Katie Sutherland: Pearl without The Puppets


Sweet as a fairy cake, Katie Sutherland has worn me out. My face hurts from trying to match her smile. She giggles into her shoulder with lovable shyness. I half expect to see Tweety Pie land on her shoulder. She has a shining diamond on her finger and spent the most hardcore night of the year with her little sisters: model citizen.

With the release of her debut single, “Canvas” on November 18th, Katie’s been a busy little bee. On top of the digital release of “Canvas” there’ll be “Meddle With Hearts” at the start of 2014, followed by a tour, four more records and an album, all around the wedding.

“But I’m going to do it. I like a challenge.”

The challenge would be to improve from past well-received songs like “Because I Do” and “The Roses” in the upcoming new album.

“It’s very honest writing and it’s very catchy too. It’s the sort of album you can play in any scenario, just more of Katie Sutherland. It’s a very ‘Canvas’ vibe. It’s certainly moved on from ‘Because I Do’ but not changed, I’ve kept some aspects of it.”

Cynic that I am, I hoped to get something juicy. Expose the rising star for what she is: the nicest person I think I’ve ever met.

“I wrote Canvas when I decided to go back to Katie Sutherland and I had moved in with my boyfriend … I was just really excited about the future so that’s what the song’s kind of about: being optimistic and putting all your passion into something.”

There was my scandal! And I jumped for it.

What happened to The Puppets, Pearl? Was there a No Doubt-esque love-spat? A Paramore-esque fight for the limelight? All the sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle just too much to handle?

“Well, it was always a solo project. It was a bit like the whole, Karina and The Diamonds, Florence and The Machine, it’s just a stage name and I decided I needed a change so I changed it. It’s still me and it’s still the same boys that play … along with me. It’s still me, it’s still my music, just changed the name.”

Oh. So The Puppets are still in the picture, dutifully plaing Katie’s cheery tunes with delight. Handsome, well-groomed, funny men I might add. I caught one doing Cossack dance moves during set-up.

But I wasn’t done yet. When you’ve got candles spread around your stage and you’re singing about flowers, I think it’s safe to describe your image as “cutesy”.

“A secret dark side? I’m quite a chilled-out person. My mum and dad have always said I’m the most chilled-out person they’ve ever come across, out of all my sisters. It’s not that I don’t care, because I do, I don’t know, I just don’t get uptight. Although recently I’ve been a wee bit stressed about stuff, but I keep it in, I don’t let it show so maybe I do have a dark side, it’s just hidden.”

That was my last resort. I think I’d have to murder a family member to see that dark side, so I changed my tactics and asked where my favourite song came from. I got a heartfelt shriek of “Aw!

“[Girlfriend] was actually about a friend at the time … and he had a girlfriend and we never heard from him again and that was that. And still to this day we’re all like, ‘Aw, that’s a shame, because we really like him.’ We still do, but we never see him.”

It seems being compared to The Cranberries’ lead singer, Dolores O’Riordan, is purely coincidence.

“[Being compared to The Cranberries] is quite nice in a way because… I never listened to The Cranberries recently. It was something I listened to when I was younger, so it’s funny. It must just be something that’s stuck in your head somewhere while you’re writing, so I guess they’re an influence.”

Other musical influences of hers include Damien Rice, Regina Spectre and The Beatles, but Katie’s main form of inspiration comes from an odd place: Hollywood.

“It sounds really bad of me, being a musician, I don’t get influences from other people as such. I get influences from watching films, so whenever I watch a film I’m working.”

After two years at Glasgow University, mostly hitting open mic nights with a few songs, Katie Sutherland was spotted by Universal Republic and dropped out of university.

“Oh it wasn’t difficult for me. I think it was difficult for my parents but not for me. … It was a bit of a shock to my mum and dad, they were a bit weary of it but they are so supportive now. I think they’re quite proud of what I’ve achieved so far and I think I’ve proved to a lot of people if you really work hard you can do it.”

And it seems like it’s been the right move so far, not stalling her in the least. When I asked her what’s been the best moment so far, she was struggling.

“Might be a phonecall, actually no there’s been a few good moments. Playing the gig at Elton John’s stadium, (Wembley) that was good. But I also got excited when I got a phonecall to say that an offer had come through, signing my publishing deal, and … once I was driving the car by myself and – not knowing my song was going to be played – at the time it was on Radio 2 and I literally just got in my car, put the keys in the engine and my song was playing and I looked at my desk and it said Radio 2 and I thought ‘That was cool’. I think that was a wee moment.”

And to any aspiring musical geniuses…

“Write. Write so much, because sometimes you think “oh this song’s great” and you have to play your songs live a few times before you know your song that well. I just say write all the time. And don’t knock people’s doors down. Let them come to you, because if you have the basis correct then the only way is up.”

Look out for Katie Sutherland’s new single, “Canvas” in iTunes on November 18th and news of her upcoming tour.



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