Finland?
I was a big fan of your track Bitten By The Apple with Big Black Delta! I'd love to see more from you two!
How did that collaboration come about and what was it like?
Space heaven looks awesome! What platforms are you aiming to release it on?
Jon is a good friend & fan of my music! He called me up & asked me to sing & write an idea for that instrummental and i was like HELL YEAH! Love that guy.
No iltaa! :)
We are actually going to release it on PC, Android and iOS if all goes well. So far it looks possible, although mobile might end up tablets only. We will see.
What was jamming with Donald Glover like? Do you have a favourite project of his?
My personal fave is Because the Internet, insanely inspiring!
How do you feel about what happened to hello games involving NMS?
It was crazy, he gave me courage to open up my vocal styles and pushed me in new directions which was so exciting. He started free-styling during this jam and I just started kinda following along and he was really into it so we kinda started this back an forth where i'd takes a more melodic route and he'd rap and we'd bounce back and forth and suddenly I was finding all this new confidence with spoken word and started hunting for new pockets to fly around him. it was so inspiring. That session changed a lot for me in terms of inspiration and trying new directions that resulted in some cool new angles for this new record. I'm real happy for him and all that he's doing with acting & directing right now. A true artist.
I feel like they promised too much compared to what they were able to deliver, at least from all of the info I was able to gather and read. It felt like the game would have needed a year or two of more development to reach the stage that was promised.
All in all I feel the feeling of anger from players was justified.
Five years ago I started singing one of your songs at work and a coworker was like "you know Kimbra too?!" She and I didn't know each other well but we made a risky commitment to see your show in DC (with the Step kids) months later. She and I are now best friends and we are planning to see you in February in LA! Thank you for bringing us together!
My questions: what's your favorite city to visit or perform in?
How much programming experience did you guys have when you first started?
That's so cool! Hmmmmm. I love performing in Minneapolis! I've had so many fun shows there!
My brother had made a really small simple game in flash before. So not much :)
My brother is way more talented than I am though, my strategy is to be stubborn and fiddle with a problem until it is solved somehow.
Hey, Kimbra! Here is one serious question and one for fun.
I saw you perform here in Las Vegas at the Hardrock Live (LOVED it btw) a few years ago. It's a pretty small venue, especially compared to the enormous crowd you played for not long before at Life is Beautiful. Between a small audience at a small venue or a big audience at a huge festival, which atmosphere do you prefer to perform in?
Favorite food since you made your big move to the US?
Thanks for the response. How about now, since you have a few more people? Are you more into game design, or do you also do development?
What does it take to have a successful team? Your history mentioned you and your brother found a 3rd person who seemed to be the missing link. Why so? Was it the ideas or expertise the other person brought to the table?
Sorry for all the questions, I've considered making games as well for many yeara, but it never seems like the "right" time, and I can never put together a committed team.
- I prefer small audiences because I can play with space and silence and light more. But both bring different rewards.
- Pumpkin pie!
I'll just give you this one image and let it explain why he was the missing link: Sector Siege title art
I'm always amazed by the work he does. He made our games look how we wanted them to look. Actually, we had no idea, but when we saw what he made we were like Yes!
Finding a committed team is extremely hard, that is why so many games fail to deliver in the end. Execution is key, and without a committed team it's impossible. Developing great games take anywhere from 1-4 years, people doing it need to be very committed and stay focused. It's not easy.
I really hope you find the right people, but I think you don't really know if you are around right people until shit hits the fan and you see how they react. Are they willing to push or do they just say: "screw it all", I'm out of here.
What does it take to have a successful team? I think it takes one person knowing what that is, what kind of people are needed and how to keep them motivated and work with everyone's strengths and weaknesses.
I don't think there is ever a right time, there's just now or later. You got to take a risk to have a chance to win!
Hi Kimbra!! I’m so excited you’re doing an AMA, you’re my favorite artist! :) I’ve been a huge fan of yours since Vows came out. I got to see you in Philly in November 2014, and it is hands down the best show I’ve ever experienced. Your voice and stage presence are out of this world.
