Musical Discoveries: Please tell us about how you hooked up with Mike Batt and what it was like to work with him.
Katie Melua: Mike came to my college where I was studying music. I played him a song I had written about the singer Eva Cassidy and he seemed to like the song. So we got together about a week later and I played him a few more songs, he also played some songs which I really liked so we decided to record a few tracks. After recording the initial first tracks which included "Faraway Voice," "Call Off the Search" and "Belfast," we decided to record more songs for a possible album as there were other songs I heard that I really wanted to sing.
It was great working with Mike as the recording was done in a very relaxed style where we would get the band together and just play around with the songs and jam. Mike had a really good philosophy of not getting in the way of the songs too much on the production side of things because he would never overload it with sounds. He said that the songs should be able to breathe and I thought that was a brilliant idea for what we were doing.
What about your musical training and education?
I have been singing since about the age of seven and I have always had vocal lessons. Three years ago I went to do a BTEC national diploma in music at the Brit School. This course included studying about music's theory, history, business and technology as well as performing regularly.
Please tell us about the making of your album.
The album was recorded in my producer Mike Batt's home studio. It took us about nine months of recording at weekends and when we felt like it. I liked recording a track and then having a few weeks to live with it. We'd all get together with the band playing around and experimenting with the material
The brilliant musicians who helped me with the album were: Jimi Creagan, Chris Spedding on guitars, Henry Spinetti on drums, Tim Harris on bass and Mike Batt on piano. So we'd record the band and then later Mike wrote string arrangements for the tracks which we went to Ireland to record at the Windmill Hill Studios with the Dublin Philharmonic Orchestra.
How have you been affected by the dramatic success of your debut album in the UK?
I really didn't expect a number one album because it didn't sound like it would be commercially successful to me as most music today that succeeds has more of a contemporary sound. So when it went to number one I didn't believe it. My life didn't really change that much; it was only when I started releasing the record around the world and doing promos that where I found myself travelling around a lot and missing home.
How would you describe the style of your album?
What my aim was when making the album was to record songs where the focus was on the melodies and lyrics rather than the production. So the style was to present songs in a simple way. That I guess, made you hear the lyrics and think about them.
How do the audiences react to your live performances and on-stage persona?
I love performing. It's my favourite part of the job but I am quite an internal performer. I find myself getting lost inside myself when singing and its almost like a selfish act of performing to yourself. Sometimes people enjoy that but I do probably need to communicate with the audience a bit more. On occasions when I have done this it feels like you go on this amazing ride and you take two hundred people with you.
What can you tell us about the forthcoming DVD release?
The DVD is coming out around September and it's of my first UK tour. There are definitely going to be some bonus tracks on the DVD as well as on future singles.
How would you describe the influences to your song writing and vocal style?
I draw inspiration from my own experiences and emotions as well as other artists. On the song writing side I find influences in people like Joni Mitchell and Bob Dylan. And other vocalists who I hugely admire are: Eva Cassidy, Ella Fitzerld and Freddie Mercury.
How do you think the US release is going to impact the public's interest in your music?
By officially releasing the album in America I'm hoping people will hear it more and if they like it, that will be great. We do have a video for the first single which was made without any planning. We were shooting stills for the album cover in a house and brought a small camera crew to film this. There was one room that had really nice light in it and so we just decided there and then to film a few little scenes, which ended being the video.
What are your interests outside of music?
Music was always my hobby and it still is. But I like hang gliding and would love to fly a plane one day.
How do you think the internet has influenced your musical career?
The internet really helped us because I am on an independent label in England. So when a radio producer started playing a few tracks from the album he got a huge response. When he played "The Closest Thing to Crazy," the website that we had was really the only source of information for people to find out about releases and gigs. The response from the public really gave us the confidence to release this song as a single when we hadn't planned to release one in the first place.
What are your hopes, plans and dreams for the balance of 2004?
I would love to do more gigs in America and also start recording the next album.
Good luck with the American release!