Katy’s been based in Bristol for almost three years, but there’s still an element of Big City Living, having grown up in semi-rural Gloucestershire. The space between Cirencester and Stroud is one where everyone knows everyone with a kind of Midsomer Murders familiarity. She exclaims as she realises we share a friend in Stroud, bounding through stories about him and the small-town black markets that pop up around Glastonbury. Or, the one time something happens.
“I can’t live in London,” she segues into the conscious decision you have to take as a musician to draw yourself away from the capital. “It’s a great city, I just think it doesn’t do anything good for me. I don’t feel at all inspired, just creatively overwhelmed. It feels so full that there’s no breathing space. With my old band, I was here a lot but never found my cup of tea here. I think I was too sensitive for it.”
Before penning the dream deal with indie heartthrob Heavenly Records, Katy was in a hype band with her brother called Ardyn. A major label deal and three EP releases down, they were dropped before putting out a debut album. It was the kind of situation where parameters for success had to become recalibrated – 14 million streams just don’t cut it. “When we were dropped, my brother and I moved back home, and he had glandular fever and so I just went into the studio every day by myself, using Logic and started writing. It was hard work, once you’ve been on such a busy journey. As soon as it stops you hit the rock bottom… or at least, a very low point. Maybe that was how I was able to write these very personal songs. I was writing to make myself feel better rather than writing to do something for my career. It definitely gives you a bit of a kick, too. When it’s only you, you realise that you’ve got to do all the work or literally nothing happens.
“When I was signed to a bigger label and had more of a monthly income, I found it so detrimental because I wasn’t doing anything but sitting there and trying to write. When you’re busy, it’s so much better for your head, being able to live and let the creativity hit you. Being able to take time over it is so important. And I enjoy working, it gives me balance.”
Bristol has been an essential part of nurturing this new creative world around her. “It’s such a lovely music scene, and there’s a bit more space to grow,” she says. “Everyone’s doing entirely different things – Scalping are doing heavy rock, techno, massive vibes, and then there’s Grandma’s House who are my really good friends – they do this surfy post-punk thing. Then there’s Fenne Lily doing folk. I dunno, there’s not really anyone doing exactly the same thing, which feels special. You don’t think about Bristol and easily categorise it.”
The venues are consistently brilliant, too. You’ve got Thekla, a former circus boat and Banksy canvas, moored in the Mud Dock of Bristol’s Floating Harbour, The Fleece and Louisiana with iconic tour posters stacked on top of each one another like a proud grandparent’s memory-hoarding living room. Hey, The White Stripes once played to 10 people too. “I remember going in there when I was 15 seeing Summer Camp after school and just looking at the walls. Like, ‘woah, Kings of Leon!’. When I played there I had to really take a moment. Amy Winehouse played here too. It’s just crazy – it’s really nice, growing up in the West Country and being in a city with so much musical history.”