The word “snow” is in the weather forecast for the first time this year and New Zealand musicians are making the Big Decision. Hunker down and woodshed? Or make like the Dotterels and fly north for the winter?  

As Kiwi bands queue in the Auckland departure lounge bound for London and Berlin one of our exports, Kimbra, is already conquering the Northern hemisphere. And thanks to her the New Zealand music world shifted on its axis a little this week.

On the back of her collaboration with Australian bedroom recording artist, Gotye, singing Somebody That I Used To Know , Kimbra rode to number one on the American charts. Part of that was due to the fact that an American Idol contestant sang the song on the show two weeks ago. The Idol behemoth is a force to be reckoned with. This week a reported 58 million txt votes were registered - ten million more than this time in the competition last year. Fantastic profile for the song.  

It would be easy to say that the Gotye/Kimbra  success story is pure luck and, by extrapolation, the music industry is some kind of lottery ( and we all know it kind of…is). The thing is Kimbra can really sing. Somebody That I Used to Know is a song of two halves. When she enters the song singing the verses in the second half she owns it.

Kimbra at 22 years of age is riding more than a lucky wave.  She has had amazing long-haul family support and her anything-but-fusty spiritual values have steeled her for her journey into the global music industry.

I remember her when she was a school kid in Hamilton. She was Kimbra Johnson with a pony tail then  (somebody that I used to know). She lived in the Hillcrest neighbourhood and hung out with my kids. Even back then she was a vivacious personality and an exceptional talent who was as passionate about learning French as she was about writing songs and playing the guitar. She would slay school assemblies with her powerful voice, her sublime lyrics, her emotional delivery and her typically Kiwi self deprecation.

 Kimbra’s songs are better than Gotye’s.  More grit lyrically, more panache production wise. And anyway Kimbra’s got that thing….that you can’t put your finger on… and she has her own career to think about. In the last fortnight she has had a mind-numbing schedule criss-crossing the Pacific between Australia and America doing media interviews and playing shows including an appearance on Saturday Night Live.

In amongst it all Gotye played the Coachella Music Festival in California last week. Kimbra couldn’t make it so the audience sang her part on Somebody That I Used To Know. The big news from Coachella was the appearance of murdered hip hopper Tupac whose hologram performed onstage rapping with Snoop Dog. Tupac’s second life raises some questions. Will he tour? What if Biggie turns up with a gun? Unreal.

Back in the real world Kimbra is ferociously focused, humble but with a strong sense of self. She has what it takes - youth, great musicianship, the savvy of Gaga, the sassiness of Rhianna and the lyric intelligence of Mitchell. Plus, boxing out of her antipodean corner of the world, she has a unique world view.

The Dotterel has landed; poised to break the American oyster wide open.