You can’t become exceptional if you are never challenged.
Text, Fotos und Interview: Corinna Sauer
Zu Konzerten eingeladen zu werden ist toll. Wenn es sich um Konzerte von Musiker_innen handelt, die man mag und immer schon gerne mal live sehen wollte, um so besser! Und wenn sich das Ganze dann noch mit einem besonderen Ereignis verbindet, ergibt sich die Möglichkeit, einen dieser Tage zu erleben, die man nicht so schnell vergisst.
Radio oder Bühne
Die Musikerin, um die es sich handelt, ist die schottische Singer/Songwriterin KT Tunstall. Ich kannte einige ihrer Songs aus den letzten zehn Jahren. Vor allem mag ich ihre charakteristische, rauhe Stimme und die teils unkonventionelle Art, klassische Popsongs zu schreiben. Für mich gehört sie zu der Art von Musiker_innen, deren Studioversionen irgendwie gut, aber zu glatt sind, um sich aus dem Meer an radiotauglichen Songs extrem hervorzutun. Gleichzeitig hatte ich das Gefühl, dass sich eine ganz neue Ebene auftun könnte, wenn diese Songs auf der Bühne mit unmittelbarer Energie und Gefühl zu neuem Leben erweckt werden.
Ein besonderes Erlebnis
Vor einiger Zeit bekamen wir eine Einladung zu einem exklusiven Akustik-Konzert der Musikerin im Friedrichstadt-Palast. Anlass der Veranstaltung war, dass KT Tunstall zwei Songs für das Show-Spektakel „THE ONE Grand Show“, das seit Oktober letzten Jahres im Palast aufgeführt wird, beigesteuert hat und an diesem Tag auch ihre eigenen Songs einem kleinen Publikum, das hauptsächlich aus Vertreter_innen der Presse bestand, vorstellen wollte. Wir wurden im Foyer des namhaften Berliner Revuetheaters empfangen und zu unserer Überraschung nicht in den Zuschauerraum geführt, sondern aufgefordert, mit den anderen Gästen auf der nun bestuhlten Bühne des großen Saals Platz zu nehmen. Dieses Erlebnis für sich genommen war schon etwas ganz Besonderes.
Wir fanden uns also auf dieser geschichtsträchtigen Bühne mit Blick in die weiten, noch menschenleeren Ränge des Theaters wieder und wenig später betrat auch KT Tunstall eben diese. Ihr schien diese ungewohnte Begebenheit, das Podium mit ihrem Publikum zu teilen, den Rücken dem Zuschauersaal zugewandt, sichtliches Vergnügen zu bereiten. Überhaupt sprühte sie vor Energie und meine Ahnung, dass sich ihr Potential das ihrer Songs live vorgetragen erst richtig entfalten würde, bestätigte sich. Sie spielte einige wohlbekannte Songs, wie „Black Horse and the Cherrie Tree“ und „Suddenly I See“ aus früheren Jahren und stellte Auszüge aus ihrem letzten Album „KIN“ vor. Jeder einzige dieser Songs, dem man beim Durchhören des Albums vielleicht nicht all zu große Beachtung geschenkt hätte, erstrahlte zu neuem Licht und entfaltete sich auf nahezu berauschende Weise und voller Inbrunst zu seiner vollen Größe. Nicht nur die energetischen Songs, sondern auch die leiseren Töne berührten auf eindringliche Weise. Ein besonderes Konzert unter einzigartigen Bedingungen wurden zu einem wirklich schönen Erlebnis.
Im Anschluss an den Auftritt habe ich mit Frau Tunstall noch ein schönes Gespräch über Musik, das Abbrechen von Brücken und Neuanfänge geführt. Lest hier mehr darüber.
Im Interview: KT Tunstall
Hey Katie! Thanks for the super nice concert.
Oh, I loved it! It was one of the coolest spaces I’ve ever played in. It was so funny to play with my back to the audience.
It was very special. But also just listening to you playing unplugged- it was so powerful. Really stripped down to the core of your songs.
Thank you. I really enjoy playing solo. I think it’s an important thing for me to keep doing. If I had to choose I’d probably play with a band because you can have this amazing kind of growth with a bunch of other people. But I think it’s important for me to always keep myself in training as a solo musician, because it feels quite intimate and you find that the audience responds very emotionally. So it’s a really cool thing to do and I love it.
I’ve read that a couple of years ago you went through some changes and that you felt like you wanted to stop making music professionally. You moved to California and changed your environment. Can you tell me a bit about this process that finally lead to reconnecting with that part of yourself- being a musician?
