Few acts yet to release an album have created as much of a buzz amongst the music community as Pearl and the Puppets. Regularly cited as ‘ones to watch’ from a massive cross section of mainstream and music press as well as industry insiders, it seems like the Glasgow based group, fronted by singersongwriter Katie Sutherland are already set for success.
Spotted swiftly after posting a few demos on Myspace, it was American label Universal Republic (home of Jack Johnson and Florence and the Machines) which ultimately won the race to sign the Scot. A couple of years on and Katie (known as Pearl) has almost finished her much anticipated first album. “It should be out in summer time, I’m still recording the last of it down here in London and we’ve heard a few mixes of singles. I’m about half way through, we’ve got a couple of meetings to have and we’ll need to make some decisions about the rest of the album, but it’s going well. There’s going to be quite a lot of new material, which is quite nerve wracking actually because a lot of the songs haven’t been played at gigs yet,” she says.
Pearl and the Puppets signing to an American label might seem a little out of the ordinary when you consider where the band come from, but the experience has given Katie a grounding which may yet prove invaluable. “I was talking to a friend of mine on Island and she says she’s never spoken to anyone over in America because she wasn’t signed there, but then there’s Jessie J who did the same thing as me signing to Universal Republic but working with Island in the UK too. Doing this, you get to know both labels very well. I work closely with Island, who are great guys, as well as spending time over in the States.”
After being spotted by Regina Spektor’s producer and signing to Universal Republic, interest in Pearl and the Puppets has grown steadily. For most acts in Scotland, just to get noticed and signed by a local label represents something of a major achievement in their musical development. So to be signed before even releasing a record to a significant label based in Los Angeles is something of a major coup.
Not that everything about the experience is positive for Katie. “I’m absolutely terrified of flying and will only fly if there’s a need to go somewhere like America. I always take the train. I normally have to get extremely drunk on the plane – knocked out drunk. I last flew in October and I almost had a panic attack. I don’t know why! I just don’t like it,” laughs Katie.
Fear of flying aside, the positives of an American label far outweigh the negatives, even when Katie’s social life is interrupted due to the different time-zones. “It is weird having my label on the other side of the world; I don’t see them a lot. I speak to them on the phone a lot. I mean they phone me, but because they’re five hours behind they’ll maybe call at eleven in the evening after I’ve had a few drinks to talk business and I’ll just think ‘oh shit!’. It’s a bit weird, but it’s good.”
Over the last few years Katie and the band have been welcomed onto a great label, have supported the likes of Elton john, had songs featured on TV advertisements as far away as Australia and participated in the BBC’s most recent live Hogmanay Special. Katie’s voice and the melodic, subtle nature of her music has already drawn comparisons with the likes of Feist and her hero Regina Spektor.
So far so great then. But what advice, if any would Katie have for other Scottish artists looking to make the most of their talent? “You know what I did actually, I just gigged like four times a week doing open mic and all these things. The summer after I finished uni I just gigged constantly. I was so shit on the guitar to start with, still am, but I’ve improved! You need to get used to gigging and writing at the same time, because you’ll have to do that when you are putting out records and spending time in the studio. It’s all to do with talent, but practicing helps.”
With a hotly anticipated debut album out soon and Katie talking about plans being put in place for a UK wide tour later in the spring, you can guarantee the singer from Kirkintilloch will finally have the chance to give everyone what they’ve been waiting for.
Check out www.pearlandthepuppets.com for tour info, song samples and all the latest info