Musical Discoveries: Please tell us a little bit about your background and how you were led to the Sleepthief project.
Kirsty Hawkshaw: I was born into a musical family. My father is a well known film music composer / arranger, and song writer. He mainly writes library music and as a child had his studio above my bedroom. I would listen to him composing and drift off to sleep, occasionally walking upstairs if the track didn't go in the direction I was hoping and interfere a bit.
As I grew up I used to entertain my friends in school on the piano, and write songs and poetry. When I left home I made myself a little studio, consisting of a cheap microphone and a two sided tape recorder. I would sit in my room after work and write layered accapellas, swapping two tapes so I could layer harmonies.
In the early 90s I joined a band called Opus 3,and we had a big dance hit called "It's a Fine Day." I left Opus 3 in 1994 and wrote O > U > T, which was produced and co/written with Mark Pritchard. In 2000 I started to get offers of featured vocals on various tracks. The first one I did was with the Silent Poets from Japan. From thereon the phone didn't stop ringing and I've been mostly writing with DJs, producers etc.
Justin contacted me through a chat page dedicated to my work which I occasionally pop into to say hello and tell everyone what I'm up to. I liked him instantly, as he had very good manners, and was sincere. Also there were a few fans who kept badgering me to contact Justin, Tim I think was the one who said, "work with Sleepthief!" I can tell instantly if something is going to work. Justin was very humble in his approach, and when I heard his music I was very keen to be involved. I think his ideas are unique and beautiful.
Did you always know you wanted to be a musical artist?
Yes, especially after my first composition called "Lets do what the monkeys do"!
And what can you tell us about your musical and vocal training?
I took singing lessons with Helena Shenel in the 80's after reading an article on the tube on a free magazine. Helena trained Annie Lennox, and saved Paul Young's voice. When she heard my voice she gave me a discount as her fees were quite high, she said, "You have a very nice unspoilt voice," and I'd like to train you how to preserve that and not ruin it. She taught me how to sing high without straining, changing vowel sounds as you go up, etc, loads of great tequniques that I haven't forgotten.
How would you characterise the song that you recorded for the Sleepthief album?
It's a cover of Duran Duran's "Chauffeur." I would say it's very sexy and beautifully odd. A really good version of a classic song, that stays true to the original but is different enough to stand out. The production is great and the mixing outstanding.
Did you share any of the writing duties?
No, but I did have the idea to speak the spoken word bit translated into German instead. I am half German and thought it would really work.
Please compare the material to any that you have done on your own or with others.
It's actually unlike anything I've done before. I certainly wouldn't have had the idea to cover a Duran Duran track. I would say though the production is somewhat similar to BT or Delerium. People that like those artists would like this.
And how was the project put together?
Justin and Israel sent me the backing track with the original version so I could learn it. I then uploaded the recorded vocals from my studio via the FTP site I run back to the States. I think I sent a CD also, with some of the vocals.
What kind of music do you find yourself listening to all the time?
At the moment I'm listening to Hanne Huckleberry and Bob Dylan. I mostly listen to Classic FM, a radio station with classical music in my spare time, it's better for the kids to have a classical upbringing. They can choose their own pop when they get older.
Do you have a career outside of music?
I am a full time Mother to two beautiful children. I have a baby daughter who is now three months old, and my son is three years old. In my spare time I write childrens songs for them and have released an album for them called the Sun and the Moon. It's available on my website dedicated to them. I am currently producing a "Dads must have" CD which is music for Daddies and their kids to share while mum is at the Spa, or out shopping with her girlfriends. (smiles)
What are your future plans as a musical artist?
I released an album on Nettwerk records called Meta-Message which has some of the tracks that I've been working on as collabs over the last ten years that I'm hoping gathers further momentum this year.
Also I am continuing to work with producers and should have at least five tracks out later this year.
What has it been like working the rest of the creative team on the Sleeptheif project?
Israel was a delight to work with, I mainly speak with Justin about ideas and stuff, but Israel and I had alot of interaction also.
How does it feel to share vocal work the other artists on the album?
It's an absolute honour! These are some of the best vocalists around right now, and to share an album with them is really a blessing. I consider them to be much much better than me.
Do you think "image" has a role in promoting your music these days?
Yes and no. I don't do many photo shoots, and lots of people like my music but don't know how I look, then I have had alot of compliments on my image which is always nice for a woman to hear, especially when you spend most of the day in saggy jogging bottoms with baby sick on your shoulder.
Has the internet brought you many new listeners, expanded your udience and improved your connection to the fans?
Completely! It's an amazing tool for artists like myself to have children and work at the same time. When they sleep I work, Saying that I do sleep also, am in bed by 10.00. And I get up early. The internet helps me to keep people who like what I do in touch and also enables me to perhaps give a more personal touch. Also I mostly work over the internet, networking, and sending vocals through the FTP site.
More Kirsty Hawkshaw: