It's KT time
HAVING witnessed very little of Scottish singer/songwriter KT Tunstall live, we will have two opportunities this year.
The first is when she plays Chagstock in a great line-up that also includes Fun Lovin' Criminals, Alabama 3, Seth Lakeman, Juan Zelada, Martin Harley and Mad Dog McRea.
The second is when she appears at Plymouth Pavilions as special guest for Jools Holland.
Her previous appearance was at the Eden Project, "one of my absolute all time favourite gigs, such an amazing place".
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She's thrilled about headlining Chagstock with its glorious setting. But she's also extremely excited about touring with Jools, because his show gave her the big break.
"I was touring and in York when I had this phone call to say there'd been a cancellation on Later," says KT, "so I jumped on a train, went and recorded the show then came back and continued with the tour.
"After the performance I knew I'd nailed it – at least not messed up – but it soon became apparent how big a deal it was. After that everything took off."
Eye To The Telescope, stuffed with wonderfully up-vibe accessible folk pop tunes, including her TV debut Black Horse and the Cherry Tree, became a world-wide hit and the follow up, Drastic Fantastic, went platinum.
"I don't think I digested the success," she confides, "Then I found myself one time playing Live Earth to 80,000 people in New York and I realised that if I multiplied that massive number by around 40 it came close to how many had bought my albums.
"It hit me and I was sort of able to grasp the magnitude."
However, after several years of relentless touring to promote the first couple of albums, come her third she had self doubts.
"I realised I'd gone from zero to hero without a break and I suddenly found myself sort-of running on empty."
The feeling was compounded when she took part in the Cape Farewell project in Greenland, living on a boat with a group of artists writers and musicians, all invited to create their response to the harsh landscape and climate change.
"I was there with Martha Wainwright, Jarvis Cocker and all sorts of clever writers and thinkers and I just felt my stuff jarred against theirs – I was always haunted by the feeling of not being good enough, but this really rammed it home."
She decided to take time out to go travelling with her new husband, drummer Luke Bullen.
"I had been travelling all over the world without having time to actually see anything of it; one time we did a day in New Zealand – just one day!
"So we went back to New Zealand and India and Chile and Peru and all sorts of fascinating places, to get the life balance back."
The break did the trick and KT returned with a renewed passion and new direction for her music. She started work in her solar-powered home studio before heading Stateside to work with top songwriters Linda Perry and Greg Kurstin. Having concocted 75 songs, she returned to team up with Jim Abbiss, producer for Arctic Monkeys, Kasabian, Editors and Adele.
"Jim and I share this love of dance music and our first few meetings involved listening to tons of '80s disco dance, everything from Orbital to Salt'n'Pepper, Chemical Brothers to George Michael.
"I realised that dancing around the campfire is exactly the same dancing to club music. Losing yourself in the middle of nowhere around a fire is no different to losing yourself surrounded by hundreds of people on a dance floor."
"And also all the tunes have a banging beat."
So KT came up with the term 'nature techno', "think Eddie Cochrane meets Leftfield". The resulting 2010 album, Tiger Suit, is a collision of raw up-front rootsiness with modern electronic textures.
KT is now thinking of veering off in another direction, going to Arizona to meet jazz pianist How Geld and his desert punk band.
Meanwhile she is focusing on solo performance and earlier this year released an EP, Scarlett Tulip.
"I love the idea of just me and my guitar and it's a brilliant way of stripping back all the material to the basics.
"It's what I'll be doing at Chagstock."
KT Tunstall will be headlining the acoustic stage at Chagford on July 20 (www.chagford.info).
Tickets to see KT at Plymouth Pavilions with Jools Holland on December 14 cost £19.50 and £34.50 (box office: 0845 146 1460).