Ladies' Month concludes with a tough track from punk-spirited Scottish rocker KT Tunstall, from her debut album "Eye to the Telescope." We'll discuss why this album was immediately re-released, the power of early American Idol, and of course KT's favorite gas station snack. Plus:
- The Power of early American Idol
- Automatic writing and connecting to your subconscious
- “Punk Spirit”
- When the mix doesn’t sound like what was in your head
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(This transcript was written by baby robots, so please forgive its imperfections.)
Turn up the radio and sing along. It's time for another Great Song. This is the Great Song Podcast. Season's greetings and welcome. Once again to the Great Song Podcast. I'm Rob Alley. I am J.P. Moser. I'm going to steal your cadence there and for not trying to break up the show, we're here to celebrate the greatest songs in modern music history.
We're going to tell you what makes them great, why we think they're awesome and why you should to J.P.. How are you doing today, man? I am doing fantastic. So we are wrapping up ladies month and folks are like, are y'all going to end ladies month on a low note? And we're like, no, absolutely not. No, no, no, no.
We're like, no, we are wrapping up this month, dedicated to ladies with a bombastic acoustic masterpiece robbed what we're talking about today. This is black horse in the cherry tree by KT.
oh, my heart knows it better than I know myself. So I'm going to let her do all the tough
Okay. Because the place is in the middle of the NOAA where the big black hustle and a cherry tree
back. I said, don't look back. Just keep on walking.
The facts come in on just that line.
did this song is so tough. Like it, you know what I mean? Like this song. Is is maybe small in stature, you know what I mean? But it wears a leather vest and it will beat you to a pulp if you cross it. It's so funny the way we've staggered these ladies month, we went from like Lee and Kate, who are the most caring sweetest.
And we've sandwiched between two girls that could beat the snot out of us that were like, yeah, that would kick us in the. Yeah, basically, and with song that's right. And that would be KT Tunstall and Tracy Bonham, who we're both very sweet, amazing ladies also like just, yeah, like awesome. You know, it's great.
So we're going to speak to KT Tunstall here in just a little bit after we're talking about the song. So stick around for that. She's awesome. She was so kind to spend a few minutes with us, so can't wait to talk to her, but first let's talk about black horse and the cherry tree by KT. Tunstall from the 2004 album, I to the telescope you ever done the telescope prank where you like put a blanket around the classic.
I think it's one of those things that people probably did on like sitcoms and stuff that never really happened in real life. Kevin, those laughs. Not a lot of people actually using telescopes anyway, just for fun anymore. Maybe it was a bigger thing in like fifties and sixties. Do you have a friend that has a telescope?
Yeah, my, like my stepdad has a telescope. My son's had telescopes at one point, but I feel like people buy telescopes and then just never use them. I have a friend that has a telescope and. Set up really cool. But my favorite telescope story while we're on telescope might as well, might as well. My cousin, when we were growing up, she had a skylight and the top of her bedroom, which was so cool because you could lay in the bed and look up at the stars, which is kind of neat.
I mean, it's cool. And she had a telescope that she could look up through the Scarlets or the skylight out the roof of her house. And it was just a really neat talking about the position of Uranus. You can't, you can't talk about stars and planets and not make a Uranus joke. Right. It's just not, I refuse to ever call it Uranus.
It's not, I'll never do it. Okay. Anyway, back to this, how did we from the 2004 album, I to the telescope, let's just pretend none of that ever happened. A black horse in the cherry tree went to number 20 on the hotline. Number 15 on the mainstream, top 40, number four on the U S adult contemporary chart. And number one on the U S adult, top 40 and U S adult alternative songs charts.
It also went to number seven in Canada and number 10 in KT's native Scotland and top 20 in several other countries. It held several year-end positions as well. It was number 57 for all of 2006 on the hot 100 number 12 on the U S a C chart. And number five on the U S adult top 40 and on into 2007, it was number 21 on the U S adult contemporary chart for the entire year.
It was nominated for a 2000 Grammy for best female pop vocal performance, along with unwritten by Natasha Bedingfield. You can close your eyes by Sheryl Crow. Interesting. We talked about that last. Stupid girls by pink and the winner. Ain't no other man by Christina Aguilera, this was like the year of the MySpace single.
Right? You remember how many of those were on people's MySpace player songs? That was like the coolest thing about it was like, this is how I'm feeling right now. And I'm going to express it in song. And as soon as you click on my page, you're gonna hear, you know, what the man like, you know, I don't know, but that was, those were like definitely the MySpace singles for that year.
Other songs up for Grammys that year, we're waiting on the world to change your beautiful, a bad day. Dale powder over my head cable car hips don't lie. Those are all the same look, bad day over my head. What is the date? What was the one that you said before that you're beautiful. You're beautiful.
That's the same song. Let's just be honest. The same guys singing the same song. Even that's John Mayer doing his waiting on the world changes. Yeah. He's singing their same songs. It's true. That's amazing. And then you had like promiscuous crazy by Gnarls Barkley. It was the year of my space. It was totally the year of my space.
Black horse. And the cherry tree also got a big bump in the U S thanks to American idol, which was still a massive cultural show at that point. Like, it's sort of I don't want to say it's fizzled, but it's not for a minute. American idol was every the thing, captivated the nation. And we talked and we talked with KT about Catherine mic facing and it, and giving it a big jump there.
So y'all like hair takes on that and everything is. Yeah. Let's see. But after its appearance on American idol, when Katherine McPhee sang it, the single jumped up 56 positions eventually landing in the top 20. And then and then Catherine Murphy came back and did it again, the final week of the show for her last performance that was the year by the way of the soul patrol with your winner Taylor Hicks.
