Katharina Nuttall – everyday life source of Scandinavian talent
text: Helena Torstensson
Katharina Nuttall is an artist, composer and music producer. Born in 1972 in Drammen, Norway but currently living in Stockholm, Sweden. Her debut album “This is How I Feel” (2007) soon followed up by “Cherry Flavour Substitute” in 2008.
In March 2011 Katharina Nuttall released her third album “Turn Me On.” Review on Muzikantenweb gives it a 9 out of 10. In November a third single is released “Not My Lover”.
I’ve the pleasure of doing this interview on her birthday. During on what must have been, one of the rainiest summer days in Sweden. On Hultsfred festival, live review.
How would you like to introduce yourself for those how have not heard of you before?
Katharina Nuttall: “Well about the music, maybe it´s dark melancholic rock with elements of different kinds. It´s difficult to explain (laughs).”
When it comes to influences: are there any bands or persons that you would like to point out? Especially when it comes to your creative work as well as your style?
Katharina Nuttall: “I listen to a lot of music but naming a few; David Bowie is one of my biggest influences. I have listened a lot to RadioHead these last couple of years. Lori Anderson, she is like a sound artist and together with Lou Reed. Of course Patty Smith and Neil Young. I listened to a lot of English pop when I was younger.”
I find your music very emotional: it feels like it touches on many different levels. Where do you find your inspiration when you write and create music?
Katharina Nuttall: “Well that is also a very difficult question, because writing songs is like taking pictures. But maybe over a longer time. And I learn a lot from everyday life. Like meetings with people and relationships. Or things that you need to go through,like changes. Yeah I would say everyday life.”
Do you need to be on a special mood to write?
Katharina Nuttall: “Sometimes, I need maybe three days at home. On the first or second day I do nothing and then it comes at the third and fourth day. So yeah maybe that is a special mode, to be on my own.”
On your latest album you worked with the English producer Head, what can you tell me about this collaboration? Would you like to work with him more in the future?
Katharina Nuttall: ” I liked him very much, he was a brilliant sound engineer and also a very cool person. Not neurotic, very down to earth, with a lot of humor. He gave the band and me calmness: we felt calm and I think that is very important when you work with someone.
Because you are in the studio with economic pressure and he was very professional when it came to that. He was very professional as a person like no alcohol, just working for 14 hours a day, very English by that. But also he let me create the album that I wanted to do. he did not come so much with ideas and stuff, he mostly was like a mirror.”
Did he make you feel more creative?
Katharina Nuttall: “I don´t know, the record was very finished before I went into the studio. All the arrangements were in place, it was mostly about finding the sound.
To find like is it the voice that is the main subject, or is it the arrangements, or should I take the arrangements further? I wanted the record to be very simple, with just a few arrangements and the voice so I think we succeeded.”
You have done a very good and special cover of the Depeche Mode song “Stripped” on your latest album, how did you get the idea of doing this song?
Katharina Nuttall: “It was weird, because when it was the release of the Depeche Mode album “Songs of the Universe” in Sweden, they made this big party. They called me a couple of days before ( this is a few years ago), and wanted me as an artist to perform a Depeche Mode song.
So the day before I was like ‘ hm what shall I do?’ and I did an acoustic version of “Stripped” at home and then I performed it and forgot about it. Then when we were in Gothenburg recording. Often in studio work you have a flow, and sometimes you don´t have it, knowing you get stuck. You need to do something else for a while…
My manager suggested to do a cover song. It´s good for the record, managers are always like that (laughs). So I took the drums from another song on the record; I pitched it down to the half tempo. Then I was sitting in the studio room by myself and in maybe two hours I did my “Stripped” version. I used and had my own flow so it was not planned, it was improvised.”
It´s cool that you changed a line in the chorus, where you sing “let me see you stripped down to the bone” instead of ‘bra’ as in the original.
Katharina Nuttall: “The change of words was just a misunderstanding, when I did the vocals. I knew it was ‘bra’ but I sang ‘bone’ and afterwards I thought well that is okay. But you know, you are not supposed to change the lyrics when you do a cover song. But I thought with one word.. They should smack me if they heard it (laughs). It´s a good song and I also think it gets a different meaning when a woman does this kind of song.“.
How do you relate to the original song, do you have any thoughts and feelings about it?
Katharina Nuttall: “ I think it´s very… I have been listening to a lot of Depeche Mode as well; they are very good and often make very good songs. “Stripped” is like suggestive landscape, and I really like the lyrics. The lyrics are kind of frustrated, you don´t think about that when you perform it.”
Do you warm up before a show?
Katharina Nuttall: “Yes sometimes I do, often I don´t warm up that much. I am very focused on tuning my guitar and that is maybe my warm up. Maybe I drink a beer and that is my warm up. (laughs). No sometimes I sing scales, but today I did not do that. The live check was so quickly so I did not have time.”
What is on your mind before you enter the stage?
Katharina Nuttall: “I hope that my guitars are tuned (a control thing). To be focused and when you perform the same songs all the time, you have to be close to yourself. I think very much about finding the feelings and kick some ass!”
When you sing older songs, can you relate to the feelings you felt when you wrote them? Have they changed and gotten new meanings for yoi?
Katharina Nuttall: “ I like a song that I wrote for maybe five years ago. But I haven’t got that feeling anymore: you have to find a new feeling that are the same. Maybe I got the same expressions, the same things, but it´s difficult to go back when you are over something. When you have gone through and go back to that all the time. So no, I pick an emotion from other things on stage.”
Which of your own songs move you the most?
Katharina Nuttall: “I am very happy about one on my latest album called ‘Paper Plane.’ I like that song, it´s a bit weird. I did not think anything about it when I made it, but afterwards I thought that this could have been a James Bond theme and that is why I like it because of its dramatic course.”
When you listen to music, what is the most important for you? I mean do you listen and read the lyrics or just enjoy the music part?
Katharina Nuttall: “I take it all in a once, I mean a lot of people listen only to the music or only to the lyrics and I think it´s very important with both, you get the whole picture and often its the composed song how it is written together with the voice.”
If you were hit by a car and lie dying at the ground – but you got to sing once song that people would remember you for, which sound would that be?
Katharina Nuttall: ” That is a very difficult question, but I would sing ‘We are the champions’ from Queen.”
Please visit http://www.katharinanuttall.com/ for more information.