Interview With 'Katy Hurt'


Friday 15th February sees yours truly navigating the corridors of the 13th Note in Glasgow, to interview Katy Hurt ahead of tonight’s show. After a mammoth drive, things are running a little behind schedule and so, with impeccable timing, I blunder right into the middle of sound check, which Katy and the band let me stay for. Then, just before she heads off for food, Katy sits down for a quick chat which, despite his avowed intentions, drummer Steve does not provide background swearing to.

I would add two caveats to the following – firstly, this is my first interview (so cut me a little slack) and secondly…Katy speaks with such passion that it felt wrong to try and edit things down too much and potentially lose some of the enthusiasm in her answers…

So thanks for doing this …

KH: Oh my pleasure.

…some random bloke reaching out to you on Twitter…

KH: (laughs) that’s totally fine.

So how’s the tour going anyway?

KH: It’s going really well, it’s been really fun. There have been so many different types of shows ‘cos we did 10 dates with Gangsatgrass so we’ve had some crazy shows and met so many new fans, and then I’ve done shows on my own which have been just as a duo, so it’s been really kinda fun for me to experiment with different formats and see different crowds…so yeah.

It must be really knackering for you though…I think this is night 4 of a straight run of 10 shows?

KH: Yeah so we left…I’ve been home one day since January 8th and I go home one day in February…and then I leave for Canada and Florida in March so…and we have forty seven shows, so yeah tiring is definitely the case. It’s amazing, we have so many members of family and friends up and down the country that have been so kind and let us crash at their places so it’s been fun. But last night was a long one, ‘cos we had…erm…on Tuesday we had a show in Frome which is in Somerset, and then we finished that and we drove to Liverpool after the show…

Which is four?

KH: …four hours and then got up in the morning and did a show in Liverpool that day, which was fine and then yesterday we did a show in Ledbury which is down in Worcester, so we literally had to double back on ourselves. Then, after the show in Ledbury it was back to Liverpool, then on to here this morning.

Blimey…I tell you what if recording studios took Esso points, you’d be well in for the next album…

KH: (laughs)…I know, I know it’ crazy. We’ve put three thousand, seven hundred miles on my Volkswagen Up! since January (she clocks my horrified look)…yeah, which my Dad’s gonna freak out about (laughs) but it’s been so worth it and me and Gab have been doing most of it but this is the first of the full band shows, so up until now it’s just been the two of us in my tiny car trading the …one sleeps while the other drives…until, like five in the morning, then you sleep a couple of hours then we go back on our way. It’s exhausting but at the same time exhilarating…don’t get me wrong I’d love to get the stage where we had a bus so I didn’t have to drive for like for hours…but yeah it’s been fun.

So Country…I guess to a lot of people, for someone in her early twenties…I guess a lot of people would see that as a bit…out there?

KH: Yeah absolutely…well this is like my, I guess my Origin Story, but I was one of those babies you hear about that doesn’t sleep. My parents both have a really eclectic taste in music but the one thing they both absolutely adore is “Classic Country” and Elvis, Gospel and people like Jim Reeves and Patsy Cline. And my dad worked out pretty quickly that if he put Jim Reeves on…I would shut up. And this was the only thing that would keep me quiet and…erm…I was in love with it. As a baby they would play it to me all the time and it would help me to drift off to sleep. By the time I was about four, I would sing along with it, knew the words and they were like ‘Oh wow, she really likes this’ so they kept playing it…

You moved to the States also when you were young didn’t you?

KH: …yeah I was born in London but we moved to the States when I was…I think it was just before my second birthday and we lived there until I was six…seven…or maybe eight…I’m not sure what year we came back…so, like, all my formative years were in the States – when I learnt to speak and when I made friends and all my first memories are there so I was in that culture and hearing that music and yeah…it just happened…I didn’t really have a choice…

…it was just there…

KH: …yeah and then we went back over when I was thirteen when my dad surprised my mum with this Elvis trip…I think we did like six States, just literally going everywhere that Elvis had been, so we went to like, Mississippi and then Memphis and just listening to Country music and I was just like ‘this is everything’.