I don't know if you remember that, but like he had nobody believed he was 30 years old. That was like the age cap for American idol and Taylor Hicks, one with a head full of gray hair and everybody went, there's no way. You're 30 dude. But and I got, I got to introduce a sidebar if I, if I mentioned Taylor Hicks, there's one thing that I think about first it's the soul patrol.
That's like the, his thing, right? His fans were the soul patrol, but his, so he performed as his idol winning song. It was called, do I make you proud? It was like a you know, they, they always go for something that's like uplifting for the Yuan, you know? And so do I make you proud written by Tracy Ackerman, Andy Watkins and Paul Wilson?
And first of all, here's an idea of how huge idol was at that point. First of all, do you know the song? I don't think so. Okay. Should I know it, is it pop well, it was huge for a second because of, because of how huge idol was after the idol finale, do I make you proud, sold almost 200,000 physical copies.
Holy cow and 40,000 downloads in its first week. Play it. The one to raise my hand. That was me to play. This is him and all that. So, because it sounds like the here sounds like Kenny Rogers and Lionel Richie had a kid dead. Yes. Kenny Rogers. My
so you don't know the song, right? We'll see, we hit the chorus, but this is what I'm saying about the power of American idol at that point is you don't even know the song.
I mean, it sounds like I song, you know, like it certainly is a song. Nope. Okay. All right. That's what I'm talking about. That's the power of idol at that point, right? Is that, that song that you don't even know, and you're the music guru that sold 200,000 copies in a week because of American idol. Now what I'm going to play for a second is the weird Al Yankovic parody.
This is called, do I creep you out? And it's much better.
Can I sniff a pit stains?
it's so good, dude. That's one of my all-time favorite weird out here, and he's doing a creep you out anyway, back to black horse in the cherry tree, which got this whole conversation started a few listening. First of all, how many of us thought this was Annie Lennox? Raise your hand wherever you are.
Even if it's on the steering wheel, raise your hand. If you thought the wounds were any Linux, right? So it's such an easy it doesn't take a big mental leap to go. The audits, any Linux, like all the other members of the arithmetics are like hand raise.
Okay. The, the rhythm of the melody is so natural and full of swagger. I'm talking about the verses now, when, when, when we get into the verses, okay. This list, it's an incredibly confident song, especially to have such sparse production. Right? I mean, some of the, and we're going to talk about meet the band here in just a minute, but some of the heroes of this song are the percussion.
You've got just little, like, it's like a drum stick banging on a pole kind of sound. You know what I mean? You know what I mean? And then tambourine in the course get shit. Did Rob just write a little big town song, drumstick buying an, a pole then the high harmonies come in on a pole. I think we did.
That's copyright 2022. Great Song. So. Really sparse production. It's her acoustic, which has play. First of all, the riff is on an acoustic guitar, played on like one string bone to bone, to bone, to pump, pump on bone. Right. It's not some big, huge thing, but it just feels so right. Everything about it. It's like bouncy and tough.
And then her vocal dislike smacks you around for three minutes. And then listen to this line and this is going to be in the second verse where the lyric says, so I stopped it dead for a beat or two. Okay. Listen to how everything works together to sell this line. Ha had a problem in an hour, so stopped dead for beta two.
So you get the stop. And then when she says beat or two, you get two hits on the percussion cap and then you're back in. I love that. And then this, her vocal on this next, the ending of this next phrase, it won't forgive me after all these. He is like, it's just so tough, dude. Like, listen to this,
forgive me. The like natural like compression and like grit. Yeah. It has inner voice that I put that up against any, I don't care in whoever your toughest, like, whatever dude vocalists you've got. That's like has a tough voice. Yeah. I put it up against anything, dude. That is Taylor Hicks. Yeah. Yeah, man, shit.
Like w if she sang that in Taylor Hicks, his face, he would immediately start crying, like would not even be able to handle gray hairs falling out. It's awesome. That's good, man. And then another really cool thing about this is you should really, you really owe it to yourself to watch her do this.
Oh, absolutely. She, when we talked to her about live looping and stuff, you know and a lot of people know that like ed Sheeran, if you go see him live, he's going to do a lot, a lot of live looping. She was doing this, you know, earlier predecessor by far. That's right. And so she, you know, you going to see your live and she does the spot setting up the loop and she's like hitting things and she loops the woo woo.
And then, you know, all that stuff. And then a little percussion in there too. It's just, it's just very cool to watch her set it all up and then perform the song on the spot. She's building a track for you, you know? It's really neat. Okay. I've got some on the album, but why don't we go ahead and meet the bands now, and then we'll talk about the album.
Hey, mama was made the man
all right. We're going to meet the band, which will be real short and obvious kids. There's only two people that play on this track, but I'm going to talk about the band that plays on the full album. Just to give them their they're mentioned, but basically only KT and Luke on this track. So we'll mention the band, the rest below, and then I'll talk on who, who Luke is below, but KT Tunstall vocals.
She plays some lead guitar, a Wurlitzer P a net shell tone, horn piano, dope for bass chimes and additional percussion on this album. Steve Osborne also plays some shell tone, horn, bass, additional guitar and percussion. Arnulf lender on double bass, bass guitar and baritone guitar on different tracks, Martin Terefe some additional keyboards thrown in and Berge on cello on some tracks Luke that we speak of as Luke bull.
And so the drum stick banging on a pole that Rob wrote earlier is him. He does all the drums, percussion Cahone. He played with Joe Strummer. So, so yeah, that's the band it's really thin because it's basically Tatie and Luke. Yeah, that's right. You get some bass in there and the chorus. But that's about it.
Yeah. She's yeah. And she's doing it. So let's do that. Let's pause. Let's go ahead. I want to jump in to stump the genius because I think it follows up good after drums. Take banging on a pole. Here we go. The genius genius. Genius. Genius. All right. So drumstick banging on a pole, just getting stuff. The genius.
