Live On The Bridge

S4 E11 | FULL EPISODE

KT Tunstall

Scottish artist, KT Tunstall, performs songs off her newest album WAX, the second part of the KIN album trilogy which she talks about with Jon Hart here at KCPT.

AIRED: April 06, 2019 | 0:26:46
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TRANSCRIPT

("Little Red Thread" by KT Tunstall)

♪ I know you know

♪ You know I know

♪ The feeling isn't easy being taken away from each other ♪

♪ But I will let

♪ You be connected to me

♪ By a red thread tying us to one another ♪

♪ To one another

♪ To one another

♪ You are a friend

♪ But even enemies

♪ Have a connection to the tapestry that's hanging in us ♪

♪ I wanna know

♪ I need to know

♪ The true amount of pressure that a heart string ♪

♪ Can take upon it

♪ Take upon it

♪ When we find out that it's all ♪

♪ Find out that it's all

♪ Just made of a little red thread ♪

♪ Find out that we're all

♪ Find out that we're all

♪ Just made of a little red thread ♪

♪ Is there a way

♪ To be away from you

♪ Without an aching in my soul making everything harder ♪

♪ Oh, I am grateful

♪ For the way you give

♪ But my fragility is killing me ♪

♪ I wish it away

♪ I wish it away

♪ I wish it away

♪ Oh, oh

♪ When we find out that it's all ♪

♪ Find out that it's all

♪ Just made of a little red thread ♪

♪ Find out that we're all

♪ Find out that we're all

♪ Just made of a little red thread ♪

♪ Oh, when we find out

♪ Whoa, it's just a little red thread ♪

♪ Oh, a friend in need is a friend indeed ♪

♪ Gotta give what you got, so start it ♪

♪ Time is an illusion, this confusion leads to enemies ♪

♪ Take a hand, make a plan

♪ And imagine every single soul standing for something ♪

♪ There's a thread that has led us ♪

♪ To each other over centuries

♪ We're gonna break it, gonna break it ♪

♪ Yeah you know we're gonna break it, gonna break it ♪

♪ We don't wanna ever break it, wanna break it ♪

♪ Oh, let's say we'll never break it, never break it ♪

♪ When we find out that it's all ♪

♪ Find out that it's all

♪ Just made of a little red thread ♪

♪ Find out that we're all

♪ Find out that we're all

♪ Just made of a little red thread ♪

♪ Oh, when you find out

♪ Oh, it's just a little red thread ♪

♪ Oh, when we find out

♪ Oh, it's just a little red thread ♪

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- This is just an absolute joy.

KT Tunstall joining us today here at The Bridge

and I have to say, it's extra special when somebody

has bad routing and they come in anyway.

(laughing)

I know it's not the easiest thing in the world

to take time out when you're on tour.

- It's total pleasure, it's so nice to see you.

- Congratulations on your new album, Wax.

It's absolutely brilliant.

- Thank you so much.

It's really exciting.

To feel the mojo is healthier than ever on a sixth record.

I was not expecting it, to be honest.

- Yeah, so, for this album you've gone out

in different ways.

You play solo, you play with an all girl band,

tonight it's sort of a girls version of the White Stripes.

- Exactly.

Yeah, me and my amazing drummer, Cat Myers,

who often plays with a Scottish rock band

called Mogwai actually.

But she's just, I think we find each other, and we're just

so grateful because we're both really tight on timing

and so I think we kind of gravitated towards each other

and went, I wanna play with her. (laughs)

- Yeah.

You know, just the word timing made me think

about all the looping that you do on stage.

Are you experimenting with looping where both people

that are playing get into the same loop?

- So, we did try that.

I have a really great relationship with Roland

and obviously they're just pioneers with making this stuff

and even their stuff couldn't quite do

what we needed it to do.

- Yeah. - So, think actually,

- the answer is probably designing something,

which is a really exciting thing to do.

And I'm actually considering,

that I got well known for using a piece of tech,

I'm not that nerdy about gear.

(laughing)

I'm actually just much more interested in,

if there's something I wanna do,

I wanna find something that does it

and then get on with playing the song.

- I kind of love this story, it's like,

we always talk about musical households,

the only music in your house

was your dad had a cassette of Tom Lehrer.

- Yeah and it's unfair on my older brother actually

'cause when I got to, sort of, seven or eight,

he had a cassette player in his room.

He had one of the really cool flat ones--

- Yeah. - Where you press

- the eject button and it pops up--

- Yeah, yeah. - And it's like,

- something of Back to the Future.

