Jan 25th 2018 by kimbramusic • 10 Questions • 7878 Points
Hi, I'm a 30 year old guy who went to the doctor around Thanksgiving because I was having trouble breathing. Turns out I had something called "hypertensive emergency" which is when you have blood pressure so high that it causes organ damage. My blood pressure at the time of admission was 210/145. So I was admitted to the hospital under that diagnosis with renal failure, respiratory failure, and heart failure being the three main issues. Turns out the heart and lung failure were not collapsing on their own but were secondary to the hypertension and the kidney failure.
I spent a week in the hospital, including 4 days in the ICU and now everything is back to normal except my kidneys are failed, I need dialysis three times a week, and I need a new kidney. They also diagnosed me as having malignment hypertension (which sounds like something out of the Lord of the Rings, imo) but it basically is hypertension on crack. Left uncontrolled, my blood pressure wants to skyrocket. It happens to one percent of folks with "normal" hypertension -- which I didn't realize I had because I was doing that late 20s guy thing where I didn't go to the doctor. Don't do that, fyi.
I am currently at dialysis getting my blood cleaned of excess electrolytes which will kill you if they build up too much.
proof: here is a picture of my chest tubes pumping out my toxin riddled blood and the dialysis machine pumping back in my slightly less toxin riddled blood.
How can a today's musician fight the "all has been already done before"/ "music cannot be invented anymore" feeling?
What do you think caused your hypertension? I'm pretty ignorant to what causes hypertension. Eating habits? Life habits? Drug usage? Smoking? Drinking? Super stressful job? Certain life experiences? At any rate, get well, dude! Glad you caught it when you did.
Re-invention yo!! No one has done it the way YOU do. We all bring a different set of circumstances/perspective to what we create.
It is an open question. I'm in pretty good shape all things considered. 6'1" 190 pounds, low LDL cholesterol. I drank but not heavily really. No drugs, no really stressful job.
When I was in the hospital, both the kidney and heart doctors were very confused about what was going on. I guess there are around seven causes of malignant hypertension and I don't have any of them. I, like an idiot, suggested genetics but they immediately were like "yea that is part of it but why you and not your sister" who has healthy blood pressure.
My cardiologist is sort of a character. During the first time he met me, he asked me if I had ordered vodka from Ukraine that was possibly watered down with antifreeze. That is how confused they are with why I developed this crazy blood pressure.
Long time fan, first time question-asker: What's the most recent song that made you say, "Damn! I wish I could've written that!"?
Love your work and can't wait to see you at the Metro on Feb 3rd!
By the looks of your skin yes, it almost looks like the guy who was poisoned in Russia. I guess that’s the kidneys. I hope you get better.
that guy with the nuclear poisoning? I wonder if that would explain everything. haha
Hi Kimbra! I'm coming to New York for the first time EVER to meet up with a bunch of friends and see you at Brooklyn Steel! I first saw you when I was sixteen at the Aragon ballroom in Chicago and I think of your performance that evening as a pivotal moment in my life!! It was magnificent. The way you speak about creativity connection and expression has inspired me in my daily life for almost a decade and this year I finally began to make my own music after learning guitar and keys with a teacher, often looking to you for inspiration. Writing is a life-saving catharsis for me and I just want to thank you for providing indirect encouragement! So so so looking forward to your show on Monday.
I'd like to ask you what is the best advice you would give an amateur singer-songwriter? What are you usually thinking about when you're singing? It is so evident that you're feeling the emotions behind the songs/melodies but you sing with such impeccable tone. I really enjoy to sing with abandon as you do so effectively but I find that I struggle to hit notes a lot of the time. I have a pretty huge range that I'd like to learn to use with more control.
Truly moved by all that you give. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.
