By Chris Hammond
‘Brit School’ graduate Kathleen Brien (known to most of us as Katy B) could hardly have wished for a more successful start to her music career after she left in 2010. The London born, R&B influenced singer songwriter released her first single ‘Katy on a Mission’ in August last year. Despite the single being released on a small scale indie label it burst into the UK charts at number five. 12 months on and Katy B has already clocked up a further three top ten singles as well as a number two album. It’s been an impressive rise to fame for the softly spoken 22 year old, and one which is already being recognised by the most prestigious British music award; The Mercuries.
So did she ever expect to have her first major nomination so soon after her first release? “No, I feel really humbled but also really excited. I don’t really think about awards or things like that in case I drift off and start thinking I’m going to win. I honestly don’t really think about it. Being nominated though was a big surprise. A nice surprise. I don’t think I’ll win it. But my mum has put a bet on with William Hill that I do. She got odds of 14:1 I think.”
Released as a digital download by Rinse, Katy admits she hadn’t expected her first single to go into the top 100 let alone the top five. Poppy and club friendly, her debut offering proved to be a good showcase of just what Katy B’s music would be all about. With her first album out and a new fanbase that’ll fill the UK’s larger venues, will Katy B be looking to try something different with her next release? “ I really wanted to make music which would mash it up in clubs. Now, would I write a song thinking about a festival? I probably would try that. My music is my own sound though and I like it.”
One of the most refreshing aspects of Katy B’s music is her ability to take elements from several musical genres and merge them together. “I grew up with a lot of influences, I heard so much different stuff when I was growing up,” she says. “My dad was always really into blues, BB King and bands like the Beach Boys. With my mum it was music like ABBA, she also listed to country and that introduced me to people like Dolly Parton. I’ve been exposed to lots of different kinds of music and I wouldn’t shun anything. I mean right now I like to rave it up, but when I’m 50 I’ll probably be a different person. Who knows, I might be into things like dinner parties then. You never say never.”
A big user of Twitter, Katy has chalked up a not unimpressive 80,000 plus followers. And unlike many musicians she handles her own account and isn’t afraid to say hello to her friendlier fans, as she explains: “After my single came out I got a lot more followers and some really lovely compliments. I spent a whole afternoon getting back to people and I think I must have tweeted about 500 people to say thanks. Then my manager said that it was ok to just tweet out a big thank you to them as I needed to get my head round not having the time.”
With so many radio sessions, festival appearances and performances behind her it’s not surprising that Katy has also attracted a little unwanted attention. Some of which has found its way onto her Twitter.“Not all of the comments are nice. You get the odd people calling you weird things like fat whore. Then there are these people who seem like they’re having some sort of conversation with themselves and kind of include you in it. It’s really frustrating because you just want to send them a tweet back, but then you think that’s not fair on all the people who say nice things about me who I don’t have the time to reply to individually.”
The Twitter phenomenon has thrown up a whole new dimension of fan/musician interactions. From the abuse to the applause, the micro blogging site gives emerging artists the opportunity to really get to grips with how they’re being perceived outside the safety of the studio. The question is, does Katy ever check out what the Twittervesrse think of her straight after a show? “Yeah, actually I was on the cookery programme ‘Something for the Weekend’ and afterwards I checked Twitter. People were saying I kept picking out bits of food from my teeth and that I looked bored, but I was just daydreaming!”
Katy B’s debut album ‘On a Mission’ is out now. See www.katyonamission.com for details.