INTERVIEW: Kate Tempest | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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While the world descends into utter absurdity, there is a beacon of hope that resonates in the soul of Kate Tempest. The twice Mercury nominated, numerously awarded spoken word performer, novelist, playwright, recording artist and poet, Kate is a force of nature who uses her incredible talent and empathy to shine a light on the darkest places in society that we so often deflect. Having started out at the age of sixteen, her eclectic style has seen her soar from performing at house parties to the stages of Glastonbury, educating the masses by fusing literature classics with modern world observations. 

Having released her third studio album The Book Of Traps And Lessons in June, the artist was personally approached by legendary producer Rick Rubin. “When we started to write it, we had absolutely no idea what we were doing. I had been called up by Rick Rubin who said ‘I’ve seen you doing your poetry, I’d like to make a record with you’. Rick had this vision that he wanted us to do. He couldn’t tell us what he wanted us to do, he could only tell us when we weren’t doing it right, and point out the way for certain things. With my old albums, I began with a map and filled in the details, but with this it was a process of discovery and it was a bit challenging along the way.”

Kate is a force of nature who uses her incredible talent and empathy to shine a light on the darkest places in society that we so often deflect

Divided into two parts, the record is a perfect analysis of life in 2019; the ignorance, fear and narcissism that unknowingly consumes us all. The narrative to each song envisions a peek into the everyday characters we have adopted and the small realities of being alive; from the unwritten rule to not say hello on the tube in All Humans Too Late, the frenzied buzz of finding new love in Firesmoke or the gentle, analytical softness of stand out-track People’s Faces, that brings a beauty to a planet pummeled by terror. “The music is like a score rather than a beat,” Kate explains. “The music and the lyrics on my previous albums are entwined; they are part of each other, but for this album they run their own course separately. It’s a different experience. The music is extremely important, it’s doing things that you don’t even know it’s doing and these lyrics wouldn’t even exist without that music. The music has been set free from the lyrics, and the lyrics have been set free from the music. It’s mad.”

Adding another string to her bow in the form of a National Theatre debut next year, dabbling with several creative endeavours at once may seem like overkill to most; however, the 33 year old feels nothing but blessed. “I’m so lucky I’m in a position where I am able to make records and write plays. It’s a huge luxury and I feel so grateful. I hope I can continue.  It’s my whole being. It’s such a mystery; I could wake up tomorrow and have nothing to write, which might be the case. I didn’t ask to have ideas, I live in this perpetual fear that it might just stop one day.”

With a powerful live stage presence that has been known to reduce audiences to tears, Tempest performs at Newcastle’s Boiler Shop on Sunday 17th November. Speaking of the city, she enthuses. “I went there once a few years ago supporting Scroobius Pip on a poetry tour, me and my mate Polar Bear, and we had a really good night doing poems at this pub venue, but I haven’t been back there in ages. I’m really excited and I hope that people come out and I get to experience a new crowd.”

Kate Tempest plays Newcastle’s Boiler Shop on Sunday 17th November



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