We're going to play horse trivia, black horse, and the cherry tree. We're going on a little horse trivia. Got eight questions for you. Rob is going to be zero of what is question one? Where's my bail. He's going to do good. What is a female horse called a ninny? A mayor. That's right. That's like a name for an idiot, right?
I was thinking like a Winnie Winnie's a ninny. Okay. What color can a horse not see? Just pick a color if you don't know orange. Red. Okay. Interesting. What was the 19th century novel about a whole. That was written by beauty black out the gate. Weirdly. It's the question about a book we're about to catch some momentum.
Here we go. What was the mid 20th century TV show featuring a talking horse. Oh man. We've got some momentum. We're 50% right now, which Disney princess had a horse and they major which Disney princess had a horse named Robin. Take a guess. Here. Is it Milan? It's Cinderella. Oh, okay. We're all right. We're all right.
We're still within, within grounds in 1973, which horse won the triple crown. And before you answer, it's probably the most popular horse secretaries. So we're 50% here we go to left to be over the Mendoza line, true or false. We'll make both these horses cannot breathe through their mouth.
That's such a weird thing. I'm going to say it has to be true. Wow. For false horses, have the largest eyes of any land mammal, any land mammal, largest eyes. I don't know. Like you think elephants, elephants are huge. I think they have small eyes. Giraffes got some pretty big eyes though. I'm a go boy. Wait, did you say land animal or mammal land mammal land mammal.
So I don't even know what all mammals are. Giraffe is a mammal 50% no fall. Okay. It's true. Well, we finished 50%, so we'll call that a win, but we are a music podcast. So we're going to stop the genius round to go with the music stuff. Here we go. We're going to name this horse artist. Toss me the cable. So this songs will have horses in.
I got nine songs. Let me think here real quick. I'm going to a horse songs. These are more recent artists. Nope. And you're going to name me the artist of which oh see, I see. Okay, so I'm going to play the song. Let me think none. How, how much per song you can give you a minute. I think a minute. Can you get through none in a, in a minute, let's try it.
That's about six seconds. We don't want to drag drag on our dear listener. So exactly. So we're going to go. We're going to give him one minute. You wanna put a timer and a minute timer while Rob is looking up the minute timer, I'm going to cue up horse trivia or horse stump. The genius now. Okay. When you make these playlists for stump, the genius, do you make them public on Spotify?
Could somebody go on Spotify right now and find JPS horse trivia? I delete them as soon as we record now. I don't want somebody because somebody looks at my library and they're like, what? In the world? This guy's got the weirdest thing. Alright, here we go. We're getting, let me know when you're ready. All right.
I got a timer set for one minute, one minute, and I will give a countdown. Here we go. That's horse with no name America. Okay. Call me in and you can pass any, anytime.
It's a horse song.
If you get stuck past, past
oh, that's what? Red dark horse. Katy Perry. Good job. Oh, man, this
has to be, gets done. You're going to, you're going to get some momentum, no. Another horse rivers, blues county crowding crowds. If this takes a minute, I should have give you more time. That's up to 90 seconds. You, this one, I don't have a clue, you know, the artists, but go ahead, pass.
You'll get there once you hear the first thing. People are yelling at you. I know Ms. Ashley, he's going to be somebody super obvious. I'm going to try to get to the vocals cause honestly, that's Taylor. Okay. Let me go back to the others and let's just see how quick we can get. Actually, I had one more
theme from Bonanza.
Oh, that's a single horse. When to come with bigger man. Megan drinks. Good, John. Okay. Let me try to get you back to this way. We pass bear for my horses, Toby Keith and Willie Nelson. And I passed this one because it takes a while to get, and you know, I got mud Scott, you get that artist is dark horses. I love that. I don't know the song. I didn't even get to this one. That's freefall and talk. Wasn't a horse song. Free-falling yeah.
Think about it. Oh, and the horse in America too. Loves. Have you seen Kevin bacon? Yes. I think we talked about that on our Tom petty. Right. So good. Dang. I, I lost track of camp. I don't know. I flopped I hope you guys had fun with some horse. Pretty good. You did over 50. If my performance was a horse, I'd be headed to the glue factory.
Oh man. All right. Let's talk a little bit about the album I to the telescope. You ever know? Did you have friends with the telescope? I'm just kidding. We did all that already. What is happening? It was released in the UK December, 2004. And it was rereleased less than a month later in January, 2005. How weird is that?
Here's what happened? KT had a great performance on a show called later with Juul as Holland buzz. And so relentless records. Re-issued the album in January oh five, but still in the UK. Only it didn't release in the U S until February of 2006, took a full year, which seems like a long time. It was the number 50 best-selling album of the two thousands in the UK, like of that decade.
Wow. That was the number 50 albums. That's up massive. It was nominated for a 2005 mercury prize for best album from the UK or Ireland, along with X and Y by Coldplay and a few others that prize was won by the Antony and the Johnsons album. I am a bird. Now I'm always shocked. We've talked about this, always shocked about how frighteningly unaware I am of some UK music.
Like I just don't know it. You know what I mean? Stuff that's huge that we've never heard of. Right. You get into like Joe don't chase of the world, especially, but, you know, I had no idea what that is. It also includes the number 21 hot 100 hits suddenly. I see which suddenly I see.
You can see she's a beautiful girl. She was a beautiful girl. I liked the song melodies that land on the flat seven silver people whose field
Hayden's villain suddenly
so that's KT crushing it suddenly. I see. And then other side of the world, which also charted really well in the UK. Let's see out of the telescope was the number seven UK album of 2005. According to the official charts company, it was the number 33 billboard European album of 2005. And in in 2006, it was number 55.
It was the number seven us billboard album of 2006. The number 12, us top rock albums and number 1 37 on the billboard 200 again in 2007. So like didn't just hop in and leave, but stuck around staying power. It certified five times platinum in both the UK and Ireland, double platinum in Europe as a whole and platinum in the U S Canada and New Zealand.
