Interview: KT Tunstall

This week is an exciting one for KT Tunstall, as she releases Wax, the 2nd record of a trilogy. In 2016 KT made a return following a brief hiatus with the first record in the trilogy called Kin. At the end of November she will headline Diva Music Festival, so we were delighted to catch up with her this week to find out more about this trilogy, her music and how it feels to be headlining this female led music festival.

Interview by Amie Taylor

AT: Your new LP Wax is out on the 5th October, what inspired this record and where did the idea behind the music come from?

KT: The beginning of this record started with the last record, which was Kin and came out in 2016.  I’d been going through quite a lot of personal trauma, with my Dad passing and then very quickly after that my marriage breaking down. I basically sold everything I owned and moved to America, to Venice Beach, and started again. I realised that I’d got to a place where I had everything I wanted on a physical plane and was miserable and there was a lot of shame and failure involved with the emotions around that, because I’d made all of the decisions myself; I’d got it wrong somehow, I realised that I’d become really defined by being a musician.  I didn’t really know myself very well if you took that musician away, and I knew that that wasn’t good. So I moved to Venice Beach and started Chapter Two of my life, and it was the best thing I’ve ever done.  I thought I’d take quite a long hiatus from making records, but in fact after a year or two of writing for film instead, I started writing these big, muscular pop choruses and ended up writing Kin, which felt like a positive message to put out in the world. 

Just after I released Kin and was on tour, I was attempting to meditate, trying to quiet the mind, a practice that I’d learned in my reinvention, and I had this really strong vision that it should be part of a trilogy which was about the spirit, body and mind. I wanted to put them out in quite quick succession, because I could be quite frustrated at how long it took between records, I thought that this could really kick my creative mind in to overdrive, and it has. I always need a deadline to be creative.  So this new record is the body record.  And I knew I wanted to make a rock record, because it’s a thing I feel I haven’t really explored, but is an important part of who I am, that rock and roll spirit.  I worked with Nick McCarthy, who’s one of the founders of Franz Ferdinand, he’s a brilliant musician and writer and a great producer. It was about trying to capture that live energy from a show on to a record; it’s really all about electric guitar which is literally and metaphorically a big old strap on. 
AT: How does to feel to be two days away from a release date?

KT: It’s very very exciting, rolling straight form Kin in to this one.  It’s been good because there’s a momentum to that which I really appreciate, and it’s been really hard work, but it’s work that I love doing.  And I’m more in control than I ever have been in terms of my business as well, which is a really exciting new chapter for me. I’m now sitting in the board room meetings and on the phone calls and I love it, I’m really enjoying it. 

AT: Coming up in December, you’re headlining Diva Music Festival, why were you inspired to perform at this gig?

KT: I’ve always been well aware of Diva Magazine and what it represents and it’s just so exciting that they’re putting on a festival for the first time, it was a complete no brainer.  As well as that, doing a festival in December is awesome, I love that idea.  But I’ve always had a really loyal LGBT+ following and it’s always been something I’ve been really proud of, that my music is resonating with people that have got to put up with this massive extra layer of shit in life, which shouldn’t be there and are dealing with a lot of prejudice on a daily basis – I’ve always had amazing messages of support from that community of how my music has spoken to them. And I think that’s music’s job, to transcend barriers – invisible barriers that shouldn’t be there. 

AT: Do you think there’s a reason why your music resonates so much with many in the LGBT+ community?

KT: What I write is very personal, so I’d like think that my music does transcend these labels and speaks to people as human beings, and we’re all the same and everybody goes through the same shit. And that’s what I love about music is that it has the ability to connect people from entirely different backgrounds and cultures and experiences, to highlight that we all go through the same thing, though some of us are certainly met with many more challenges than others. 

AT: What are you most looking forward to in the next 12 months?

KT: Diva Festival is up there. The other thing that I’m so proud about is that it’s coinciding with playing with an all female band, which I’ve never done before and the band is just on fire, it’s got such an energy to it.  Even when we’re not playing – when we’re just walking down the street from rehearsal to get coffee, you can tell that people are turning their heads.  It’s a really cool energy.  I knew it would be fun and I knew it would be powerful, but it really does feel like it’s an energy over and above what I was expecting. So I’m really looking forward to playing with just women.

AT: Yes, and of course the entire line-up for Diva Music Festival is female-led and female centred –

KT: Yes, and when there’s this problem with a patriarchal attitude across the board, we can shout and we can scream and we can stamp our feet, but what we’ve actually got to show is that we can take care of this, on every level. And that nothing suffers and that everything is augmented by that female element.  

KT Tunstall’s new LP, Wax is released on Friday October 5th 2018 and she will be headlining the Diva Music Festival which runs from the 30th November to the 2nd December. Book Now. 

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