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January 2018 Archive
31.01.18 > Katie on Instagram
30.01.18 > Katie Haiku
29.01.18 > Tiger In The Night
These lyrics mean a lot to me. Katie is my tiger.
28.01.18 > Cruella de Katie?
Here's a striking image of Katie looking a little like someone out of a Dracula novel. She posted it as an Instagram story earlier today. Seems she was on quite a moody winter walk. In search of inspiration?
27.01.18 > Katie Bite > I Never Fall
26.01.18 > Covers v Original Songs
I find it interesting that quite a few people want Katie to do more covers. I lean the other way and want her to do more of her own material. It isn't that I have anything against covers. In fact, I really love hearing Katie's take on classics like Stardust, Lucy In The Sky, Blowin' In The Wind and Bridge Over Troubled Water. I've said many times that I consider Katie to be the best interpreter of song around and I hope at some point she does get around to doing an album of American Songbook Standards. But I would rather she put that on ice for the time being and concentrated on her own writing. I want to see an album of purely Katie's own work, including the lyrics. Collaborations are all very well but they are still somebody else's words in Katie's mouth. She is a better lyricist than she realises and the songs she has written on her own are the ones I treasure most because they are Katie in her own words. Her thoughts. Her feelings. Her emotions.
Mike Batt was great - most of the time. But there were some cringe moments. Asking a pretty nineteen year-old girl to sing about "going to bed in rubber gloves" always struck me as a little seedy. I'd much rather hear Katie sing about her grandfather walking in ten inches of snow. "My Aphrodisiac Is You" would have suited Lady GaGa better. That's one reason why I was glad to see Katie leave Dramatico and go it alone - the chance to finally see the real Katie. And "In Winter" did not disappoint. I can't wait to see what she does next.
25.01.18 > Sketch effect
24.01.18 > Strumming 101
I bought this book on strumming for the cover, obviously. Strangely, there's no mention of Katie in the book (other than the photo acknowledgement). So I'm curious why she was chosen to grace the cover instead of a "more famous" rhythm guitarist such as Bob Dylan or even Ed Sheeran. Well, I guess it was a good decision - if he hadn't picked Katie I wouldn't have bought the book!
23.01.18 > Katie's Lovely Hair
I just wanted to say a few words about Katie's hairstyles. If you stopped someone in the street and asked them to describe Katie's hair they'd probably say "long, black and very curly". Not surprising at all. First impressions stick, and those trademark curly locks were one of the things that really stuck in your mind when she first appeared on the scene. But when was the last time you actually saw her like that? I think it has been a while! The clue lies in the revelation that "curly" is not Katie's natural look. When I first discovered this it was a bit like the moment I found out they actually use apricot jam in Jaffa cakes. But you can see from her first television appearance, age 15, that her hair is straight (pic 1). Pic 2 is what is generally considered "classic" Katie. By the time of "Ketevan", pic 3, it was pretty much back to square one.
Now, I can understand going back to straight - it is much lower maintenance, not having to faff about with curling tongues all the time! But it begs the question - why did she adopt the curly look in the first place (or the Romanian window cleaner, as I believe her hairdresser called it)? Perhaps it was just because it made her stand out from the crowd (which it certainly did).
In recent years she has often sported a classy, elegant look, as in pic 4. Timeless beauty, and I do like a fringe, but I'm a hair down man, not hair up. Which is why my favourite style is number 5. I love the wild look married with that fringe. Together, it is a mind-blowing vision. Simply stunning. I could gaze at that image all day.
Finally, pic 6 is a recent grab from a Facebook live event. She was at her Mum's house and it looks pretty informal so this is probably how you'd see her in everyday life. And, as far as I'm concerned, she's as pretty with the natural look as any of the others. So next time I see you in concert Katie, don't worry about the hair - just come as you are and you'll still be amazing!
22.01.18 > Katie's latest Instagram post
21.01.18 > Still In Winter
This is the scene in my garden this morning. Not ready to put In Winter away just yet!
21.01.18 > The X-Factor?
