Interview with Kerri Watt
We delve into the mind of the singer-songwriter causing a stir in the industry for this mega interview.
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Kerri Watt: This is a dream venue. I grew up doing musical theatre, that’s where I started, so the London Palladium was the ultimate place if you wanted to play in the West End. To be here tonight, playing to 2,500 people – just me and my guitar – is really special.
James Gilmore: You’ve been opening for The Overtones on tour, what has the experience of that been?
Kerri Watt: They’re just such a great bunch. Everyone’s so nice, not only The Overtones but their band and their whole crew. I’ve been so fortunate to get to go around pretty much every UK city and play to big audiences and they have such a loyal, kind fan base so to be able to meet all of their fans and interact – that’s been really cool.
James Gilmore: Your latest single is called “Long Way Home” – you’re from Glasgow, Scotland; performing here in London and around the UK on this tour, have you felt a long way from home?
Kerri Watt: Well, I guess so. I actually live in London so tonight is the closest I’ve been to home! Getting to go home to Glasgow to where my family is and play to my home crowd (which we did a couple of weeks ago) was absolutely incredible. If you ask any musician, Glasgow is, hands down, the best crowd for any gig... we just get so into it. For me to go home and for that to be my home town was amazing. But I guess I feel like I’m always a long way from home.
James Gilmore: You had an EP which came out last April which was called “You”. In an ode to that, we’re going to play a quick game! The game is called “You” because it’s all about YOU. It’s a bit like Would You Rather – you just need to tell me which of the two options YOU would prefer...
B e gossiped about or never talked about?
Kerri Watt: Be gossiped about, for sure.
James Gilmore: Be left, stranded on an island with Lady GaGa or Beyonce?
Kerri Watt: Ammm... Beyonce?
James Gilmore: That’s the right answer.
Never be able to sing again or never be able to hear a song again?
Kerri Watt: Ah! That’s horrible! Never be able to sing again.
James Gilmore: Have to stay in Glasgow your entire life, or never be able to go back?
Kerri Watt: I would have to live there! I could never not see my friends and family!
James Gilmore: Meet an alien visiting earth, or travel to outer space?
Kerri Watt: Travel to outer space, that’s one of my biggest life dreams.
James Gilmore: Let’s chat a bit more about this single “Long Way Home” – you sing, “I lie here wishing you could find the words you want to say?”, is this based on your own experiences or a story you’ve made up?
Kerri Watt: Long Way Home is a very honest experience of mine. I only wrote this song in March and so it’s still very current and very fresh. The song really just tells the story of what I was going through at the time in my relationship with someone which was confusing and hurtful and I was feeling really passionate and really… vulnerable. The words that I wrote were literally how I was feeling at that moment. None of the lyrics have changed either, I didn’t go back and re-write, everything that I say in this song was written in that moment of despair.
James Gilmore: The music video came out a short while ago, and it seems to be an epic love story whereby you’re going out with Mr. Brunette but he is cheating on you with Mr. Blonde – you find out, Mr. Blonde gets in a fight because he is gay and then they ride off into the sunset…
Kerri Watt: Kind of the sunset… a Scottish cloudy sunset! But yes, that’s pretty much it.
James Gilmore: Where did the idea for the music video come from?
Kerri Watt: Like I was saying, I wrote this song about something that happened to me and I really wanted the music video to emulate my emotions but I didn’t want it to tell my story – but I wanted it to tell my feelings, if that makes sense? So when I sent it out to some of the different video directors I said, “Here’s what happened to me, I don’t want it to be my story but I want the same emotions to be present and people to feel the same way I’m feeling in the song, but with a different narrative to it”.
I got a few different video treatments back and this one came back to me that really resonated with me and really touched me. I think the story is relevant and it’s something that happens probably a lot more than people realise. So, yeah, we ran with it.
James Gilmore: How much control did you have over the video then – you are only in the video yourself a couple of scenes here and there. Were you always on set?
Kerri Watt: What’s so great about it is that the video director ended up being a very good friend of mine who I went to college with. We made it a very collaborative experience and we actually went up to Scotland and we based it out of my parents house, so the whole crew and the actors stayed at my parents house and my Mum did the catering, my Dad did the running – so I was present during the whole thing and had a lot of input.
James Gilmore: Your last single “You” had a bit more of a pop vibe – where do you find yourself comfortable within music?
Kerri Watt: Because I write all of the music myself and it all comes from me, I just like showing people different sides of me. So, with “You” it’s also a very passionate song which is also about dating (specifically my bad habit of dating ‘creative types’) but I wanted to make it fun too which is why I made it an upbeat song. I think the thing that ties all of my songs together are the lyrics and because they all tell personal experiences. I feel just as comfortable doing the upbeat ones as the slow ones because the lyrics are what make me Kerri, I suppose.
James Gilmore: One of my favourite lyrics of yours must be, “You said I was just a kid, you don’t know the damage you did”. I really like that because it relates to young people on a lot of levels, it doesn’t need to have anything to do with love. I think it’s a feeling that lots of young people have gone through.
Kerri Watt: Definitely. It’s something that people can say when you are a kid, in a patronising way – in my case I was writing it from a romantic point of view, where the other person was older than me. But, I think it can be interpreted however you want it to be and to be called a ‘kid’… no one ever says it in a nice way! It can be upsetting and damaging.
James Gilmore: “You” obviously comes from the latest EP, “You”. Last September you released your debut EP “Who’s Lovin Me Now” – that’s a relatively short amount of time between releases. Did you feel pressurised to release music quickly?
Kerri Watt: No, if anything I was putting pressure on people to let me release it! I just have so many songs. I play live so often and I constantly want to try out new songs and then people say, “I love that song, where can I buy it?” so I want people to hear these songs, I want to record it! Because I’m writing and recording constantly I just can’t wait to get everything out there. I think it was quite soon, but at the same time I had quite a good response from the first EP and then I didn’t want to leave it too long and let people forget about me…
For the people who follow me, they’re really keen to hear what I’m doing so I just want to keep letting people hear new stuff.
James Gilmore: What is the writing process for you? Where does inspiration come from?
Kerri Watt: I don’t really have a set way. Sometimes it’ll be a lyrical idea, if I’m going through something or maybe someone else tells me a story which makes me feel something it may spark a title or something like that. Other times I may be sitting by the piano or guitar and I may be strumming some chords and it will be the chord sequence that sparks something. A lot of the time I’ll be on the Tube and I’ll hear a little melody in my head and sing it into my voice notes like a little creep in the corner and then come back to it later! It’s a whole load of different things that factory into it.
James Gilmore: Do you prefer performing live or being creative in the studio?
Kerri Watt: I love performing live. I mean, it’s really hard to say but live performing is where I started and that’s where I feel at home. But, equally, this new experience of getting into a recording studio and working with the producers is just magical. There I take an idea to them and they make my whole vision come to life and I think that’s amazing.
Thank you so much for chatting! The new single “Long Way Home” is out on July 10th and you can catch Kerri Watt on tour now with The Overtones!