Two years ago, KT Tunstall thought she was done with music. Not that she’d never again play guitar or sing, but done playing professionally — at least for the foreseeable future.
“As an artist I feel like I died,” she says. “I didn’t want to do it anymore.”
It had been 10 years since she’d released her multi-platinum 2004 debut, Eye To The Telescope and 20-some years since she started playing gigs as a teenager back home in St. Andrews, Scotland. For a decade she lived in obscurity and the next decade in the limelight, releasing three more critically acclaimed albums: Drastic Fantastic (2007,) Tiger Suit (2010) and Invisible Empire//Crescent Moon (2013). Tunstall was nominated for a Grammy, won a BRIT and the Ivor Novello, and her songs were used everywhere from movies to Hillary Clinton’s 2008 campaign theme. It had been a good run, but it was time to take some time out. “I was utterly burnt out,” she says.
Tunstall packed up and left the U.K. for Venice Beach, California. She attended the Sundance film festival’s elite composers lab, then holed up in her home studio and dedicated herself to master the craft of film scoring.
“I wanted a quiet life,” she says. And for a while, she had it — until the urge to rock began to return. Once it took hold, it wouldn’t let go. Almost against her will, she found herself picking up the guitar and writing. “Isn’t it funny how your brain argues with your spirit?” Tunstall muses. “My physical body was telling me that what I should be doing is sweating on stage. It turns out, if I can’t do that then I’m just a racehorse in a stable.”
Tunstall is now back with a collection of songs that chronicle her resurrection. Following the June release of her EP, Golden State, the new album KIN Tunstall sees as the long-awaited follow-up to her debut.
“The truth is, I’ve finally made peace with being a pop songwriter,” she says. “This record was very much embracing my dharma as an artist, which is to write happy songs that are also good.”
Tunstall stopped by the Napster headquarters in Seattle to perform — watch the videos below for an intimate view of this compelling artist.
KT says this song is “just a little seed.” It’s the first song she wrote for KIN, and it can also be found on Golden State. When talking about how this song came about she said, “I’ve always been a fan of dressing up a slightly evil song in a jaunty way.”
After enjoying her time at festival in, KT went home and wrote The Healer. She felt really good about her experience with nature that she had by herself and felt compelled to write about it.
Black Horse on a Cherry Tree
KT performed her older, most recognizable tune and spiced it up at the end with a little rendition of The White Stripes “Seven Nation Army.” She used her guitar as a drum and even a kazoo to leave us in awe and full anticipation of what to expect for her album, KIN.