Gibraltar Music Festival’s artist’s lounge is a bustling environment, filled with artists, mangers, and promoters. Amongst the almost oppressive warmth, and the stress on the organiser’s faces, KT Tunstall remains a beacon of calm and serenity. As I introduce myself, the warmth of her smile sets the tone for the whole of our interview…
So, is this your first time in Gibraltar?
It’s my second time in Gibraltar actually, but I’ve never played here before. I actually came a few years ago to do some writing with Albert Hammond which was fantastic, and I made real friends with him – he’s an amazing man. There are beautiful people here, and I had a wonderful trip but I didn’t get to play, so it’s really special to get the chance to come back and actually play music.
So would you say that this is one of the most interesting places that you’ve played before?
It’s phenomenal, because the backdrop is just absolutely breath-taking. It’s a very unique place, Gibraltar, there’s nothing else quite like it.
So, today you’ll be playing the Victoria Stadium. Do you have any particular type of venue that you prefer to perform in?
It’s really difficult to choose and I hope that I never have to, because playing festivals is incredibly special, mostly because you’re playing outside, but especially when you’re somewhere like Gibraltar and it’s amazing weather. It’s just glorious. I’m at my absolute happiest in nature so being with a rock behind us, and the sea, and the wind, outdoors in the sunshine, this is just beautiful.
But at the same time I love playing to small rooms of people, where you can see everyone and say hi to everyone. It’s a very intimate thing and there’s a real different feel to all of them, but I love playing them all, whatever comes my way.
So, your new album KIN is fantastic, what inspired its creation?
I wasn’t going to be writing an album, and moved to Venice Beach in California because I really just wanted to take some time out, and concentrate on writing film music. I felt quite tired and just needed to find a place where I could just really relax, and just be, without having to do. It was perfect for that, and after about a year of living there I found myself driving a lot. I love listening to music in the car; I was listening to Fleetwood Mac and Tom Petty and Neil Young, and Joni Mitchell, and they made all their music in Laurel Canyon and in LA, and I found that the music was just seeping into my blood. I just started writing choruses to songs, and I was really trying to fight it, but sometimes you just have to accept the spirit of inspiration. I followed it, and I’m so glad that I did, it’s possibly my favourite album that I’ve ever written.
One of my favourite songs of the album is ‘It took me so long to get here’ (but here I am), do you feel that it’s a song that everyone can relate to?
Absolutely, the mission statement of the album is saying it as it is without dressing it up. When I say here, I mean who I am now, and it’s about just being able to celebrate yourself surviving all the difficulties that life can throw at you. It’s about really owning yourself at the end of the day.
So is this album almost your way of saying that you’ve found your place in the music industry and in the world?
I think that’s true yeah. I definitely feel a mojo that I didn’t have before. I feel very very comfortable in my own skin and don’t feel the need to achieve anything in particular, or get approval from certain types of people – the goal really is just to enjoy making music, and finding people that enjoy listening to it. It’s about bringing a little bit of joy into the word.
So, finally, how do you cope with all the emotions involved with performing to an audience?
I’m very lucky, I’ve never been beseeched by stagefright before. If there are certain big shows where I know that they’re going to be reviewed by tonnes of journalists, like you, I can get butterflies, but it’s very rarely an unpleasant feeling, and usually just helps to up my game. I love performing, and am very god under pressure. The worse gig you’ll ever see me play is one where no one is watching!
‘KIN’ is out now via Virgin Records
This KT Tunstall article was written by Bethan Brace, a GIGsoup contributor