I haven't watched the X-Factor for years. When it started, I liked the idea that it provided a way for talent to be unearthed that might otherwise remain undiscovered. For me, it quickly turned sour. The show was massively exploitive and ridiculously flawed in concept - some years there would be four or five acts that were genuinely very good and yet, ultimately, there could only be one winner and the rest were mercilessly discarded. There were one or two in particular that I thought were amazing but fell by the wayside midway through the show's run and have never been heard of again. And what of the winners? Guaranteed mega-stardom right? Well, some acts enjoyed a degree of success, for a while at least. JLS, One Direction, etc. were massive for a few years, but where are they now? Basically, these acts are given a one-off boost after winning the show to launch them and they are pretty much abandoned. Some achieve orbit briefly but eventually they all crash back down to earth. I've lost count of how many X-Factor "stars" have ended up on other reality shows such as Big Brother and I'm A Celeb. Why aren't these people in studios making new music? Was the music actually ever their real motivation or was it the fame and fortune? Make up your own mind, but I've yet to see one of these discovered acts really have a long-term success in the music industry. Will Young has been around a while, yes, but even he has been distracted from music by shows such as Strictly Come Dancing.
So what of Katie? She had the talent and the desire like many of the young girls on X-Factor, but had to take the conventional route of making good music and getting people to listen to it in pubs, clubs or wherever, with the hope of one day catching a break. As it happened, the fates were aligned early on for her when Mike Batt happened to be among the audience at one of her performances and was looking for someone exactly like her. It was serendipitous indeed for the teenage Katie, but I don't doubt that if Mike hadn't been there that evening she would have kept making music, performing, plugging away at it - and eventually would have broken through one way or another. Why am I so sure? Because she has a burning love of music at her core. For Katie, it's all about the music, not the fame and fortune. If you really want to know what the X-Factor is you need look no further than Katie Melua. You certainly aren't going to find it in a reality TV show. It is interesting that X-Factor now allows acts to perform their own songs, but really, the penny has dropped years too late and it should be obvious to any aspiring musician that if they really want to make a career out of music then such TV shows are to be avoided completely. Nowadays we have YouTube and social media, enabling someone to video themselves singing in their bedroom and have it online for all the world to see in minutes. On the face of it, that would seem a good thing but the problem lies in the fact that it is so easy for anyone to do it. Every day, thousands of wannabe pop stars are uploading their pieces and trying to tweet everyone that they are the next big thing. The internet is saturated with it. It's overwhelming. How do you sort the wheat from the chaff? How do you make your voice stand out from the cacophony of a million others? Frankly, I think the old way is still the best - hard work and perseverence. Learn to make good music, then get out there in front of people and perform it. There won't always be a Mike Batt in the audience but if you are good, word will spread and, like many wonderful stars before you, you can become an overnight sensation in just a handful of years! Remember, it took Bruce Springsteen a decade to achieve success with Born To Run, and by the time he became a megastar with Born In The USA he'd been making music for nearly twenty years. Like Katie, Bruce was driven by a passion for music. If that doesn't burn inside you then sorry, but you don't have the X-Factor.
20.01.18 > The Endless Song
19.01.18 > Katie Bite > Straight To DVD
18.01.18 > Music against Dementia
Dementia is one of the most destructive things that can happen to you. For the victim, the gradual decline in cognitive ability and memory loss can be confusing and frustrating. What it feels like in the later stages we cannot know. But for the victim's loved ones the decline becomes more and more distressing as they see the spirit and vitality of the person they knew drift away. The moment you realise they no longer know who you are is beyond devastating. But there is a lot of research that suggests listening to music can really help dementia sufferers. You only have to think about music that is special to you now and how that can bring memories flooding back. I know that Katie has a lot of fans among the older generation (my parents were two of them!) and so her music can be an important weapon in the war against dementia. When I think about how much her music means to me right now, I can't imagine anything that would have a better chance of reaching me if my mind had started to succumb to the evil predator. If you know anyone afflicted by dementia I recommend making them a CD of their favourite songs (or a playlist if they've gone digital!) - it can really help to jog memories. Try to mix it up with a spread of songs from throughout their life going right back, if you can, to their earliest song memories, songs played at their wedding, etc. And try to make sure they play it regularly! Seeing the joy return to someone's face, if only for a while, is something money cannot buy. Music is the best drug known to man.