I had the, kind of, the household older big one,

that looks like a breeze block.

And he used to play all his favorite music,

which was Bon Jovi, Def Leopard, who else, Van Halen,

and he would basically play that stuff in his room

and I would record on my tape player through his door

and I would have to, kind of,

stop the tape when he came to the door

to shout at me to get away from his bedroom door.

I'd be like, no, you're ruining my tape.

(laughing)

And I'd be, you know, eight years old, skipping to school

singing Pour Some Sugar on Me,

which is totally inappropriate but--

- Yeah. - Those, you know,

- I think growing up in the 80's was really significant

because you listen to that stuff now

and they're superb songs, they're just timeless pop songs,

that well, you know, it's Madonna,

and Prince, and The Cure

and it's just amazing, amazing song craft.

- So, around 16, you end up with a guitar.

No lessons there, self-taught.

- Yeah.

- And that pretty much sparked your songwriting as well.

- Yeah, I'd been really obsessively into Roald Dahl

and Dr. Seuss and I loved The Muppet Show and Sesame Street.

They were like the four early teachers of songwriting for me

and I think that they were amazing places to start

because, first of all, it's immaculate rhyming.

All of those songwriters and Roald Dahl and Dr. Seuss,

they never ever strayed outside of perfect rhythm

and it really annoys me now.

(laughing)

It used to really get my goat when I'd read stuff and go,

but that's not the right number of syllables.

And also, my Dad had a Tom Lehrer tape

and he managed to do the Table of Elements

with the right number of syllables

where it turns around at the right time.

- Yeah, you know, that's the perfect cassette for your dad

because he's a Physicist.

- Exactly, my nerdy Physicist dad listening

to a satirist mathematician from Harvard,

singing Gilbert and Sullivan style songs

about the Table of Elements.

He was in heaven.

(laughing)

But yeah, I mean, not surprisingly, Tom Lehrer,

actually ended up writing for Sesame Street.

- I didn't know that. - Which, yeah!

- He did end up on the writing team.

- Wow.

- Even now, I listen to that stuff

and it's just such clever songwriting, it's brilliant.

- So, you were talking

about wanting this to be a rock record.

I found a quote that you said

that you really need to be sweaty.

(laughing)

- It's totally true.

So, it was after my fourth record,

Invisible Empire // Crescent Moon,

which I'm hugely proud of but it was funeral music really.

It was born out of my father passing away, getting divorced,

I mean, it was a real life-change.

And very, it was quite a medicinal process making that

out of a lot of pain.

And I'd gone on the road to tour that record

and it was all theaters and I was wearing suits

and it was all very nice. (laughing)

It was a really beautiful experience

'cause it was very emotional music

but I kind of got to the end of that tour

and thought, I didn't want to make records anymore.

And promptly moved to Venice Beach, California

and started working on movies instead.

I actually, what I realized, once I got back to it

and did a couple of one off solo shows,

which was more of a back catalog rather

than that down-tempo, quite melancholic record,

was it needs to be a kinetic experience for me.

It needs to be physical.

There's been times where I've had to fight

with booking agents and promoters 'cause they say,

oh everybody wants to sit down.

I'm like, well I don't want to do that.

So, we either do a smaller show where some people stand

and some people sit, or maybe I won't bother.

'Cause I don't-- I love doing curated tours

that are, so doing seated theaters is wonderful

but it's not what I want to do all the time.

I need that energy for sure.

- You mentioned the film work.

You got accepted into-- I mean, it's really tough

to get into this right? - It is, yeah.

- Sundance Institute's Film Composers Lab

at Skywalker Ranch.

Are you a Star Wars fan 'cause--

- I am the craziest, what, are you kidding me?

I'm making a trilogy.

(laughing)

I'm a crazy Star Wars fan.

It was amazing.

So, Skywalker Ranch is George Lucas' place

up in Northern California.

It's where a lot of huge movies are scored and mixed.

It's where audio engineers go to die if they've been good.

It was funny, there's a ranch up there that he still owns

and I think is there some of the time and if you're lucky

you get a tour of the second floor,

which you're not allowed to go to unless you're escorted.

And there's all these artifacts.

You know, there's Charlie Chaplin's cane and hat--

- Wow.

- There's Indiana Jones' hat and whip,

and there's a bunch of Star Wars stuff.

So, I'm just like, they're all, kind of, gettin' a tour

and I'm just staring in the cabinet looking

at the lightsaber, you know?

(laughing) But I'm looking at it.

And I look really closely and there's a sticker on it

that says Made in China.

(laughing)

And I was like, what?

