A girl on a mission…
Urban music with a UK hallmark is once again at the forefront of the world music arena with Katy B and her much talked about debut LP ‘On A Mission’ leading the way with her angelical voice pulling no punches in its treatment of R&B, funk, house and garage. She is mates with Geenius, Ms Dynamite and Magnetic Man, loves a good musical and a pint of the black stuff and is getting ready for part 2 of her UK Tour and the all important second album. Dan Prince speaks to the girl wonder…
Welcome Katy to the DMC world. You grew up listening to the likes of R&B superstars Destiny Child and Boyz II Men on Choice FM and now are one of the UKs leading dance vocalists. DMC are the people behind the World DJ Championships, have you ever come across the whole turntablist/DJ mixing scene?
“I used to be in a live hip hop band called The Illersapiens and we ran a night at The Ritzy in Brixton called ‘The Illersapiens Soul Jam’. It was our residency but we’d have special guests performing/DJing and then after open up the stage for instrumentalists, MCs, singers and turntablists. I loved it and hopefully when I have time, I’ll get it up and running again.”
You hail from south London from a household that was filled with music when you were growing up, your dad was a big soul fan and a singer himself, what’s the story there?
“Yeah he likes lots of different music. Lots of blues and soul and stuff with a lots of harmonies in – singing music! People like Tom Waits, BB King, Stevie Wonder and The Beach Boys.”
Your parents obviously saw and heard the talent inside you and gladly helped you gain a place at the incredible BRITT School in London. Were there any other musicians there at the same time as you who have gone on to also, smash the charts?
“Yeah some have gone on to be recording artists, some producers, some working behind the scenes, some are my band members. It was a really creative place and I had a great experience there.”
Down at DMC we love your attitude when asked by journalists what you think your musical genre is: “I don’t care” being a common and honest answer of yours. So does that mean that you will be exploring different musical avenues on future albums, other than the dance, dubstep, downtempo and R&B grooves you’ve brought us so far?
“Who knows, I guess my music will change with my musical taste. At the moment I’m still young, I love going out I have a lot of energy which is reflected in my music, but when I get to 50 I dont know if i’ll still be going to house raves.”
What would you say are your strengths and weaknesses are in life?
“I’m extremely unorganised, my parents and my managers always get really pissed off with me because of how scatty I am. I don’t know what my positives are…I try and be friendly to people.”
You went on to Goldsmiths after BRITT and during your education there hooked up to the legend Geenus and his Rinse collective. Was working with them a huge distraction to your studies, looking back, do you wish you had studied harder or does all that not really matter now?
“I think I just wasn’t in the right frame of mind to go to uni. It was a great course with great tutors and I did the best I could, I completed it but I wish I went later on in life so I could have concentrated on the degree more.”
You have teamed up with Mark Ronson and Coca Cola to make the Olympics song Move To The Beat. What Olympic event would you like to have a pop at, we hear you a pretty nifty kickboxer?
“Haha! I’m definitely not nifty, I started this year but due to touring I haven’t been able to do it in a while. Meeting the other athletes as part of creating that song was an amazing experience, watching how far the human body can go, I met some amazing characters!”
You were planning on installing a studio into your villa in Ibiza this summer to get some work done on the next album – did that happen or was there an inch of dust on the equipment come home time?
“No we were definitely working every day, the only thing is wriiting my own songs is such a personal thing and I felt quite exposed to all the other people in my villa whilst I was there so I don’t think I wrote the best songs I could, I like to be on my own when I write. Our villa was in the middle of nowhere, I went to a Fwd and Rinse night but that was about it, the rest of the time I was shooting a video and eating tapas…”
How were the gigs out there? Ibiza is rocking again.
“I have been to Ibiza three times this year, Ibiza Rocks Hotel always has some great gigs, Fwd and Rinse did a night at Amnesia as well which was sick, everyone was out there.”
It’s not very good for my image but I really like…
“West Side Story – The Musical” “
You have appeared on stage with Magnetic Man many times, very funny guys. What’s your latest Magnetic Man story?
“The other day my friend’s older sister who I haven’t seen in a while came up to me and said ‘oh my god I can’t believe what Magnetic Man did to your car?’, I was like ‘errm I don’t drive’. She was so angry because they had told her boyfriend that they had filled up my first car with cement after I’d just passed my driving test, but it was ok because they bought me a new one’. I couldn’t stop laughing.”
Who is the greatest vocalist there has ever been?
“I really love Lauryn Hill.”
What is about Geeneus that makes his production work so damn good?
“He’s a very creative person, he’s got so much energy and is so passionate about new music and experimenting with new sounds, he likes to make people dance as well with his beats which is what I like too, I also feel like there’s a certain darkness and danger across his production which intrigues me.”
Geeneus was once quoted as saying ‘as soon as I heard her I knew there was something about her voice’ – that must have felt pretty good?
“Hahaha, thanks for that quote – he’d never say that to my face.”
Which of your songs are you most proudest of?
“I love ‘As I’ which was a tune for Gee’s album ‘Volumes One’ which I featured on, I like the feeling it gives me.”
Who is your best friend in the world?
Your album ‘On A Mission’ is all about your life at the time, raving, love etc. Have you ever had your heart broken?
What is the best album ever made?
“‘Miseducation‘ by Lauryn Hill.”
UK R&B used to be crap. It’s now the new Pop music. What do you think changed that?
“I’m not sure if what we’re hearing coming out of the UK is R&B, but I think music is always good if you find it interesting and fresh and people trying to mimic an American sound are never going to get it as true as they are.”
Is this it for then, is music your path for the rest of your life…?
“I don’t think you can ever predict the future, nothing is guaranteed in life you just have to work hard and know what makes you happy.”
What is your guilty pleasure tune?
“Hot Chocolate – ‘I Believe In Miracles’.”
You are about to embark on a new UK tour with one of your heroes joining you on the bus, what do you love about Ms Dynamite?
“I love her lyrics. I remember getting her album and reading the lyrics from the in sleeve on the way home on the top deck of the bus, crying because they touched me. Maybe I had PMS.”
What are the best and worst thing about touring?
“The best thing is meeting the people who have supported you the worst thing is feeling run down.”
How has your stage show changed since the last UK Tour?
“It’s very different. I’ve done two tours and 27 festivals this year so far so I didn’t want people to come and see the show and it to be what they’ve seen already. I also don’t want to get bored myself! We’ve got some great staging, I’ve got backing vocals now and a big screen playing lots of cool visuals. I wasn’t it to be like a rave and for people to dance and get involved themselves.”
Who do you get mistaken for?
Not a lot of people know this but I am very good at…
“Pulling a pint of Guinness.”
Who are your favourite DJs out on the dancefloor?
“Magnetic Man always completely tear up their shows especially with Pokes hosting. I love DJ EZ coz it takes me back to being 12 and he’s just a sick DJ. I recently saw 9th Wonder in a bar in Austin too and he was playing a classic Hip Hop set to about 10 people, me and my band were shocking out in the middle of the dance floor.”
When was the last time you broke the law?
“Can’t tell you that can I?”
And finally, how is 2012 shaping up for you already, when will the album surface?
“I’m hoping it’ll be ready for around July maybe…I want to get back in the studio as quick as I can.”