KT Tunstall sat down with The Creative Coalition CEO Robin Bronk in the latest episode of “At Home With The Creative Coalition,” a podcast featuring unplugged and uncensored conversations with today’s biggest stars. In the newest episode, Tunstall opens up about how she landed her first big appearance on “Jools Holland” because Nas cancelled, her favorite things about her smash hit song “Suddenly I See,” feeling fulfilled through her creative process, and much more. Highlights below.
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Highlights from “At Home With The Creative Coalition” featuring KT Tunstall —
On signing a record deal and getting her big break on “Jools Holland”:
“I would agree with everyone else, probably, that it was ‘Jools Holland.’ I’m very lucky to have Chinese ancestry because I was 29 when I did that show, and I look about 15. Everybody assumed that I was really young and I was not really young. I was a woman! And I was at the very end of any opportunity of that working. You know, you’re 29, it’s hard to get a record deal at 29… Nas the rapper was on the ‘Jools Holland’ show and pulled out and I got a call 24 hours before the show when I was on tour with my friend’s band playing keyboards on the road. I got told to come back to London because I had got offered this spot on ‘Jools Holland.’ No one in that band even knew I was doing my own thing. I think I was very torn. It was a really weird conflict in me. I never wanted to sign a record deal, that was why it took me so long. I wanted to stay independent … All my fellow music friends in Scotland were very anti-establishment. And so I had not really wanted to enter into the commercial world of music business, even though I knew that was probably the most financially secure route. So there was a lot in me. ‘Black Horse and the Cherry Tree’ is actually a song about the conflict I felt about signing my soul away to a record deal. It was not a joyful moment for me, it was a very conflicted moment for me even though I knew it was what I had to do.”
On writing her smash hit song “Suddenly I See”:
“I was signed at this point, and it was this horrible kind of window where they’re asking you to write some singles, which you can’t do. It’s just impossible to do. There absolutely is a formula now. And I think there always has been a formula, where you have a good shot at writing a single but it’s nothing on the magic of writing a song that just hits and aligns properly… [It took] half an hour. Done. And it’s over 50% of my overall financial success. I mean, the amount this song has done for me – you know, I just headlined Times Square in New York for New Year’s Eve. And it’s because of this song and because of ‘Black Horse and the Cherry Tree’ and these songs that have just permeated – they’ve become much more famous than me… The thing I’m probably most proud of with ‘Suddenly I See’ is, it’s really fucking hard to write a happy song. It’s much easier to write sad songs than happy songs because happy songs so often just present themselves as completely two-dimensional and unrealistic, whereas we can all just completely accept that you would just be sad, but, like, no one’s just happy! I think just that we don’t really respond in the same way to someone going ‘I’m great! Everything’s great!’ You know? We hate that person, and we also don’t learn much from that. So it was really great to be able to write this kind of aspirational, positive song. I also love the fact that it really resonated with women.”
On rediscovering her happiness through the creative process:
“First of all, I think it’s very personal. I think that we all relate to our – it’s impossible to separate yourself from your work when you are the work, and your heart is the work. So let’s just forget about even trying to do that. It’s never going to happen. But I think I was finding that it was impacting my life negatively, where I was not really rooting down into relationships in my life because I kept telling myself that I couldn’t because I needed to be completely available to my job. And as I got older, I was realizing that that was not going to end up taking me to a happy place. I was miserable. I had basically achieved everything I wanted. I got married, I had two big houses, and I just felt miserable. I didn’t feel how I expected I was going to feel. And I think it was partly that I had achieved it. You know, what do you do next? But secondly, a lot of my passion and happiness is in the process, and is in the exploration and in the freedom of popping left to right… My dad died, and that was the catalyst. There’s a saying in Eastern philosophy called ‘satori,’ which means ‘to wake up.’ And it really felt like ‘The Matrix.’ I just felt like I had woken up in this slimy pod and I could see that I got it wrong. And I thought I had done everything I wanted and done it right, and when my dad passed, it was really a gift, you know? I missed him and it was really sad that he went, but he was an old man and his passing was a huge kick up my proverbial ass, because he didn’t do everything he wanted and he wasn’t an entirely fulfilled guy. He hadn’t necessarily always done the thing that he’d wanted to do, and I think that hit home when he died, and I was just like ‘Okay, you’ve just got one go at this, and if you’re not happy, you need to find out why.’ And it was within a week of my dad dying that I knew I had to get out of my marriage. I was with the wrong person. And I got divorced, sold everything I owned, and moved continents and started again.”