Well, there were two massive changes in my life. My father passed away. Someone told me a quote a couple of years ago, which was very profound and that said: „A parent gives birth to you twice. Once is when you are born and once is when they die.“ And I thought it was an amazing way of saying how I felt. Everything changes when a parent goes. I realized I wasn’t happy and that I had made really bad decisions, because I had been so focused on work and neglected myself to an extend. I was married to the wrong person. So I got divorced. It was a crazy time, but it was also kind of burning the old wood away. What happened was, that I realized I was very stagnant. I had made four records, which doesn’t seem a lot, but it was over ten years. I just needed to know that I didn’t have to do it, because it defined me. Being a musician defined who I was since I was fifteen years old. I knew, that that wasn’t very healthy. I didn’t wanna be KT Tunstall the musician. I wanna be Kate. And then sometimes I play music. It’s a separate thing. I realized that in these few years. Going to Venice Beach was a big part of looking after myself. Learning to really like myself. Love myself. To have a great relationship with me. And not just doing what I felt I should do all the time.
So, for about a year I was writing for film, which I love and which I always wanted to do. So I studied with the Sundance Film Institute in Northern California for a couple of weeks. It was incredible. I wrote a few songs for movies. Other than that I was just driving around LA in the canyons, listening to like Tom Petty and Fleetwood Mac and Joni Mitchell and Neil Young. I was listening to these incredible songs and I just started to write my own songs again. If it was like really gentle folk music, then maybe I would have waited. But because it was these really powerful choruses, it felt like the first record again. Because I was free. I didn’t feel like I had to please anybody. There was no pressure. It just felt like the right time.
I can imagine. As you said, you are a musician anyway. Even or especially after freeing yourself from this role that you have to fulfil.
Yes true. Whether I play for people or not, I will always be a musician. The thing that I really didn’t like, especially being female, is that you are constantly compared. And you are constantly comparing yourself. I mean, everybody suffers from this in every walk of life and it’s the worst thing. The celebration should be that we are all different. We should be grateful that we are not like other people. So that was a big learning curve.
So would you say that the album that came out of this process, KIN, represents a turning point in your life? For you, what would be the red line of this album?
It’s about coming through really difficult things in your life and about realizing who your tribe are. Actually I found, that it’s really difficult to tell before you haven’t been challenged. And after those challenges you really realize who your people are. Often it’s a lot less people than you think. And it’s actually incredibly liberating, to be just like: no, no, no, no, yes, yes. And the crazy thing is that it takes like thirty years to find your people. We used to be born into these tents and caves and you’d be with your family and that was it and now we are born in these cities and we kind of have to search for each other. For our people.
Reset to zero and then kind of start to look at everything again from this new perspective.
Yes, exactly. And I think that KIN is the soundtrack to that. It’s about becoming bigger, wiser, more compassionate, because of the shit, that you have to go through. We see these difficult obstacles in our life as a problem, but maybe they are actually the best things that happens, because we learn. You can’t become exceptional if you are never challenged. You are just living an easy life. I think, that once you can shift your mindset to see opportunities, instead of difficulty, then life changes completely.
Not to let the bad things define you but rather the way that you deal with them.
Yes, I think so. It’s very interesting to me, that some people will be able to survive a horrendous war, where they’ve lost family and then another person can’t survive being a rich guy’s kid and kills themself. It’s just completely relative. And music is a huge part of how people get through those things too. For me anyway.
What inspires you apart from music?
Film. I love film. Where I probably always am, when I have a night off from playing, is at a movie theater. I actually don’t like going to gigs very much. I find it quite stressful. I much prefer to go and see a play or a classical performance or a movie. And I find my stories within many of those pieces. Dance is also very inspiring for my work. And nature. Just getting into nature.
Finally, please tell me about your next plans. Do you work on new songs? Will you be touring?
I’m actually on tour with Simple Minds right now. I’m playing in Berlin, opening for them tomorrow night. And then I’ll have my own solo headline tour and then I’m playing festivals all summer in the UK. I’m also going to Japan for a couple of weeks. And I’m gonna record a new album.
Wow, busy bee.
Yeah! I have some songs. They are raw and they rock!
Very cool. Looking forward.
Yeah, me too.
So, awesome, thank you!
Thank you so much, it was lovely to meet you.
You too, Kate!
2004 – Eye to the Telescope
2007 – Drastic Fantastic
2010 – Tiger Suit
2013 – Invisible Empire // Crescent Moon
2016 – KIN