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Kate Walsh Interview PDF Print E-mail
Written by Emma Howe   
07 11 2010

ImageKate Walsh is definitely not one of your average success driven artists. Having left behind the typical route for most in the industry, you get the impression that to her, it's all about the music. I caught up with Kate before her performance at The Cluny2, and got the chance to delve into what drives such a talent to ignore the glittering lights and obvious perks of the mainstream industry and where next for the Essex born singer - songwriter?

You have played The Cluny quite a few times now, what do you think it is about the venue that draws you back?

I just think the room is so intense and quiet. The last time we played Cluny2 we had a really incredible gig, really memorable. I actually prefer it to The Other Room, I've played that three times and this will be my second time in here.

Your first three albums were received really well by critics and fans, what made you take the decision to make a covers album?

I had half an album worth of songs and I could maybe have worked harder to try and write some more but it goes against the reason I write songs in the first place. They have to come organically and they just hadn't because actually for the first time I was really happy and I'm really good at writing sad songs. So I'm going through a period of change in my life, a good one, a very good one. It means my songwriting is evolving and I just wanted to let it do that naturally. I had cover songs that were really special to me in the past and I thought it was an ideal opportunity to do it.

So obviously all of the songs on the album mean something to you?

Yeh, I wanted it to be British artists because that was a dot in my cap to home, but they are all songs from my childhood and songs that I was inspired by growing up.

How did you come about naming it Peppermint Radio?

When I was a little girl I had a pretend radio station and called it Peppermint Radio. I had one of those knitting machines that you pull the things down for different patterns and I used to pretend they were faders. I don't know why but Peppermint Radio it was. I actually used to play the Duran Duran song that's on the album now.

That's a great version of ‘Say A Prayer'

Thanks, a lot of Duran Duran fans have said that about it and it really means a lot to me. It's an incredible song. You hear Duran Duran and Erasure (also a cover on the album) on the radio and you think that it's just classic pop but you don't think about the craftsmanship involved in the song. When I was working on the chords and stuff, I just kept thinking man this is natural songwriting and its genius really.

Growing up, where you inspired by live music or was it purely what you heard on the radio?

Oh just the radio, my Dad had Classic FM on all the time, so I have a classical background. But my Mum loves Hendrix, The Beatles and The Beach Boys, kind of mixed bag, it was great and then I had two brothers who loved electronic stuff. No live music though, I think I went to my first gig when I was about 17, I was getting on a bit really.

So when it came to performing live, was it important for you to get your live sound to a certain standard quickly?

I actually prefer performing live I don't really like recording at all. I get so bored in the studio and the idea of creating a moment just doesn't sit with me. It should because some of my best records have come from people taking the time to work with me in the studio. I cringe at out of time things, I hate live albums. I like really well recorded studio albums, but I don't like recording at all.

Apart from your influences from your parents, who inspired you personally?

The Cranberries, they were a massive influence on me when I was younger. I did a little music workshop when I was 13 and I sang Zombie. After that Tori Amos because of the piano, I'm a massive fan. It was listening to them that made me think, I could do this and I wanted to write like them.

What process do you go through as a writer? Do you take time out in the year to sit and focus on your writing or is it an ongoing process?

Oh I could go months without writing a word, it just has to happen. I wish I was a more formulated writer and then I could treat it more like a job, like a career. For me I won't write for the sake of it.

Do you think your sound has developed since the release of your first album ‘Clocktower Park'?

Yes, without a doubt. I'm playing two or three new songs tonight, I don't know when I'm going to record them but my life is a little more rosey now, my attitude is a lot more positive and I want that to come out in my sound now. I've spent too long writing songs about boys who have broken my heart and I'm not in that place anymore. But I need to re-learn how to write because I have honed my craft in wallowing. I'm happy and content for the first time. I have a real acceptance of life on life's terms.

You belong to your own label ‘Blueberry Pie' does that allow you to take that approach?

Ah Blueberry Pie, I can't believe nobody had already used the name. Yeh, I started my own record label because when I first signed to a label in the beginning it was great, like oh I've made it now. But I was so used to having a pro-active, hands-on relationship with my manager in terms of what we did. My manager is so forward thinking and we would just sit and think of things to do and go do it and then we signed for a big label and every idea seemed to have to go through twenty departments. Before you know it you miss the boat and it just took all the fun out, I was so out of touch and couldn't relate to why I was a singer anymore.

You have been critical in the past of the industrialisation of the industry, obviously this must come from your own experience with the big label?

Definitely, bands get snapped up so quickly now before they even get time to develop. The best ten songs that they have ever written in the ten years they've been writing have made it onto this album and suddenly their supposed to deliver the same quality of music on a second album, they have a year to do it while they are touring an then they are dropped and never developed again. It's really sad. The industry is just a production line. It seems like the love for music has gone now, and whatever craze is going on is force fed, it's not organic. Artists have got to want that in a way, and I just don't!

That's quite a refreshing viewpoint from an artist!

I just like my life. I like being me, I like wearing my joggers to the shop and going home a lot. I don't want that life. It would take all of the fun out of the idea.

Are there any artists who are part of the industry at the moment who you do admire?

I quite like Jessica Hoop. Half of her album was amazing and the other half was somewhere else. I think that's how I feel about a lot of music now. I'll listen to an album and think, oh that songs incredible and then the rest of it is sort of drivel.So

Where next for Kate Walsh?

I'm taking a small break, allowing my mind to go somewhere else for a bit. I'm going to be getting involved in local arts and music therapy kids for a little while. Dip my toe in and give something back.



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