17.01.18 > Remember...
We need food and drink to live.
We need music and love to be alive.
16.01.18 > Katie's Instagram post
15.01.18 > Keep it simple, Katie!
Quite a few people seem to want Katie to return to the music of her early albums. Personally, I think that would be a bad move, for now anyway. Since parting ways with Dramatico, she has released "In Winter". Though not really a Christmas album, many might think of it as such and it was something of a gamble as it was always likely to attract people towards the end of the year whilst struggling to make much impact the rest of the time, unlike a "conventional" album that you can keep farming singles from and thereby maintain a steady interest all year round. The gamble paid off of course, and "In Winter" was critically claimed and warmly received by many (though perhaps not all) fans. But I think it is important to remember that Katie is still finding her feet on her own and experimenting with music and it is vitally important she be left alone to get on with it. She will know that whatever she does next, some fans will not be entirely happy about it. She will also know that she has a core of fans that will laud her no matter what. It could be argued that the latter are little better than the former if they sycophantically praise everything she does regardless of merit. But that reliable core of support is actually vital for any artist. It provides a base to work from, knowing that no matter how poorly received their new work is, the core fanbase will at least mean it should pretty much pay for itself and not be a total commercial disaster. And knowing that must surely give an artist something of a mental safety net when they are trying new ideas.
Encouragingly, I've heard Katie say more or less that she will make the music she wants to and those who are fixated with the early stuff will always have those albums to play, and that whatever she does in the future fans, either old or new, will come to her if they like what they hear. That is refreshing talk from someone in an industry where making money is the be all and end all.
In time, Katie may gravitate back towards the jazz and blues style of her early career, who knows? But I believe it is neither certain nor necessary. For me, what is important is her ability to connect to her audience so clearly with her voice. She doesn't seem to believe that she's the greatest singer but it isn't about tonal quality or range or volume or indeed anything technical. It's about something magical and undefinable, some mystical inexplicable magic that draws you in to her world and holds you captive within. In a way, it's like an out-of-body experience, as though you are seeing through her eyes and feeling what she feels. Very few singers can do that. Katie's idol, Eva Cassidy, was one, and Karen Carpenter another. Beyond that, I'd have to sit and think about it for a while, which suggests there aren't many others. Oh - Maire Brennan of Clannad. There you go. Four singers, two of which are no longer with us, who can reach the parts other singers can't. Which is probably why I don't miss Katie's early musical style so much. When you watch live performances from those early days she seems to spend half the time looking on in awe whilst the guitarists and pianists in her band trade solos; it must have been pretty daunting for her as a nineteen-year-old girl to find herself fronting a group of seasoned professional musicians like that. But that was almost half a lifetime ago for her now. Even back then she was capable of holding an audience spellbound on her own with just a guitar, performing her own songs like "Faraway Voice", and for me that has always been Katie at her best - drilling into your soul like only she can. She simply doesn't need twinkling ivories and wailing Telecasters to achieve it. From the moment the first breath of Kutaisi air rushed past her vocal chords it was only a matter of time before fate revealed the angel among us.
As she matures, both as a performer and a woman, like a good wine, she will only get better with age. What excited me so much about "In Winter" was seeing her have the confidence to head off into uncharted territory in search of hidden treasure and I'm waiting with eager anticipation to see where she takes us in future.
14.01.18 > Ah, there she is!
First sighting of Katie in 2018, still partying it seems (and why not!). With James and Mayfair Times editor Selma Day at the Old Russian New Year's Eve Gala, Savoy London.
13.01.18 > Katie sketch effect
12.01.18 > If The Lights Go Out
I don't mind if the lights go out as long as I'm with Katie :-)
11.01.18 > New Material?
