KT Tunstall, the acclaimed Scottish singer-songwriter, is gearing up for an unforgettable performance at Newberry Opera House on September 7th, 2023. In this exclusive interview, she shares insights into her musical journey, her sources of inspiration, and what fans can expect from her upcoming concert.
KT Tunstall’s music has always been an intriguing blend of heartfelt lyrics and captivating melodies. She is known for her pioneering looping skills as well as her iconic songs. When asked about the inspiration behind her hit song “Black Horse and the Cherry Tree” she says, “This song came directly from learning how to use my loop pedal. I was singing in another band, and after talking to their sound engineer Mosh, I was telling him I was so bored of playing open mic nights with just a guitar, and how I wished that I could inject some more rhythm, and he had this loop pedal in his backpack.” Tunstall did not expect the song to be such a hit, especially because of the song’s meaning. She states, “The irony was that the song was about not wanting to sign to the record company that I eventually did sign to and ended up selling millions of records with! The crazy part was this song wasn’t on the album to start with… I wrote it after the album was finished and had been ‘soft released’.
Over the years, KT Tunstall’s music has evolved, encompassing various genres and styles. She approaches blending these genres by following her passion and gut instinct with how a song will sound the best. Tunstall credits Beck as her influence when it comes to experimenting with a variety of sounds and styles. She says, “I would say the most impactful artist for me in terms of influence is Beck. I loved how he would jump to different genres on every single record, and the thorough thread was always his voice, his lyrics, and his artistic choices. It’s definitely not the most commercially successful trajectory, but I’ve never been driven by that and always just pursue the freedom to make whatever I want to make.” She also credits the producer of “Eye to the Telescope,” Steve Osburne, as playing an important role in helping her shape her Folk, Rock, Rhythmic, and Roots style that became what she describes as “recognizably her”.
Tunstall’s music carries messages of empowerment and self-discovery. Her gravitation towards these messages has strengthened as she has gotten older. Tunstall states, “Of course, “Suddenly I See” was a really aspirational song, but also a bit of an anomaly for me. From a creative perspective, I feel I have to be slightly careful not to get caught up in writing about this subject ALL the time, but it’s so fascinating to me, and having just completed a seven-year album trilogy based on Soul, Body, and Mind, I’ve learned so much about myself and life has changed so immeasurably during that time, it really has been the soundtrack to some profound shifts in my life.”
She acknowledges the profound impact her lyrics have on her fans, and she takes it as a compliment. Carole King, Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell, Tom Petty, and Fleetwood Mac are legends whose lyrics are impactful for KT. She says that these artists “voice challenges and difficulties, love and loss in a way that helps me process it and get it out of my own system.”
KT Tunstall has progressed as an artist over the years from her critically acclaimed album, “Eye to the Telescope” to her recent collaboration with Suzi Quatro called “Face to Face.” She is a dynamic performer with soul-barring and inspirational lyrics that transcend time. When she performs, she lives in the moment. As she prepares for her performance at Newberry Opera House on September 7, KT explains, “It’s not just another stop on the road, it’s a particular time in a particular place with a very particular group of people, in a particular room who will never, ever all be in the same room together ever again, in the billions of years of history of this universe! That is an amazing thing to be able to be the nucleus of, so I honor it by being present, and serving up joy and meaning whichever night of the week it is. What a great job.”