This can't be right.

And I said to the woman, I was like, what's this about?

And she was like, oh, I think the other one broke.

I was like, you need to take the sticker off, man!

(laughing)

That impaired my experience.

(laughing) - That is hilarious.

Well, you have gone on to contribute music to Winters Tale,

Million Dollar Arm, About Ray, Tinker Bell: Legend

of the NeverBeast, Bad Moms, and more so that was working

pretty well for you but we're here--

- Yeah, think it's-- - to talk about Wax.

- Your new album and we'd love

to hear another song, if we could.

("Backlash & Vinegar" by KT Tunstall)

♪ I carved a hole in the sun

♪ Black edges

♪ Easy to get lost in there

♪ Easy to get lost out there

♪ I found myself under weight

♪ Trying to fill the gaps

♪ To stop the draft

♪ Where the hope escapes

♪ I gotta hold myself better

♪ Fold out just like a map of a mountain ♪

♪ Be the upsetter

♪ And watch these bridges burn

♪ So take it back

♪ That I'm lacking anything

♪ Saying it might make it easier ♪

♪ But it's Backlash & Vinegar

♪ I'm just a being, being

♪ Wondering if that's even feasible ♪

♪ And if it's unreasonable to feel ♪

♪ I starved my soul of the one thing ♪

♪ And now I see I should've had ♪

♪ I just repeated

♪ 'Til I went mad

♪ And this body knows

♪ What this body never shows

♪ Just leave it

♪ To guessing

♪ I should write you a letter

♪ Hold out up until the final chapter ♪

♪ Be the successor

♪ And watch this Spectre burn

♪ So take it back

♪ That I'm lacking anything

♪ Saying it might make it easier ♪

♪ But it's Backlash & Vinegar

♪ I'm just a being, being

♪ Wondering if that's even feasible ♪

♪ And if it's unreasonable to feel ♪

♪ Oh, oh, whoa

♪ Yeah, oh, yeah

♪ Oh, oh, yeah, oh

♪ Oh, oh, oh

♪ So take it back

♪ That I'm lacking anything

♪ Saying it might make it easier ♪

♪ But it's Backlash & Vinegar

♪ I'm just a being, being

♪ Wondering if that's even feasible ♪

♪ And if it's unreasonable to feel ♪

♪ Oh, wondering if that's even feasible ♪

♪ And if it's unreasonable to feel ♪

Backlash & Vinegar, another track from the new album, Wax.

KT Tunstall in the studio with us today.

So, when you were doing all that film music,

there was a part of you that didn't know if you were

gonna come back and do the regular grind.

Moved to LA but driving around the canyons listening

to Neil Young, and Fleetwood Mac, and Joni Mitchell,

and Tom Petty changed things.

- It did.

I'd gone through that.

I think what happened was I needed to completely disengage

from the necessity to make music and I needed to come back

to it as something I was choosing to do.

And I think because I'd been trying to get somewhere

as a musician since I was 18 and all through my 20's

I had no money, trying to make it, I actually didn't get

my record deal til I was 28.

It was partly why I was so inspired

by Patti Smith's cover of Horses,

which is what the song Suddenly I See is about.

It was that photograph by Robert Mapplethorpe.

It was 'cause I'm looking at this woman,

who just isn't trying. (laughing)

And I was like, oh man, I'm just trying

and trying and trying and I think that I got to whenever

it was, 2012, and I'd had that success,

and I've done my fourth record,

been through losing a parent, getting divorced,

moving continents, which was part of the process of change.

I realized I hadn't really expanded very much as a person.

I'd certainly got better as a songwriter and a performer

but I think that the private side of myself

had been somewhat neglected

and I just been completely absorbed in being

a known musician and if you'd said, who are you?

I'd say, I'm KT Tunstall, I'm a musician.

And I knew that that wasn't really a very cool answer.

The cool answer is, hi, I'm Kate, and that's what I do

for a living, and that's what I do for passion as well.

But there needs to be something entirely separate

from that, that knows who she is and can sit alone

with no tour, with no record, with no camera,

with no nothing to promote, and no one listening,

and be happy and I wasn't.

So, I really felt that I was gonna just, and I actually felt

that the process of putting records out

wasn't helping because it's so narcissistic

a lot of the time. (laughing)

It's just, it's an incredibly selfish life being

a solo artist life, probably being in a band as well,

(laughs) which is why it's so hard being in a band.

I don't envy that one.

- So, you did Kin, which is the spirit record

in the trilogy. - Yes.

The new one that we're talking about now is Wax--

- Yup. - Which is the body record.

