Interview: KT Tunstall

‘It’s also a big middle finger up to the idea that the album is dead:’ says KT Tunstall of her decision to create an album trilogy.

Last year KT lent her support to National Album Day by taking part in Classic Album Sundays where she performed her debut Eye to the Telescope in full at the Royal Albert Hall almost 15 years after its release.

She is once again getting behind the National Album Day celebrations, which takes place on 12 October and features a week-long build up of events and activities to recognise the unique attributes of the long player.

Undoubtedly, streaming had had an immeasurable impact on the way we listen to music, but KT, like many, is still in thrall to the wider charms that a full-length collection offers.

In 2018 she released what will be the second instalment of a trilogy of albums, all with distinct themes.

Prior to WAX she put out KIN in 2016 and the, as yet unnamed, third will complete the triptych.

Here we chat to KT about what draws her to the album as a format, what she feels about its future and how her own music has evolved since her debut…

What inspired you to create a trilogy of albums around the themes of soul, body and mind?

I had been going through some massive obstacles in my life; death, divorce, moving continents…and my 2016 album KIN really chronicled that experience. When I was thinking about the next record, I wanted to focus more on electric guitar, which is such a visceral instrument to me; you can go from cosmically ambient to feral howl in a single song, and it made sense to me to move to the theme of the body and physicality, and this posed an exciting challenge to then follow up with the mind as my third muse, a subject which I already knew I’d love to explore. Three letter titles for each, and a really interesting journey through my own experience of creating these songs in these three ways, soul, body and mind.

It’s also a big middle finger up to the idea that the album is dead.

What can we expect from the concluding record in the series?

Patterns, sequences, rhythm, trance-inducing, dance-inducing, emotional SONGS!

How important are albums for you and do you think the format has a long-term future?

I love making albums, I think they have a deep value as a fan and listener of them. I don’t want a single song, I want an experience. I want to know what this person is thinking, why they are making it. How it relates to me. I intend to keep making, and buying, albums. I’m certainly not the only one who feels that way, especially with the huge surge in vinyl sales.

How do you feel about streaming and its effect of listening habits?

Well, it’s the way things have gone – I’ll stream music to listen to when I’m walking around or travelling, BUT when I’m at home I generally prefer to put a beautiful piece of vinyl on the turntable.

You revisited your debut Eye to the Telescope for last year’s National Album Day at the Royal Albert Hall. What was that experience like?

It was very special, and a bit unreal. It’s still very difficult to grasp how many people bought that album; six million. I can’t get my head around it still. I felt very proud and grateful, and just mind-blown all over again that it spoke to so many people.

What inspired you to get involved with the event again this year?

I loved it last year! A bunch of people in the Albert Hall calling me brilliant?! Oh, okay then! Ha! It was so nice to meet the fans and music lovers who were there, say hello, hear their stories of how the album wove itself into their life. I feel like National album Day is celebrating the more meaningful side of music.

And how do you think has your music evolved since your debut?

Oh God, I don’t know! I’ve always followed my heart and done what I wanted creatively. My albums don’t all fit into one category, and although that has made for a more unpredictable career, I’ve loved the more exploratory nature of it. I feel like I’m actually now coming back around, back to where I started a little bit.

Do you have any advice for artists starting out?

Just get really fucking good at gigging, and speak to the crowd.

What’s on repeat at the moment?

Forevher by Shura. Absolutely sublime album.

Do you still enjoy being out on the road?

I do, very much. I could do with a bit more time at home. It would be nice to have a pot plant, you know? But it still gives me a thrill to travel and connect with people. I did 200 shows last year, so it’s a bloody good job I still like it.

What’s next for you?

Album seven, bit of acting, bit of scoring for film, lots of travel, lots of gigs, and lots of backstage cooking for KT’s Kitchen!!

National Album Day takes place on 12 October. For more information, please visit nationalalbumday.co.uk.

kttunstall.com

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