More about “At Home With The Creative Coalition”
Hosted by The Creative Coalition CEO Robin Bronk, “At Home With The Creative Coalition” brings listeners intimate portraits, key moments of discovery, and “art and soul” conversations with iconic entertainment industry personalities from the big screen to the boardroom, from L.A. to D.C. Listen now at http://thecreativecoalition.org/podcast.
Upcoming guests include Justin Bartha (“The Hangover,” “National Treasure”), Kerry Ehrin (“The Morning Show”), New York Times Bestselling Author Susan Isaacs (“Compromising Positions”), Molly Smith Metzler (“Maid”), Ken Olin (“This is Us,” “Thirtysomething”), Joe Pantoliano (“The Sopranos,” “The Matrix”), Yolonda Ross (“The Chi”), and Reid Scott (“Echo”).
Previous guests include Jason Alexander (“Curb Your Enthusiasm”), Shiri Appleby (“UnREAL”), David Alan Basche (“The Exes”), Asante Blackk (“This Is Us”), Carly Chaikin (“Mr. Robot”), Wilson Cruz (“Star Trek: Discovery”), Alan Cumming (“Schmigadoon!, “The Good Wife”), Ethan Cutkosky (“Shameless”), The Creative Coalition President and actor Tim Daly (“Madam Secretary”), Lea DeLaria (“Orange Is the New Black”), Griffin Dunne (“This Is Us”), Michael Fishman (“Roseanne,” “The Conners”), Jim Gaffigan (“The Jim Gaffigan Show”), Willie Garson (“And Just Like That…”), Judy Gold (“The Other F Word”), Nicholas Gonzalez (“The Good Doctor”), Clark Gregg (“Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.”), Tony Hale (“Veep,” “Arrested Development”), Evan Handler (“And Just Like That…,” “Californication”), Patricia Heaton (“Everybody Loves Raymond,” “The Middle”), Jon Huertas (“This Is Us”), Jason Isaacs (“Star Trek: Discovery,” “Harry Potter”), Richard Kind (“Curb Your Enthusiasm”), Chad Lowe (“Supergirl”), Aasif Mandvi (“The Daily Show”), Rachel Mason (“Circus of Books”), Marlee Matlin (“CODA”), AnnaLynne McCord (“Let’s Get Physical”), Eric McCormack (“Will and Grace”), Wendi McLendon-Covey (“The Goldbergs”), Katherine McNamara (“Shadowhunters”), Marta Milans (“Shazam!”), Rob Morrow (“Billions”), Kathy Najimy (“Younger”), Haley Joel Osment (“Future Man,” “Entourage”), Bill Prady (“The Big Bang Theory”), Jessica Queller (“Supergirl”), Anthony Rapp (“Star Trek: Discovery”), Mona Scott-Young (“Love & Hip Hop”), Alena Smith (“Dickinson”), Julie Taymor (“The Lion King”), Krista Vernoff (“Grey’s Anatomy”), Matt Walsh (“Veep”), Alfre Woodard (“Clemency,” “Luke Cage”), Constance Zimmer (“Good Trouble”), and David Zucker (“Airplane!,” “Scary Movie”).
More about The Creative Coalition
The Creative Coalition is the premier nonprofit, nonpartisan 501(c)(3) social and public advocacy organization of the arts and entertainment community. Founded in 1989 by prominent members of the creative community, The Creative Coalition is dedicated to educating its members on issues of public importance. Actor Tim Daly serves as the organization’s President. The Creative Coalition also creates award-winning public service campaigns including #RightToBearArts to promote the efficacy of the arts. For more information, visit https://thecreativecoalition.org.