By JOHN BURNETT
Tribune-Herald staff writer
Kimié’s CD “To the Sea” was released on Tuesday, but as of Thursday, it’s No. 4 on iTunes U.S. reggae chart, trailing only two editions of Bob Marley’s iconic “Legend” album and a compilation CD featuring four of Marley’s sons. Perhaps that shouldn’t come as a surprise, since the 27-year-old Kona native gained street cred among reggae devotees by touring with Jamaican superstar Barrington Levy.
“I met him when I was going to college in San Diego,” Kimié told the Tribune-Herald on Wednesday from Los Angeles. “I spent some time in Jamaica, recording. And then on a segment of his tour, I opened with just my guitar onstage.”
“To the Sea” is a seven-track work, definitely long for an EP, and is a follow-up to her single “Shame on You,” which hit the top spot on local radio stations. She said the EP is rooted in Hawaiian, island and reggae music with a blend of acoustic and urban soul.
“This EP is kind of my transitional album from the stuff I was doing in Hawaii and bridging the gap to what I want to do next with my music,” she said, and described its release as “a weight off my shoulders.”
“I had no idea what kind of work goes into making an album and mine is just a seven-track album,” she said. “… I didn’t know what I was getting into when I put out the Kickstarter (online fundraiser) thing and got funded. I knew I had a deadline with people waiting on me to give them a product, a bunch of investors.”
She praised her production team, which includes Imua Garza, who plays several instruments on the album and is featured on “Make Me Say,” and Scott Wilks, director of Blue Planet Sound studios in Honolulu.
“He ended up helping me out tremendously with the production,” she said.
Kimié said she has already recorded some tracks for a full-length album, as well, which she hopes to release late this year or in early 2014.
For many who don’t follow the local music scene closely, Kimié’s introduction came almost a year ago via a Burger King commercial with her playing guitar on Oahu’s Sandy Beach and singing a jingle called “Hungry Girl” to the tune of Sean Na‘auao’s “Fish and Poi.”
“It was a really fun experience and definitely gained me some more followers,” she said.
The seeds of her music career took root at Kamehameha School’s Kapalama Campus, where she was a boarding student and jammed with Garza. In addition, one of her roommates was a Maui girl named Anuhea Jenkins, who Kimié taught to play guitar and who has become one of Hawaii’s most popular musical artists.
“I was always into music and writing and started playing guitar in high school at Kamehameha,” Kimié said. “She started getting interested and she would be sitting around while I was writing my music and singing. She had a great voice, and I was like, ‘Anu, you should be doing this too.’ I would let her borrow my guitar and she would just jam out. I would teach her every song that I knew and we would sing the same songs, which is why we kind of have the same story. Music made us closer. I’m just excited and stoked for all her success. She’s got a lot of talent and that girl is one of the hardest-working girls I know.”
Like Anuhea, Kimié has also dropped her last name, Miner, in her professional life. She said that although she’s been writing songs seriously since age 14, her songwriting continues to evolve.
“I think that’s what happens as you grow up,” she said. “My writing back then was kind of diary-style, like a girl sitting on the beach with her guitar and getting her emotions out and putting it to a melody. Now, I think more about structure, about songs that I like that really speak to me, and what were they doing with the lyrics. I think it’s more of a songwriter’s perspective.”
While today’s recorded music market is based largely on computer downloads, Kimié said she had 1,100 copies of “To the Sea” pressed into CDs. She said autographed copies and other merchandise will be available when she plays Karma HI Sports Bar and Nightclub in Hilo on Friday, April 5 at 10 p.m. She now spends much of her time in L.A., but is looking forward to returning to the islands.
“I love Hawaii as much as I always loved it, but now, I just appreciate it more,” she said. “The sunsets are that much sweeter when you go away and come back.”
On the Internet: www.iplaykimie.com.
Email John Burnett at firstname.lastname@example.org.