■ The Scottish singer, 43, talks about her new album, hitting 40 and going off the rails
You recorded your new album Wax in the UK…
Yeah! The last album [Kin] was very Californian and it was important I made it there because it was where I hit the restart button by listening to Fleetwood Mac and Tom Petty, driving along Pacific Coast Highway in the sunshine. Then I decided I’d make a trilogy because it dawned on me Kin was all about the soul; overcoming really difficult stuff and not only feeling proud you’ve survived but realising you’re better off for having gone through it. The remaining two elements are the body and mind, so I decided I’d make a trilogy that represents our experience as human beings.
Is Wax all about the body, then?
Yes, and it’s just so funny that the spirit is this transcendent conscious soul travelling through a physical experience — and then you’ve got to s***, eat, shag and sleep! There’s a great quote in Kurt Vonnegut’s Bluebeard that says, ‘My soul knows my meat is doing bad things and is embarrassed. But my meat just keeps on doing bad, dumb things’. Your meat car is the only vehicle you’ve got. That’s how Wax resonates.
And your electric guitar plays a central role — have you become a bit of a rock chick?
It was time to make a rock album. I feel like that’s something people have wanted of me as I’ve always put on a rock show regardless of what album I’m on. I’ve really wanted to capture what I do live and put it on record, which isn’t easy. But Nick McCarthy [of Franz Ferdinand] was a really inspirational person to meet for that. He’s technically adept and an amazing producer. He recorded Wax as a three-piece band in his garage studio in London Fields. It’s important to me it was London because it has a British rock band feel to it.
Your video for The River is very steamy and body focused — did you enjoy filming that?!
Well, as you can imagine, yeah, I liked it quite a lot! It’s gone hand in hand with a new level of relationship with myself from a physical point of view. Most other women I speak to felt quite apprehensive about their forties but it’s a pleasant surprise — all of my friends have been, like, this is great! We don’t give a s*** about things concerning us and by the way, I look banging and want to celebrate that.
Have you been doing lots of working out?
The biggest change I’ve made is my diet. I follow the Bulletproof diet, which is based on grass-fed steak, vegetables, no carbs and a lot of butter. I feel the best I’ve ever felt. I’m used to working hard to get any results but I appear to have a six-pack and I’m not going to the gym! I wouldn’t have come across this way of eating if I’d not been living in LA.
You’ve been in LA nearly five years now. How else has living there changed you?
I lead a quieter life living in Venice Beach. I was looking for sanctuary. I have my little wetsuit jacket that I put on, get on my bike and jump in the sea at sunset and I’m a bit of a hermit. I do more film music stuff there, I have a couple of good buds and I know this sounds really LA but it’s taught me how to sit on my own in a state of gratitude and feel happy The state I was in five years ago, it didn’t matter where I went — it was not a very happy place.
After your divorce and your dad dying…
Yeah. There’s that saying that it doesn’t matter where you go, you’re always there, and now I feel a completely new life is available because I’ve sorted my s*** out.
Is it easy to go off the rails when you’re in the limelight?
Well, I’m certainly not the craziest of them. But I was drinking enough for three people and I think it was a much more long-term leaning off the tracks than it was full-tilt car crash for me. I was basically in denial that things were not going the way I wanted, which included my career. I wanted to be irresponsible and have a laugh but now I’m taking more control and feel like a businesswoman. It feels like a new job.
How hard is it to stay relevant in the music industry?
I think trying to be relevant is one of the biggest mistakes you can make because your job is to show other people what’s relevant! I’ve just been on tour with The Pretenders and Simple Minds and spending time with Chrissie Hynde was so life-affirming. She’s really not concerned about what other people think or do. She looks amazing and sounds better than ever.
What else are you up to?
I’m also in the adaptation of Pete The Cat [a children’s music album] with Elvis Costello, Diana Krall and Phill Jupitus and I’m so excited! I loved writing and recording those songs. I wouldn’t be surprised if I have a more successful career as cat than I do as a human being!
KT Tunstall’s new album Wax is out now. Her nationwide tour begins in March, kttunstall.com
Well, I’m certainly not the craziest of them. But I was drinking enough for three people