- What are your top three favorite songs to perform on tour?
- How do you come up with your tour outfits? They’re always so fun!
- Will you do another Rihanna mashup, because this was lit
- What are you favorite lyrics you’ve written?
- What is your favorite lyric from someone else?
I have less than 20k in debt. You mind taking on that as well?
- Top Of The World, Settle Down, Sweet Relief
- I think about the energy i want to give! It changes every tour! And i research upcoming designers!
- Awwww thankyou! Maybe. I love the song 'You Needed Me'
- They're on the new album, can't tell!
- Rufus Wainwright is my favorite lyricist I think!
Not right now, maybe later!
How are the dynamics between the 3 of you? Is the third partner a friend or someone you found with the necessary skills you needed?
It won't be sorry! It was part of an EP that I was going to release but then that ended up not going ahead. The label wanted me to focus on making a full length album instead. BUT I had already finished that song & i loved it and wanted people to hear it!! So i had to fight a little to get it out but eventually we all though it was a cool idea & i'm so glad it came out because it represented where I was at at that time. But i had a feeling it might not fit on the new album cos I wanted to change things up again ;) Stoked you dig it!
We realized we couldn't do graphics all that well. So I went hunting for someone and found the guy at a university. We chatted for a little bit, but then the event continued and we got separated. Just as he was about to leave the event I shouted to him and asked if he would like to come have a look at our office.
If I would have missed him then it would have been a whole other story. He's been crucial to our success, the missing link. Someone who can make great graphics.
This game caught my eye today on Steam. Why should I play it and what elements of the game are you most proud of? I'm a huge fan of FTL and Rimworld If it shares anything with those.
It's not really similar to FTL or Rimworld, it's quite far from.
The best way to describe it would be to say it is a light star craft type of game. Take away all the buildings and just build units. But the cool thing is that you get to customize every unit you build, you get to board enemy ships and then you can start building those! All the while this is happening there will be surprise warps here and there making you shift your focus frantically at times. There's also a bunch of cool tech to research, so you get to equip your units with new turrets and hangars.
The game will also challenge you, the difficulty and the AI and all the surprises can really throw you into loops.
Hey Kimbra, just listened to both of your previous albums! I've been a huge fan since Vows! You reeled me in with your incredible verse on Somebody That I Used To Know, and completely hooked me with Settle Down and Cameo Lover. I've been in love ever since :)
What was the creative process for Everybody Knows? The song feels like it was written completely and then the instrumental weaved in afterwards. It is a really complete and deliberate song I feel like, so I'm just wondering what making it was like.
Can you please confirm if Black Sky will be on the album? I'm sorry that I've been harassing you so much about it lately, but this song is one of the best songs I have ever heard. The chorus is so stunning that tears were instantly brought to my eyes after hearing you perform it live. If you can't answer this question respond with "I love you," so I can tell my mom that someone finally loves me (just kidding).
How personal is this album in comparison to your last two? I know all of your albums are personal in many ways, but I want to know how close and true to your spirit this record will be. Would you say that it is emotionally and tonally similar to some other spectacular pop albums from this year such as Melodrama, CTRL, Rainbow, Take Me Apart, and MASSEDUCTION? Based on Everybody Knows and Black Sky I'm expecting something incredibly honest and soul punching, which I love, but I would just like to know what I can expect.
Can we talk just about how wonderful Carolina is? It's crazy how relevant that song has become in different times of my life, so thank you.
Join us at /r/popheads !! Janelle Monáe is a mod there, and you are my flair (a little picture that appears next to your username)!! You'll fit right in :)
Hope you read this, know that I love and adore you! Can't wait to see where you take us next!!
Any tips you can share for people learning how to script? Any resources you found valuable for when you got stuck and couldn't get something to work right or when you are looking to add something you've never done before? Favorites on unity asset store (that is if you used unity). Do you guys have one person coding, one doing assets, etc?
