Katey Brooks
EPK Pro

Katey Brooks

London, England, United Kingdom | Established. Jan 01, 2010 | INDIE

London, England, United Kingdom | INDIE
Established on Jan, 2010
Solo Folk Americana

Calendar

Oct
04
Katey Brooks @ Square Chapel

Halifax, England, United Kingdom

Halifax, England, United Kingdom

Oct
13
Katey Brooks @ Diva Festival

Holton Heath, England, United Kingdom

Holton Heath, England, United Kingdom

Nov
24
Katey Brooks @ Acapela Studio

Pentyrch, Wales, United Kingdom

Pentyrch, Wales, United Kingdom

This band hasn't logged any past gigs

Music

Press


Katey Brooks is a major talent.

Her musical gift glows on REVOLUTE, her new album, premiering here today on Popdust.

Produced by Brooks, REVOLUTE merges her delicious soul-folk-blues-country sound with topics like love, loss, learning, rebirth, and emotional honesty. It's the latter notion – honesty – that makes her music so genuine.

Brooks grew up in a cult, where music became her safe haven as she came to terms with her queer identity. According to Brooks, "It was a very chaotic upbringing, full of some pretty colourful and sometimes unsavoury characters. And that led me to feel quite squashed as a person. But when I sang, I felt free and connected. For as long as I can remember, it's been my way of getting what I need to say out."

A bit of a rebel, she later turned down a place at the Brit School, a prestigious performing arts college. When she was 22-years-old, her mom and best friend passed away. A residue of aching sadness enveloped many of her songs. Brooks says, "I guess I'm lucky that I have songs that I can write, as a means to deal with things."

Encompassing 11-tracks, entry points on REVOLUTE include the opening track, "Never Gonna Let Her Go," a sublimely gorgeous song, commencing on gospel choir-like voices flowing into a blues-flavored country-gospel melody. Brooks' voice is nonpareil, rich, alluring, and bewitching.

"Golden Gun" rides wickedly dark flavors, reminiscent of Chris Isaak, tantalizing and inscrutably devout. The rolling, trembling rhythm infuses the tune with tight opaque resolves.

"Call Out," a song about exposing your heart to others, opens on an almost dirge-like piano topped by Brooks' penetrating, evocative, melancholic tones. The last track, "Trouble So Hard" releases cool savors of bluesy gospel energy, traveling on jagged edgy guitars and a deep bass line. Austere and uncomplicated, the song projects murky, affecting dynamism.

Put simply, REVOLUTE is superlative, surely one of the best albums of the year. - Popdust


Back in 2015 I did my first tour of Australia. I was going through a pretty horrendous time with an ex-girlfriend out there, and I found myself hanging out with a couple of producers who I later discovered also happened to be Pentecostal Christians. They sort of took me under their wing at a time when I knew no one in town and was completely heartbroken and lost.

One day I asked one of them (who had earlier admitted he took the Bible literally) what his opinion on my relationships with women was. He said, “Well, we think it’s wrong. But we still love you.” His mother, a pastor, later suggested my sexuality was most likely caused by childhood trauma. Ouch.

Naturally I was angry and indignant -- a burning “how dare they” was gnawing at me for weeks afterward. When I got back to the U.K., I reflected more on those conversations, and I went through a mix of emotions from anger and indignation, to fear, shame, and sadness. I eventually -- eventually -- settled on a feeling of peaceful conviction. I realized that my holding a seething resentment inside of me, and hating these people for their beliefs was a complete waste of energy and also would never be the solution to the problem. In fact, I recognized a feeling of sadness for them that they had been indoctrinated in such a way. How awful it was that they could not see the beauty in all love -- that they were so limited in their views of the world. It was then that I decided to write a song to say, “I will not, nor need I, change. My sexuality is beautiful, and I don’t need you to see that, in order to know it.”

So I wrote “Never Gonna Let Her Go.” The song is specifically saying, “You can judge me for my flaws and for my human failings, but my sexuality isn’t one of them. I will never pretend to be anything or anyone else, no matter what you say or do.” It also talks about God -- because that was an important issue to me too. I’m not religious, but I’ve experienced profound strength and support from turning to something deeper within during times of despair in my life, so I’m quite protective over that and rebel against this idea of a hateful, punishing “God.” I don’t believe that. If there is a God, then my God made me as I am and loves me for who I am.

I guess you’d say “Never Gonna Let Her Go” is a peaceful protest song. It’s a loving “fuck you” to the wannabe converters and the haters, if you will.