I wish you the best of luck in your treatment and recovery. Has your doctor discussed CAPD (Continuous Ambulatory Peritoneal Dialysis) with you? CAPD was a game-changer for my father in the early '80s. He went from having to go back and forth to the dialysis center, sometimes in distress due to built-up electrolytes, to feeling good nearly all the time and feeling like he was in control of his own treatment. He sadly received an infection due to a hospital visit resulting from another condition, and the nurse staff were not prepared to properly observe his CAPD protocol. But this was back when CAPD was new -- hopefully you can benefit from it and nurse staffs are more aware.
Very cool. Thanks for sharing xx
Best advice : If you start to get comfortable, shake things up. You are at your best when you push yourself and learn the capacities of your gift. Lean in and reveal yourself to your audience. People are longing to connect with artists. Find a way to let them in. Even if you have to create an entirely different alter-ego!
What am I thinking about on stage? The best nights are when thoughts escape me. I feel very close to g-o-d and my spirit kind of soars for a second. I feel a unity with the audience, like we are just breathing together as one. Some nights I am very hard on myself, those are the more difficult shows. But I draw energy from the kind faces in the crowd.
Yea, PD is a big thing. One of my in hospital doctors was all about it.
I might consider it eventually, but right now I hardly ever feel that rough from my kidney failure. The big thing for me is that I don't want to have to do it every day and I like having two days off in a row. If I weren't peeing out a lot of the electrolytes and felt shit after eating too much salt or something, I think I would feel pressure to try something different. Right now, I don't feel that though.
Kimbra! I am such a long time fan of yours, Primal Heart is by far my most anticipated album so far this year, I am seriously so excited for you. I can tell how much of yourself you’re putting into it, it’s going to be so beautiful.
What kind of artists are you listening to? Also what kind of sounds and styles have been inspiring you the most in the creation of this album?
The benefit to peritoneal dialysis is that it can be done at home and over night using an automated exchange machine and allows you to retain a much better quality of life
Blood exchange dialysis is much harsher on your system and will eventually cause other problems (calcification of vessels being the worst)
I noticed elsewhere you mentioned a fistula placement. These eventually degrade and need relocating or new ones being fitted and can sometimes even block after fitting. None of these treatments are designed to be life long, and I don’t say that with the intent to upset you. They are a poor facsimile of what your kidneys can do and delay at best the inevitable (sometimes for many years)
PD works by having a tenckhoff catheter (tube in belly going in to your peritoneal sack) where fluid is exchanged in and out generally over night. Fluid is then left in during the day (takes much getting used too and gives you a belly) which absorbs much of the toxins your kidneys can’t. It’s much less harsh and is suitable for patients with less “severe” kidney failure. Sometimes even after trying this method it is still not viable for some patients. Even if for some reason your exchange machine breaks you can manually drain and refill using gravity, slower yes, but allows more flexibility in your lifestyle.
During this album I listened to Mr Twin Sister from New York... the new Frank Ocean... a lot of Fyfe.. I appreciated his very personal vocal approach and more minimalist production.... I listen to Steve Reich almost every morning when i start my day. I listened to a lot of the band Amason as well - they are amazing!!!
This is super informative. One of the things that has been kind of hard with this part is that I don't know what I don't know so when people ask me if I have any questions, I feel like I'm content info wise.
I most of this (except that you leave the fluid in during the day) but I felt like I gained context. I will have to think more about it.
Fwiw, it does seem like there are people going through the donation process so hopefully any dialysis choice I make won't be too consequential for too long.
Hello Kimbra! I really love your first album Vows, specially the song "Call me". That groove/funky/jazz/disco beat gives me goosebumbps every time I listen to it. That bass lines fits perfectly with your voice ! So, is there any chance you compose more songs like that in Primal or maybe in a future work (pleeeeeease hahah) ?
dude that sucks. i'm sorry that happened to you. your story doesn't quite add up (not bc of what you said, more like it's a medical mystery). do you still make urine? did anyone say if there is a chance that your kidneys recover? did you get a kidney biopsy to make sure it's not something other than hypertensive nephropathy? kind of weird for a 30 year old white male to fry their kidneys just from high blood pressure, especially if you've had no other previous symptoms. are there plans to use something other than that vascath for dialysis?