I'm taking online courses from a few sites about c# and unity. Oddly, I find scripting relaxing when things are progressing. Trying when you think things should work but don't. Rewarding and a learning experience when figuring what was wrong. I want to devote most of my time scripting and leave the other parts for other people.
- It started with the chords & beat which Taylor Graves made then I revamped the beat that drops with Timon Martin & John Congleton. I had the 'Everybody Knows' lyric & melody from the start but developed the rest of the lyric once the production was more fleshed out. All the melodies came on the spot though! Thankyou!
- Yes it will be.
- This album is more grounded in reality and less in idealism. Soul punching is a good way to describe, lets go with that.
- I'll check it out!
Just keep scripting and being persistent with problems. Unity is truly terrific regarding this as you can simply type your problem in Google and there's a good chance someone has asked the same thing.
It's of course good to try to understand what others have scripted, and then modify to your own use. I just kept doing this and experimenting and along the way I realized how things work and how things should really be done.
I just like to jump in and do things brute force, not always ideal when you code but I got there in the end, little by little your knowledge base will fill up.
Did you ever though about doing a live cd/dvd? I wasn't able to go to your concert on Rock In Rio here on Brazil but the live broadcast helped me a lot of feeling included on your amazing perfomance, so it would be awesome to see that happening with your brain controling the process.
Hey man! thanks for this AmA. I wanted to ask, are there any new projects you guys might be working on? Will you continue with the BattleVoid franchise you have going on and develop it further or move onto something new from this point ahead?
I've been recording a lot including this last gig in New York where I had 50 dancers & a super rad light show! & strings etc! Hoping to post this as a doco/live show on Youtube. or maybe DVD! Do people still watch DVD's?! Haha...
Oh yeah! We're working on Space Haven. Actually we have been working on it longer than Sector Siege. It's a really ambitious project and we will try our best to make it the best game from us yet.
Regarding Battlevoid. It all depends on how this newest one, Battlevoid: Sector Siege manages to capture the interest of our community and new players. As long as there is interest there is always a chance we will do more into the series. We're really happy with how it has turned out and our fan base is just the best :)
Hi Kimbra! Could briefly yet concretely explain (with a couple of specific musical examples) the distinction between what you call the “maximalism” of The Golden Echo and the rawness/honesty of the new album?
I think it's more to do with density. On the Golden Echo I was creating a new reality, veering from a absolutes, and instead playing with immense nuance, paradox, imagination, wild experimentation and I was in the clouds rather than grounded. This makes for wonderful music and I totally love records that soar like this and explore a myriad of ideas at once, but where I'm at now in my life, I wanted to explore a more direct approach, rather than dancing around the edges, I wanted to speak to and from the core. I wanted to see what arose when I stripped some of the decoration. It is still elusive, textured and psychedelic. It's probably the heaviest record I've made in terms of sonic impact. But it's more to the point. It feels like growing up! Haha....
Hey Kimbra, I've always noticed that you've pulled inspiration from anything and everything and I was wondering who or what are some of your biggest non-musical influences are?
The women I have met in Ethiopia, Tirzah, my friends, the authors I love, Thomas Merton, Richard Rohr, Frederich Buechner, Rilke, St Teresa of Avila.
I am a huge fan of your music!!! ✨ It’s magical and fun and honestly just takes me through an incredible wave of emotions.
But, my question is, with the release of your new album in 2018, do you plan on doing a US Tour to maybe smaller states like Texas, Oklahoma or Kansas? We’d love to have you!
Best, Michaela 💕
It's too early to confirm exact dates & cities but I do know there will be an initial tour and then another one to follow with smaller cities so don't worry I am not gonna forget about you guys! Always working to get back to the cities I havent played for ages. Write to my booking agents;) Haha
do you consider this album the definitive raw-you or is it more just the beginning of sharing that as you go forward? Are you testing the waters or jumping right in?
Haha I don't know if there is a definitive raw version of anyone - that keeps changing as we grow - but right now it feels like that! x