April 20th, 2012
11:49 AM ET
If you’ve heard Gotye’s immensely popular hit, “Somebody That I Used to Know,” you probably recognize the line, “But you treat me like a stranger and that feels so rough.”
But with YouTube views approaching 200 million, the Aussie-Belgian singer can’t possibly feel like an unknown.
And things couldn’t have felt so rough when he took the stage with guest vocalist Kimbra on “Saturday Night Live” on April 14.
Further proof he’s on fire: “Used to Know” landed the No. 1 spot on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, is No. 1 on iTunes and has topped charts in more than 15 other countries. Gotye’s star is rising so quickly that while touring the U.S., his handlers have scrambled to upgrade to bigger venues to keep up with demand.
“I don’t act famous, do I?” Gotye asked CNN in a recent interview. (Answer? Not really.)
“Well get me a few drinks,” he said. And what happens then? “I go to bed!”
So aside from feeling humble and a little weary, what can we learn about this nude-posing, green-eyed singer of that memorable heart-bleeding chorus?
First of all, he said he’s a bit sick of talking about the song. He does, after all, have other songs, not to mention an album. “Making Mirrors” was released stateside in January on Fairfax/Universal Republic Records.
Secondly, his real name is Wally de Becker (watch the video to learn how he prefers to pronounce Gotye).
He’s also a perfectionist: Gotye’s soundcheck lasted a good 90 minutes before he’d come down from the stage for an interview (the average soundcheck lasts about half an hour). He runs through every song on his set list, tweaking frequencies, adjusting mixes, adjusting his bangs (only sometimes).
If you get the chance to see Gotye in concert, you’ll learn he’s a whizz-bang multi-instrumentalist, darting around the stage to play drums, keyboard, a thing called a mallet cat (“like an electronic marimba”) as well as guitar and bass.
“A lot of my stuff live is about trying to find a balance between the ‘traditional instruments’ and triggering samples and chopping them up and manipulating them,” Gotye said.
The 31-year-old also finds constant comparison to Sting a double-edged sword.
“I’m self-conscious because Sting seems like a whipping post for all hipsters,” he told us. “Still, it’s flattering because he has written some incredible songs. He’s a fantastic vocalist.”
And much like Sting, perhaps Gotye isn’t going to become somebody that we used to know.
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