'Search No More, The New Pieces Have Been Found'
The UK’s biggest selling star, Katie Melua, is releasing her album Piece By Piece in the U.S. on June 6th!
Riding high on the success of her multi-platinum debut album Call Off The Search, Katie Melua’s latest album Piece By Piece, has sold over 2.5 million copies and holds steady at the top of the charts throughout Europe. She is currently Britain’s biggest-selling female artist for two consecutive years (2004 and 2005).
Katie’s soulful, acoustic sound has captured audiences around the world and this summer she will be a special guest on the North American leg of Il Divo’s 2006 World Tour.
At 21 years of age, this international singing sensation has performed for Nelson Mandela, rocked with the legendary group Queen and can call the Queen of England one of her biggest fans. She even caught the attention of Hollywood when she was asked to record the title track for the feature film “Just Like Heaven” starring Reese Witherspoon.
Chatting recently with Katie, and noting that she was a British singer/songwriter, born in Georgia (a former republic of the Soviet Union) and raised in Northern Ireland and England, I first wondered how that had all come together for her?! "Well, the reason why we moved to Belfast was because my Dad’s a doctor and he got a job in Northern Ireland. So, I did go up there, but I wasn’t raised there all my life. I spent just five years there from the ages of eight to thirteen. So, a lot of my formative years were spent in Ireland, but then after that I’ve now been in Sutton, in Surrey [UK] since then. It was hard to leave Georgia. I was eight at the time, and so coming from one culture into a completely different one – especially with not much English at that stage that I knew or I could talk of – was hard for me. But then it was also exciting because music was that one thing that stayed the same in my life. And I think that’s why I ended up making a career of it.”
Looking back, just how much of a wrench was it for an eight year-old to have to leave Georgia at such a young age? ”Yeah, it was a completely different time for me. I do remember very well, even down to the exact date that I left, that we had to travel to Turkey as there were no direct flights. So, we had to get a bus to Turkey and then get on a plane in Istanbul. So it was pretty intense. So, yes, it was definitely very hectic, but I enjoyed it. It was so exciting going to the West for the first time. Also, Georgia had just had a Civil War and so we knew we were kinda going to a better place.”
Is Ketevan Georgian for ‘Katie,’ perhaps? ”It’s not actually. Katie in Russian is Katié and the reason why you’ve got Ketevan there is that it is the long version of my name. So, it’s kinda like the equivalent of Katherine. So, that’s what Ketevan really is, but I’ve always been called Katie.”
With both KT Tunstall and KD Lang both shortening their first names down to initials, did it ever cross your mind to do the same thing?! ”Not really,” she laughs. ”But, it was really funny because when I first met up with Mike [Ball, her producer] and we started to mix the record, he asked me if we were gonna use my name or if we were gonna change it. And I thought well, why would you change it? I was 18 and was quite happy with my name, but the thing is that in hindsight now I would have liked to change it to something like Felicity Mugger. You know something completely different. It would have made it easier for when I’m trying to hang out in my personal space. Like when you’re buying something on your credit card and it’s got your name on it.”
Is it true that you came under criticism in the British newspaper The Guardian from writer and scientist Simon Singh for the lyrical content of the track ‘Nine Million Bicycles’ and the lyrics "We are 12 billion light-years from the edge, …”?! ”Yes, this scientist had a problem with the fact that the lyrics from that song I say that ‘… we are 12 billion light-years from the edge, and that’s a guess ….’ And he had a problem with the fact that I said that it was a guess! His argument was that science isn’t a guess and that the actual exact figure is 30.7 light-years. So, being that it was a quite popular song in the UK people would consider it a fact. But, it was a really funny thing in the end ‘cause I ended up meeting him and he re-wrote the whole verse to make it much more accurate. I then sang it to him and he agreed that it was absolute bollocks! So, we had a good laugh!”
So just where did the inspiration originate for this beautiful song? ”That wasn’t actually one that I wrote myself, it was written by Mike. What happened was we were in China about a year ago doing a gig there and our translator was actually a professional tour guide so she knew like everything about China and Bejing. So, she told us that there were nine million bicycles in Bejing, that there were 50 billion toilet rolls in Bejing, and so on. She then went on and told us all these kind of facts and Mike said to me that he thought that it was a really good song title. So I thought he was kidding and didn’t really know if he was talking about the bicycles or the toilet rolls! But then a few months later he had the song written. And I remember telling him that it was such a cute, weird, strange song that we had to record it. But I have to be honest that I didn’t think that at that stage that it was going to become the hit that it became in the UK. But I knew it had something unusual. And that’s always worth exploring.”
Tell us more about the photo shoot for the CD cover where you’re laying across two chairs in a small room … is there more to this picture then meets the eye, perhaps?! ”I can’t even remember because that was one of those pictures that we took in this cellar of this old house. I think I was just laying there bored out of my tits, ‘cause normally photo shoots aren’t the most exciting things in the world!”
It’s been claimed that your original ambition when you were 13 was to be a politician or a historian. What happened?! ”Yeah, it kinda was. To be honest I was just into politics and watching the news mainly because of where I came from. Because of the way that politics had played such a part in my life as a young kid growing up in both Georgia and Belfast. But I don’t think that there is ever a way now that I could make that my career, because music is something I absolutely love. And you have to really be consistent to be a politician, and I’m really not! I kinda believe that if facts change then my opinion changes. And I just think that life is complicated and so you can’t have those very strong opinions - and keep them - all the time.”
You also became a British citizen in early August 2005 after pledging allegiance to the Queen at a ceremony creating new British citizens. How much of a thrill was that?! ”Yeah, my family applied for British Citizenship because we’d lived in the country for more than ten years and that’s when you can first apply. This was like our final bit of stability for our family because if my Dad had ever lost his job in the last ten years we would have had to go back to Georgia. And, traveling is so much easier with a British passport rather than with a Georgian one.”
Finally, reveal something about yourself that you don’t normally get to mention in interviews! ”The weird thing that I like doing is actually a little card magic. Which is always a lot of fun to do, especially when adults are being skeptical in front of you! I was a bit dorky because I went and bought all the books and read about various different tricks that you can do.”
Interviewed by Russell A. Trunk
If you would like to win an AUTOGRAPHED copy of Katie's new CD, just answer this easy question: Her debut album Call Off the Search featured songs by John Mayall, James Shelton and who else with regard the track 'I Think it's Going to Rain Today'?!
Send me your answers and if you're correct you'll be in the running to win one of these great new and AUTOGRAPHED CDs! Just send us an e:mail here before July 1st with your answer and the subject title 'KATIE MELUA SIGNED CDs' to: email@example.com
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