The Sound of Renfrewshire: Kitti
Among Scotland’s leading purveyors of soul, we speak to Paisley-born Kitti about her influences, collaborators and journey thus far.
You’ve been working hard for years and underwent a few transformations. Now, do you feel Kitti is the most complete version of you as an artist?
“Totally. I was under my own name with the Katie Doyle Quintet for like three years, then Kitty with a ‘y’ but we had to change that because of a Norwegian screamo band (laughs). This is the most authentic I’ve been and it sounds good. A lot of the songs have been written for ages, but I’ve reworked them. I just want to make music that makes you feel good, I don’t want it to be forced in any way.”
You strike a unique balance between the contemporary and the icons of yesteryear in your music. Who stands out to you in terms of inspirations?
“Definitely early noughties R&B, Mary J Blige and D’Angelo in particular. Then, you’ve got Ella Fitzgerald and all the jazz greats. I love old films as well. Gershwin’s Funny Face soundtrack is a favourite. In terms of new stuff, I love Ari Lennox and this girl from Brighton called Ellie Ingram who’s amazing. It’s all got a groove. It makes you bop.”
When it comes to initial singles “Chasing the Crowd” and “Kandy Kissin”, a common thread between them has been an ethos of self-love. Was that a conscious decision on your part?
“It wasn’t when I wrote Chasing the Crowd, I think I was just having a really s**t day. I just questioned myself and that’s where the lyrics came from. It was a case of, ‘why should I feel the need to look a certain way?’ With the second track, it’s a lot more subtle but there’s undertones of it. I just feel like a lot of people forget to look after themselves, I’ve only started doing it recently.”
You’ve been entrenched in the Central Belt’s flourishing jazz, funk and soul scene for years now. Do you think it’s overshadowed by the hype that surrounds the area’s guitar-based bands?
“It’s there and people are aware of it, but I don’t think they know how good it is. Take a project like Coro. Alto, they’re bringing out four songs a month and doing things that some indie bands wouldn’t dream of. Everyone should know how talented these musicians are.”
What’s your ambition for the future and can we expect a homecoming show in 2020?
“A Paisley gig? Possibly, that’s one I’ll need to look into. We’re looking at an EP release in late spring, early summer. It’s a collection that I’ve been working on with producer Thomas McNeice (Gang of Four, Kassidy, The Lafontaines). He’s very jazz influenced and loves old school hip-hop, so working together has been amazing.
“When people say things like ‘what does making it mean to you?’ It’s not having a number one hit or being famous, that’s not on my to-do list. For me, it’s having a comfortable life. I just want to live happily. If any of the rest happens, it’s a bonus.”
Check out Kitti’s music on all major streaming platforms and Facebook.This feature was published in Mill issue 9 March/April 2020.