Music makes its way onto this blog via various channels but sometimes – just sometimes – everything comes together at once. I had the Edinburgh songstress on my increasingly lengthy to-follow up list, but a text from my ever-enthusiastic gig buddy Mad Rachel bumped her up the queue. “Fucking fantastic” was her ever-eloquent synopsis of Healy’s support slot with Trace Bundy early last month.
She (Healy that is, not Rachel – although I’m pretty sure I’d pay to see that) has had a fair few high-profile support slots actually, including opening for Tom Williams and the Boat, Kate Walsh, James Apollo, Walter Shreiflels of Rival Schools fame and Angus and Julia Stone. She also represented Scotland at Berlin’s Popp Komm Festival and the Sydney Songwriters Live concert in Australia. She’s got a handful of local shows coming up in the next few weeks that are well worth checking out, and her debut album should be ready soon. Here’s what she had to say for herself.
How did you get started writing and playing music and performing?
I didn’t start writing until I was 24… I had been singing for many years but had no way of finding my own style or outlet for lyrics that I would make up in my head. I bought a guitar when I was 22 years old, finished my degree, then saved enough money to head to music college at 24. By then I knew about four chords pretty well… and was able to start writing little folk songs.
It grew from there but I was a terrified performer! I didn’t open mic until the end of my first year at college… I had to work really hard at breaking my nerve. Thankfully I started getting booked for gigs quickly and found I had no choice other than to find a way of enjoying the performance side. Now I love it.
Three words to describe your sound…
Melodic. Atmospheric. Lyrical.
What influences you?
Other music/artists… and reading. I’m very good at doodling too! I can hear something or listen to someone talking, be on a bus, or walking around the shops … and then head straight back to my house to begin writing or thinking up a little chord progression/melody. I don’t work well if I’m forcing myself to write, like, “today I’m going to write about politics” – although I do think that working that way can be a great discipline and a good exercise for writers.
What releases/shows do you have planned at the moment?
Well we are currently just finishing off my first album. We released a warm up single “Broken Bones” (b-side “Another Way to Fall”) which is available now on iTunes and my website. The album will be finished in September and we are going on a small Scottish tour at the end of August (23rd-28th) to preview it.
We have some great shows this summer: supporting The Staves on the 8th August at The Captain’s Rest in Glasgow, supporting Sharon Corr at The Liquid Rooms on 20th August as part of The Edge Festival in Edinburgh and then we’re headed back to London to play The Water Rats Theatre, which will be a great night, on the 9th September.
The album release will be in November and a futher tour is planned for Scotland/England around that time. Dates will all be confirmed on the various sites this month.
How do you feel about the current Scottish music scene?
I think it’s great. Very vibrant with all kinds of eclectic sounds/bands/artists coming through. It’s really important to support the local scene and help generate a lively industry/circuit in order to keep things interesting and fresh.
In saying that, I also think it’s vital to recognise the potential to represent the scene outwith the Scottish venues. I’m a huge believer in taking music further afield and finding an audience outside of your home scene. If you focus on your local scene too much then you can potentially get trapped in the whole ‘glass ceiling’ effect. I try to remember that there will always be people willing to hear new music, and be ready to enjoy it, but they might not live in Scotland! That’s why its important to find other ways of connecting with different audiences. It’s definitely something we’re thinking about, strategically, before releasing this album.
I just opened a show for Trace Bundy who started out by playing shows in Collarado, Denver, then all over the USA… then he came to Europe… then Asia… and I’m sure he would agree that supporting, and enjoying, his local scene was, and remains essential, but now he reaches out to a world wide audience in an incredibly grass roots fashion. It’s very inspiring and encouraging to see how that can work. It was a real joy to play for his fans, we loved it.
And what are you listening to at the moment?
Bon Iver, Josh Ritter, Rachel Yamagata, The Weepies, Jonsi… (and Jewel Kilcher, Joni and Emmylou Harris are a constant presence in my life/ipod….).
Kat Healy opens for The Staves and Andrea Marini TONIGHT at the Captain’s Rest.