Katie has slipped off the radar, hopefully having a well-deserved rest. Which means that news is thin on the ground. So, I'll take this opportunity to speculate on her next album. She has already said that she has started writing new songs, and we now know that she will be touring again at the end of 2018, with the Gori Women's Choir. This tour is primarily focussed on "In Winter" once again, but I've heard Katie suggest there may be some new material thrown in. That is interesting. If she is with the GWC, then any new material will probably be arranged to incorporate them. However, it seems improbable to me that she would put new music out there and then change it drastically for an album version. Which is why I am thinking for her next album she is leaning towards another stripped back, acoustic kind of feel, that may or may not include the Gori Women's Choir. Those hoping for a return to drums and electric guitars may be disappointed. I could be completely wrong of course, but I just feel as though Katie has wandered down a path that she feels may yet lead to more discoveries. Personally, I don't mind which direction she takes (as long as it ain't rap!). I would certainly be happy to see another album with the GWC. As to the timing of the new album, I'd probably guess mid-to-late 2019. She would want a tour to promote it so I can't see it being too soon after the 2018 tour. Probably around September 2019 for the album release, with a late autumn or early winter tour. I certainly hope it's no later than that - eighteen months already seems like a long wait but the 2018 "In Winter" tour I think pretty much scuppers any thoughts of a new album this year. So, for now, all we can do is keep on enjoying the gorgeous catalogue of music she has already given us!
10.01.18 > Katie Bite > Blue Shoes
09.01.18 > It's Cold Outside...
Here's Katie looking cuter than a box of kittens, singing "Baby, it's cold outside".
08.01.18 > Katie Bite > Gold In Them Hills
Actually, just Katie and me in that little cottage in the snow-covered hills, with that sunset, I think it pretty much would seem like a perfect day.
07.01.18 > Sultry in black and white
06.01.18 > Ketevan on vinyl
The vinyl version of Ketevan is currently being re-pressed and is available to order for £20 at
Katie's online store.
I am hoping that it will have a cleaner sound, being on vinyl. Of course, there will be the natural clicks and scratches that vinyl has, but I'm talking about the distortion and clipping that is so prevalent in the digital versions. If you don't hear anything wrong with the digital versions, then great, just ignore all this. But some people know what I'm talking about. I need to invest in a better turntable before I can really decide but my fingers are crossed. It all depends on how the mastering was done. If the masters are fully digital and the compression problem was at time of recording then we're basically buggered and we'll just have to live with it as it is forever, since the distortion will be transferred to the vinyl too. Either way, I will be forever mystified how someone of Mike Batt's experience allowed it to happen in the first place. If you're not sure what I mean by clipping, well, you know those little bars of LEDs that flicker on your hifi as music is playing? There are usually a row of green or blue ones with three or four red ones at the end. The red ones should only light up briefly but if they are all lit for a lot of the time then the recording levels are too high. Look at these audio samples. On the left is "A Time To Buy" from In Winter. On the right is "Sailing Ships From Heaven" from Ketevan. On the latter, you can clearly see the levels are too high.
05.01.18 > Katie Bite > Straight to DVD
This is from one of my favourite songs, Straight To DVD - from the criminally under-flaunted B-Sides album.
04.01.18 > Wherefore art thou, Katie?
Well, day four of the New Year, and we are still awaiting our first mutterings of 2018 from Katie. Instagram, Twitter, Facebook - all silent. What is she up to? As long as she's okay, that's all that matters. So, while we wait for some activity from the lovely lady, let's just amuse ourselves for a while... Here's a gif of her waiting for the bathroom to become available.
03.01.18 > In Winter T-Shirts
In Winter T-shirts are available again at Katie's online store (though at time of writing only in medium or below). Such a classy design.
02.01.18 > Katie's World Record
Into another year, and Katie remains a World Record holder for the deepest underwater concert. Will it ever be beaten?
You can view the official entry at guinnessworldrecords.com/world-records/deepest-underwater-concert-contained
Not sure why they specify "contained" - if it wasn't it would be a very short concert!
01.01.18 > The Curse of Nine Million Bicycles
Katie is taking a lot of flak because there are no longer nine million bicycles in Beijing.
She also took flak because we are 13.7 billion light years from the edge, not 12 billion.
It's only a matter of time before someone realises the population of the world is 7.3 billion and starts having a go at her again.
And all this for a song that Mike Batt, not Katie, actually wrote.