Star interview: KT Tunstall - the '˜natural habitat' of festivals

Popular singer/songwriter KT Tunstall will be at the Victorious Festival over the county border at Southsea seafront next month. Here she talks to Charlotte Harding about her career and her love of festivals.

KT Tunstall
KT Tunstall

The way in which we consume music has changed, whereas once people would head to Woolworths or HMV to buy the latest single or album from their favourite singer or band, now it has been replaced with digital downloads.

It is something that singer KT Tunstall has noticed over her career, since her debut album ‘Eye to the Telescope’ was released in 2004.

Sign up to our daily SussexWorld Today newsletter

“People aren’t really buying albums anymore but I don’t see myself ever not making them,” she explains.

KT Tunstall

“Before you would have about 16 songs and then put 11 on the album and forget the rest.

“But the way people digest their music is different, now you have nothing to spare.

“As most people stream music now you need to have something extra for the Japan market, something exclusive for Europe or America.

“People won’t necessarily listen to a whole album from start to finish but will download different songs they like.”

Picture - ©Thomas Oxley Photography

KT adds that she finds when she talks to fans many of their favourite songs are actually album tracks rather than singles.

“As they don’t get commercial play it is songs that people have listened to a few times and fallen for which is really lovely,” smiles KT, whose real name is Kate.

“I have such a fantastic fan base I am really lucky.”

KT’s fifth studio album KIN was released in September last year following up the folk-toned Invisible Empire//Crescent Moon.

“It was more folky and about a difficult time in my life,” she reveals.

“I was looking a lot at Joni Mitchell so it was very different to my other records where you would get a ballad next to an up tempo song.

“With KIN I wanted to do something different and more dynamic, so it is a lot more up tempo.

“I usually know the theme and feel of an album before I start recording, this one I feel is a record about the soul and is more triumphant.”

It seems that KT finds the process of recording both harder and easier the more she does it.

“I am definitely more used to the studio environment now,” the Scottish singer-songwriter and musician explains.

“I feel more comfortable in the studio whereas before I hated it, I was very much about playing live and busking. I am used to how it works and know how to get the best out of it.

“The harder part comes from the fact I want to better what I do and push myself as an artist. It is more psychological as you always want to strive to do the best and improve.”

Born in Edinburgh she broke into the public eye with a live solo performance of her song ‘Black Horse and the Cherry Tree’ on Later...with Jools Holland but it was probably her third single ‘Suddenly I See’, which was used in films such as The Devil Wears Prada and Love, Rosie and US TV shows Ugly Betty and Grey’s Anatomy, that propelled her more into the limelight.

While she admits to enjoying recording her first passion is playing live and she describes festivals as her ‘natural habitat’.

“I love the vibe and it really suits me I also love the wildness of it,” she smiles.

“I love being outdoors and experiencing that with everyone.

“With my own gigs there are quiet moments where the band may leave the stage and I just do some acoustic songs. It is about taking people on a journey as I am up there for two hours but a festival the set list is really cut back, and it is about high energy and keeping that up for the time you are on the stage.

“Solo shows it is about the moments but for festivals it is about energy. I love the experience of a festival.”

KT has a number of festivals over the summer including Wickham, Carfest South, Belladrum Tartan Heart and Victorious in Southsea.

“I will do a cover, old and new songs and a lot of up tempo ones to give the crowd a great experience,” she says.

“I prefer local smaller festivals as you get the feeling that everyone is there enjoying it together the bigger festivals there are so many stages that everyone feels broken up but the smaller ones everyone comes for the headliner and to enjoy the music.”

One thing is for sure if you catch KT at any of her festival appearances you are in for a treat.

Victorious Festival takes place from August 25-27 at Southsea seafront.

The Friday night line up includes The Charlatans, Craig Charles Funk and Soul Show and Madness. On Saturday there is Rita Ora, Stereophonics, Lady Leshurr, Maximo Park and Feeder.

KT plays Sunday alongside Olly Murs, Elbow, The Jesus and Mary Chain, The Dandy Warhols, Raye and Franz Ferdinand.

Tickets start at £35 for the Friday and £42 for Saturday or Sunday. There is also offsite camping available and coach packages.

For information on KT, visit