‘LA has a sui­ci­dal glam­our that David Lynch gets. In the hills you can be 10ft from a su­per­star or a moun­tain lion’

The Herald - Arts - - COVER STORY -

KT TUN­STALL might well be a born-again beach babe, with the glam­orous strip of sand known as Venice at her front door, but she says she still wears shoes. “Well, some­times. I am grow­ing my hair re­ally, re­ally long though.” Al­though the place she calls home cur­rently is Los An­ge­les, more Scot­land­friendly at­tire is be­ing packed for two ap­pear­ances in May, first head­lin­ing Oban Live, then head­ing to Perth Con­cert Hall as part of the city’s Fes­ti­val of the Arts.

It’s go­ing to be a busy sum­mer, criss­cross­ing the At­lantic to play US and Euro­pean shows, and no-one is more sur­prised than KT that there is new ma­te­rial to de­but. An EP called Golden State will be re­leased mid-June, with her fifth al­bum to fol­low in Septem­ber. All of this con­trary to her in­ten­tion to con­cen­trate on what has been a suc­cess­ful tran­si­tion into writ­ing mu­sic for film.

“I hon­estly didn’t ex­pect to be so ex­cited about mak­ing another al­bum,” she says, with­out any adopted Cal­i­for­nian drawl but with a lazy tim­bre that is in­dica­tive of a re­laxed state of mind. “The ti­tle of the EP re­flects a few things. Not ev­ery­one knows that Cal­i­for­nia is known as the Golden State, so that’s one thing, but it’s a ti­tle that ex­presses my cur­rent mood.”

KT is open about the fact that on the 2013 al­bum, In­vis­i­ble Em­pire // Cres­cent Moon, she was “go­ing through a whole load of sh*t that was hap­pen­ing in my per­sonal life”, re­fer­ring to the death of her fa­ther and break-up of her mar­riage, which hap­pened in rapid suc­ces­sion.

“Af­ter that I sold up ev­ery­thing I owned, moved con­ti­nents, and made a fresh start. It was the best thing that ever hap­pened to me.”

She also made a break from the cy­cle of al­bum/pro­mo­tion/tour­ing that had be­come re­lent­less in the pre­ced­ing 10 years since the re­lease of Eye to the Tele­scope.

“Af­ter hav­ing suc­cess and tour­ing for such a long time, I found it al­most im­pos­si­ble to stop. The most dif­fi­cult thing is that you en­joy what you’re do­ing. It’s the stu­dio, it’s a gig, it’s where you want to be, so it can be very dif­fi­cult to say no. In the end you end up com­pletely bat­tered. You re­alise that you’re nearly dead.”

Of course that’s a sober­ing and se­ri­ous thought but per­haps the paci­fy­ing ef­fect of the ocean has got to her as she can also joke about what might have been. “I gen­uinely think that if I hadn’t done what I’ve done, I’d be locked up some­where in a white gown talk­ing to a plug­hole. And that would have cre­ated an en­tirely dif­fer­ent al­bum.”

If the last al­bum was a chance to ex­or­cise the loss, then this would ap­pear to be the op­po­site. “One of the songs is called It took me so long to get here, but here I am. It’s the theme of the record re­ally.”

The de­ci­sion to re­lo­cate to the West Coast came with an op­por­tu­nity to study fea­ture film com­po­si­tion at the Sky­walker Ranch of Ge­orge Lu­cas. Since then she has writ­ten or co-writ­ten songs for films in­clud­ing Dis­ney’s Tin­ker Bell and the Legend of the Nev­erBeast and Mil­lion Dol­lar Arm and sound­tracks to Win­ter’s Tale and About Ray.

The in­ten­tion, she says, was to stop mak­ing al­bums and fo­cus on com­po­si­tion. To be vis­i­ble to stu­dios be­ing in LA was nec­es­sary. She had vis­ited be­fore and en­joyed it, but LA hadn’t been on the list of places to live.

“But what I found out is that, per­haps more than any­where else I’ve ever been, LA is made up of wildly dif­fer­ent ar­eas. They are so far apart too, so you feel like you’re in a com­pletely dif­fer­ent town. I had some work in Santa Mon­ica and cy­cled down to the board­walk to Venice Beach and it just blew my mind. I saw f**king dol­phins! I didn’t see dol­phins f**king but you know what I mean.

“The cul­ture of be­ing a beach bum is com­pletely alive and well here. Even peo­ple in the en­ter­tain­ment in­dus­try take time off. I thought, ‘god I never have week­ends off, never mind a week day’.”

There was a fear that this pace of life would slow down the work, but the sur­round­ings proved to be a cat­a­lyst rather than hav­ing the feared so­porific ef­fect.

“My friend Tim Smit, who was be­hind the Eden Project, did of­fer to send me a roller blind with a view of Hack­ney, so I could block out the sun­shine and get down to some work.”

In the end, fur­ther ex­plo­ration of the

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