And it a sold more than 4 million copies worldwide. It is listed as the number 51 UK album of the decade, according to the official charts company and the number 34 female album of all time in. So that's I mean, when you think about like, of, of all of all female albums ever released in Ireland, either the telescope is number 30 for all time, period.
And of course we had to know what the top five, the top five biggest female albums of all time in Ireland, number five, you want to take, just take a wild guess you're not going to get it right. You'll go. Okay. That makes sense. But in Ireland, not, it doesn't have to be like by UK artists is by anybody cranberries, cranberries, not on there, not in that top five.
Sorry. So I'll just go with this. Help me. Number five is Tracy Chapman by Tracy chow. Number four is spirit by Leona Lewis. I would never kind of surprised number three, back to black Amy Winehouse. Okay. Number two, the fame by lady Gaga. Okay. Number one. You want to take a guess now given that back? Okay.
Number one is 21 by. That was the top five, like female albums of all time in Ireland. Let's see a little bit more on KT. Tunstall AKA Kate, Victoria. Tunstall. She was nominated for the Brit award for best British live act and best breakthrough award in 2006. And she won the award for European border breakers, which that just sounds like a cool category.
I guess it's kind of a crossover turn, I assume. Unless she literally broke some kind of borderline, I don't know, maybe, maybe that's a thing tear down the wall. She also won the novella awards for suddenly. I see Scottish style awards for most stylish band or musician and the BMI London pop awards for suddenly.
I see an other side of the world more recently, she won a 2016 music week award for inspirational artists of the year. Here's a little bit from Wikipedia a little bit. That's what I said. I shouldn't have done that. Here's a little bit more on KT. This is from Wikipedia. Tunstall first name is Kate, but she chooses to use her initials. KT pronounced KT instead saying, quote, Katie just makes me think of a buxom last baking bread for her man working in the fields. I have no problem with that, but it's just not really how I pictured being a rock star in quote, the spelling, KT, as opposed to just KT also differentiates her from fellow singer, KT Melua.
And she also said that she derived KT from KT impact the name of a geological event that caused the extinction of dinosaurs back to back Kate's that's right. Kate Taylor, also a KT. Right. And then KT Tunstall. How about that? And then Taylor did it first. That's right. And then my last note that I have on her.
Very recently she headlined time squares, new year's Eve celebration in 2021 into 2022, like this most recent new year's Eve. She played as the ball drops in times square headlining that a cool concert event. So that's a thing that for me, I always wonder if that's a thing I would want to be in. To go to the ball, drop to go to the ball drop.
It seems very crowded. It seems like it would take you a long time to get in and out cold, cold. You're standing the whole time and like packed in like sardines. Yeah. I guess you should do it once to say you did it. Yeah, that's kind of, yeah. Maybe, maybe I don't even know if I want to do it. It might be one of those things that's like better to watch on TV.
This is going to sound silly, but I would wrote really bad seats for that. Like I would want to stand in the back to get out quick. Oh my gosh. I'm such an old man right now, but like I can see the ball. I'm not going to miss that. I say I was at times square. Right. The concert came Tunstall was there. She was awesome.
And then, you know, saw the ball drop and then I was at home by like one 30, you know, so yeah, Chris. All the scratch on the screens. That's great. All right, we're going to go talk to KT herself, man. This is great. And we'll be back at the end to tuck you in, but first make sure you do a couple things.
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Ladies and gentlemen, as promised we are here with the one and only KT Tunstall joining us today via zoom from, I dunno, whatever lovely place you're in today. Thank you so much for joining. Okay. Excellent. Well, thank you so much for being with us today on the Great Song Podcast. We, we are excited, excited to talk to you about some things, so let's, let's go ahead and jump in.
First of all, we are our, our episode is focusing on black horse in the cherry tree. One of the songs that you are best known for. So why don't we start there kind of give us the story. I know I've read some about it in doing research but just kind of walk us through sort of the story of behind the song and how it came to be.
So it was a, it was a really unusual song actually, because I think. When I was a rights thing, which is like 15, 15 to 20 years ago. Now, when I wrote that song, I was definitely more in the habit of writing a very, what I would call automatic writing things called automatic writing, where you really don't.
Spend a lot of time thinking about what the lyrics are, meaning you're just writing down very spontaneously. What is coming to you? And I think it's a really interesting writing practice. And I've seen it kind of written in, and lots of books talking about being creative is just when you get up in the morning, just taking a pen and just getting a journal and just writing whatever is coming out of your brain.
And in some ways it just feels like a bit of a kind of direct line to your subconscious, you know? Sure. You're not filtering what's coming out and I'd been listening to a lot of old blues. I'd been reading that old Alan Lomax book about kind of the anonymous blues music from south. And how a lot of these.
Recordings. We're just kind of people banging things and slapping their thighs and, and a real live mixing on a microphone where whoever was singing would come up to the mic and then they'd back off. And but at all those old recordings, you know, you have a real sense that you were in the room with these people, which I love.
So I was very inspired by that. And at the same time, I just signed my record deal with a record label called relentless, who I'm still signed to, but it's through Virgin records in the UK, but for a very long time, I didn't want to sign a record deal. I wanted to stay independent and I wanted to do things myself and I just didn't really want to be part of the machine.
And so signing a record deal for me was actually like, really, it was kind of, it was, I felt like I'd been. I felt a little beaten by the system. Cause I was hoping that I, I didn't need to do that. And in the end that I, I did and I, you know, I had an amazing career through signing that deal, but there was definitely a kind of rebellious part of me that felt like I was signing my soul away to the devil.
And that was making me think about that old Robert Johnson you know, blues idea of devil at the crossroads. And that's kind of what this song was about. But when people ask me about the lyrics, it's just, I I'm still kind of working out well, that song is actually, but yeah, I mean the, no, no, you're not the one for me.
