Search This Blog

Katie Melua

October 2008

TAKE no notice of the teachers, kids – swearing is big AND clever.
Just ask Katie (fuppin') Melua.
We were having a proper lovely chat about helicopters and old music and the awful 80s when she started injecting sentences with expletives.
It's not the sort of language one would expect from such an angelic face. And it belies the sweetly pretty pop 'n' jazz hybrid that mums and grannies have bought in their millions – making Katie Melua Britain's biggest-selling female for three years running.
We catch up in Norway on a tour that seems to have been going on all year.
"The amount of travelling that you do I think it would be too maddening to try and see everything in every city," says the 24-year-old of the frustrations of travelling the world but taking in few sights.
She doesn't stay in hotels getting battered, either.
"Sometimes I'll try and go out for a walk."
Or she'll play with her helicopter.
"We've got this thing on tour where we've all got remote control helicopters. When you play those big stadiums you've got such a huge space that it's a perfect place to fly them."
Either that or she'll have lunch with her band mates, who are all old boys with a rock'n'roll pedigree that includes playing with some of the world's biggest names.
"I'm (fuppin') like in awe of the people I get to play with every night," she says.
"Henry Spinetti who's the drummer, he's played with like Dylan and David Bowie and ... (fup) who else?... Paul McCartney and Eric Clapton."
Do you get them to tell a few stories?
"Oh my God, yeah, it's (fuppin') amazing, like, the sort of (ship) that you hear is so cool. Not only from the band but also from like the crew and stuff. They have some great, funny stories. And you find out stuff that's just hilarious and shocking and wonderful."
So you're one of the boys on the road?
"Oh yeah, definitely. But I'm one of the boys most of the time actually. I'm pretty sort of...what's the word?...tomboyish."
"Sorry? Common? Well, I suppose."
It fits that Katie Melua is surrounded by old-school players, having a real passion for classic folk, jazz and blues, something she picked up while at the Brit School.
Does she think that perhaps she was born too late?
"I used to. I used to be really nostalgic about the 60s and 70s but now I've become so happy with the time that I was born. I'm absolutely fascinated with the internet. It's probably the biggest cultural development in humanity in my generation. Ultimately it's a whole other world. I do love the fact that I can read a blog written by an Iraqi woman. Being able to access so many people around the world."
When I was your age there were no computers.
"Well I remember when mobiles first came in and now you can't live without them."
We also get nostalgic for the 80s. Or rather anti-nostalgic.
"I'm glad I've found someone else that hates the 80s," she says after we rant about manufactured pop and grotesque hair styles.
"I hate it with a vengeance. It seemed like the most controlling and stiff period. Everyone loved the sort of money man.
"This revival of the 80s is freaking me out a little bit."
Not that she had to live through it. Born in 1983, Katie Melua missed that nightmare. Particularly as for the first eight years she was in Georgia. Led by her heart surgeon dad, the Meluas moved to Belfast in 1991 then South East London where, after her GCSEs, she enrolled at the Brit School for Performing Arts.
During this period she met Wombles creator and songwriter/producer Mike Batt and so began a working relationship that resulted in three worldwide No. 1 albums, gigs in front of Nelson Mandela and the Queen and becoming Britain's biggest female music export.
So now she's cracked music, are there plans to act or write?
"I don't think I've cracked music at all – are you serious?
"OK, maybe I've cracked it in terms of record sales but I hope I don't sound (fuppin') pretentious but I really feel like I've only just begun."
She adds: "I will only feel I've cracked it if I feel I'm ever on the same level as Joni Mitchell or Leonard Cohen."
Melua is aware that Batt had a hand in writing and producing some of her biggest songs and realises there's a lot of room for personal development.
Particularly as they are no longer writing together.
"We knew it was the last album we would write together," she says of Pictures.
"Being the age that I am, I feel I need to go and further explore my identity as an artist, and Mike has other projects he wants to do, too."
She admits: "Going off and doing it on my own is going to be pretty challenging and a bit scary."
Hell (fuppin') yeah.

Katie Melua appears at the Trent FM Arena on Wednesday October 29, supported by Andrea McEwan.

No comments:

Post a Comment