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KT Tunstall
KT Tunstall is a sparkling new songwriter with Chinese blood, a Scottish heart, great legwarmers and a cool name. KT celebrates classic singer-songwriting in the tradition of Rikki Lee Jones, Carol King and Fleetwood Mac with an articulate, accessible, immediate brew of rootsy sass, wistful quandary and after-hours atmosphere. KT's unique perspective offers a rare emotionally connecting intensity through its gripping lyrical bite and heartfelt melody.

She grew up in the university town of St Andrew's, always knowing she had been adopted at birth. Her dad is a physicist and used to take her brothers into his lab when they were little. KT spent her childhood up hills and under canvas with her outward-bound parents.
Her first album was the Never-Ending Story soundtrack, but her favourite, reassuringly, is David Bowie's Hunky Dory.
The young active KT took up piano, then flute and gradually her singing voice developed its earthy individuality. KT had started writing her own songs. At 16, she took up the guitar, teaching herself from a busker's book. Schmaltz was junked; a musical epiphany ensued.
Hungry for experiences and independence, she gained a scholarship to Kent School in Connecticutt, New England and absorbed gigs by The Grateful Dead and 10,000 Maniacs. She also spent time on a hippy commune, formed her first band, The Happy Campers, and played a host of informal gigs.

Next stop on her personal odyssey was a music course at Royal Holloway College, where she tried and failed to form another band. After vanquishing the goths, KT returned to St Andrews and became immersed in the grassroots scene which spawned The Beta Band and the Fence Collective, forming a group with Fence's Pip Dylan and honing her tastes with an ambrosial diet of James Brown, Lou Reed, Billie Holliday, Johnny Cash and PJ Harvey.

A few years and bands later, she hit London where, finally, things started to fall into place. Working relationships were forged, deals were secured. She began writing projects with Swedish songwriter/producer Martin Terefe and London-based Orcadian Jimmy Hogarth and London's Tommy D. With over a hundred songs, she set to work on her debut album with her new band and legendary U2/New Order/Happy Mondays producer Steve Osborne.

Since completing Eye To The Telescope, life for Tunstall has been a blur of gigs, first as support to Joss Stone, then a tour of Europe, singing with 'klezmer hip-hop' band Oi Va Voi, who ignited the Avalon Stage at Glastonbury. Her debut album Eye To The Telescope is the creative consequence of that inquiring imagination. The Record got an exclusive transcript with Tunstall to know more about her album and her life. Excerpts:

The Record (TR): What sort of response are you generating for the new album?
KT Tunstall (KT): I'm loving the reactions from people to the album. I saw my album being reviewed on a website wherein someone said that it's pretty good, and that it's standing out from other girls doing the same sort of thing. I also got an e-mail from someone saying, 'I haven't bought any music for ten years because I just thought it had all become manufactured rubbish and I bought your album and Heal Over and Silent Sea are the best songs I've heard for 15 years.' I think that's great that it can cause a kind of reaction.

TR: What's the significance of the album title?
KT: My father is a physicist and he used to take us to the observatory. We played games with liquid nitrogen and Van de Graaff generators. He had the keys to the observatory at St Andrew's University and he'd get up in the middle of the night to show us Halley's Comet. That's partly why the album is called Eye To The Telescope. All the songs are very much intimate, very, very intimate situations or relationships. So you think of the human condition as this enormous cosmos and it's about getting a telescope and focusing in on very, very specific elements of human experience.

You can read the rest of our exclusive with KT Tunstall in the September 2005 issue of The Record Music Magazine available at your local newsagent.

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