It was, it was kind of a by signing a deal. But kind of having to do it. Wow. Making the packs, making that's right. Making the necessary evil of being part of the record industry. I saw you do a really cool a really cool mashup. And I don't know if you do this regular or if, or if this was just a one-time thing, but at the, I think it was the Kendal calling a festival in 2019.
You did a cool mashup of black horse in the cherry tree with seven nation army. And you did, you did essentially most of the song yourself and then the band came in and joined you. And I think there were some of the dancing with weird horse masks and things like that. But I basically made, like, I made a deal with my crew that I'm the band as well, actually, that they could atone for any mistakes they made if they were costumes.
And so we add some gay where my tech and my monitor guy wore three costumes in one show. Well, let me and Rob know, we would've come prepared for all of our box play, turn a horse. Yeah. Whenever you gig in Japan, there's, there's amazing stores over there for kind of Halloween costumes and things. So we always kind of stuck up on questions when we go to Japan.
The other, the other thing behind black horse was that I just got that loop pedal which I kind of became known for. And really black horse is also was just an exercise in learning how to use the loop. Yeah. I was going to ask you about that. Cause obviously the later with Jools Holland is kind of the thing that, that propelled in my mind, like the, got you.
Going with the Looper, which Looper pedal do you use? What's your, your gear of choice on that? Do you use the same one that you use then? Have you upgraded? Is it like a, exactly the same pedal as I first I started on the mark. One is an acai head rush. Okay. So I started on the mark one and I then moved to the mighty.
I mean, it does a bunch of stuff. I have no idea. It's like a tape echo and delay. I've never even tried them. I should really like mess around, but it's a very rudimentary pedal with like one input and, you know, you can't save anything. It's all completely live. I had a really funny thing happened where I was on the road and I actually, I have never, like, I've never done me a solid, they'd never sent me a thing.
I've never been in touch. And and my pedal, I, you know, I stamp on it alone. So they tend to break nine then and it broke and actually the quickest way of getting another one on the road was eBay. And I find one and I emailed the guy and I was like, wow, this is actually pretty cheap. It's kind of not been used.
And so he got it sent to wherever I was on tour. And then I realized I hadn't changed my name on my eBay account nights out, like, you know, 10 years ago. And I had my name on it and the guy emails me and just go goes, are you okay? And I was like, I'm just going to tell him that I am. I was like, yes, I am.
He goes, well, this is really weird because I bought that loop pedal because of you. And then I got it. And then I couldn't work out how to use it. And now I'm selling it to you cheaper than you would buy it for in a store that was like, I have like single handedly lowered the market. I need to buy. So it worked out well for you.
It worked out well. And then there was a whole, I put the whole thing on Twitter and it was so funny. There was so many musicians I knew going. I bought that because of you and now you're going to buy it from me cheap. That's awesome. Wow. So, so going by initials does that ever get, do you ever get called the wrong initials?
I go by J.P. Not my, my name is Joseph. Do you get called, did you ever get called the wrong initials when you were starting? Well, because of KT Lang because the accent thing people sometimes think is KD. Yeah. But I've just found that. The w when I, when I started when I got my deal, it was a, there was a huge kind of rush of female artists who just use their full names.
Nora Jones kind of kicked it off. She was like the, the 4runner. And then there was just tons of singer songwriter, females just using the full names. And I just thought it would be good to do something, to kind of stand out a little bit and, well, I'm a huge fan. So I'm a big PJ Harvey fan. So, well, there you go.
You know, it's actually just my initials. So it's Kate still. Tunstall. I decided the T was just the Cate, the tungsten. Yeah, absolutely. I feel like, I feel like I, having the, having the initials lends you some not lens. It sort of speaks to me to your attitude. I don't know why, but it makes sense to me the initials with your sort of attitude.
And I wonder, I love watching some, some interviews and some live footage and those kinds of things. I just love the energy that you bring to everything. And you just kind of have a it's, it's almost a punk attitude that you bring some times that I really, really enjoy. I was wondering, especially early on you know, maybe in your, when you, when you did decide to sign with a label and those kinds of things, did you ever get people telling you, you might need to tone this down if you want to reach a broader audience or that kind of thing.
Did you ever have to fight with that kind of thing? Yeah, I mean, there's there, it's an interesting, and thank you. That's a huge. I think punk spirit as a musician is is a really exciting foundation to come from, even if you're not making punk music, which I know there's definitely, I feel that about myself and I feel that, that I bring that to a live show and there's always a kind of element of on the hinge with my recording process on with the show.
I think where it became obvious was in the mixing process with the record. So I'd never really made records in studios. You know, I just kind of recorded on four tracks or whatever and put it on cassette tapes and sold it at shows and then CDs, you know? But when I made this first album. I didn't really understand.
No one explained to me that you record. And then it gets sent to get mixed by someone. And then it gets mastered by someone. I didn't really know that. And the mix of a record can completely change. And I'll, it's really absolutely staggering how much the mix process. So when, when you're mixing for those people listening, who aren't familiar with the process, every, every piece of audio, the vocals, the guitar, the drums are all on a little separate track and they get sent to the mixer.
The mixer can put effect song. They can edit, they can change the levels. So you can have a quiet drummer or a loud drummer. You can have big reverb on the vocals that makes you sound like you were in a church when you were actually recording in a bathroom. There's so much scope for changing. Hi, something signs in the mix.
And I was absolutely broadsided because I, I would always, I would always be involved in the mix process. Nah, but I didn't know that on my first record and it kind of got whisked away and mixed without me. And it came back and just sounded so polished and kind of polite compared to what I'd actually made.
