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Lenka

Former Aussie actress crafts enchanting pop morsels.

Gliding over to a picnic table at Los Angeles’ lush Temescal Park, singer-songwriter Lenka Kripac cuts a striking figure with her flowing raven tresses and flouncy purple frock. Like a boho Snow White, she marvels at the woodland creatures frolicking around her. “Ooh, look,” she coos, dimples flashing, pointing out yet another critter. “A tiny white spider is joining us!”

The recent L.A. transplant seems quite at home in these bucolic environs — no surprise, considering she spent her formative years in the Australian outback. “My parents were hippies, and they thought it would be cool to live off the land,” she explains. When she was seven, Lenka’s family relocated to Sydney, where she studied at the Australian theatre for Young People under the tutelage of Cate Blanchett. “this was back before Elizabeth and everything,” Lenka says. “She really inspired me to want to be an actor.” Since her father was a jazz musician, Lenka also received musical training — albeit reluctantly. “My parents said I couldn’t get my ears pierced un- less I took lessons, but once I got ‘em done, I quit,” she recalls. She started landing parts in films and on Aussie TV, but when she was 22, a singing role in a play made her realize she’d rather be a musician. “I don’t know why it took me so long to see it,” she says.

After a stint singing with electro-ambient outfit Decoder Ring, who gained acclaim for their soundtrack to the Aussie film Somersault, the 30-year-old is heading out on her own with her solo debut. Lenka (Epic) wraps the singer’s cashmere-soft voice around sophisticated arrangements — she plays piano, percussion, vibraphone, and glockenspiel — that recall orchestral pop of the early ’60s. “My biggest influences are the three B’s: Burt Bacharach, the Beatles, and Björk,” she says.

Her lyrics lean toward bittersweet: Fiendishly catchy first single “The Show” is a Truman Show–like critique of life as a phony performance, which climaxes with the now-everybody-sing chorus “I want my money back.” For a recent live performance, Lenka thought it would be fun to throw fistfuls of cash into the audience during that part of the song. “My boyfriend designed ‘Lenka dollars’ — bills with my face on them,” she says. “But when it came time to throw them, they only flew about a foot away. Most of them ended up back on the stage or stuck to me. Very embarrassing!”

Fast Facts:
– She devoured the Twilight novels: “They really tap into my inner teenage vampire.”
– On the second episode of the FX series Dirt, Lenka’s “Follow” soundtracks a scene in which Courtney Cox pleasures herself with a vibrator.