It seems there's always been a healthy dose of drama in Lenka Kripac's life. She recalls the afternoon when, as a toddler living in the wild Australian outback, she was skipping merrily through some tall grass outside her family's mud-brick abode.
"Luckily, my dad was digging a hole nearby, because he happened to look over and see what was coming for me," she says.
An Eastern brown snake, the second-deadliest serpent in the world.
"And he just went 'Wha-kush!'" she makes a wicked whip-cracking sound, replete with gesture "and cut that snake's head off with a spade, because if I'd been bitten, I wouldn't have gotten to the hospital in time.
"Killer snakes, redback spiders, funnelwebs, ants that bite, tons of flies and mosquitoes there are just a lot of evil creatures in Australia."
The Kripacs subsequently moved to Sydney, which proved safer. But ironically, the life of young Lenka, who now performs sans surname, and is touring behind her bubbly eponymous Epic debut disc and its addictive single "The Show," grew even livelier in suburbia. After studying the dramatic arts under no less than Cate Blanchett at the Australian Theatre for Young People, she caught the stage bug.
"So I was a professional actor all through high school," notes the equally adept singer, who bears an uncanny resemblance to Nicole Kidman. ("I think it's my pointy eyebrows and upturned nose," she says.) By graduation, she adds, "I was already in a TV show, a medical drama called G.P., as a permanent character, so I didn't get to university straight away. Which meant that once that role ended, I was treading water, like, 'What do I do now?'"
Next came an abrupt U-turn, as Lenka attended art college, pursuing her bachelor's degree. She learned sculpting her finest piece was constructed from old purse clasps and shattered car windshields and graduated to film work, appearing in The Dish and Lost Things. She also mastered stop-motion animation, finished several screenplays and joined a mostly instrumental outfit called Decoder Ring, adding ethereal vocals in everything from German to gibberish.
"But I find lyrics and melodies to be important, so I'd started writing these songs that didn't fit with them at all," she admits. "And that's why I ended up going solo."
With her artist/beau James Gulliver Hancock, Lenka, who's now 30, recently relocated to Los Angeles, where she pens her neo-vaudevillian tunes, he designs the album and promotional artwork, and both collaborate on her Web site's whimsical animated videos. Naturally, the campy "The Show" clip employs all of her savvy skills, as Lenka mugs like a string-yanked marionette across a surreal, puppet-peopled cityscape. And the track is a hit, topping the iTunes charts and wending its way into everything from Ugly Betty to Old Navy commercials.
Is that enough drama for one Lenka lifetime? No way, she says with a snake-charming smile.
"Even though this is my third career, I'd really like to do some acting again, in other people's projects, play a character that somebody else wrote," she says. "I find it very liberating to pretend to be someone else."