Katie Melua’s Album No 8 came out on October 16. Melua is one of Britain’s most successful artists. Her catalog has been certified platinum 56 times around the globe. She joins Kate Bush as the only 2 British female artists to reach Top Ten with seven consecutive albums in UK chart history. She is also in the Guinness Book of Records for playing the deepest underwater concert at 303 meters below sea level in 2006. She is only 36.
Melua’s debut album was Call Off The Search which she made at 19. Album No 8 was produced by Leo Abrahams and was recorded with the Georgian Philharmonic Orchestra. The lead single is “A Love Like That”
FEMMUSIC: What was the biggest challenge making Album No 8?
KM: Writing lyrics that were clear, truthful and appropriate for songs. I’ve always been fascinated by lyrics specifically because as a vocalist that’s the main material that I work in. It’s a great challenge to write clear and effortless lyrics in this classic pop genre and especially for them to feel true so that I sound like the 36 year old woman that I am.
FEMMUSIC: Tell me about working with Leo Abrahams? What did he bring to the project? What made you decide to have him produce it?
KM: Leo Abrahams was recommended to me by one of the best session musicians and artist called Tim Harries. I needed this record to celebrate great musicianship. I really revere the tradition of great session players and the way records used to be made in the 60s and 70s, and Tim suggested that Leo would be a great captain for manning the ship of musicians.
FEMMUSIC: What were you looking for in orchestration? You worked with the Georgian Philharmonic Orchestra on this album. You’ve worked with Stuggart Philharmonic as well as the Gori Women’s Choir in the past.
KM: The orchestrations were composed by Leo and I’d played him references by Charles Stepney as well as Gia Kancheli and Leo managed this magical alchemy of bringing the lyrics and the songs into a deeper dimension by being both adventurous and ethereal. The Gori Women’s Choir featured on ‘Heading Home’ and Teo Tsiramua arranged the parts, their discipline and attention to detail was inspiring to see in the studio.
FEMMUSIC: What was your vision for the album?
KM: A record that truthfully captures the complexities and beauty of how I see the world.
FEMMUSIC: What have you learned in the previous 7 studio albums that you applied with Album No 8? What did you do differently?
KM: The thing that I applied was working with great musicians, surrounding myself with really good people and what has been unique is that this is the first time where I have been in a position where the lyrics are entirely my own.
FEMMUSIC: Can you describe your songwriting technique?
KM: I tend to collect song ideas by having my ears open to sayings, how people talk, the sound of sentences and words and sometimes the sounds of life around me and atmospheres. The next stage is usually me with a co-composer where we flesh out a demo so harmonically and musically we set a musical architecture and the final stage is then me writing alone for many months working on the words.
FEMMUSIC: What song (not your own) has had the biggest influence on you and why?
KM:“People’s Parties” by Joni Mitchell – I love Joni Mitchells’ mixture of storytelling and stream of consciousness. Her description of feeling social anxiety is so great to hear from Joni Mitchell. Musically it seems to utterly depict the underlying emotions that the song talks about.
FEMMUSIC: What challenges, if any, have you faced as a woman in the music industry? And how did you overcome them?
KM: If I’m honest I think I faced as many challenges for being the youngest in a group. I’m not saying this just to be anecdotal, but it’s true. I would struggle to get my voice heard because I was the least mature. On the question of sexism; whenever there was any whiff of it towards me, I just didn’t give a fuck, and I just carried on getting as good as I could be with a job that I love.
FEMMUSIC: What one thing would you like to change about the music industry?
KM: It’s actually seeming to be going this was already, I see it in the young generation of artists… less drugs and alcohol.