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20th January 2014

Interview: Katy B

Katy B is 100% a hippy

Katy B hit the charts back in 2011 with her debut album ‘On a Mission’, and her new album ‘Little Red’ is due out in February. She drew inspiration from similar areas – “UK sub culture, RnB, hip hop and pop.” But this doesn’t mean the album sounds the same. “UK club music is evolving so quickly that even if I’d tried to make ‘On a Mission’ now, it’d sound different.” The way she produced the album was different too: “I wanted to think about my song writing. Previously I’d only been given a beat or an instrumental, but this time around I’ve gone straight into the studio with the producer at the beginning.”

Artwork produced with Brien back in 2011 and he also produces on the new album. “In the beginning I spent more time partying with them [Magnetic Man] – so I wouldn’t really see them in the studio – they’d give me the beat then I’d record the vocal. This time round I’ve spent more time in the studio with Arthur [Artwork] and I really enjoyed it. It’s faster and easier rather than sending music back and forth.” ‘Little Red’ sees collaboration with fellow Brit, Jessie Ware on ‘Aaliyah’, but who is Katy’s dream collaboration? “Pharrell because everything he touches turns to gold. I’m also a massive Kelis fan.”

Katy’s album is a mixed bag, of ballads like ‘Crying for No Reason’ and club-focussed songs harking back to her clubbing experiences. “‘Next Thing’ is about me and my friends going to three or four different places – onto the next thing – in one night like a little tour. Then there’s ‘Sapphire Blue’ which is about seeing someone you’ve been seeing around for a while in a club and just wanting to approach them. The ballads on the album show an emotional side to Katy, she divulges “my life has changed in the last few years. I feel like I’m in a different place now than in my early twenties and a lot of my friends do as well, we’re going through a lot of changes, so there’s that element to the lyrics.”

Each song is heartfelt: “all of my songs come from somewhere inside of me. I have to tap into that emotion for anything to come out: melody, lyrics – anything – you have to let yourself feel something for music to come out.”

As a female solo artist and graduate of BRIT School alongside Jessie J and Adele, music played a huge part in her life growing up and she was massively influenced by Beyoncé, naming ‘Crazy In Love’ as her favourite album. When Bey dropped her visual album last month, Katy was envious. “I think the visual album is a really good idea. I’d absolutely adore doing a video for every song but the label definitely wouldn’t let me! It’d cost too much money but maybe one day I can pay for it all myself, that would be wicked.” When that day comes and she has unlimited funds, she’s going to outer space: “I’d have some crazy special effects where I’m singing on Saturn or something…”

Back down to earth and Katy is known for singing in her distinctive London twang, but what does she think of the Mancunian accent? “I’ve been a Coronation Street fan all my life, all my family watch Corrie so I’ve got a strong attachment to Manchester accent!”

Brien has appeared in Manchester in various venues, ranging from Parklife Festival through to tiny Club Academy and her favourite has been super club Warehouse Project. “I absolutely adore it; I’ve performed there with Zinc. I’ve had such a wicked night every time.” When asked about her standout act, it has to be “Diplo, who does some great sets!”  Whilst Katy has been staying in Manchester she finds it hard to get much spare time but next time she’s up, The Mancunion is giving her a tour: “I’ve stayed in Manchester the last couple of nights but not seen that much of it. I haven’t had a proper tour so next time I come up there I need someone to take me out.” Mancunion offered and she’s accepted so watch this space.

Catching some festivals is Brien’s hope for summer 2014: “I love Glastonbury and Outlook. I went to the first two Outlooks but I haven’t been back since, my friends make me jealous every year when they go.”

The Burning Man, set in the wonderfully Saharan Nevada Desert is her festival of choice, partly because there’s no money involved “you just exchange things. There’s no money, people just do things for each other like water in return for someone braiding their hair, people build loads of art installations and it’s in the middle of a desert and you have to wear goggles because of the dust storms.” A peace and lurve type of festival, would Katy say she’s a hippy?  “Oh, 100%, I am definitely a hippy.” You heard it here first.

Katy B’s new album Little Red is out on February 3rd and she performs at Academy 2 on March 29th.

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