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FEATUTRE HEADING: blah blah balh

 

Feature Intro:After having won the Musician of the Year award at this year’s Folk Awards and playing with almost everyone from Jon Boden and Eliza Carthy to Hannah Ja

 

Feature Interviewer SF: Question

Feature Interviwee BH: answer

 

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Sam Sweeney

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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White Horse Whisperers

Five Questions … Katy Rose Bennett

 

Katy Rose Bennett has been releasing albums under the KTB name for a few years, but her superb new album, Songs of the River Rea, is the first under her full name. Shire Folk caught up with her after her excellent set at Wood Festival and first we tackled the name change …

 

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Katy Rose Bennett

SF: After having released three albums under the KTB moniker, Songs of the River Rea has been released under your full name. Why the change and do you think the change is reflected in the music?

KRB: Well, I’ve been called ‘KTB’ since I was 14 and I think I felt the need to let go of that moniker as I ‘mature’, having recently reached the grand old age of 33! Also, I also noticed that ‘KTB’ sounds a bit like the name of a trance DJ and maybe doesn’t fit with the music I create. Another big reason for the name change was the emergence of pop star Katy B – it seemed necessary to avoid confusion! I went through a couple of difference stage names, including Katy Rose & The Cavalry Parade, before settling on the name I was born with. Musically, this new album feels to me like a natural progression from the last KTB album (Indelible Ink) – my writing style is a little more mature, more reflective of the world around me, not just my inner world. Also, it’s a bit more country and full-bodied than some of my earlier work. I’m immensely proud of the three albums I created in my teens and twenties – they were very much of their time. There are a few songs from each album which I still play live and there are others which don’t seem relevant now. Maybe one day I’ll make a ‘greatest misses’!

SF: How do you think your work in music therapy has impacted on the music you produce?

KRB: For a few years while I was training to be a music therapist and when I’d just qualified, I found it really quite hard to create my own music. The training itself is fairly gruelling emotionally, not least because you undergo individual psychotherapy and you’re required to reflect on your own mental processes. Having suffered with severe depression in the past, I had to be sure that I was mentally ready to be a therapist to others – ‘physician, heal thyself’ and all that. It’s an ongoing process of reflection and balance. So, in the last couple of years, I’ve been finding my creative voice again. The process of writing and performing my songs and playing music with my friends is my own therapeutic outlet – not self-indulgence but an essential part of a balanced life. I couldn’t be a music therapist without having time to play my own music and, equally, I don’t think I’d enjoy performing if I didn’t spend half my time being a therapist. Recently, I have learned a lot about ‘grime’ music too from some of the teenagers I work with – being a therapist opens your eyes to other people’s musical loves which you might not otherwise listen to! Maybe Stormzy would like to collaborate …?

SF: Has having two brothers involved in the music industry been a help or a hindrance?

KRB: Hmmm … there’s a tough question! My brothers (Robin and Joe Bennett of The Dreaming Spires) have opened a number of doors for me over the years and enabled me to produce my own records, for which I’m incredibly grateful. Three of my four albums have been recorded at my brothers’ Truck Studios in Steventon, Oxfordshire and Joe co-produced Songs of the River Rea with me. Inevitably, there will be calls of ‘Nepotism!’ and for a while I actively tried to carve my own way without their help. But, as I grow older, I realise that the music industry is full of people helping each other out and why would I not ask for a little help from my friends just because I’m related to them? Also, I love their music – Robin is a brilliant songwriter and Joe is a gifted multi-instrumentalist, arranger and producer. One day, perhaps we’ll all make an album all together- some 3-part, old-time modern country-folk songs. So, overall, definitely a help!

SF: Songs of the River Rea has been one of my musical highlights of the year so far and one of the reasons for that is the eclectic range of music styles on it. Which comes first – the musical style or finding a style to fit the song?

KRB: Ah, thanks! I suppose my musical styles are a reflection of all the music I have absorbed since I was born: The Beatles, Patsy Cline, k d lang, Ella Fitzgerald, Gillian Welch, The Be Good Tanyas (and Jolie Holland especially), Bjork, Bach ... The song comes first and some songs immediately fall in to a style whilst others take a while to be realised. For instance ‘Driving Home’ (a song about the birth of my son) began life as a gentle, finger-picked folky number but in the recording process morphed into a more upbeat, country string-band style. I’ve played a few gigs this year with a full band (bass, drums, keys, guitar, fiddle) and it makes the live experience quite different and exciting. I also love playing solo as you have a more direct relationship with the audience and it’s just you and the song. Not sure if that answers the question!

SF: The new album is perhaps more sonically developed than your previous albums; was that deliberate or a result of taking time to produce the album?

KRB: I think it was the natural process of taking seven years to write and record the album! We spent a total of probably ten days recording and mixing but spread out over the course of two years – weekends or days here and there. This means songs and arrangements have time to settle. Also, my brother Joe and I are slightly better able to negotiate the creative process than we were 15 years ago when we recorded All Calm in Dreamland (my first album). I had very definite ideas of how I wanted songs to sound and Joe brought his ideas too. He might say ‘How about adding this texture or this drum beat?’ and I’d go ‘I don’t think so. But let’s try it’, and we would and sometimes I’d still say ‘No way!’ and other times, it would be exactly what a song needed. I was very clear that I didn’t want the album to be too long (I have a short attention span!) and I wanted it to sound cohesive and tied together. I think we’ve achieved that. I particularly enjoyed recording our multilayered backing vocals – that was a lot of fun! There are some fantastic musicians on there too – Mike Monaghan on percussion and drums, my long-time collaborator Phill Ward on electric guitar, Hannah Rhodes on backing vocals, my brother Robin on flute and a guest spot from pedal steel player CJ Hillman (Billy Bragg’s band). Having said that, one of my personal favourite songs on the album (‘One More Time’) is just me playing the piano (with Joe and I providing backing vocals). It’s about my mum and it was a very emotional song to record.

Katy Rose Bennett’s latest album Songs of the River Rea is out now.

Jonathan Roscoe