Q&A with singer KT Tunstall
Singer KT Tunstall on the end of her marriage, the sudden death of her father and first hand experiences of music industry sexism
Hi KT, so I was just trawling the internet and there are dozens of stories about you being homeless and skint.
Homeless and skint?
That's what it says.
Well, I'm certainly not broke, I can tell you that. It is true that I have chosen not to have a fixed home at the moment. But I'm not homeless.
I think the implication is that you've taken your recent divorce (from drummer and former band member) Luke Bullen badly.
I'm not talking about our relationship. It's something I don't discuss with the press. What I will say is that there is a lot of pressure when you are living and working together. Especially in our line of work. There is a lot of joy in doing what we do. But regardless of your profession, sometimes things work out and sometimes they don't.
It's been a rough few years. Your marriage fell apart and your father passed away suddenly.
Your priority shifts. My dad dying was obviously a very big thing to happen. As a musician, it is easy to keep your head down and not look at the big picture. I was very busy and it can become all consuming. I was a different person at 35 than at 25. However, I hadn't taken the time to work out what I wanted from life or from the future. In terms of my personal circumstances, not much had changed. I was still doing the same thing.
The first half of your new album was written before your father passed away and your marriage ended. By the time you returned to work on the second half, your life had changed radically.
My father had Parkinson's, though he actually died following a bicycle accident. It was a long, drawn-out situation. He went sooner than expected. The first batch of songs is quite melancholy. I think my subconscious was ahead of my mind in a way. By the time I was finishing it, I was a different person. The first part of the album is introverted. There is a lot of sadness. The second half is a rebirth. For me, it was about letting go.
Does it upset you that your record sales have declined from release to release?
I'm generally a lot happier with where I am in terms of the business side. The mad years were great, tremendous fun. I don't think I
would want that all the time. If I had a record that went big like [2004's 2.6 million selling] Eye to the Telescope again, there are quite a few things I'd say no to. It is quite insane. That was definitely one of the downsides to starting late. I didn't get a record deal until I was 28, 29. When you are in your 20s, you can do all that shit.
Still, you were lucky to the degree that your first album came out back when people were still prepared to pay for music.
There was no YouTube. I was at the tail end of all of [the old way of doing business]. The advantage is that I ended up with a fanbase that respects artists and buys records. It has put me in a place where I can do this for a living.
What did you think of electro singer Grimes' assertion that the music industry is horrendously sexist?
When I tried to get a record deal, only one label wanted me. The rest said 'oh, we've already got a girl with a guitar'. Can you imagine them ever saying that to a guy?
KT Tunstall's new album, Invisible Empire // Crescent Moon is released today. She plays the Pepper Canister Church, Dublin, on June 21