It’s music awards season, and if it was the Mercurys we’d be hard pushed to get time for chat with a former winner. Fortunately, the gong sitting on Kathryn Joseph’s mantelpiece is a Scottish Album of the Year award – for her debut long player from three years ago.
‘Bones You Have Thrown Me And Blood I’ve Spilled’s independent status meant that the Aberdeen singer-songwriter wasn’t under the kind of pressure of a Ed Sheeran or Adele to produce a follow-up.
“The music industry hasn’t broken me yet,” she laughs, “but the record’s not out yet!”
“Everyone I’ve spoken to saying lovely things (about her sophomore release ‘From When I Wake The Want Is’) she confides.
“I wasn’t expecting to feel so proud of the record already,” she continues, “but Marcus (McaKay) has made it sound so beautiful to me, so if no-one else likes it that’s ok.”
MacKay, as well as being producer and percussionist for the two releases, was also her label boss for her debut – reviving the imprint that was formed to release Frightened Rabbit’s ‘Sing The Greys’ own debut back in 2006. Now, however, the pair have taken a step up, so to speak, with the new opus set for release under Mogwai’s Rock Action banner.
And it could be that the “stronger” sound of the new release will fit nicely into their label bosses’ back catalogue.
“Marcus and I hadn’t even discussed it, but when it came back (from mixing) it was exactly as I wanted it to be – harder… much more the sound of us playing live.”
That sound has had the chance to evolve, as has Joseph’s songwriting, but it does contrast with her first collection, written over the space of 20 years. However, she only dedicated herself to music following the death of her infant son Joseph in 2010 – and, although born Kathryn Sawyers, taking on Joseph as her surname.
“Things like that happening make you think how much time you have,” she says; “it does make you think about life differently.
So, the singer will throw herself into the deep end, for a tour launching the new record where theatre company Cryptic have created “a weird little world” which will see Joseph play solo rather than as part of a duo with MacKay. It seems like it should be a scary prospect. “It’s everything that’s out of my comfort zone,” she agrees, “but it’s great, very like how I used to feel when I was first writing, in a wee bothy house.”
“It’s just me for the whole show, with beautiful lighting and set design and doing stuff with my feet – drumming, that is. And I get to wear a very beautiful costume designed by Markéta Kratochvílová,” she smiles.
“But it’s nice to do the songs in a different way.”
Those songs will doubtless be in the running for SAY 2019 of course – up against collaborators and contemporaries like Aidan Moffat and RM Hubbert, as well as The Twilight Sad. “It may come down to actual wrestling!” Joseph laughs.
But this year, there’s OutLines, the trio formed by Joseph and MacKay with James Graham from The Twilight Sad and whose ‘Conflats’ long-player is on the SAY long list. Again, you suspect she won’t be too disappointed if they don’t win. “Karine Polwart’s is a beautiful record… Babe are one of my favourites, there’s Young Fathers… how much is there in this tiny little country?
“The main part of doing this job is how proud I am, everyone is amazing.”
‘From When I Wake The Want Is’ is out now – more at www.kathrynjoseph.co.uk.
This article originally appeared in the Ellon Times.