Monday, August 29, 2011

Getting To Know... Katie and the Carnival

When recently visited Belfast, we had a strange night which culminated in having dinner with Phil Jupitus, Duke Special, David Ford and Katie Richardson. The latter is the driving force behind the rather ace band, Katie and The Carnival. Here, she tells us a bit about herself and her music:

Katie and the Carnival is only just getting started. It is a project that totally excites me because it is my own and it gives me total creative freedom. It reverts me back to being a twelve-year-old girl making up dance routines in her bedroom and enthusiastically singing into a hairbrush and performing to as many teddy bears and family members as would listen. It's my thought process and my guilty pleasures. Sometimes we dance, sometimes we cover the stage in flowers and lights, sometimes we dabble in the theatrical, but the core of the operation is the music. The ridiculous reality for me is that I find it very difficult to describe the music we make but I aim to make it entertaining and interesting. When people come to a live show, I want it to be an experience. I love to experiment with different styles and genres and mishmash things together. We make noises with anything and everything we can find and at the moment the music is very harmony-based. I currently work with six fantastic musicians who are up for (pretty much) anything... (Amy Joyce, Suzy Coyle, Conn Smyth, Conor Scullion, Mark Beatty and John Conway). Who knows where it will go? That's the excitement of it all. Katie and the Carnival is my baby and, as all good mothers would, I want it to grow up and be the best it can be.

I take inspiration from lots of different things - my failings, hope, stories, art, heartache, whatever I can, when I can. Different things inspire me all the time - one day it's feeling really lonely and the next it's feeling totally brilliant. I started writing songs when I was really angry and upset about a boy, which is a massive cliche, but it just brought something out of me. I love writing music - it makes me feel alive and I'm always so delighted when people want to listen to it. I grew up in choirs and I love harmony and dissonance so I play around with that a lot. In school I got to sing incredible music in great places like Westminster Abbey and the Royal Albert Hall which blew my mind and made me want to perform more and more. Musicians that inspire me most are the ones around me in Belfast. I feel surrounded by creativity, determination, productivity and a hell of a lot of genuine talent. I have so many creative friends - artists, film makers, actors etc. We share a lot of dreams and coffee and passionate intense conversations. They spur me on every day. I also get stage envy, as in when I'm watching someone perform I get really jealous that I'm not up their performing too. That drives me. I think/hope that my constant desire to be better will keep me inspired.

Belfast is a hub of creativity where there is always lots going on. I mean, it can be frustrating sometimes but the good definitely outweighs the bad. There are a lot of inspiring and talented people in Belfast who care about making the city the best it can be for everyone. It is filled with opportunity and development and is a very exciting place to live and work - there is always a festival on, there are shedloads of amazing bands, gigs and events and it's a very friendly place too. You can't walk to the shops without bumping into someone you know (which can be both good and bad!). Feel the love Belfast - I think you're grrrrrreat!

If I could only listen to three albums for the rest of my life, they would be... At the risk of being a total Cheaty Cheeky McCheaterson I am going to HAVE to say compilation albums. I'm sorry but I have no choice in the matter. I love and need far too many artists and genres in my life to just pick three. Also I don't actually think I've found my all-time favorite band quite yet - I have a short attention span so I move around with my tastes a lot. Maybe my problem is that I never really know what kind of a music I want to make because I like so many kinds. I go to a jazz gig and want to be a jazz singer, I hear beautiful folky harmonies and want to crack out a tambourine adorned with ribbons and make earthy folk music or I jump around to rock and desperately want to wear leather and be in a rock band... hmmm... anyway... there would be some Louis Armstrong on there - that voice; Velvet Underground; She & Him; David Ford; Tom Waits; Sandy Denny; Queen; Mojo Fury; Master and Dog; Bob Dylan; Led Zeppelin; Oscar Peterson; Rams Pocket Radio; The Strokes; Villagers; Fleet Foxes; Bright Eyes; Ryan Adams; Gillian Welsh; General Fiasco; Duke Special; PJ Harvey; Muse; Nina Simone; Ella Fitzgerald; Queer Giraffes etc. etc. the list goes on...

Aside from music I love to travel and one day VERY soon I hope to combine those two things. I have a great love of Africa and desperately want to go to South America. Australia changed my life - I went there very young, on my own and the world opened up for me. Then I went to New York to go to the Film Academy. Every travelling experience has been amazing so far. I also love to act and write music for the theatre, I work in Carnival in Belfast and am trying to learn more about puppetry when I have time. I LOVE fashion and have a weakness for fashion mags and coffee... together! Yoga grounds me, glitter cheers me up and I love being outdoors in forests and climbing mountains. Let's face it though... if we're honest there is only one great love in my life and that incredible love is for the beautiful and wondrous... humous... can't get enough of the stuff. I have even eaten it on cornflakes (not my finest moment).

I'm currently working on how to do all the things I desperately want to do. I'm a dreamer intent on living my life to the absolute fullest. I want to learn languages and explore, write for magazines and just be the best I can be really. I am starting to make music videos and plan new single releases and tours and writing at every possible opportunity! My serious focus at the moment is Katie and the Carnival and seeing how far I can take it. I have made a 50 minute film with Bandwidth Films featuring the band and want to release it and send it round the world. I want to put on more engaging musical events and gigs with a difference. I am also working on sitting down the odd time and developing my understanding of the relationship between rest and productivity. There just aren't enough hours in the day.

In five years time I don't know where I'll be, which is great but I hope I'll have been productive and worked as hard as I possibly could have. That way I can't be annoyed at myself and think 'what if?'. I'm very ambitious and believe that everyone has great potential to achieve lots of great things. I'm just working out how to tap into that potential. I don't believe that success is one single point, I believe it constantly evolves and grows with each individual. I've had so many great experiences in the last few years that I never would have dreamed of, so I reckon if I keep remembering that, I'll be just fine.

You can follow Katie and The Carnival on Facebook and Twitter, and hear some stuff on Myspace.

Interview by Bobby Townsend.

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