- Yeah.

- And you spoke about the inspiration of Patti Smith,

you were also inspired by Kurt Vonnegut.

- I was, there's this amazing--

- Which makes you, like, I love you, now right?

- Yeah, there's this amazing quote, which I think I laughed

for 10 minutes because I was thinking about this connection

between the spirit and the body

and there's a quote from his book, Bluebeard,

that says, my--

- Would you like me to read it?

- Well, no, I think I can remember.

It's, my soul knows my meat is doing bad things

and is embarrassed but my meat carries

on doing dumb, stupid things.

(laughing)

And it was just the total absurdity of being

this transcendent, conscious soul,

which I'd really been focused on through that healing

of expanding my mind and spirit.

And then, you need to go to the bathroom.

(laughing)

It's just ridiculous.

And then you stub your toe, you know?

But as you're walking to your yoga class. (laughs)

- Yeah, yeah.

- It's just so stupid and we have to drive

this crazy meat car (laughing)

through life and we only get one and it's like we always,

sort of, talk about flaws as human beings.

And actually, I'm starting to think that it's really unkind

on ourselves to say they're flaws

'cause we're human beings.

So, there's these inbuilt stupid things that we do,

which we can't really avoid.

That's maybe part of the journey is that we're learning

to see that stuff and examine that stuff.

- So, the first song that we we're introduced to Wax through

is The River-- - Mm-hm.

- And you talked earlier about how some songs were

in process for a long time.

The River is about 10 years?

- Mm, yeah, that had been actually written during

the writing sessions for Drastic Fantastic,

my second record and it didn't fit, this song.

And I also hadn't nailed the chorus lyrics

they weren't completely personal, so, the original version

it had me saying, I know where you've been,

which just sounds kinda icky, you know?

(laughing)

- You know, the thing that's,

I think it was probably Joseph Campbell

who first brought this up but water is cleansing

and it signifies rebirth in almost every culture

and it seems like that really fits this song--

- Yeah. - It's almost like a baptism.

- Yeah, absolutely.

I follow lots of funny things on Instagram

but there was one that came up, it was a, I think,

a Native American chief had quoted saying,

water can teach you a lot, you should get to know it.

(laughing)

You should listen to it and have a conversation with it.

- Yeah. - Yeah.

- But really the sentiment behind this song is just

that feeling you get of how present it makes you

if you jump into water and the impact of it

and it's like a pattern interrupt.

- Well, we'd love to hear another song, if we could.

- Yeah.

- KT Tunstall, live in The Bridge Studios.

("The River" by KT Tunstall)

♪ I'm holding on

♪ To something I don't want

♪ To hold on to

♪ I'm reaching out

♪ For something I can't touch

♪ Although I know I want to

♪ Taking in the scenery

♪ You're the ghost in my machinery ♪

♪ When I was good as gold

♪ I was good as gold

♪ Closing off the avenues

♪ To places that I never knew

♪ And now I'll never know

♪ Now I'll never go

♪ I listen

♪ And I hear you speak

♪ Am I missing something

♪ I want to jump into the river ♪

♪ Feel it on my skin

♪ Oh but the river is rocks

♪ And I'm already lost

♪ And I know where I've been

♪ Oh, I know where I've been

♪ I feel I'm caught

♪ In a beautiful

♪ Dream

♪ I am cold

♪ And my heart has told me it's a dark seam ♪

♪ Running through the middle of ♪

♪ A life that's full of real love ♪

♪ And everything is mine

♪ Everything is mine

♪ I listen

♪ And I hear you speak

♪ Am I missing something

♪ I want to jump into the river ♪

♪ Feel it on my skin

♪ Oh but the river is rocks

♪ And I'm already lost

♪ And I know where I've been

♪ Oh, oo, oo, oh

♪ Yeah, yeah, whoa

♪ Whoa, ooh, ooh, whoa

♪ Oh, I listen

♪ And I hear you speak

♪ Am I missing something

♪ I want to jump into the river ♪

♪ And feel it on my skin

♪ Oh but the river is rocks

♪ And I'm already lost

♪ And I know where I've been

♪ Oh, I know where I've been

♪ Yes, I know where I've been

Wow. (laughing)

That was great.

- Thank you so much.

- The River and of course,

that's the lead track from the new album, Wax.

Thanks so much for coming in.

- Mutual feelings.

Thank you so much for having me.

So, I still get so excited about being on the radio.

(laughing)

So, thank you so much.

- KT Tunstall, live on The Bridge.

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- Good guys.

(audience applauding and cheering)

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