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29 October 2014
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Katie Melua

Katie Melua Interview

Super star Jazz sensation Katie Melua joined Mark Seaman for a chat about her bedroom studio and Beijing Bikes...


Katie Melua

  • Katies debut single "The Closest Thing To Crazy", went to  number ten in the UK singles charts in December 2003.
  • The album "Call Off The Search" reached number one in January 2004.

Q:  9 Million Bicycles is a love song with a difference, how did it come about?

A:  It was a song that was actually written by Mike Batt my producer.  He wrote it when we were in Beijing.  We were doing a tour there and someone said, in conversation, "there’s 9 million bicycles in Beijing" and he turned to me and said "oh, that would make a really good song."  I thought he was just being silly and than about a month later he had a song.

Q:  Are you pleased with the new album?

A: I'm really pleased with it from an artistic point of view.  I'm so relieved to have completed it and be really happy with it.  I don't know how it will do commercially or how people will respond to it but I'm really happy with it…

Q:  Were you surprised by the success of your first album "Call Off The Search"?

A: Of course I was because firstly it wasn't really main stream music and secondly it was on a small record label.  So these two things should have meant that it wasn't going to be as big as it became.  I was hoping for a little bit of success but when it took off like that I was really surprised.

Q:  Did its success put you under a lot of pressure for your second album?

A: Well the thing is, for me, with the first album it was an outside school project that I was just taking part in.  Working with Mike, we were just recording stuff that we liked.  And so a lot of the time I was left wondering "what on earth did I do that made it so big". 

It was again the same with this.  It was important not to let that pressure get to you.  Of course the pressure was there but I was trying to ignore it.

Q:  Being born in Georgia, in the former Republic of the USSR, and moving to Northern Ireland as an eight-year-old you must have had fun with the different accents?

A: Well, I couldn't speak English before I went to Belfast. So I learned English with a Northern Irish accent.

Q:  Did you have a happy childhood?

A:  I did, yes I really did.  It might sound a bit weird.  I mean Georgia, and also Belfast, aren't the most stable places, politically, in the world.  But the thing is, in both places, the people were just so kind and so warm and in Belfast so welcoming…

Q:  Did you sing around the house?

A: It was a bit like that, yeah.  I started singing when I was about eight and I've been singing ever since.  But it wasn't something that became serious until I was about 15 or 16.

Q:  Than you went to the Brit School of performing arts:

Katie Melua
Katie Melua

A: Yes, I went to the school when I was about 17.

Two years before that, I got a little studio at home with literally a computer and some sequencing software. I started writing and recording, at a very basic level, just in my own bedroom.

I wanted to go into music but I didn't know which side of it I wanted to do and the course they did at the school was just a good course for me.

I remember, my Mum used to shout at me when it was dinner time.  I would be sort of cross-eyed sitting in front of the computer trying to get some drum loops going.

Q:  You met Mike at the Brit School.  Do you see him as your mentor?

A: I don't really look at him as a mentor.  We're both collaborating.  But I have to say the albums are just as much his as they are mine artistically speaking.

I guess it must seem quite strange.  He comes from such a different background and from such a different generation but he's a brilliant song writer.  As a singer I'm very, very lucky to have found such a great song writer to collaborate with.

Q:  You come across as quite shy on stage.  Is it an act?

A: Well, no it's not really an act.  But I do think I'm quite a selfish performer in the sense that I'm not one of those that's like “Hey, come on everybody lets sing along” you know that kind of thing

What I mean is that I enjoy it.  I go inside myself a lot and let the songs take me away somewhere.  I do enjoy it, but it's quite a selfish kind of inside my-self kind of thing…

Q:  On your new album there's a track called "Half way up the Hindu Kush".  Where did that come from?

A: You know, that was so bizarre because we were actually on a train in America.  Our make-up lady was talking about scarves, head gear, and for some reason she was trying to describe to us this scarf she'd seen.

We started taking the mickey, a bit.  We were saying: "So where is it from?" and she said "It’s kind of Afghan looking, really pretty."  And than someone just came up with the line "Is it kind of like half-way up the Hindu Kush?" Michael's like "You know what that would make a really good song."

This was actually before the 9 million bicycles.  I don't think he thought about it seriously but I was the one, this time, that went away and wrote the song.

Q:  Touring, are we going to see you live here there and everywhere?

A: Yes I think I definitely will be.  We're kind of looking at early next year but we haven't set any firm dates yet…

BBC Wiltshire's Mark Seaman chats with Super star Jazz sensation Katie Melua
audio Katie Melua interview >
Audio and Video links on this page require Realplayer

last updated: 14/09/05
Have Your Say
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loretta
I love your music, you are one of a kind.

kate
Katie Melua it wonder of world of music!!!

gemma
katie is fab!!!!!!!!! sooooooooooo rocks ! go katie

Daniel G
Katie Melua rocks soooooooo much

Dave Richards
I met Katie in glasgow last week Pure Class

fan
katie melua is wonderful!!!katie melua is the best what brits have!!!

Jason Martin
The complete package! Need I say more

Dale Rowe
:o) i really enjoyed that interview and i'd just like to say that i really luv that shy kinda edge to katie melua, shes a lovely lovely person and i enjoy the emotion that she puts into her songs

Malcolm G. Fisher
Thanks for a very pleasant interview with one of my favourite singers, Katie Melua! It was a shame you cut the song "Halfway Up The Hindu Kush" off though, as I haven't heard that song yet! All the Best, Malcolm G. Fisher

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