Kimberly Anne – also known as LANTA – tells DIVA how she learned to be herself
BY ROXY BOURDILLON
Kimberly Anne is charming, hilarious, and outrageously talented. You might recognise her lush vocals from Sam Feldt’s 2015 mega-hit cover of Show Me Love, but these days she’s focussed on using that incredible voice to make music that reflects who she really is. That’s why she’s recently relaunched as LANTA. Her mission statement? To create blissful, 80s-inspired, epic pop that helps people feel more accepted and less alone.
DIVA: When did you figure out your sexuality?
LANTA: This is really grotesque and please don’t judge me. When I was four, I used to collect page three. But why were my parents even reading the Sun? Can we talk about this? A multi-racial couple from the 90s?! I got my first real crush when I was 11. I was like, “I just really want to be best friends and then hold you for a prolonged period of time.” I kissed a girl when I was 13 and I’ve been out since I was 14.
How did your family react?
Mum is quite a free spirit. My dad’s more obsessed with his own love life. He was all, “The ladies love us!” My sister is quite a devout Christian, so that’s brought up some interesting negotiations. It has been challenging at times. It kind of feels like you have to come out twice. I came out to everyone and then I came out to the Afro-Caribbean side of my family.
Were there any queer women of colour you looked up to when you were younger?
There wasn’t really anyone out. Even a few years ago, I worried if it would affect my music, whereas now I want to integrate it into the fabric of everything I do, because there’s another little queer Kimberly out there. It’s really important to say what I want to say, being a woman of colour, who’s black, who’s got a beautiful wife. Some people have opinions about that and I don’t really care.
What’s changed to make you so much more comfortable being open?
I faced some homophobia within my family head on. When I sent out my wedding invitations, somebody posted a message in our family group basically saying all gay people are perverts. You could have just RSVPed no. It was horrible, but it presented me with an opportunity to say, “I’m really proud of who I am and I’m really proud of my wife-to-be.”
You had a huge hit with Show Me Love. What was that experience like?
We went to number four in the UK, which was really weird because I was an acoustic indie singer. Hearing cars drive past in summer blaring your voice was odd. After that, my label wanted me to be an Ellie Goulding, Jess Glynne thing. Dude, I don’t want to be wearing lycra doing dance routines. They do it really well, but it’s not me. They thought I was crazy not to follow the money.
What’s the inspiration behind your new incarnation?
LANTA was born out of wanting to give myself permission to be my own fantasy pop artist. There’s a whole theme of self-acceptance and not apologising for who you are. I really want that to flow through everything we do.
Tell us about the comic book you’re releasing to accompany the new tracks.
As a kid, I was a massive comic fan. It’s set in a post-apocalyptic, dystopian, authoritarian society where anyone who’s a bit other is rejected. It’s basically Theresa May on crack. We follow a group of teenagers. There’s a trans character, a gay character. They work with a group of underground rebels to take down the government. They sneak people out to this secret place called LANTA, where you can be exactly who you are.
You’ve described your single More Alive as a song for commitment-phobes searching for the ability to let someone in. Are you a reformed commitment-phobe?
How have you gone from commitment-phone to happily married?
Therapy. I was really scared of vulnerability. I started dating Rhiannon and she said, “You need to sort your shit out.” I was like, “You can’t just tell someone they need to go to therapy. That’s really rude!” Nobody else challenges me like her. We’re a proper match. We constantly get the best out of each other.
You wrote this song while you were thinking about proposing to her. How did you pop the question?
I proposed in a hostel in Thailand. I’d booked a beach hut with a romantic balcony, but that island flooded so we were in a hostel. It had been raining for four days straight. At one point, there’d been a power cut for four hours. We just sat talking about shit. I gave her a shoulder massage. Rhiannon said, “Actually this is kind of perfect,” so I said, “Oh, in that case will you marry me?” We put some candles in some empty Chang beer cans. It was imperfectly perfect, which is what it was meant to be, I think.
What else are you working on?
My next track is the popiest thing I’ve ever done. If Phil Collins and Janet Jackson had a baby, it would sound like this song. It’s called Drinking Too Much and it’s about self medicating with alcohol when you’ve had a bad break-up. It’s a fun pop track that’s slightly depressing – my speciality.
This interview originally appeared in the October 2019 issue of DIVA – grab your digital copy right here!