DETAILS: You played eight shows at South by Southwest in March. How do American crowds compare with the ones down under?
Kimbra: I had a bra thrown on stage in Australia once. And my single "Settle Down" talks about getting married, and I think people take that a little too literally—I've seen a couple signs with marriage proposals. Here, they're responsive. Drunk, but not obnoxious.
DETAILS: For someone who'd never performed in the States before, you sound like you're taking it in stride.
Kimbra: Well, when I did the Jimmy Kimmel show with Gotye, I was more nervous than when I sang the New Zealand national anthem in front of 27,000 people when I was 12.
Kimbra: Yeah. As a kid, if you screw up, it's kind of cute.
DETAILS: Your debut album, Vows, has a kind of jazz-pop feel. What did you listen to as a kid?
Kimbra: The romance of Billie Holiday and Frank Sinatra really resonated with me, but then I fell in love with Nine Inch Nails and the Mars Volta. Actually, the lead singer of Mars Volta just walked by me in my hotel. I need to track him down and confess my love.
DETAILS: You appear in the video for Gotye's song "Somebody I Used to Know," which has more than 120 million views on YouTube. But as Lana Del Rey showed, there can be a dark side to becoming an Internet sensation. Do you worry about a backlash?
Kimbra: Well, I'm not a one-hit wonder. I actually have a body of work to back it up. I'm not in a rush to come up with just one more song. There's always a backlash—I'm in the music industry, after all. But I'm not aiming just to be a mainstream, middle-of-the-road pop artist.
DETAILS: Perez Hilton has anointed you one of his next big things. That's usually the kiss of death.
Kimbra: Really? He's been very nice to me. At the end of the day, he's just one more person who likes the music.
Kimbra may have come to SXSW for her stateside debut, but she also spent some time being a fan. Her picks for the best of the fest:
The Stepkids. "They're this 70s psychedelic soul band. Three white guys!"
Ava Luna. "My band loves them. They're from New York, kind of punk electronic."
Band of Skulls. "English rock. They were awesome!"
Fiona Apple. "I didn't see any of her shows here, but I heard they were amazing. I love the Extraordinary Machine album. I worked with Mike Elizondo and Jon Brion, who've worked with her. I love the world she inhabits."