Katie Melua Piece by Piece interview - Katie Melua Piece by Piece interview

2008-11-30 15:48

Jean Barker for CHANNEL24: So what's changed in terms of your life since you released Call off the Search?

Katie Melua: Well obviously my career's kind of changed. Things have been kind of hectic. I've been touring a lot and going on the road and travelling, and speaking to people like you [laughs]. So obviously what I do day to day has changed. My personal life has stayed the same though, which is really great. I can still walk down the street and not get recognised. And I really appreciate that because I'm a fairly sort of private person.

CHANNEL24:: Shy Boy is such a sweet song. Do you find that now that you're so famous, people are scared to approach you. Do you get a lot of weird letters? And do you read them?

KM: [laughs] It was just a funny, cute little song and not really based on life. I'm neither here nor there when it comes to shy or outgoing people. But I guess generally speaking I don't like a particular time of man. You just end up being so busy. So you just kind of work, and get on with it, and make music.

CHANNEL24:: "Nine Million Bicycles" is a pretty quiet song for a single, but it's my favourite on the album. Usually I tend to hate the single. How did you choose it?

KM: When we finished the album, we played it for a lot of people. And people reacted really well to that one and it seemed like the best first single. So we just decided to go for it.

CHANNEL24:: You wrote one of your songs when you were last in South Africa. "Halfway up the Hindu Kush". How did you come to write that song?

KM: Funnily enough we were in America and someone mentioned the words 'halfway up the Hindu Kush' and Mike (Batt, her songwriting partner) said "Oh that's such a good song title". And this was how "Nine Million Bicycles" was written. We were in Bejing and someone had said there "nine million bicycles in Beijing" and Mike said "that's such a good song title". And I think most of the time he sort of forgets about these things when he says them, in the middle of a conversation, but I actually went away and decided to write it - as a joke, really. We were in South Africa at the time that I made up quite a funny little chorus. And Mike said "I really like the chorus. Do you mind if I do the verses"?

CHANNEL24:: What were some of the highlights of your trip to South Africa?

KM: Oh, all the gigs I did in South Africa were amazing but the Nelson Mandela concert was particularly the biggest highlight of my career so far. Because not only do I get to meet a living god, but I got to sing with my all time favourite band, and that's Queen.

MCHANNEL24:: You seem to be more informed and interested in what's going on in the world than most pop stars are. Where does your awareness stem from?

KM: I think it's probably to do with where I grew up. I grew up in places like Georgia [in the USSR] and Belfast, where politics has quite a direct effect on your life. And even though I never really experienced anything bad myself - I didn't see any violence or anything like that - people still talk a lot more about politics in places like that than they do in say, England, where life is fairly good. Also I travel a lot, and the only English channel around the world is BBC TV News.

CHANNEL24: Your childhood sounds fairly amazing, like something out of a novel - moving from George in the USSR to Belfast. Do you speak some Russian?

KM: Yeah I do speak Russian but the main language is actually a Georgian language which is completely different to Russian. It's got its own alphabet and a different sound as well. But a lot of people do speak Russian in Georgia.

CHANNEL24: So how would you say "Halfway up the Hindu Kush" in Georgian. Georgian?

KM: [Laughs] Yeah, Georgian. [She says it.]

CHANNEL24: On "Thankyou Stars" you seem to be evoking a sense of wonder. Have you always had your own approach to what other people might interpret as a faith in a deity?

KM: I've always been fascinated by it. I don't follow any particular religion, although I did go to a Catholic school and my brother went a Protestant school and my family are sort of Christian Orthodox [laughs]. I'm fascinated with the questions of why we're here and what's the point of life. That song was very special in saying thank you for something we see all the time and that we witness.

CHANNEL24: So, Robert Smith of the Cure liked your version of Just Like Heaven.

KM: The producer said he played Robert Smith our version of "Just Like Heaven" and that he really loved it. And that's the biggest form of flattery when you're covering someone's song.

MWEB: And you've proved that you can write music - you're not getting caught in that trap of just being a good performer. Are you writing more stuff for another album now.

KM: Yea that's definitely something I'd like to go into. But you know, I'm always aware ... you know there are so many artists that are great performers and then they make an album and write it all and it's absolutely crap. And I don't want to fall into that trap either.

CHANNEL24: Who in the music scene do you enjoy working with - or who would you like to work with in the near future?

KM: Oh God... I'm huge fan of Kate Bush's, Joni Mitchell, Tom Waits. I quite like Moby as well...

CHANNEL24: Do you have any plans to tour worldwide, or come back to South Africa, in the next year or so?

KM: I would say Yeah, definitely. Probably next year. Because we'll be in the UK up until Christmas, and then we're going on tour early next year.

Katie Melua talks about her new album, and her new life.

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.