Belgian-Australian singer and songwriter Gotye is best known in the United States for his 2011 single Somebody That I Used to Know. There is much more to this musician, however, than a single hit song. Find out everything you need to know about this chart-topping singer, and his relatively long-running musical career.
Gotye's early life
Gotye was born with the name Wouter De Backer, on May 21, 1980, in Bruges, Belgium. After immigrating to Australia with his family, his parents decided to change his name to its English equivalent, Walter. After living in Sydney, New South Wales for a while, they eventually settled in Monmorency, Victoria, Australia.
Even as a young child, Walter took to music, playing the piano and drums and experimenting with other instruments. In high school, he formed the band Downstares with three of his friends, but the band went their separate ways after high school.
His family moved from Montmorency eventually, but they left their house behind so that he could remain there and keep studying. The house ended up having a "frat house" type atmosphere, with friends constantly dropping in and out. An elderly neighbor gave Walter his deceased wife's old record collection, which ended up inspiring him to get back into music.
Gotye's musical career
Walter recorded his first CD in 2001, producing around 50 copies, handwriting the track list, and coloring in the cover art with pencil. The CD was met with positive reviews, and he gained some credibility with Melbourne's indie music scene.
Around this time, he chose to use the name Gotye, a derivation of the French name Gauthier, which is equivalent to Walter. Gotye's mother, a French teacher, had used "Gauthier" as a sort of pet name for him.
Shortly after, he met Kris Schroeder, a fellow singer-songwriter, and they started performing together, calling themselves the Basics. The Basics remains a Gotye side project, and they have released four albums between 2004 and 2010.
In 2006, he released his second album, Like Drawing Blood. This brought him quite a bit of success, and it was certified platinum in Australia for selling more than 70,000 copies. It also nominated him for an ARIA Award for best independent release, and won him "Most Outstanding New Independent Artist" at the Australian Independent Record Chart Awards. He went on to win an ARIA award in 2007 for best male artist.
The album that went on to earn him international success, however, was 2011's Making Mirrors, particularly his single recorded with New Zealand musician Kimbra called Somebody That I Used to Know.
The single reached 10x Platinum in Australia, 5x Platinum in the US, and has topped singles charts around the world. It became the Number 1 single on iTunes in 46 countries, and it is the 17th most viewed video of all time on YouTube.
Gotye continues to record and release new music, with and without The Basics. Following up on a smash hit like Somebody That I Used to Know might be a tough job, but fans maintain hope that an even bigger single might dominate the charts soon.