On the tenth aniversary, Larry Fitzmaurice
looks back at Gotye’s Somebody That I Used To Know. He speaks with Wally De Backer, Kimbra, the producer Francois Tetaz, De Backer’s manager John Watson, the director for the film clip Natasha Pincus and the body artist associated with the clip Emma Hack. There was some interesting observations, such as De Backer reflecting upon the moment when you know something is iconic.
A year or two down the line, I was in a post office in Melbourne, and when I walked up to the window, the woman working there was like, “You’re the guy!” and swished her hand around her face to signify that I was the guy with the face paint. That, to me, is when you know you’ve made something iconic.
In reflection, Watson suggests that in Australia Heart’s a Mess still the more beloved song.
In Australia, “Hearts A Mess” is his most beloved song. “Somebody That I Used To Know” is the bigger hit, but if you look at lists of the top Australian songs of all time, it’s on there.
I would agree with this. Like Drawing Blood is also still my favourite Gotye album. There is also something strange and off-putting when everybody else starts getting hyped about an artist you have followed for so long. Like buying Powderfinger’s Double Allergic and then having to go through all the excitement of their later albums as if they were somehow new.
I have always been intrigued by De Backer has not followed up. Maybe what it all captures is that such moments involve chance and the pressure to reproduce this is unrealistic or maybe ‘Gotye’ is itself something of a dead metaphor with little purpose in resurrecting that project?
I’m just trying to give myself time to step through a lot of questions to see where I arrive — and maybe I won’t find answers. I want to allow myself to be guided by other principles other than “This is a reasonable amount of time before you have to put out another record.” I’ve probably had too many projects over the years, some of which are finished, others are on the shelf, and a huge amount that’s unfinished — and I’m just trying to work out what, and how, to finish all of it. What’s the story, and how do I tell it to other people? We’ll see.
In other spaces, Kimbra spoke on the Switched on Pop podcast about the song. Also, there is a J File on Gotye which provides more context.