Scottish singer will open for Barenaked Ladies at 'Tuesdays in the Park'
Preview by Joshua Maloni
The spotlight can be a wonderful tool for a singer who's just getting started. But hang around that glowing golden beam for too long, and it can become creatively stifling.
"Black Horse and the Cherry Tree" and "Suddenly I See" made KT Tunstall a household name 14 years ago. These songs propelled her music into commercials, movies, TV shows and late-night talkers.
This was a great platform to jump off, but, like every descent from a high plateau, the bottom was coming.
For the Scottish singer, her low period was at the beginning of this decade when Tunstall realized the songs she was crafting for follow-up albums were not the kind of tunes she sought to share on stage. At the same time, she was experiencing some personal relationship challenges, which led her to relocate to sunny California.
On the West Coast, inspired by creative types all around her, Tunstall got her groove back. She released "KIN" - which she considers the true follow-up to 2004's "Eye to the Telescope" - and rekindled her passion for performance.
Today, she's spending the warmer months with Barenaked Ladies and Better Than Ezra as part of the "Last Summer on Earth Tour 2018." KT and company visit Lewiston on Tuesday for a show at Artpark.
NFP caught up with Tunstall on Thursday as she was headed to Charlotte, North Carolina.
KT on being on the road: "It's the first time I've ever done a tour that's all driving. So, we're chasing the BNL tour in an RV, which is super-fun. We are definitely seeing the country."
KT on touring with BNL: "I'm just having such a blast. The Barenaked Ladies guys are not only some of the best people you could ever meet, but they've also just nurtured this amazing audience over 13 years of their career. Their fans love having a good time. They love music. And they really engage. So, for an opener, it's just a complete dream, because they turn up early and they really support you; and it's been such a blast."
KT explaining how a Scottish girl in California winds up on tour with a Canadian band: "So, basically, Ed (Robertson) and I are both really keen skiers. He's a snowboarder. And we met up at Park City during the Sundance Film Festival. We all ... do some shows during the festival. And we met during that time and really got on like a house of fire. I think Ed kind of galvanized in his mind that he would love to have me out to open up for them at some point."
KT on opening: "I think I just always felt very reticent about doing a support tour, because I think I prefer to play to a hundred people in a bar rather than a thousand people in a (set) where maybe I'm the background music to beer and a hot dog, and they're not listening.
"I've been completely wrong about that, because, if you pair up with the right act, where you're actually providing the entertainment before the main band, and the audience really engages with you, they're playing for thousands of people who have never seen you play before. And I find it an extremely positive experience. And I've really managed to reach out and communicate with a whole bunch of new fans.
"So much, I think, of what I do is visibility. So, it's really just about being out on the road, playing shows, communicating with fans, making sure there's new music."
KT on Better Than Ezra ("Good," "Desperately Wanting," "King of New Orleans"): "Yeah, well, they are just a hoot. They're amazing; and I think it's a really good trio of acts to go on stage together, because we all really engage with the audience. We all really talk to the audience. So, there's a nice kind of unity with us communicating and having a laugh with everyone who's there. But they're just great musicians."
KT on playing Tom Petty's "I Won't Back Down" ... "I was just delighted. I actually met Mike McCready (of Pearl Jam) at the same place as I met Ed, up at the Montage in Park City. Mike and I were carving the slopes together and getting up to 50 miles per hour and going down the ski slope together. And then really got on well and had said that we'd love to do something.
"And then with Tom Petty passing, we're both such huge fans, it was kind of a galvanizing factor that we needed to pay tribute to one of our favorite artists. But also because 'I Won't Back Down' is such a great, anthemic song, and both of us feel very passionately about supporting people who are sounding off for what they believe in all over the world."
... and The Bangles' "Walk Like An Egyptian": "So, for me, with covers, often it's just choosing a song that maybe you wouldn't expect to hear me play, but I want to play a song that everybody from different walks of life and different backgrounds and all different music tastes (can enjoy). There's these particular songs that just permeate everything. And it kind of transcends your personal music tastes, because it's a song that everybody loves.
"I love also playing songs by a female band. I think it's really cool to just throw that in as a female performer. I recently was lucky enough to befriend Susanna Hoffs, and it was just an absolute thrill. It was at a party and I heard her sit with just an acoustic guitar, and I accompanied her - actually playing the song with her. So that was like a life moment for me."
KT on new music: "There's been a long wait between the albums. I had sort of got into this habit of there being a long time just because I'd been touring a record for a couple of years. And then it would take a year to prepare a new album. And I really just basically galvanized my creative process by deciding that 'KIN,' my 2016 record, was actually the first in a trilogy. So, I was going to make a trilogy of records representing soul, body and mind. And 'KIN' was the soul record. And this new record (expected in fall) is the body record. All the records will have similar titles. And I would be putting them out in pretty quick succession. It just made me get into flow much quicker, when I made that decision to make a trilogy.
"And this one is produced by Nick McCarthy from Franz Ferdinand. It's a real rock record. I'm going to be going out with an all-female band for this record."
"It's a very rock-y record. It's really centered around electric guitar. I'm super excited about it and, as I said, going out and playing with all female musicians on this record, it just feels like the right time to do that."
KT on her new creativity: "I'm just really grateful for that process that I went through before and during and after 'KIN,' where I really didn't think I was going to make records for a long time. I needed a break, and just the act of unplugging from needing to be something allowed me to come back to it with excitement, rather than obligation, you know? It was a real surprise to me - writing and releasing 'KIN,' but it was basically the catalyst and the phoenix from the ashes that completely kind of restarted my mower and allowed me to kind of basically start phase two of my career."
Catch KT Tunstall at Artpark on Tuesday. NOTE: This show begins at 6 p.m., and she is the opener. For tickets or more information, visit www.artpark.net.