It was also a big deal for me because it came at a time when I first started using the “she” pronoun in my lyrics. This was the most obvious song I had written in that way. There was no getting away from it. There was no way for people to interpret it in a different way. I have to admit, when I first started playing it I was really nervous. I had always been so vague before. I was scared of being persecuted or judged in some way. But I couldn’t go on living on the outskirts anymore -- that only feeds shame and fear. It’s been a total liberation. Finally I can breathe. I find the more open I am about my sexuality, the more any residual societally-inflicted fear and shame falls away from me, and I feel the beauty of it all.

Putting the track together came a lot later. I actually wrote it in 2015, but for several reasons it had to be put on hold. It’s been a long road of ups and downs getting here, and I’m excited to finally be sharing this music. I produced the record, as it’s my favorite part of the process and probably because there’s a small (very friendly) control freak inside of me! Most of the process was done at either my home in London or my mix engineer’s studio in Weston. The drums (Craig Connet) and bass (Jon Short) were recorded at Weston College studios (shout-out to those kind souls for gifting us with the studio) just outside my hometown of Bristol. I like to record at home whenever possible, as it’s where I feel most relaxed and inspired. I never sit down and plan in advance, I like to build a track in the moment, and “Never Gonna Let Her Go” was no exception.

I always start with the guitar and vocals and build layer by layer from there. I generally have an “audio vision” of a track as soon as I write the song, so that helps a great deal when putting it together. I don’t think I’ll ever be a forward planner, as it can be the cause of a lot of stress sometimes! I’m lucky because I work with the most wonderful and relaxed mix engineer, Paul Quinn, who complements and facilitates the process so beautifully. We’ve worked together for years, and he nails my vocal sound every time, which for me is right at the top of my list of priorities for a track. - Advocate


Katey Brooks' new single "In Your Arms," premiering exclusively below, came from pain. And it's brought the British singer-songwriter some gain, too.

The stark, soulful track from Brooks' first full-length album, expected out next year, was inspired by a romantic breakup a few months ago. "It kind of broke my whole world open," Brooks tells Billboard. "There's still a lot of love there, but kind of different ideas about life and future and stuff. There was always a little bit of doubt as to how much I loved this person, and this song just kind of fell out of me a couple of months ago, in about 20 minutes. It was just my way of saying, 'Well, actually, I really do love you...' It's a total love song." - Billboard


Katey Brook’s new single All Of Me is a heart-wrenching queer love song.

On the soulful track, the proudly gay singer-songwriter begs a lover to be upfront about her feelings – “So why’d you walk away, when you tell me you never felt this way?” she questions – and where their relationship is heading.

“It was inspired by a painful situation I found myself in with an ex, and her ambivalence during a time when we were attempting to rekindle our relationship,” she tells Gay Times. “The song confronts that classic push/pull situation many of us have found ourselves in.”

To celebrate the release of her new single, we spoke to Katey about her musical inspirations, staying true to her identity in her music, and what it’s really like to grow up inside a cult…

How did you get into music?
I think music kind of got into me really. Both of my parents had a big connection to it – my mum through dance, and my dad having been a singer-songwriter himself. According to my mum I started singing before I spoke properly, and wherever we’d go if there was an instrument I’d want to play it. I used to sit listening to John Lennon tapes on my walkman for hours as a little kid, and I remember thinking there was nothing better than music.

Who influenced you growing up?
Predominantly male artists at first. I was obsessed with John Lennon and Elvis, and as I got into my teens I fell in love with singers like Otis Redding and Jeff Buckley. I’m a sucker for that level of emotion in a voice. Later on when I started writing I got into female singer songwriters like Tracy Chapman and Joni Mitchell. Again I loved the intensely emotive voices, and I found their lyrics so evocative and relatable.

You grew up inside a cult, which isn’t something that many people can relate to. How was that experience?
Very true, it wasn’t at all relatable, and I didn’t share it with the outside world for years. Oddly at the time it all felt completely normal because it was the only reality I knew. But that normality was a frequent feeling of fear, loneliness, shame, to name but a few emotions. Those feelings were contrasted by moments of complete hilarity and deep friendship with other kids growing up in the cult. The latter part was a lifeline, and the allies I found became lifelong friends.

