Little Red’s back on a mission

Katy B arriving for the 2014 Brit Awards. Photo: Ian West/PA Photos
Katy B arriving for the 2014 Brit Awards. Photo: Ian West/PA Photos

As Katy B gets ready to take her new album, Little Red, on the road, she’s feeling reflective about her success - most of which came as a total surprise, as the singer tells Andy Welch.

Perhaps the best thing about having a surprise hit is not having enough time to get nervous.

That was the case with Katy B’s debut album On A Mission. Recorded over a three-year period, it was released in April 2011 - and was duly nominated for that year’s Barclaycard Mercury Prize as well as kick-starting a two-and-a-bit-year touring cycle.

“At the time, I never thought I’d be a singer, even when I was making the album,” says Katy, real name Kathleen Anne Brien.“I was doing so much other music-related stuff - running club nights, going to gigs and studying music (at Goldmsiths, University of London) - that it all just felt part of the same thing.

“I thought I might end up as a music therapist or a music teacher, but hadn’t considered it any more than that. There was no pressure, from me or anyone else.”

Little Red - a nickname of the diminutive redhead singer - was released in early February and went straight to the top of the UK album chart. Quite the result, even if Katy says she feels a lot more responsibility this time round.

“I’m still having fun but it was definitely a different vibe,” she admits. That will happen when you’re signed to a major label like Columbia, part of Sony. Where there was once a pleasing ramshackle nature to her sound, that’s now gone, replaced by a more business-like approach.

“It was a lovely feeling just before the album was released, knowing it was finished and ready to go, although it was a bit like finishing school - excitement, mixed with this feeling of being unsure of the future and not knowing what opportunities there are going to be.”