And it was actually really tough on me. I was, I was sort of really shocked and it felt like at the time the rawness and the punk ness of it kind of got ironed out which is crazy. Cause when I go back and listen to it now, I still hear all the rawness in that record is very roll record. So I don't know how it would have signed if I had been in charge, but No, it was difficult because I then went on to sell like 5 million copies.
And so I couldn't sit in there going, yeah, I don't like it. But I think just, just overall, it's a weird, it's a weird process when you've not been through that before where there's a sort of necessary collaboration on the end product, which I wasn't used to having to deal with. I was used to just doing everything myself.
So there was it was definitely tricky and, you know, Blackhorse, and suddenly I see became these BMR amazing smash hits, which is just one of those. Phenomenal things that can happen to you as an RA is just to have these songs that travel the world on your behalf and everywhere you go, and they are already there waiting for you, you know?
But also it that's what you become known for. And so that's what people expect from you. And so you then also have a kind of subsequent life of, of always kind of being up against the edges of those songs. And people go, oh, well, that doesn't sound like you it's like, whoa, I did have some other stuff actually.
There was like nine other songs on that record, you know, it's, it's a fantastic. Problem to have, you know, because every, every artist's dream really is just turning off in any city and everyone's singing the words, which is just an amazing, amazing feeling. Well, th there's parts of these where we just kind of like gush over things that we love about the artist.
And I think this will segue in nice. I love the OD the telescope, the entire album. I think another place to fall is a really smart play as track two can be just as important as track one. When you're keeping up with the flow of a project and track three under the weather written with Tommy D I mean, that guy is a legend stuff with Beyonce and Jay Z, Janet Jackson, Adele how'd you end up picking up with Tommy D on the project.
That's awesome. Told me when I, when I got, I went to London, I was in Scotland and I knew I didn't want to move to London. And Phil actually had a bit of money in my pocket. Cause it's just one of those situations where, you know, being in. Being in a major and expensive city with no cash is, is, is a very, it can be quite a depressing existence where it's actually staying in Scotland where I was living.
It was cheap to live. There were places to play. I had friends there, so I told myself, right, I'm not, I'm not going to do that. I'm not going to go to the city until I've actually got a reason to be there. And, and my reason was I ended up getting a publishing deal first, before my record deal and my publisher, it was Sony who I'm still with.
And they were really cool because often. Especially, I was 29, 28, 29 when I got my publishing deal. So I wasn't that young. And there's often you know a kind of, I think now even more so they push you towards co-writing and maybe writing for other people rather than writing for yourself. But they never really did that with me.
They were very confident that I was going to be an artist in my own. Right. So it was always striving for myself, which was great. And, and Tommy was also on Sony at the time. So they, they, I had never co-written before. So it was quite an experience kind of getting hooked up with these different people.
And another one was Martin terrific worlds him. I've basically I've written songs. I've. 30 songs with them over the last 20 years. Actually Tommy and I have a song on the new record, which is probably going to be the single issue. Cool. So you're still doing stuff. That's awesome. Yeah, it was an old core rate actually.
But we're still very much in touch, but it was yeah, he was, he was awesome. Fun. I think I remember writing with. I was like playing on gene Simmons guitar and it was, we were having, we were having a super cool time. He's, he's just all fun to me. He, he really I think values the joy of it. So if you're having a good time, you're more likely to write something good.
You know, I love, I love that video too, that you do from that one. Any, any phrase that's any song that has the phrase feels like home just takes me somewhere and I want that, I want that trailer with those awesome orange curtains. Do you remember what you were writing on the window? That's like, and do you remember, cause you're writing something on the window with the rain outside you.
I have no idea what I was writing. I was probably writing something mean about the director because we didn't go. And it was really funny. We were kind of at odds with each other and then, because I felt like we'd had the storyline and I need changed on the day and yeah, but the really funny thing was at the very end of the shoot, it was kind of cold that.
It was a whole thing where we were going to make it rain inside the trailer. Okay. So it felt like it was raining on the inside of the caravan. So they, the roof was chopped off. Cause all the lighting was, you know, until anyway, they were really worried about me being cold. So they put the show, our heads over the trailer, turn the water on.
Obviously you're only going to get one shot and it was so cold. It was just. Steam room. He like they room and you couldn't see anything. Totally, totally unusable. That's awesome. That's it. And you mentioned writing with Martin. I love other side of the world. That's a great first song. Cause that's pretty much the introduction to KT for the world about long distance relationships that really hits home with me.
Me and my wife did a long distance when we were dating. So love that. And that's probably my favorite Katy song. And my wife would love it so much. She would love the scarf that you're wearing in that video. She's a scarf where, oh dude, that's that's like, that's going to be in a hard rock somewhere someday.
That's like the scarf. That's awesome. So good stuff on that. Under the weather, it was a really interesting song because that was actually, it was a good example of sort of stealth subject matter because that song was actually about nine 11. Oh, wow. I didn't really, I wrote that after the attacks and it was just, you know, where everybody really desperately wanted to be with people they love.
And it was just this kind of cloud over the whole world at that time, you know? So that was actually about, about the terrorist attacks. Oh, wow. Wow. I'm going to take it back. Cause you just made me think of something. If, if there was a, and there, there probably is somewhere some of something of yours in a Hardrock somewhere.
If there isn't already, there needs to be what is that? There is okay then. Let's see. Is it, is it a musical instrument or is it an article of clothing? It's a musical instrument. Okay. So I'm going to take a guess. I'm going to guess like a tolerant with it. Was it like an acoustic guitar or not? It's actually not even real.
Oh, okay. Do tell. It's the memorable guitar from the hold on video. Oh, wow. So it was the, it was the guitar that was on the cover of drastic. Fantastic. Okay. Well, since we're talking about guitar, there's on the cover is I think completely fake. It's just made out of like hardwood. Bits of miserable. And then the guitar was in the hold on video, which is in the car drunk.