How did this influence you as an artist?
I think every thought and feeling that has transpired from growing up in the cult, and subsequent difficult life experiences, has spilled out of me and into my music and voice. It’s the way I emote, which I’m sure a lot of musicians will relate to. Often times it’s the only way. I’d say that’s why a lot of my songs are on the emotional side of the fence! The experience also forced me to delve into my spirituality and my place in the world which has influenced my lyrics a lot.

Your new single All of Me is amazing – can you tell me how it came about?
Thanks so much. It was inspired by a painful situation I found myself in with an ex, and her ambivalence during a time when we were attempting to rekindle our relationship. She declared deep love for me, and yet went on to behave in a manner which expressed very much the opposite. In a broader sense, the song confronts that classic push/pull situation many of us have found ourselves in, and says “if you love me don’t just say it, show it.” Because talk is cheap – actions tell you everything you need to know about a person’s love for you, in both romantic and platonic relationships.

Your new material sees you using female pronouns instead of ‘you’. Is this important for you to do?
Absolutely. I hid for so long, I was really scared of feeling vulnerable and exposed, and also being judged by the industry. Many times I was told that ambiguity was safer for me and my career, and as a youngster I accepted that as gospel. Using ‘she’ is not only my being real, but it’s a way of letting go of any unfounded shame I’ve carried along the way. It feels good to be free.

How important is it that the LGBTQ community has out and proud artists that they can look up to?
Essential. We all need people to look up to and be inspired by, not least of all young LGBTQ people growing up and trying to find their way. At times I wish I had tapped into the beautiful community we have sooner because I know it would have helped me a lot on my journey. Seeing people out there, joyfully being who they are, puts out the important message that there’s nothing to be ashamed of, and that our sexuality is a beautiful, natural thing.

What do you think are the challenges LGBTQ artists still face in the industry today?
I was told by industry professionals on several occasions that talking about my sexuality would mean I’d be pigeon-holed, or people simply wouldn’t be able to relate to me or my songs. I’ve heard other LGBTQ artists say that too. I think there’s still a strong degree of separation between LGBTQ and the ‘mainstream’, and I really look forward to the day when sexuality is irrelevant.

You haven’t released an album since 2016 – can we expect a follow-up soon?
You can! My album REVOLUTE comes out on 31 May. I can’t wait to share it, it’s been an epic and winding road getting here. We’re also launching a special members area on my website at the beginning of May too where there’ll be signed copies and lots of exclusive goodies and videos available. - Gay Times


Discography

Revolute - 2019
Beginnings - 2018
Unsung - 2018
I Fought Lovers - 2015
Live Now - 2011
Proof of Life - 2010

Photos

Bio

Katey Brooks is a rebellious troubadour that resists formula. A devastating songwriting talent that has drawn comparisons with Jeff Buckley (Supajam), this ‘rising singer-songwriter has the crowd eating out of her hands’ (The Independent), and is simply ‘not to be missed’ (Time Out). The ‘powerful’ (Evening Standard) songstress defies easy classification, with a sound blending folk, soul, blues and country. Her finger-picked, harmony-inflected sound on the 2016 I Fought LoversEP received an enthusiastic reception from radio stations around the UK and internationally, including BBC Radio 2, BBC 6 Music and CBC Canada. To watch her sing live is to witness emotional exorcism, but when you know her backstory, it’s hardly a mystery why. 

Growing up inside a cult, as a child Katey found refuge in song. Later, she travelled the world with her guitar on her back, writing everywhere from the Occupied West Bank to an abandoned Finnish island. Over a career spanning four continents, Brooks has journeyed from intimate living rooms to opulent concert halls, from dive bars to decorated studios with some of music’s biggest names, boasting famous admirers like Joss Stone. She has recorded with Bill Wyman of the Rolling Stones and Paloma Faith at Abbey Road for BBC Radio 2’s Children in Need single. She has shared bills with a host of big names including Newton Faulkner, Ghostpoet, Martin Simpson, Deaf Havana, Lou Rhodes (Lamb), Mike and the Mechanics, and Mystery Jets. She has played some of the world’s biggest festivals including Glastonbury, WOMAD, the 2012 Paralympics, and Australia’s National Folk Festival. And Stuart Bruce, who has recorded some of the greatest musical names of all time – from Stevie Wonder to Elton John and Van Morrison – is a fan. 

On the back of her recently album Revolute the mercurial songstress is more determined than ever to do things her own way. ‘Revolute will blend soul with Americana and even some country, to create something hopefully pretty different…My realm is connection and emotion, something quite raw, I think.’