Singer/songwriter, Kathryn Williams talks to Andy Howells about her album, Crown Electric.
“I feel like it’s quite a pinnacle record for me “it’s my tenth album and after 15 years of writing songs I’ve got a reason to be doing it.”
Kathryn is well known for her collaborations with bands such as The Crayonettes and The Pond, but Crown Electric sees a return to recording solo material.
”We took 18 songs into the studio to work. Each process was about honing and seeing which ones were more successful and how string arrangements would work much better.”
“The nice thing about the album is I haven’t intentionally made it accessible, but people who have listened to it have said “I really feel like that song was for me.” That’s such a compliment. Once the songs get released, they are no longer mine. They start belonging to other people. It’s a lovely feeling that people take them to heart as their own.”
Crown Electric is indeed an impressive release. Summery sounds combined with heartfelt, sometimes bittersweet lyrics make a deservedly repeated listen. Everything about the album is well-thought out, including the title which has a connection to Elvis Presley.
“It’s from a lyric on the song Gave It Away, because Elvis drove trucks for Crown Electric before he was “The King,” never knowing which way light would shine on destiny’s wings. I had quite a few titles and I felt Crown Electric was saying the right sort of thing for this record. It feels nostalgic, it also feels strong and sounds like the name of a classic album.”
The first single from Crown Electric is the composition, Heart-Shaped Stone written with album producer and long time friend Neil McCall.
“A friend of mine was nanny for me a few years ago. We were on the beach and she said she’d been looking for a heart shaped stone for her boyfriend. Neil and I looked at each other and started playing the guitar straight away; we thought we’ve got to make a song from this.
“It’s been 4 or 5 years of honing that song and we wanted it to go on the right record. It’s got a sweet and sour lyric to it, but at the same time we wanted it to have that sunshiny feel.”
Heart-Shaped Stone’s accompanying video is already gaining momentum on YouTube and captures Kathryn with guitar on a beach in full singer/songwriter mode. It also features a comical twist at the video climax with Kathryn chased by a laser firing dream lover across the beach. The video is the brainchild of comedy writer James Serafinowicz and director Al Campbell.
“I asked them to come up with a few treatments. The writing of music is serious but what you want people to think you are doesn’t matter. So they couldn’t believe it when I said, “ That sounds brilliant – lasers shooting at me!” Like artists never do that!”
Liverpool born Kathryn, who has been based in Newcastle for the last 15 years, combines her career with parenthood and will shortly be touring with Crown Electric..
“Luckily I’ve got a really good husband who understands and takes time off when I go on tour, and we work it out together. It is hard but since having children I’m more ambitious than I’ve ever been. I want them to be proud of me.”
“What I want to do is create a special night, I’ll be going away from my kids which will be hard but I’ll put everything into the set. It’s the longest tour I’ve ever done. There’s going to be a three piece band with me including cello and guitar. We did a run through of how it’s going to be and that went really well. It will be quite intimate.”
Kathryn Williams plays Cardiff Glee Club on September 22, 2013.
A version of this interview by Andy Howells appeared in The South Wales Argus entertainment supplement The Guide during August 2013.