Katy’s on a mission in the red

Katy B is back with her new album 'Little Red'.
Katy B is back with her new album 'Little Red'.

Perhaps the best thing about having a surprise hit is not having enough time to get nervous as Katy B found almost three years ago.

Her debut album ‘On A Mission’ recorded over a three-year period, was released in April 2011 and was duly nominated for that year’s Barclaycard Mercury Prize as well as kick-starting a two-and-a-bit-year touring cycle.

“At the time, I never thought I’d be a singer, even when I was making the album,” says Katy, real name Kathleen Anne Brien, who worked with, among others, Geeneus, on the album.

Geeneus, or ‘G’ as Katy calls him, is the head of community radio station Rinse, once a pirate grime, dubstep and jungle station, until it was handed a legitimate licence in 2010.

“I thought it was a nice project to be involved with, and I was doing guest vocals on friends’ tracks, too, but I didn’t think I’d end up on my own,” Katy, 24, recalls.

“I was doing so much other music-related stuff - running club nights, going to gigs and studying music (at Goldmsiths, University of London) - that it all just felt part of the same thing.

“I thought I might end up as a music therapist or a music teacher, but hadn’t considered it any more than that. There was no pressure, from me or anyone else.”

There’s a marked difference now it’s come to her second album, however.

‘Little Red’ - a nickname of the diminutive redhead singer - was released in early February and went straight to the top of the UK album chart. Quite the result, even if Katy says she feels a lot more responsibility this time round.

“I’m still having fun but it was definitely a different vibe,” she admits. That will happen when you’re signed to a major label like Columbia, part of Sony. Where there was once a pleasing ramshackle nature to her sound, that’s now gone, replaced by a more business-like approach.

“It was a lovely feeling just before the album was released, knowing it was finished and ready to go, although it was a bit like finishing school - excitement, mixed with this feeling of being unsure of the future and not knowing what opportunities there are going to be,” she says. “Mostly I’m just excited to show my new creation.

“I had some songs, like ‘Aaliyah’,” she says of the lead track from 2012’s free Danger EP.

“The label realised they didn’t have a big email mailing list of my fans, so we gave that away as a way of getting the contact details,” she adds, perhaps taking a little of the magic away from the frankly brilliant four-track offering. “I wanted to have something out as it had been so long, too.”