A songwriter, composer, and multi-instrumentalist, Gotye (real name Wouter De Backer) earned a global audience in 2011 when his single "Someone I Used to Know" became a major international success. Wouter De Backer was born in Bruges, Belgium on May 21, 1980. The De Backer family left Belgium for Australia when Wouter was two years old, finding a home in Sydney before relocating to the Melbourne suburb of Montmorency. When he began attending school, Wouter started using an Anglicized variation of his name, Walter, and before long he revealed he had a talent for music. Becoming proficient on keyboards and drums, De Backer was a teenager when he formed his first band, Downstares, with three of his high-school friends. Once De Backer graduated from high school, Downstares broke up, and after inheriting a large collection of old LPs while attending the University of Melbourne, he began experimenting with sample-based music. In 2001, De Backer released a limited-edition EP, Out Here in the Cold, which he credited to Gotye; the name was a simple phonetic spelling of Gaultier, the French equivalent of Wouter. The EP earned some airplay on Triple J, a noted Australian radio outlet, and De Backer was encouraged to continue making music as Gotye. Around the same time, De Backer became acquainted with singer and songwriter Kris Schroeder, and together they formed a band called the Basics, who released their first album, Get Back, in 2003. While the Basics quickly attracted an audience, De Backer continued to make music as Gotye, and released his first full-length album, Boardface, within months of the Basics' debut LP. After moving out of his family's home, De Backer found himself moving frequently over the next several years, while also dividing his time between solo work and the Basics. The nomadic lifestyle was reflected in the sound of the second Gotye album, 2006's Like Drawing Blood, which was a critical and commercial success in Australia, voted the best album of the year in a Triple J listeners' poll and earning platinum certification. After establishing a permanent home for his home studio in a barn on his family's property and finding some downtime from the Basics (who released albums in 2007 and 2009), De Backer began the work of creating a third Gotye album, and in 2011 he issued Making Mirrors. The album's first single, "Eyes Wide Open," was a major hit in Australia, but the follow-up, a duet with Kimbra titled "Someone That I Used to Know," became an international smash, with the single topping the charts in the United States, Canada, the U.K., France, Germany, Italy, Belgium, and of course Australia, and winning a Grammy Award for Song of the Year. The success of "Someone I Used to Know" helped Making Mirrors achieve gold or platinum status in 11 countries, and it won the Grammy Award in 2013 for Best Alternative Album. After the success of Making Mirrors, De Backer returned to the Basics for their 2015 album, The Age of Entitlement, and he launched a personal project, the Ondioline Orchestra, in which he paid tribute to pioneering electronic musician Jean-Jacques Perrey, who was a virtuoso of the Ondioline, a keyboard that could emulate the sound of strings, woodwinds, and other instruments. In 2017, De Backer announced he had founded a new record label, Forgotten Futures, whose first release would be an archival collection of rare Jean-Jacques Perrey recordings.
© Mark Deming /TiVo
© Mark Deming /TiVo
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Alternative & Indie - Released August 19, 2011 | Universal-Island Records Ltd.
Stepping out from behind the piano/drums of Melbourne indie pop three-piece the Basics for the third time, Belgian-Australian multi-instrumentalist Wally De Backer, aka Gotye's first solo record in five years, Making Mirrors, reveals a love of the '80s pop scene, which extends far beyond the usual influences of the current nu-synth brigade. The hugely experimental follow-up to 2006's Like Drawing Blood doesn't discriminate against other decades, as evident on the impossibly uplifting '60s retro soul of "I Feel Better," the '70s West Coast harmonies of the ethereal lullaby-like closer "Bronte," the '90s Beck-esque scuzzy garage rock of "Easy Way Out," and the 2000s hushed, claustrophobic dubstep of "Don't Worry, We'll Be Watching You." But seemingly unaffected by the constant comparisons with the likes of Sting and Peter Gabriel, it's the era of early new wave, dub, and worldbeat which defines its 12 tracks. Unexpected chart-topper "Somebody That I Used to Know," a collaboration with New Zealand vocalist Kimbra, is an oddball break-up song whose stuttering rhythms, reggae hooks, and hushed vocals sound like the Police as remixed by the XX, "Smoke and Mirrors" echoes the avant-garde pop of Gabriel's So, with its pounding tribal drums, orchestral flourishes, and new age melodies, while there are also nods to George Michael's "Faith" on the acoustic gospel-pop of "In Your Light"; the impassioned Aussie rock of Midnight Oil on the ecologically themed "Eyes Wide Open," and electro pioneer Thomas Dolby on the strange, vocodered vocals, spoken word samples, and skank guitars of the trippy "State of the Art." Familiar they may be, but some credit has to go to De Backer for managing to weave these eclectic retro sounds into a cohesive affair, which proves that along with recent efforts by Art vs. Science and Architecture in Helsinki, Australia is fast becoming one of the biggest purveyors of quality experimental pop. © Jon O'Brien /TiVo