Kate Thomas is a regular on the London circuit, she recently had one of her songs featured on TV on 'London Live', Croydon radio and KTOK radio. She has also just been confirmed for The Brentwood Festival on the same bill as UB40. She performs regularly at Proud Camden's Jazz canteen and at Cafe Bohemia.
We decided to meet up in the building that used to play host to The Krays 'Double R Club', upon entering, we were asked if we would like one or two bottles of champagne, we opted for the one, sat down and had a good old chat, here's how it went....
Please introduce yourself and your music in one sentence....
I have been a singer for a long time I decided to take all my influences from Jazz, Soul, Cabaret, World, Folk even Opera and step out on my own!
Give me 3 words that best describe you?
Passionate, Honest & Playful
What does music mean to you?
Happy, sad, smile, cry, pain, think, soul, joy, guts, dance, passion, peace, love, tragedy, despair … AND of course sex, death and madness.
In your opinion, what is the BEST album/record ever released?
I’m not cool enough to answer this question … I’m too eclectic to settle on one particular thing and it all depends on my mood. At the moment I’m listening to Hindi Zahra’s album Handmade – this is currently setting my soul on fire.
You were born into a family of Singers and Musicians, any famous names/interesting tales?
They are all musical and creative and in my immediate family they are all great singers – family parties are always interesting with us all fighting over the microphone! As for the rest … My Grandad ‘Farvie’ was an amazing drummer well known in the East end and used to play at the Krays’ Double R Club. He was also asked to be the resident drummer at Ronnie Scott’s but he declined saying ‘Nah I’m a simple family man’. Mum’s cousin Terry was a singer and guitarist and was in a band called ‘Shades of Blue’ and appeared on ‘The Old Grey Whistle Test’. As a songwriter words are important to me so I also want to mention my uncle who is a poet and he currently has a poem up at The South Bank Centre apparently Joanna Lumley is a big fan. So all in all we are musical, wordy bunch.
What classic song would you have liked to have recorded and why? Disco 2000 – My house was very small with woodchip on the walls!
Name three people (alive, dead or fictional) that you would like as party guests? Edith Piaf, Van Gogh and Ghandi
There are many good bands and musicians out there, who would you ask the readers of musicmuso to look out for?
I recently met this singer-songwriter on the circuit Paula Wichall sooo soulful and palpable. Rose Redd is an incredibly talented singer-songwriter fresh and honest, Bad Laydee is a power house you have never seen a live performance like it! I am also a big fan of Pandora’s Diary and The Whirling Dervlishes it’s sultry folk meets world music. I could go on!
I have read that your songs are themed on sex, death and madness, care to explain why?
My songs aren’t just about these things but it gives you an idea that I don’t shy away from these subjects. I am not likely to sing about ‘light’ subject matters there has to be a soul to my songs. I find it really difficult to connect with a lot of contemporary music as I feel that this is missing sometimes.
You’re appearing at the Brentwood Festival alongside UB40, how did this come about?
They put a shout out for female singer songwriters and as I’m an Essex bird too I managed to get myself on the bill.
Your ‘Living Room Sessions’ look very nice, have you considered opening it up to other artists to come and play there?
Good idea! I’m actually thinking of getting out of the living room and taking it to the streets or playing in kooky places. I’ll definitely get other artists involved.
If you could describe your music in the form of a fictional character, who would it be?
Esmeralda meets The Hunchback
Do you think we can ever live in a world where a chicken can cross the road without having its motives questioned?
No, but Questions are good!
What’s your opinion on ‘open mic’ events?
Great place to start and to network there comes a point that you will need to do more than just open mics though. I think it’s important to do longer sets to build up stamina and really sit into it rather than rushing on and off the stage. Also I’ve met both oddballs and amazeballs musicians at open mics so you never know what you are gonna get.
Give us your top three tips for surviving a music festival….
Booze, Bumbag and Wellies
Have you had any ‘Spinal Tap’ Moments? If yes, please share!
Yes – totally forgot my words and guitar parts on quite a few occasions! I call these ‘Tumble Weed’ moments. I also had a gig in the very fancy Pheasantry on King’s road and I had a major ‘Tumble Weed’ moment and had to fess up to the audience it was great though as the audience joined in and helped me through the song! Obviously I don’t want it to happen again but it was great as it helped me learn how to trust myself on stage.
What are your plans for what’s left of 2014?
I am in the process of putting a band together, Finish the EP, plenty of gigs and radio to come too!
The kindly hostess came over the second I finished pouring the last of the 'bubbly' from its bottle, we immediately received a fresh one, without even having to request it! such good service, if only other boozers had this kind of approach to its punters, the world would be a much better place. As we tucked into our second bottle, we unleashed some quick fire questions on Kate.
Coffee or Tea? Coffee – Can’t function without it
Coke or Pepsi? Coke
Drum machine or the real deal? Real deal! Real deal! Real deal! My granddad would have a lot to say about that!
Mac or PC? PC
Fry up or Sunday roast? Sunday roast
Lemmy or Ozzy? Ozzy
CD or Vinyl? CD
Holidays, hot or cold? Hot.....arriba!
Car or Motorbike? Car
Electric or Acoustic? Acoustic – Although I’m loving playing my Mum’s electric at the moment
Brad or George? George Clooney – If I have to!
Bath or shower? Shower – Haven’t had a bath in years
Tattoos or piercings? Piercings – You can take them out if you change your mind
Robert de Niro or Al Pacino? Robert De Niro
God or Google? God – If I choose Google my NAN would have a lot to say about that!
Interview by Steve Muscutt