Somehow it’s easy to picture Aussie musician Lenka—known for her upbeat nursery-rhyme-inflected-pop—lounging in a teepee on a Monday morning.
That’s exactly where Portland Monthly 's recent phone call caught her, lounging with friends in Ojai, California, to chat about new album The Bright Side (set for release in the US on June 16). As might be suspected from such an album title, when asked her thoughts on heading north to Portland for her June 19 show at the Doug Fir, Lenka is nothing but sunny.
“Oregon is a gorgeous place, I love the wetness and huge trees. I’m 100% ‘put a bird on it.’ I’m crafty, so that’s my jam.”
If you know only one Lenka song, it’s likely “The Show,” from that first album. This crystalline little jingle was featured in 2011 blockbuster Moneyball, where it enabled Kerris Dorsey, the 12-year-old actress playing Brad Pitt’s daughter, to unexpectedly steal the show in an otherwise emotionally buttoned-up movie about men and baseball.
“People think that the song was written by a twelve-year-old,” Lenka says with a laugh. "I was proud to be part of a poignant moment in the story, and I love that it didn’t come from a middle aged man in a suit; it came into the film because this young actress played it in her audition.”
Lenka's tunes may seem simplistic, but they’re actually the result of a long musical journey that guided her through an early acting career, and a stint in the experimental post-rock band Decoder Ring, toward the emotive potential of the human voice.
“My taste leans towards people like Cat Power, people with really unusual, smoky voices that can tell a story and express emotion through vocals."
Inspired by Bjork—and audiences’ enthusiasm for her singing in a play at age 23—Lenka began to chart a path to her own voice. “Bjork blew my mind musically and I realized that I could bring my own real voice, with all its flaws and quirks, into the songwriting process.”
Three albums and dozens of high-profile commercial- and TV-spots later (for Coke, Windows 8, and Old Navy, to name just a few), she’s returned with The Bright Side, a musical express train to the infectiously optimistic zone its title implies.
"I don't want to express gloom and doom or wallow in that if I'm feeling it," she says. "I’m definitely a silver lining person."
Lenka plays June 19 at the Doug Fir Lounge