She may have moved to the other side of the world, but KT Tunstall’s love for London means she’s going to really bring the party when she performs at OnBlackheath 2017…
Singer-songwriter and musician KT Tunstall burst into the public consciousness in the early Noughties with her distinctive, genre-defying songs, influenced by indie, rock and folk. Her biggest hits, Suddenly I See, Other Side of the World and Black Horse and the Cherry Tree, have quite the ear-worm effect.
Since then, she’s won a BRIT award, and has received both GRAMMY Award and Mercury Prize nominations, and penned songs for film and television. Her 2010 album Tiger Suit saw her experiment with electronic dance music in Berlin, and her subsequent records Invisible Empire // Crescent Moon (2013) and KIN (2016) reflect Californian influences, and her successful partnership with powerhouse producer Tony Hoffer.
She now lives across the pond by the tranquil Venice Beach, but when we catch up, an excitable Tunstall was in London preparing Glastonbury. In fact, she’s back in the UK for the duration of the festival season, during which she will be performing pretty much every weekend until OnBlackheath in September, where she will join The Libertines, Travis, Jake Bugg, De La Soul and Kate Tempest.
‘Festivals are my default setting,’ she tells me. ‘They’re my most comfortable environment when it comes to playing shows.’ Having been lucky enough to see her play a crowd-pleasing set at Secret Garden Party a few years ago, I have to agree. ‘I loved that!’ she exclaims.
‘I was glad I played at 4.30 that day because I was able to go and just have an absolutely crazy night afterwards. I really feel that festivals suit my music, my style, and my vibe,’ she says. ‘I love feeling a connection. It’s a very liberating experience for people to hear music that way. At OnBlackheath you get this really stark juxtaposition of urban life clashing with a more rural experience.’
OnBlackheath is going to be loud, it’s going to be high energy, and it’s going to be a good laugh
For Tunstall, OnBlackheath is set to be a grand finale that’s all about ‘making loads of noise and having a knees up. It’s going to be loud, it’s going to be high energy, and it’s going to be a good laugh’.
What else can we expect? ‘We’ll definitely be doing a fun 80s throwback cover, which I’m very excited about,’ she hints.
‘Then, it’s about having a real party – and an opportunity to play the biggest tunes in the back catalogue.’
Despite a jam-packed festival season, the star is also hoping to find time to make music in the studio this year. ‘I’m going to be working with Nick McCarthy, formerly of Franz Ferdinand,’ she enthuses.
‘He’s a brilliant musician and I want to make quite a raw record. I get a gut instinct and it’s different every time. There are so many different kinds of music that I enjoy and I just love exploring them. I definitely want to play an electric guitar a bit more on this one.’
I kind of fell out of love with London. But now that I live in LA I love coming back
With such a hectic working schedule, it’s no wonder Tunstall treasures her downtime in California – but now, she’s grown to appreciate the city from afar. ‘I kind of fell out of love with London living here,’ she admits. ‘But now that I live in LA I love coming back. It’s the things you can do – being able to go to an exhibition, an incredible play, or an underrated movie in an arts cinema.
‘There’s fantastic corners of London that offer new pathways of thought that maybe you haven’t gone down before, and I really appreciate that. But it’s a 24/7 job doing what I do and it’s very easy to burn out. I was finding it very hard to get a balance between working and taking time out – and Venice Beach is very conducive to recuperation time. Maybe a little too conducive!’ she laughs.