Tides of KT Tun­stall

Is the mul­ti­mil­lion­selling, plain-speak­ing KT Tun­stall a prude, or the world’s most re­fresh­ing pop star?

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - FRONT PAGE - BY CRAIG MCLEAN

It’s a grey, blowy af­ter­noon on the Orkney Is­lands in scot­land and in a drowsy pub, Kt tun­stall is talk­ing about shakira’s groin.

“shakira is a very tal­ented, gen­uine, beau­ti­ful and grace­ful artiste,” the scot­tish singer­song­writer says of the pop-su­per­star and char­ity ac­tivist, “and I think she’s got a ca­reer through tal­ent and hard work. (But) there were a cou­ple of scenes from her She Wolf video that I was quite sur­prised by ‘cause they were so ex­plicit’.”

tun­stall – pen­ni­less folky-turned five-mil­lion-al­bum-sell­ing Brit Award win­ner; the earthy, im­pas­sioned, eco-minded daugh­ter of thrifty aca­demics; fond of a good ex­ple­tive and a fine whiskey – laughs her throaty laugh. “And I was sur­prised that shakira would go that far,” she con­tin­ues.

“You know, she’s got a lot of young fans. Peaches, Court­ney Love – they don’t re­ally have lit­tle girls lis­ten­ing to their mu­sic. And from a fem­i­nist stand­point, I think it’s pretty con­fus­ing for a lit­tle girl to see that.”

she stops to weigh her words. We are dis­cussing shakira be­cause tun­stall re­cently found her­self em­broiled in a me­dia/bl­o­go­sphere storm in a D-cup. A scot­tish tabloid re­ported the 35-year-old as “sin­gling out” shakira as “the worst of­fender” when it came to pop stars ex­ploit­ing their “sexy im­age”. the shakira-lov­ing twit­ter hordes were on her case in a flash, bom­bard­ing the “stupid b***h” with abuse.

But tun­stall in­sists she did no such thing. she merely ques­tioned the ap­pro­pri­ate­ness of some of the im­ages in the video to shakira’s She Wolf. to the woman who, on win­ning her 2006 Brit for Bri­tish Fe­male solo Artiste, shouted “Ladies! Dis­re­gard your lim­its!”, such me­dia-fo­mented “b***h fights” are gallingly typ­i­cal.

“I was re­ally, re­ally an­gry about how that (story) got twisted. Of course I don’t have a prob­lem with sexy mu­sic videos,” she sighs. “I’ve just made a sexy mu­sic video, for (her new sin­gle) Fade Like A Shadow! I like to think it’s sexy any­way. sex­u­al­ity is such an im­por­tant part of mu­sic. But what I don’t like – and I’m not talk­ing specif­i­cally about shakira here – is when the sex­ual ob­jec­ti­fi­ca­tion of the fe­male body is used in a way that over­shad­ows the mu­sic and it be­comes a shock-fac­tor Youtube moment.”

tun­stall could do with­out that. Her idols are Chrissie Hynde and Patti smith. Her real name is Katie tun­stall; she adopted the stage name Kt in homage to an­other un­com­pro­mis­ing hero­ine, PJ Har­vey. these are proper artistes, ones who let their brains and their words – not their hips and hair ex­ten­sions – do the talk­ing.

this is typ­i­cal tun­stall, the plain-speak­ing, big-sell­ing pop star for whom ev­ery day is dress-down Fri­day. “Can’t re­ally do hour-long con­ver­sa­tions about mois­turis­ers,” she mut­ters.

this over­cast Mon­day in mid-Au­gust, tun­stall is at the end of a short tour of the scot­tish High­lands and Is­lands. the in­stantly sold-out per­for­mances are in pubs and, here in Kirk­wall, in the town’s 19th-cen­tury for­mer tem­per­ance Hall, with ca­pac­ity for 316 (and two wheel­chairs). the low-key shows are func­tion­ing as a gen­tle run-in to a loom­ing, in­tensely busy pro­mo­tional trip to the United states, and the re­lease of her third al­bum, Tiger Suit.

It’s a win­ning col­lec­tion of bright, melodic songs, her voice rich and boun­ti­ful over stur­dily strummed gui­tar and brisk beats – “Ed­die Cochrane meets Left­field” be­ing her ide­alised sonic pal­ette. It sounds like the re­ju­ve­na­tion of tun­stall af­ter the rel­a­tive fail­ure of 2007’s Dras­tic Fan­tas­tic, which sold “only” one mil­lion copies, a quar­ter of the sales of her 2004 de­but, Eye To The Te­le­scope.

Nonethe­less, this tour of her home­land’s far­ther­most nooks has been a gru­elling jaunt. tun­stall is suf­fer­ing from what at first seems like a bad case of ferry-lag, but in fact turns out to be gas­troen­teri­tis. Right now, though, in the bar of her ho­tel, her in­nate cheer­i­ness is see­ing her through. As is, one imag­ines, the com­pan­ion­ship of her drum­mer Luke Bullen, who dou­bles up as her mu­si­cal di­rec­tor and

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