Her debut album Everybody Down, was launched in 2014. In the same year she was nominated for the Mercury Music Prize; which was won by Young Fathers and their album ‘Dead’.
As with most music I like these days, I first came across Kate through BBC 6 Music. The track was called ‘Circles’; I loved the energy, loved the lyrics and most of all I loved the vulnerability of her voice. There was the timbre of a young girl’s voice mixed with the wisdom of an older, world weary woman trying to make sense of stuff that never will.
I’ve had a few girl crushes in my time and I’m not afraid to admit it. I have an inexplicable love for Maxine Peake (bow down when you say her name!). She’s short, sassy, has more talent than any woman has a right to have and still she goes on marches with UNISON to fight for what she believes to be right. Maxine is also a collaborator with the brilliant Eccentronic Research Council – songs about the Pendle Witches and other coven related tales.
Then there’s Kristin Scott Thomas; though she is an English actress she’s made films completely in the French language for Christ’s sake! She’s beautiful and she can pick and choose what she wants to do (Only God Forgives was a bit of a mare but let’s gloss over that!), so I should hate her but I just can’t. Then we come to Kate Tempest, which is another story entirely.
I’d been listening to Everybody Down on my Ipod since the I first discovered it. I’ve made my own mix of Kate, Ghostpoet and George Clinton, which weirdly works really well. It’s my going out soundtrack and I love it.
Glastonbury 2015 however, was the turning point for me in terms of understanding exactly what a talent she is. I was flicking between the choices of who to watch; I’d seen an unbelievable set from Slaves and then the Fat White Family (bit scary but amazing!) then I turned over to find Kate half way through her set.
Holy shit! nothing had prepared me for this. There she was, looking like an innocent child, belting out rhymes, raps and rhythms, owning the stage, owning the audience. All the poetic lines I’d heard countless times making even more sense through the animation of her body, her eyes and her voice. As an artist, she’s stunningly talented, as a performer she’s explosive and powerful; living each line and delivering it like she’s just thought it and want’s to get it out of her head.
For me, it was the closing part of her act that just blew me away. She shared a poem called ‘Hold Your Own’,* 4minutes and 55 mesmerising seconds where the crowd were silent and it felt like even the birds in the trees would have stopped to watch her. This is what she does, she’s a poet, a wordsmith, a sorceress with magic powers that I would kill to possess.
It’s not right that one person should be so talented; so what does she do? She’s gone and written a book based on the characters from the album. The book comes out on 7th April. Can’t wait to find a space, lay back and read until my eyes hurt and I’ve found yet another reason to love this awsome woman.
* click to watch the Youtube clip.