Then Glasgow in Scotland was just an old beat up guitar and they just covered it in like Mirabal tiles. Very cool. Oh, and I think my, yeah, on the, on the UK album cover, I'm actually wearing rainbow. Suspenders is a different photograph on the UK album cover and the rainbow suspenders are also in a hard road.
Nah, nice. I was going to say eventually one of your cool, super guitars needs to end up in a hard rock when you're done with it. They're just awesome. And I feel like they fit your vibe very well. Like they, they, they really fit that attitude that we talked about earlier. I just love, they also fit not having shoulder pain because those things are like made of fiberglass they're plastic.
So they're kind of like. It's ours. So they're super light and really easy to play. That's awesome. Well, you mentioned drastic. Fantastic. So I have to talk about my favorite video. I think the best music video you've done is saving my face. I love it with the slow moving slow motion items and the hologram versions of KT that's so, so cool.
So that's my favorite video since such talked on that I wanted to highlight that, oh, a really cool little factoid about that video is that they, we blow up a guitar. So part of the saving my vase face video through right, that the video is this kind of slow motion. It's a Gretsch jet. I don't think it was a real grudge, but it, but the guitar explodes and there's amazing footage of like the little, the volume.
So it's in reverse and it's kind of the guitars coming back together during the video. So the special effects guy was the guy. Indiana Jones and star wars. We'll look at that. Wow. That's serious business, right? He was, he was, he was special, via special effects, royalty. Awesome. That's fantastic. Well talking about videos, I want to talk about a little bit.
This is such a cool thing. And it's one of the, I don't really think I've seen this much but you actually have a music course available by video on a musical gurus where you teach some of your songs. You talk about your creative process, even your songwriting approach, and it looks like you really had a great time doing it.
What was that process like? And, and how's the response been? It's been amazing and I really enjoyed it because it was not a very conventional. Way of teaching. So I've never had guitar lessons. I've had some vocal coaching to sort of make sure I don't lose my boys, but I've never, I learned piano. I got piano lessons, but I've never actually had like guitar and singing lessons.
So I don't really have a background of how to teach someone else how to do it. So I sort of felt a slight amount of imposter syndrome. I was being asked to tell people I see this stuff. And actually, I think it's a really nice way of teaching and just you're, you're actually talking about how you do what you do.
It's not talking about how you do, how you play guitar. You're just talking about how I play guitar and how I write songs. And and often, you know, when you've taught yourself how to do these things, you've not really sat down and thought about how you do it. So it was quite interesting actually going through the process of kind of analyzing it yourself.
Play this song. And how do you, how'd you get that sound and how did I learn how to meet my guitar while I'm chugging away and, you know kind of strumming style and just remembering back to some of the challenges that I had when I was learning and what I did to overcome them. What's your, what's your typical, most comfortable writing process?
Are you guitar or pen and paper? Are you lyrics first, then put music with it or you music and then let's fill in the gaps later. Does it change? I would say probably most normal is guitar pen, absolutely pen and paper. Always. And I usually come up with a lyric or a title. Okay. So there's always a melody that goes with a chord progression, but all of a sudden find a chord progression that I liked first and then build around the title for them.
Yeah. I think it's really interesting though. Writing lyrics first is a really good exercise. Cause then I think you, when you do end up with a kind of slightly more poetic set of lyrics, I think when you write with no music, when it's completely on boned by rhythm th there was a song on my album, invisible empire Crescent, moon it's called yellow flower and it was about my friend.
I lost the cancer and I wrote a poem about her and then set that to music. And I think lyrically, you can hear it's a slightly. I feel it's a, it's a more poetic field. So the lyrics, because of the order of, I wrote it. Interesting. You've done a lot of collaborating recently. You, you've just kind of really gone all over the map, everyone from like blood wine or honey to Alan coming you know, what sort of inspired this wave of creativity?
Did it, did it start as kind of a result of the pandemic and just being locked down or, yeah, definitely. I mean, I had, I was meant to do 200 shows in 2020. It was going to be extremely busy year and, you know, it was just working out how to keep momentum going with, you know, being in the middle of a trilogy and keeping fans excited about things that you're doing and keeping them engaged and and also just keeping myself.
Creative. It was, I usually, when I'm on the road, you don't have an awful lot of bandwidth for doing stuff like that. You're not often in an environment where you can sit and record stuff. It's always noisy. And so it was just a really nice opportunity to just say yes to stuff that I would not usually be able to.
I'll tell our listeners what an album that you have. That's kind of different than the rest that I've been bingeing on. I've been really listening to a lot of acoustic extravagance. I don't know if you can see that. That's I love that record. It's a great album. And it's I wanted to talk a little bit since you mentioned the mixing and the mastering part of it.
I think it's pretty consistent all the way through. One thing I love about it too, is me and Rob both play and we're both church musicians and. The, one of the most annoying things that can be is bad usage of a tambourine, but I think tambourine usage on track two is fantastic. So I want to get to the good use of a tambourine.
Tambourine is bad. Taste will ruin everything. So smart tambourines, a certain types of purgatory. It really is. And, you know, live, I don't know how you do it. I mean, I was watching you live and then realize that not only had you, you had added some tambourine to a loop, but then you were kicking it like you're stumping on the tambourine live while you're playing.
And I don't know how you keep it all in, in, you know, on track. I mean, how, how long did it take you to get comfortable where you're like, I can do this in front of, you know, 2000 people now and not worry about messing it up. It was funny actually, because I realized when I was using a tambourine, you, cause I, I stamp it with my foot.
That you, if you stamp on a tambourine on the ground, nothing happens because it has to have some resistance. It's going to banks back up basically for you to hit it. And so I need to pay since it, and I, I feel kind of, I feel slightly nervous giving it, giving the secret away, but it's a, it's a cleaning sponge and dot.
