Photo By Jessica Madavo
Late 2010. I’m at an underage rave near Vauxhall. Grimy and dark, just how we liked it. The dubstep remixes of major tracks from the likes of Kid Cudi to The Black Eye Peas blurted out from the speakers, with the crowd drowned in neon colors from the ceiling. I’m having the time of my life. As a follower of the local urban scene, from grime to dubstep, the mix was full of familiar sounds.
And then, I heard her. A voice I wasn’t ready for and a track that would prove to be timeless. With my face screwed up, I fully embraced the tune, with my gun fingers waving in the air like an airport marshal. My acquaintances were dominating the dance floor and bringing the energy only a phenomenal tune such as this one could bring. A new era in UK music had arrived - a merger between urban and electronic music - with acts like Magnetic Man and Tinie Tempah leading the way. A budding flower was about to bloom and define this period of UK music, in the form of Katy B.
Born 8th of May 1989, Kathleen Brien is the daughter of a former member of the Les Humphries Singers, who represented Germany during Eurovision 1976. With most music talents, it runs the family. Her father was a heavy influence on her, teaching her to play guitar and piano from an early age, lending good advice about a potential musical career. She would attend our favorite academy, The BRIT School, and graduate from the creative and social arts university Goldsmiths.
Her vocal talent is undeniable, displayed by the features on the Magnetic Man self-titled album, “Perfect Stranger” and “Crossover”, a personal favorite of mine.
During this period, UK music in general was becoming more prominent in the mainstream, with multiple London acts making a name for themselves thanks to pirate radio stations riding the new electronic, urban wave. With the development of internet sites like YouTube and Facebook, underground artists had an easier time marketing their sound to the public. Katy B was thrown into the spotlight almost immediately, becoming the voice of the rave scene due to her soprano range. Multiple award nominations were granted to her the year after, from the VMA’s, Mercury Prize and MOBO Awards. She had arrived. With a personality to go with it, her star power would only increase.
Her debut album would follow on the 1st of April 2011, with transcendent singles “Broken Record” and “Disappear” headlining this massive release. It would be received well by artists and critics alike. A 76/100 Metacritic score, combining 23 reviews from world renowned music observers.
This was cemented by her NME award “Best Dancefloor Anthem” in 2012 for “Broken Record”
With the whirlwind of exposure and acclaim, she would be forgiven to take a step back and view your surroundings as the new darling of the UK music pantheon. She wouldn’t, which in hindsight may have been beneficial. She pressed on, supporting other UK acts, collaborating with household names, and commencing her own successful debut tour. She was beginning to rival a young Adele at this point.
A year later, she would announce her second album “Little Red”. Upon release, it debuted at number one on both the Scottish and UK album charts, receiving a 74/100 Metacritic score and generally positive reviews.
This was a transition from Funky House queen to an out and out pop star. The old sound was done away with, and her essence converted to what she wanted to be, chartering the course of her music career for the future. In some eyes, however, it was a decline of sorts. Some expressed their displeasure with the complete neglect of what brought her to the dance in the first place.
To me, she showed growth and the shedding of the proverbial cocoon she was trapped inside, becoming the face of the UK rave scene; a wise choice, as seen in this current era. She broke away from a long-forgotten genre in the mainstream.
After her third album “Honey”, she was gone. Her voice had disappeared. The UK dubstep/funky house scene slowly died in her absence or transformed depending on your point of view. She was missed.
Then it happened again, a random browse through Resident Advisor brought me back to her. A definitive track between two underground pioneers was music to my ears (if you’ll pardon the pun).
Five long years she had been away from her natural calling, and I, amongst many, couldn’t have been happier to see her return. She would release an EP titled “Peace and Offerings”, a precursor to a hopefully triumphant return.
The arching description of Katy B would be “a supreme vocalist with a heart of gold”. She perhaps wasn’t ready for the immediate stardom she would receive for her talents. We can assume she took a break to find herself and break free from the “girl next door” image. But the overall summary of her career can be said to display the notion that no matter how much preparation you undertake, timing is crucial. She can now cement her place as “The People’s Vocalist” and fulfill her destiny as one of the greatest UK stars.
Written by: @Arriv3r
Edited by: @Whosaria