Katy B’s Mercury-nominated debut album 'On A Mission' was forged amid the sweat, strobes and fast-evolving sounds of London’s dancefloors, its beats and lyrics zingy with first-hand experience. Follow-up 'Little Red,' out via Rinse/Columbia on February 11, catches the 24-year-old singer (and former Red Bull Music Academy participant) at a different stage – still passionate about club culture, but with a serious relationship and the minor matter of a fully fledged pop career to attend to. We recently spoke with her about the relationship between working hard and playing hard, and whether she can still hack the all-night lifestyle.
Your new single’s called '5am.' How often do you see 5 a.m. these days?
At Christmas I had two weeks off from work. I said to myself, Katy, you’ve got to chill out, rest your voice, you've got a big year coming up, get yourself on the right track. And then I just went out, like, so much. But you know what, everything is to do with balance. You’re going to work hard, you have to play hard. The big difference is my friends get a whole day on the Sunday to sleep it off and I’ve gotta go and do promo or something.
What was your last big night out?
I went to Rinse at Fabric on Boxing Day, which was wicked. I stayed till 7 a.m. but I had to cook for 10 people the next day. I managed roast beef and mustard mash, just about.
Where will you be heading on your next night off?
I saw Benji B at Radio 1 the other day and was like, when’s the next Deviation? I grew up with Deviation, loving R&B and hip-hop and really forward-thinking soulful stuff. I missed Kelela there recently and made a New Year’s resolution to go more. When I used to go down, Benji B didn’t know I was a singer. He just knew me because me and my friends used to dance all night and once got told off for trying to sneak a bottle of wine in.
Bedroom beatmakers are big money these days, but do you believe you can make good club music without going clubbing?
This is interesting. I remember hearing Gee [a.k.a. Rinse FM founder DJ Geeneus] talk about how he couldn’t get into clubs when he was a teenager because he looked quite young, but he was still making music because of the jungle and rave he heard on pirate radio. Rinse have started streaming rave live on Friday nights now because of that. I guess if you’re passionate enough about it, you can turn your bedroom into a club.
You’ve worked with George Fitzgerald, Jacques Greene, Joker, Route 94 and Artwork on your new album. Does it help the music if you party with your collaborators?
Most DJs turn out to be teetotal, because they’ve got to drive to their gigs, and then they don’t like to make fools of themselves. Some of them don’t even… like, they just stand there and observe. But then there’s Skream and all of the Magnetic Man boys – I’m scared when I go out on a night with them. They really do look out for me though.
Have you made cuddly big brothers out of our coolest producers?
It’s so true. I went out with Skream in Miami when I was at Ultra Music Festival, and he was like, "Katy, I think you should go home now." He was really responsible. Him and Hijak made sure I got in a cab, although I can’t remember getting home. It’s funny because when I talk about doing my PAs when I was 16, and I wasn’t supposed to be in clubs, people go "What did you parents say?" But all these people were like family. They looked out for me. I think I’m still everyone’s little sister.