Kathryn Williams - Q&A
We catch up with Mercury nominated Jazz goddess, Kathryn Williams on her breath-taking new album ‘Resonator’ set for release on 18 November.
Since 1999, Williams has released thirteen studio albums. Her most recent musical companion, Anthony Kerr was voted best instrumentalist in the British Jazz Awards and worked with Williams for six years to finish the new album. Willams' latest work consists of ten carefully selected popular Jazz songs which herself and Anthony Kerr strip back and bring to life in an original form.
Over the course of her musical career, Kathryn has graced us with her sensual vocals and glowing lyrics. With this exquisite new album, we are able to reminisce as we lend our ears to it. So take a deep breath, tilt your head back and let her dulcet tones wash over you.
Q.Can you tell us about how you and Anthony came to work together and your collaborative process in the making of your new album ‘Resonator’?
A. Anthony and I met on my record "The Quickening" my first record with One Little Indian Records. It was recorded live - no more than three takes per song – and with a world class band of eight musicians in a studio, at the bottom of the black mountains of Wales. We subsequently did a tour in a Gold Bus where we toyed with the idea of making a jazz record together.
Q. What made you decide to do a cover album instead of songs you’d originally written yourself? How did you go about selecting the songs?
A. We wanted to explore the joy and beauty of jazz standards that we felt were like horses that had been ridden with whips, and we wanted to take the saddles off and strip them back.
Q. How would you say your music has evolved over the past 13 albums?
A. I think as a songwriter I evolve by saying yes to things that scare me, by working with people who know more about things I don't and by exploring and being brave.
Q. Could you tell us about your personal relationship with Sylvia Plath’s work and how she has influenced you as an artist?
A. Well ‘Hypoxia' came from a writing commission to commemorate Plath. That evolved into an album. Partly from obsession and a labour of love. My personal relationship with her is kind of a co-writing relationship … I feel that by writing an album inspired by The Bell Jar, I have developed a deep connection with her as a writer.
Q. You’ve previously been nominated for a Mercury Music Award. Could you tell us about other incisive moments in your career?
A. Waking up and feeling a hunger to write. A fear of not having another song in me … awards have never been an incentive, which is a good thing!
Q. Your UK tour is fast approaching. Where in particular are you excited to play?
A. I always love playing London, but actually after years of stage fright, agoraphobia and general nerves of living, I now find it a joy connecting with audiences.
Q. Previously you’ve collaborated with Chris Difford, John Martyn and Ray Lamontagne to name but a few.If you had to pick one artist alive or dead to collaborate with next, who would it be and why?
A. I love working and collaborating. Part of the reason I host songwriting retreats is so that I can sit in a room and get to know and write with amazing musicians. I would love to write with Sufjan Stevens or one of the greats ... Joni, Carole King, Neil Young, Leonard Cohen ...
Q. Outside of your music ventures, you’ve also been involved with your own group writing sessions and had created the artwork for the album covers, ‘Two’ and ‘Life of Birds’. Has it always been the case that you’ve had other artistic focuses on top of music?
I did a fine art degree and that's where I also sort of did a degree in music. Artists swap music and you are painting in the studios from 9-10pm, so in that time you have headphones on. By the end of my three years making art I had listened to so much music!
Q. What made you decide to go with ‘One Little Indian’ and can you tell us about your previous relationship with Punk music?
A. I have always admired the label. My previous Press Officer had moved to work for them and he got me a meeting for a deal. I love the label. The people. Their ethos. I am weird in a way…even though my music is quiet, I have always been punk.
Q. Can you tell us about your musical influences growing up in Liverpool and what drew you more towards to Jazz and Folk?
A. My dad was a folk singer. I got into American songwriters from the 60s and 70s at art school. And my dad and grandmother liked jazz. I've never really been into traditional English folk…