Yeah that’s the thing isn’t it? With the radio stations, there’s such a wide variety…

KH: …well yeah, ‘cos it’s just standard radio over there, so when you’re in a car for like six hours, that’s what you listen to…you have to actively seek other types of music…and it was just all I ever listened to. My mum and dad speak several languages and listen to music by international artists…my dad also likes kind of New Romantic Era Rock, my brother listens to Guns ‘n’ Roses and Green Day and whatever…like…gym music he has on and then there’s me…obsessed with Patsy Cline so yeah, it’s really weird (laughs)

There are worse things to be obsessed with to be fair…

KH: For sure…

…I think I read somewhere that you did Sun Studios on that trip?

KH: Yup…I erm…I’m sure they do it loads of kids but, to me it was like the most special thing that had ever happened…you wander round the museum upstairs and “Hound Dog” came on, and that’s one of my favourite songs and I started singing along under my breath, ‘cos you can’t really resist, and the tour guide came up to me and she was like ‘You need to stay behind after the tour’…and I was like, freaking out thinking I was in trouble…but she said “we heard you singing and studio’s free after the tour if you want to go in and record”…

…wow…

KH: …and I was like ‘Serious?’ And they said just pick a song…so they put me in a booth and said that this is the mic that Elvis used and I was like…er…OK! So they gave me this little disc afterwards that said “Katy Hurt Sun Sessions” so it was like my very first recording so I was just besotted by it and I frequently say that that’s the moment I remember thinking ‘I don’t want to do anything else…this is what I want to do”.

It’s an amazing room that though…I remember going there and you can feel the ghost of Johnny Cash…

KH: …yeah the weight of it really hits you and you kind of…

…there’s that line of guitars there and…

KH: …you just cant fake history like that…to me it was everything. I walked into that room and to me it was everybody I’d ever loved has been here…so I think as a kid to be given the opportunity to do that…even if it is a kind of gimmick…I was just like ‘WOW’. So that kind of kick started things off and even though my friends think I’m crazy and trying to get people to believe that Country music isn’t Country and Western…

…do you think a lot of people have that…it’s almost like Folk music in a way. People have this image that it’s Folk so it’s someone with a beard and a corn pipe, tugging their ear and Country music is Dolly Parton with the big glamorous dress and hair…

KH: Yeah…there are so many genres and sub-genres and, you know, different artists even who do so many incredible things…and then you hear someone say ‘oooh no I don’t like Country’ and it’s like wait a second…

…have you even heard it?...

KH: Exactly…have you even heard it though? Have you actually listened?

Now the next EP was recorded in Canada and that was done through Pledge Music…

KH: Yes.

…how important is something like Pledge Music to people who are just coming through?

KH: Invaluable. We wouldn’t have been able to make this record without Pledge. I don’t know if you’ve heard about what’s happening with Pledge…

…yeah they’ve had some trouble…

KH: …bad investments made by some company members and I think that’s such a shame and I hope that they sort themselves out because I have this absolute love for this platform that they’ve created. When we first sat down and we were like how much money…we’re independent musicians, we have to pay for it all ourselves, so we sat down and thought how much we could afford ourselves. We could stretch to maybe five hundred to a thousand pounds…and there aren’t that many studios in the UK, apart from maybe Abbey Road where you can get a big enough room to do a full band recording which was what I absolutely wanted, ‘cos I wanted it to be real and I didn’t want to be do the drums one day…you know I wanted us to play. And it was sooo expensive we really struggled to find anywhere that would work, And then all the producers we spoke to were like ‘we can’t do that live room thing – you have to record it separately…we don’t even need a bass we can just put that in through a keyboard’ and I was like ‘WHAT?!’

