Interview: KT Tunstall, singer/songwriter

KT Tunstall
KT Tunstall
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AH yes, she remembers the Shakira debacle only too well. During the promotional campaign for last album Tiger Suit, KT Tunstall - no shrinking violet but not exactly known for vitriolic attacks against her fellow musicians either - famously accused the Colombian stunner of exploiting her sexuality.

Twitter went berserk at the news, the majority of tweeters tweeting that the Edinburgh-born singer should keep her gob shut.

KT Tunstall

KT Tunstall

A year later, Tunstall says the whole affair was blown out of proportion - though she gives a fairly strong hint that we shouldn’t expect to see her writhing around semi-nude in her own videos any time soon.

“It strikes me as very odd for someone to think, ‘You know what, if I put on a bikini, I may shift some more records’, but it happens,” says the 36-year-old. “If people are comfortable with that, fine, but it’s not something that would ever cross my mind.

“I write songs, I play a guitar and that’s it,” she adds.

Tunstall’s rise to the top is well documented. A one-time busker on the streets of the Capital, her big break came when rapper Nas, who was scheduled to appear on Later With Jools Holland, had to cancel due to a family emergency. Tunstall stepped in and her stunning performance of Black Horse And The Cherry Tree proved to be a breakthrough in her career.

Yet despite going on to become a phenomenally successful artist on both sides of the Atlantic, with four million album sales and a string of worldwide hits like Suddenly I See and Other Side Of The World, Tunstall has never let fame go to her head.

“I didn’t find fame particularly difficult, partly because I’m proud to be able to say I’m the most unrecognisable face in pop,” laughs Tunstall, who plays a fairly low-key gig (by her standards it is) at Liquid Room on Saturday night. “I seem to be able to get the bus from anywhere to anywhere.

“It was apparent quite quickly that I wasn’t into the private members’ club side of being famous,” she continues. “My friends were incredibly important to me and were not caught up in that at all.

“Also,” she adds, “I was being quite respectful of what I’d achieved because I had spent my entire 20s trying to get somewhere, and didn’t want to f*** it up by getting distracted by things that didn’t matter.”

Over the years, Tunstall has played some massive gigs, including co-headlining Edinburgh’s Hogmanay in front of 100,000 merry revellers in Princes Street Gardens in 2005, but when she returns to the city of her birth this weekend, the singer will be going back to basics.

The band, including her drummer husband Luke Bullen, will be left on the sidelines, as Tunstall plays an intimate acoustic show.

“It was just me with a guitar when I started out, so in many ways it feels like I have come full circle,” she explains. “I’ve been on the road with a band for the best part of ten years so I guess it will be a little strange, but there’s a part of me that’s really excited about going out on my own, plus I get to play different venues.”

Tunstall’s third album, last year’s Tiger Suit, sold considerably less than her first two longplayers - Eye To The Telescope and Drastic Fantastic. But despite this, the singer insists she’s not so fussed about the album’s sales performance, still feeling that it’s the best thing she has released to date.

“Sales have never been a source of joy for me in terms of my music,” she says. “It’s really about who’s turning up at your shows, what people are saying about it.

“The fans have been great. They’ve come with me to this slightly new place. That’s all I want.”

KT Tunstall, Liquid Room, Victoria Street, Saturday, 7pm, £20, 0131-225 2564