Interview: KT Tunstall talks about her new album 'Tiger Suit'
Some people ask WWJD--What Would Jesus Do-- as a guide to their actions. KT Tunstall has WWPSD and WWCHD? That would be What Would Patti Smith Do and What Would Chrissie Hynde Do?
The rock legends represent her tent poles as to how the Scottish singer/songwriter wants to guide her own career. And itâ€™s serving her just fine so far,TYVM (thank you very much).
Tunstallâ€™sÂ third album, â€œTiger Suit,â€ come out on Virgin Records today and itâ€™s a Tigger-sized bounce forward for the artist. She combines her largely acoustic instrumentation with dance and electronic textures for a sound she calls â€œnature techno.â€ Works for us. Read our review here.
The mainly upbeat album is fronted by first single, â€œFade Like a Shadow,â€ a bouncy uplifting track about a sad subject matter---moving on from a love. It is easily as catchy as her previous hits â€œBlack Horse and the Cherry Treeâ€ and â€œSuddenly I See.â€
The album title comes from a recurring dream that Tunstall had as a child where she would go outside and fearlessly play with a tiger in her yard. She realized that maybe she was a tiger too. Putting on her â€œTiger Suit,â€ now, as Tunstall puts it, is â€œabout the cojonesâ€ to do what you believe.Â It also described the â€œmetaphorical suitâ€ she puts on stage.
As she grew more successful--her debut album, â€œEye to the Telescope,â€ sold 1.3 million in the U.S.-- Tunstall realized she was wearing the suit all the time, even when she needed to be vulnerable, such as when she was writing. â€œMy psychologist friend calls it â€˜zippering up your aura.â€™ It means youâ€™re not letting anyone damage you, but youâ€™re also not letting too much of yourself let go,â€ even when you need too. Now, sheâ€™s learned to take off her aura and tiger suit and strip herself bare when sheâ€™s writing. â€œThatâ€™s done at home with a cardigan with a shot of whiskey,â€ she says. â€œI go way Hemingway when I write.â€
For â€œTiger Suit,â€ she unzipped herself and wrote songs that had her â€œfired up,â€ when it came time to get back into the studio. She also paired with such writers as Linda Perry, best known for her work with Christina Aguilera and Pink, and Greg Kurstin, who was Grammy nominated for his work with Lily Allen. She also worked with past collaborators Martin Terefe and Jimmy Hogarth. â€œMost of the singles youâ€™ve had in the U.S. are all songs Iâ€™ve written on my own,â€ she says. â€œIâ€™m very proud of that, but at the same time, Iâ€™ve realized the richness of writing with someone else. It really takes you to places youâ€™d never go on your own.â€
One place Tunstall will never go--on her own or with others-- is to prance around scantily clad like many other female artists. in fact, Tunstall recently found herself embroiled in a mini-scandal when she told Britainâ€™s Daily Record that Shakiraâ€™s explicit, sexual video for â€œShe Wolf,â€ â€œshocked me and I am not easily shocked...It is shocking, but it seems they need to shock to get attention.â€
She plays down the riff a few months later, as she talks to Hitfix. She says sheâ€™s never been pushed by her label to sex up her image like it seems so many current female artists are.Â â€œI think they know better than to bother trying,â€ she says. â€œThey knew what they were getting when they signed me. I was 27 when I was signed. I was less malleable.â€
Tunstall followed up â€œEye of the Telescopeâ€ with 2007â€™s â€œDrastic Fantastic,â€ which failed so capture as large an audience. But Tunstall doesnâ€™t measure her success by album sales. In a statement sure to make her label blanch, she says, â€œIf I never sold another record, but could still play gigs, Iâ€™d be happy.â€
She goes one step further: â€œIf someone said to me you can make music and record music for as long as you want, but never be able to play music for people again, I donâ€™t know if Iâ€™d do it...A song isnâ€™t finished for me until I share it.â€