Katie Melua

The first song I remember hearing

Elton John – ‘I’m Still Standing’

“I spent my early childhood in Georgia. When Georgia became independent from the Soviet Union [in 1991], bits of Western culture suddenly started flooding in… I remember seeing the video of Elton on [Carlton Beach in Cannes], all those legs moving. It’s really iconic.”

The first album I bought

Travis – ‘The Man Who’

“We never bought albums in Georgia. There were only pirated compilations. Then when I moved to the UK in 1994, I couldn’t believe that an album cost, like, 15 quid! It took me about five years to understand that it’s good to pay that amount of money for an album… By 1999, I was living in Redhill, Surrey. I was 14 or 15 and I saved up my money and went and bought ‘The Man Who’… It had ‘Why Does It Always Rain On Me?’ on it. There’s something so melancholy and beautiful about that song.”

The first gig I went to

Kula Shaker at Ulster Hall in Belfast, Northern Ireland, 1997

“[Before I lived in Redhill], I was in Belfast. I didn’t really know Kula Shaker‘s music that well, but I was in a group of four mates [who did]… I was about 13 years old and we managed to get to the front row and I remember being completely obsessed with the bass player [Alonza Bevan]. He had this great swagger in the way that he performed.”

The song that reminds me of home

Katie Melua – ‘Heading Home’

“It wasn’t to do with COVID, but when COVID happened [in 2020], it was the first time in my life where suddenly we couldn’t fly, right? So I was thinking lots about this idea of home [in Georgia] and how to get there. And it’s kind of about just heading back there… The song describes these old dudes playing chess on the streets in the summertime and the mountains that surround Tbilisi.”

The song I wish I’d written

Fugees – ‘Killing Me Softly With His Song’

“There is one fact about this song that really blows my mind… There was an iconic French classical music teacher called Nadia Boulanger who taught Philip Glass, Quincy Jones and one of the [original] songwriters of ‘Killing Me Softly’. I came across her because Glass mentions her in his autobiography. And then when I looked into her, I was like, ‘Oh my God.’ The list [of people she trained] is quite frightening.”

The song I do at karaoke

Queen – ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’

“I’m not a churchgoer but what annoys me is that a lot of the songs, like Christmas carols, are all in blokes’ keys. And as I’m sure you know, male and female anatomy is different – a male key is very different to a female key. But ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’, because Freddie Mercury was an absolute vocal god, seems to suit my, you know, seems to suit the female key. So I always choose that one.”

The song I can’t get out of my head right now

Ichiko Aoba – ‘Agupit’

“I discovered this wonderful artist last week at The Reeperbahn Festival [in Hamburg, Germany]. She’s from Japan and plays the classical guitar magnificently… I have the lovely job of being one of the judges for the ANCHOR Awards [at the Reeperbahn Festival], where we get to see three shows a night across two nights. Ichiko Aoba blew us away and she actually won. So I’ve been diving into her world world since then.”

The song I can no longer listen to

Judy Collins – ‘Send In The Clowns’

“It is so heartbreakingly beautiful. It just pings some part of my nerves and I find it too emotional to listen to… I think I was quite young [when I first heard it] and I just remember feeling like, ‘Oh my God, what is crushing my soul?’. I love it when something is too strong.”

The song that makes me want to dance

Pharrell Williams – ‘Happy’

“I think that’s quite an obvious answer, but maybe it’s a modern classic. It’s such a work of art and, you know, it’s what the title says. It makes me super happy… dancing is not my comfort zone, but this song makes me forget about anything.”

The song that makes me want to cry

Lisa O’Neill – ‘England Has My Man’

“She’s the best young singer-songwriter in my humble opinion. She’s from Ireland, surprise surprise… Georgia is a small country and there’s a lot of people that that have moved to richer countries… As an immigrant kid, the idea [in the song] of being separated from your loved ones because of socio-economic reasons really speaks to me.”

The song I want played at my funeral

Leonard Cohen – ‘In My Secret Life’

“It’s not too sad. It has a subtle sense of humour. The words are, like, all encompassing. Sorry that’s quite an earnest answer.”

Katie Melua’s special 20th anniversary reissue of her debut album ‘Call Off The Search’ is out November 3 via BMG

The post Soundtrack Of My Life: Katie Melua appeared first on NME.


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