By Courtney Grimes

UK rock sensation Katie Melua has known what she wanted from the very beginning - but things change…

Katie was born in Georgia, of the former USSR, in 1984. Moving to Belfast (northern Ireland) when she was nine, and then London five years later, Katie never entertained the idea of being a singer/songwriter. At the tender age of 13, Katie was convinced that it was her mission to bring peace to the world, and had high ambitions of becoming a politician or historian.

However, when Katie was 15, she entered a TV talent competition singing Mariah Carey’s hit, “Without You,” and garnered three television appearances on ITV. It was then that Katie was bit by the performance bug. From there, Katie attended The Brit School for Performing Arts, and upon graduation, recorded her very first album when she was only 18 years old.

Two years later, Katie had signed a five album recording deal and management contract with Dramatico, out of London. Her first album, Call Off The Search, went six times platinum in the UK as well as #1 on the charts, while her smash hit “The Closest Thing to Crazy,” immediately hit the top ten on the UK Singles’ charts upon release.

With her bluesy and jazzy feeling tunes, Katie’s influences range from Queen to Joni Mitchell, Bob Dylan to Irish folk music. Currently on a summer tour through Europe, Katie took a minute out to chat about “Stars Up Their Nose,” musical emotions and her broken D-string.

CG: What was it like growing up in Georgia (ex USSR)?

KATIE: I love Georgia as it is my home country. It has great history and the weather is really hot in the summer. I also lived in Belfast which is a great city- it’s a great place for a fun weekend away. I experienced different cultures at a young age and have a respect for money and a lack of interest in materialism. I find it hard to spend money on extravagant things - I'm just not comfortable with it.

CG: Tell me about the TV Talent Competition when you first stepped out into the spotlight.

KATIE: It was called “Stars Up Their Nose.” It was a piss take of “Stars In Their Eyes,” and it was pretty good to win MFI vouchers worth £350 (which they described as a bedroom make-over but I did it up all myself.)

CG: Tell me about your Epiphone.

KATIE: I love the innovative styling of the amazing classic guitars Gibson makes. The Epiphone EN-546C Masterbilt is one I love. I take it everywhere with me and it’s great for both live performances and studio recording. It’s a great nylon string acoustic and has a lovely sound. It’s also a really good head size for me, as generally I find it hard to find one that’s wide enough but not too wide – this one fits perfectly.

CG: Which Gibson is next on your wish list?

KATIE: I guess everyone wants a Les Paul – I love the classic ones and would love to get one. I only play acoustic at the moment but I want to learn and it would be an amazing introduction to electric guitar, playing such a great one.

CG: Do you use any special tunings when you play?

KATIE: My first ever guitar was a three quarter size guitar I borrowed from my boyfriend. In the first week the machine head for the D-string broke and the D-string was tuned down to a D-flat, and so I tuned the rest of the strings down and wrote a song on it and now that song only fits me in that key when I sing. I always have to have one guitar that is tuned a semi tone lower than an E.

CG: What is the biggest difference between American audiences and European audiences?

KATIE: I personally find that each gig is different, I don’t really think I can tell you. If I tried to talk about each country’s audience I would be generalizing too much. Because even in one country you could get the most contrasting audiences depending on the size of venue, what kind of set you do, whether the audience is seated or standing, etc. I’m very lucky in that I have always had responsive audiences. This hasn’t particularly changed depending on which country I’m in. Obviously some audiences are louder and perhaps more up for dancing and singing along, but I don’t think it varies that much from country to country - more like from venue to venue.

CG: As a young musician, how do you see yourself evolving in the future?

KATIE: I’d like to make music that challenges myself. I’m particularly fascinated by the affect music has on people’s emotions - everything from happiness to sadness to anger has been explored in the past, but there are other emotions that could also perhaps be tapped into.

CG: What is your ultimate goal?

KATIE: I’d just like to continue making music that keeps me always interested and always wanting to make more. Commercial success is great but that should be never be the reason for doing this job. At the end of the day it’s about art and creating something you love.

 

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