I think you'll find some collaborations I have lined up later in the year (some with the same producer of that song!) will sound a little like that ;)
Lotta good questions! I can handle these one by one. Are you a nephrologist?
do you still produce urine?
Yea. Today I've peed about 1500 mls and drank 2000 yesterday.
did anyone say there is a chance that your kidneys recover?
They thought for a while that I might have had acute kidney damage rather than chronic, but it hasn't really panned out. My creatinine has once gotten below 4 but my gfr has increased since I got out of the hospital but it is still pretty low.
did you get a kidney biopsy
Yea, the kidney they biopsied had significant scaring. That sucked because the kidney got cut during the biopsy and I had to get a blood transfusion with the hope that the cut would just heal itself. It did, I guess.
plans for something other than the vascath
Yea, I had the "vascular access" appointment to build the fistula. I would think they'd have called me by now to set up the surgery since I was cath'd on like Nov 27 and they're only supposed to be in for 90 days. The surgeon told me that if the transplant process is going super well -- as in I have a donor -- she might not have to actually do the fistula. I guess it is possible that this is happening, but I have no idea how far along any of the people who signed up to be evaluated are.
kind of weird for a 30 year old white male to fry their kidneys just from high blood pressure, especially if you've had no other previous symptoms
Yea, this is basically the story for the whole process. Luckily I went to the university hospital when I was hospitalized. None of the nephrologists understood it either. They told me that my kidney arteries haven't shrunk and neither have the kidneys themselves. My main kidney doctor told me once that "the damage to your kidneys doesn't really match up with the lack of symptoms."
I think their best bet is that I just had too high of blood pressure for too much. I never noticed, to be honest. I didn't get headaches, I didn't get nose bleeds, none of that.
Thanks for doing this AMA! I have some questions:
1- Any plans to come to Mexico someday?
2- How do you feel about the Music Industry as a whole?
3- What bands inspire you?
You said your blood pressure at the time of admission was 210/145.... what was your regular blood pressure like in the past?
- I REALLY WANT TO COME TO MEXICO. I tell my booking agents almost every time we speak!!! Ha. It will happen.
- The music industry is a confusing place. There are a lot of good people. There are a lot of people hungry for power too. But hey, aint that any institution really?
- Grizzly Bear, Meshuggah, Jaga Jazzist, Tame Impala, Jackson5.... Earth, Wind and Fire
That is the mistake I made -- I don't really know. I hadn't been to the doctor for 7-8 years probably before this happened. It was never really a problem in college or high school. Unclear when the hypertension developed or exactly how high it was.
Kia Ora Kimbra! I have been a huge fan of yours for such a long time now, and I have to say you are my all time favorite artist. I feel very connected to you and the way you see the world, and your music/fashion has influenced me so dramatically. I see you playing with themes of vulnerability in your music more and more, and was wondering if you ever feel scared to talk about your thoughts/feelings directly with your audience (outside of music)? I know that you are a deep thinker, and contemplate philosophically about our world all the time. I wonder if it is hard to bring up these deep conversations with your audience outside of music? I know in our world it can be hard to speak so vulnerably in that sense, and we can easily be shunned for thinking differently to the masses. I really feel the roots of your songs, and the bigger themes you are speaking to in music. Thank you for being so brave and authentic, this album is the rawest I have seen you yet.. you are such a beautiful HUMAN. I'm coming to see you in Boston, and know I'll literally cry tears of joy seeing you :') Look out for the ginger (and her sis) in the front row! Love from a kiwi <3
I hadn't been to the doctor for 7-8 years probably before this happened.
This is one of those things I don't understand. I say this as a 29 year old man who has nearly always at least done a yearly checkup but doesn't have any chronic medical conditions (that I know of).
I can understand if you don't have insurance, but it bewilders me how every guy my age, including the ones with good jobs/insurance, seems convinced going to the doctor is something you only need to do if you're concerned you might die if you don't go.
Thanks so much. It's really important I get the chance to discuss my deeper feelings outside of music, wether that be on topics like philosophy, faith, and my other interests which have more to do with being a human living in this strange orbit and trying to decipher the meaning of it all. I keep a blog for this. And I've enjoyed using my mailing list emails to share a little more of who I am aside from just Kimbra The Musician. Of course i get scared like everyone to be vulnerable. But I'm realizing more and more that this is truly what the world needs more of. People being real about their brokenness and their strengths.
I think it happens a lot. What can I say? I deffo paid the price for it.
also, I didn't even think I was going to die when I first went to the doctor and my blood oxygen was 81. I just thought I had some acid reflux.
In 90s music, why did you choose to say “TLC, Left Eye” as separate artists?
Damn man, I’m really sorry. At least you’ve come to terms with it, somewhat
....haha cos it flowed better!!! And she was my fav from TLC. Wanted her to have a special shout out.
thanks. you also can't even drink beer when you have kidney failure lol
I got so many questions.
First, how it was to do twice the work you usually do for a music video for Human? Did you enjoyed having a twin?
Yes! And I am going to reveal her personality to you soon!!!! haha. Yes sorry to break it to me I wasn't actually able to technically clone myself for that video. Pretty convincing though right?
Hey Kimbra! I was very lucky to see you perform in Chicago on your Golden Echo tour, it was a very magical experience! The set, lighting, music, your glitter dress made for an surreal atmosphere! Also the band dressed up for Halloween was a nice touch!
Listening to your first two albums and upcoming songs, it seems like your style and emotions in the music change with every album, and I've actually noticed that you have recorded these albums living in three very different regions, NZ, Cali, and NY. So I guess my question would be, where do you think you'll go to work on your future music? Europe maybe?
Also I will see you in Chicago again February 3rd!
I would love to do some writing in Japan! That place made me so inspired and I can imagine doing some really great collaborations there too. I love a lot of Japanese artists!
Kimbra, I love you. Any plans about coming to Mexico soon?
I WANT TO SO BADLY! It will happen.
Will you be releasing the stems for the songs off Primal Heart? I noticed in the email you sent out you said that there would be projects involving the fans. so I'm hoping that's what it is :)
You'll have to wait & seeeeee! x
Hi Kimbra! You have such an incredibly rich and diverse sound over your catalog. With that being said, how do you go about forming an album and making sure the songs tie in together as a coherent body of work? Were most of the songs on Primal Heart written around the same time?
Bringing my co-producer John Congleton was a big part of helping tie the songs together. It's a lot to do with the overall approach of the vocal tone and the choice of instruments throughout. I think its very thematically tied also and he helped me recognize that. Mixing is a big part of that coherency aspect too. Making sure all the songs kind of sonically speak to eachother.
Hello! Okay so a while back maybe in October or so, you posted a video on Instagram of you playing bass and it was super cool. Being a new bassist myself, are you still playing the bass? And if you are, do you have any tunes to recommend learning? What have you enjoyed playing? And another question, you do a lot of live shows for your music. Do you prefer your songs in the way you portray it in the album versions, or do you like the way you perform it live more? Thanks!
I always like playing live more because i can completely re-approach things if I like and it gives the lyrics new meanings sometimes. I am more plugged into guitar at the moment as I've been playing it a little in the new live show! But I definitely want to stick at bass. Oh and I love playing Khruangbin on bass. They are so dope.
You're a dope artist Kimbra, love Teen Heat.
What do you for fun outside of working on/producing music?
Watch The Room while high, haha.
Before you go on tour, what process goes into song selection and how each song is played?
I'll be releasing a video about this soon! Me and my amazing musicians work hard on reinterpreting aspects and retaining what is special about the essence of the songs. We love to create spacious sound design and also leave room to improvise. I chose the songs I enjoy playing / singing most at that time! I trust that my fans will get the most from a concert when they feel I am inspired & joyful in what I am performing. x