Gotye plays Bayfront Park on Sunday, Oct 7

Most music fans know the name Gotye for one reason – his massive hit “Somebody That I Used to Know,” which stayed at No. 1 on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart for eight weeks and has been featured in prominent TV shows such as “Glee” and “American Idol.” It’s also sold more than six million copies in the U.S. alone, and its video has scored – get this – more than 327 MILLION views on YouTube.
But dig deeper into this Belgian-Australan singer-songwriter and you’ll find a treasure trove of richly melodic tunes that draw upon Motown beats (“Learnalilgivinanlovin”), Sting-like vocals (“Hearts a Mess”) and sweet Chris Martin-esque falsetto (“Coming Back”).
Gotye, real name Wouter “Wally” De Backer (Gotye is adapted from Gauthier, French for Walter or Wouter), hits Bayfront Park on Sunday, Oct. 7 in support of his latest album, “Making Mirrors” and the recent release of his cult-fave 2006 work “Like Drawing Blood.” He talked to about the show and how he’s handled sudden success.
How’s the tour going?
It’s going great. I can’t believe we’ve already done two months – it’s really flown by.
So what’s a Gotye concert like?
Well, it’s pretty diverse musically, as are my records. It’s quite carefully crafted in terms of how the material kind of crosses tempos and tones and stuff – for me, anyway. It makes a lot of sense to me – I’m not really sure it makes sense to some of the audience [laughs]. And there’s a bunch of animation that I’ve had some really incredible artists from Australia work on for the show, so it’s quite visually rich and varied as well. And we play traditional instruments like drums and guitars and keyboards, but there’s also a lot of triggering and manipulating of electronic sounds using MalletKAT and Launch Pad keyboards. So we’ve been moving around the stage quite a bit.
Do you plan an outdoor set any differently?
Yeah, sometimes. I think the audiences have been really great on this tour, even in outdoor venues, where sometimes it feels like more of a festival atmosphere. So we maybe drop a bit more of the downbeat material or the quiet stuff. But the audiences have been really prepared to go with the quiet stuff at certain points in the set. They’ve been very attentive and respectful, so I’ve been happy to play similar sets in most venues. Of course there are always people that are so excited they kind of don’t wanna shut up for a song [laughs].
What would you want someone who knows only the big hit to know about you?
You still get people coming to the show who don’t know anything but the single, but they’re getting a bunch of material off my new album and even from my first album. And I can tell when people have been listening to me for a long time because some of them will sing along to their favorite songs from seven or eight years ago. And at the other extreme are the people who leave after we play “Somebody That I Used to Know” [laughs].
How has that song’s success changed your life?
Well, it’s made what we’re doing right here possible, I guess, which is fantastic. And it’s made me busier than I ever thought I could be – I thought I was very, very busy for many years, but it’s been really intense what’s happened in the last 15 months. It’s created a whole range of opportunities, really varied, and I’m really grateful for that. It’s fantastic. It kept exceeding anything I thought was possible.
What inspired the spelling of Gotye?
I chose Gotye because it’s the French translation of my birth name, but I didn’t want to go with the spelling similar to Jean Paul Gaultier’s surname and his massive fashion empire. So I just played around with a bunch of different ways to spell it, and picked a quite unhelpful one. But you know, it’s pretty Google-able [laughs].


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