Oh, well yet audio audio copyright copyright. So you mentioned the trilogy that you are at this point still in, in the middle of, or, or to two thirds of the way through it, tell us about for the, for the people who may be new to the idea tell us about how the, how the idea for the trilogy came about, and then the first two albums can and wax and sort of the difference in approach and then maybe where you're headed you know, in the, in the conclusion.
Yeah. So the trilogy. I didn't really think about that until after the first record was done. And I was actually on tour with Ken and I wasn't going to make a record for awhile. I'd kind of gone through massive life changes. I'd gotten divorced. My dad had died, I'd moved, continents said, sold everything I owned.
And I, I really thought I was going to take a break. I felt pretty burned. I, and, and then I just was driving PCH and listening to Tom petty and Fleetwood Mac and just writing these kinds of anthemic. That'll do it, you know, air punch, pop songs. And it just felt like a poser groups dunks that I think if I, if I'd written more of invisible empire Crescent, moon kind of melancholic folk stuff, I probably wouldn't have put a record at that time.
But I really felt excited about what I was making and got this kind of rush of Of excitement about putting that into the world and worked with Tony Hoffer. He's an amazing producer, got a new manager and kind of, it was, it was a real second wind. And and it was while I was on tour with that record, I'd go into meditating as part of a, kind of just a new lights kind of tool.
And it was shearing meditating in a park in Nashville. And I just suddenly thought I should do a trilogy because this album is all about the kind of resurrection of the soul. And I really love these, the soul body mind. Subjects and differences, and it's just such, and I love the idea of doing something conceptual and also doing something, a project that was longer than one record, because, you know, we're just getting into this world where you release a record and then it's done, then you kind of over the flash and you wait six months and then it's a comeback.
And I was like, you know, it's just crazy. I wanted to do something to kind of keep the flow of work going. And and it's really been an amazing experience because I'm suddenly find myself, you know, seven years down the line and finishing it all from the. Record is done just in the last round of mixing.
So that's going to be coming this year. I'll tell our listeners, both projects are fantastic. I love to way with James bay, I'm hooked on the drum intro and another great video game music video, which is so cool. Yeah, that's really good. We have, we've had a lot of fun with these videos. That was a great one little red thread off of on wax.
I actually heard the acoustic version first. So I heard your QC version before I heard that and I was like, oh, I love that. And then I heard the riff as it's supposed to be like on the, and I was like, ah, you opener. And I'm like, that's the best opening track you've had since I have a telescope. I think it's like the gates opener.
So good stuff. I would tell him what. Probably my favorite record at the moment that I've made. It was the one that I really felt like I was able to capture the energy of my life performance on record. And I was working with Nick McCarthy from France burdens and he's now producing and it was just amazing working with them.
And it would really was like, I garish full of guitars and keyboards and drums. His studio was really DIY and it was just really good to get back to that kind of gritty DIY vibe was making a record. Well, that's great. Well, you've been awesome. We want to be respectful of your time. We've had a blast with you.
I hope you've had a good time. There's one question that we ask everybody before we let them go. So you're on tour either by yourself or with whoever and you go into a gas station. What is your gas station? Snack. Food of choice. And while you're thinking of it, I'll tell you mine. I get a three Musketeers bar.
Every time when I was growing up, my mom would say, you could have any candy bar you want, and that's the most ANSES. So I'll get a three musketeer bar. What is your gas station? Snack. Food of choice. Jar of peanut butter jaws. Just go. And just, how do you eat it? Spoon cracker.
My salary in the back. There you go. Peanut butter, peanut bar. Absolutely essential. Well, next time you're in Nashville. Look us up. We'll grab a jar of peanut butter. Sit around. Important question though. This is a divisive question. What is your, if, if, if all peanut butters are an option, which is the one that you grab as far as brand.
Oh, I mean, I'll do this even different. Would you go crunchy or creamy peanut butter? Oh no, no. We're we're we were going so good. Everything was awesome. I'm with you on crunchy creamy, peanut butter. I listen, I'm not mad at Smith. Okay, Peyton, but we'll probably, we're probably gonna go Skippy. Okay. That's it.
It's kind of an underrated, you know, when I'm at home, it's like the organic, no sugar gas station. Yeah. I really like those bags of pickles. Oh yes. That they have read it by the register pickles. Congratulations. That's different. We hear a lot of the same. You are different. So that's wonderful. Weird food.
It's true. Thank you so much. You've been wonderful. Thank you guys. All the best. We'll catch up soon. Bye-bye this is the Great Song Podcast. And that ladies and gentlemen was KT. Tunstall so awesome. Great. Best of luck, recovering your dentures after the shock that she gave you to the mouth and that that wraps up ladies mind.
Yeah. Hope you guys have enjoyed. May do. This has been one of my favorite all time. Theme months and fun. You know what I mean? Just as far as it was just all killer, no filler in lady's mind. Not that we ever bring filler phrase that you say, you know, that's good, but yeah, next week is a landmark episode for us.
It's number 200 antibodies. So we're raising our goblets and celebration. So come and join episode 200, you know, we go big on those landmarks. Yeah. We're not letting off the pedal at all. After ladies month we are ramping up actually toward the end of the season. So we have just a few episodes left in season nine, which is crazy to think about, but man, it's going to be a lot of fun.
So join us again next week for episode 200 of the Great Song podcast. Thanks for listening to the ladies month. Thanks for listening to modern menopause. Whatever the crap else we did before that, I don't know movie mind that they, it was all the stuff you have to season. It takes such a fun season to think that this season started like three months ago with YMCA, right Felipe Rose from the YMCA.
It seems like a year ago, easy, but it's been one season. This season has been so packed with awesome songs, I guess. And we just got more common. We are not letting up. So we'll check you guys next week until then I'm Rob. J.P. go listen to some music.