For those up on her early work, Katy B’s success has been a long time coming.
Real name Katie Brien, she first starred as Katy B on UK Funky anthems ‘As I’ and ‘Tell Me’, the former produced by Rinse FM founder Geeneus, one of the first to spot Katy’s vocal talents. Two years on from those singles, 2010 saw her emerge from the underground and straight into the UK top 40.
Starting the year as a participant in London’s Red Bull Music Academy, her Benga produced single ‘Katy On A Mission’ hit top five in the UK, and collaborations with Magnetic Man and Ms Dynamite (‘Perfect Stranger’ and ‘Lights On’, respectively) cemented her position as the voice of modern-day UK Funky and dubstep. Katy’s debut album, On a Mission is set for release in April, when she’ll also be embarking on her first headline tour. FACT’s Zainab Jama caught up with Katy to find out more.
So On A Mission‘s out this April. Who are you working with and what can we expect to hear?
“The main producer i’m working with is Geeneus, he runs Rinse FM and first heard me while I was singing over house tunes. He approached me to do some work with him along with DJ Zinc and thats how the process of Katy B started really. Geeneus produced most the album and in the past he’s made grime, Funky and dubstep. Zinc comes from a drum’n’bass and jungle background, but concentrates more on house now, so [there’s] a lot of London underground influences in terms of sound, with my little vocals over the top.”
Have you got any special guests on the LP?
“Not really, Ms. Dynamite is on ‘Lights On’ which everyone has kind of heard already.”
Well it went to number 4.
“Yeah it’s really weird actually! It went in at number 4 in the top 40 the first week, then went down to number 11 then went back up to number 4 a few weeks back. It’s mad.”
Why do you think it was so popular?
“I think because a lot of people can relate to it, being the last person in the club still dancing and wanting one last tune, we’ve all done that.”
So what are the tracks on the album like? Did you write it yourself?
“It’s mostly a mixture between house and dubstep – those kind of sounds. There’s also a lot of live instrumentation. A few people came down and put some horns and things on it but it’s mostly electronic really. In terms of writing, I write all my lyrics and melodies but once I hear [what] the producers have made we develop it all together.”
Tell us about your upcoming live shows.
“I’m really excited, the tour kicks off in April and goes on till May. In February I’ll be supporting Tiny Tempa, it’s tour galore in this first half of the year. I really love performing with a live band, so i’ve got a horn section, backing vocals, keys, drum, bass, percussion, as much as I could get really. It’s really important for me that people come to my show feeling they got the most for their money and leave feeling like they’ve seen a proper live show. It’s going to be much different than to what I do when I perform in a club.”
What you excited about this year and which artists are you into at the moment?
“I think my tour of course, but also all the festivals, I cant wait to go to Glastonbury, Wireless, Lovebox, they’re wicked. In terms of artists I’d say Adele, she was in my class at school and she has an amazing voice so I can’t wait to hear her album. James Blake was in my class as well so I’m excited to hear what he’s made, i haven’t heard it either yet.”
You’ve already worked with Skream, Benga and Ms Dynamite, who’s at the top of your collaboration list now?
“P-Money, I’d really like to work with him. I do quite a lot of dubstep bpm tunes so if I was gonna do a grime tune, I think my voice would work well with his.”
Tell us about your new tune, ‘Broken Record’?
“It’s called ‘Broken Record’, it’s produced by Geeneus and Zinc together, it’s got more of a old break and drum’n’bass vibe to it and some house elements. I’d say it’s a really strong mix of London underground sounds.”