…that’s not…

KH: …‘Woah I’m not doing that’…real music, real people. And so we were like who would we want to produce us? So we sent e-mails to like our top ten favourite producers…crazy ones to people who did Shania’s records and who did Miranda Lambert’s records and we thought just e-mail and see if anyone replies. And the first night we sent it out Murray Pulvar, who produced the Bros. Landreth album “Let It Lie”, he got in touch and I think I nearly cried to my parents you know…’He knows who I am…AAAAH!’ And we Skyped for 3 and a half hours and by the end of that Skype session I had booked the flights for Canada…it was like this has to happen. He was talking about having a big live room for all the band and I was asking how he was going to do it…do you need time for this, this and this and he was like ‘No no no…you guys play it until you get it right…as a band’ and he understood the sound…the thing he said that immediately made me think he was right because we aren’t quite Country – we’re Country Rock, Country Pop, Country Blues, Country Folk…depends on the day, depends on the mood. I’m a Country singer, I have a twang that’s what I wanna do but we write songs that are an amalgamation of all of our influences and all of our favourite artists and feelings…and you can’t really put that in a box…and he said ‘You guys sound like The Eagles if Lee Ann Womack were singing’ and I was like ‘You get it…we’re coming to Canada!’…

…and that’s where Pledge came in…

KH: …so we were gonna be in Canada and I was like – how are we gonna pay for this? And someone I knew had done a Pledge campaign and they were like ‘You have to do this - the fans care more than you think’ and we did it. I was not expecting anyone to give us any money and to care but the inpouring of love came in from people who were like ‘yeah, you need to go make this record’…and I was just blown away. And we only did it because we could afford it otherwise we might have thought ‘hang on, this isn’t a good idea’…but it’s so important that people, I think, actually connect fans to artist and that’s the best way to do it…because if you do that you could essentially get rid of labels, you could cut out all of the middle men who take all of the money and actually have a relationship between the artists and the fans…and it’d be personalised and you can build that relationship and that’s what I really wanted. And Pledge was just brilliant for that. Unfortunately because of all the problems they’ve had we haven’t actually received the money from Pledge…they’ve declared that until the company gets bought out they don’t know what will happen but they’ve said that they will honour the campaign so, hopefully, someone buys out the company and they can sort themselves out…but in the meantime I hope fans continue to go direct to artists and artists directly to fans.

Yeah don’t know if it’s related to the problems, but I’ve noticed recently there’ve been campaigns for people like the Rolling Stones and U2…

KH: Yeah ‘cos it’s another way for…

(totally missing Katy’s point!) …and you think ‘But these people can afford…’

KH: …well yeah but it’s another way people can be more direct to fans…that was a really long answer to your question…sorry (laughs).

Don’t worry…it’ll only take me 3 hours to transcribe it…(laughs).

KH: I know…sorry.

So what’s next for you after this tour? Obviously, apart from a long sleep and a mound of washing?

KH: I don’t even get to do that! We finish this tour and then I’m going back to Canada to do some more writing and start preparing for the album…this’ll be my debut album so I’m super excited about it. We already have around seventy songs because we’ve been writing for the last three years and then we head out to Florida to do the Melissa Etheridge Cruise…that’s gonna be fun, so that’s a week in Florida so I’m counting that as a holiday even thought it’s technically not…and then we come back and it’s festival season and we get to go out on the road again.

Things are starting to get busy behind us as Kevin McGuire comes in for his sound check, so it’s time for the big final question…

Cool…so…for the last question…and I apologise for it, but I did grow up reading Smash Hits…

KH: (sounding slightly concerned) OK…

…what’s your favourite colour Smartie?

KH: (looking completely non plussed, as anyone in their early twenties would) do they do purple ones? I think they do…kind of lilac ones…that one (laughs).

Website - www.katyhurt.com

Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/KatyHurtMusic/

Interview - Chris Watson

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