Katey Brooks

Katey Brooks

Katey Brooks is a singer/songwriter/producer from Bristol, UK.

Brooks revealed her artistry through her debut EP “I Fought Lovers” which received a great reception from radio stations around the UK and internationally, including BBC Radio 2, BBC 6 Music and CBC Canada. Followed by the song “Will She” released in 2017, the English singer/songwriter uses her past struggles to share her stories and her feelings through very personal songs.

"Pain just reminds me why I sing. And not just for me; for everybody. They say in a funny sort of way musicians are like therapists, because music is a universal language. Everybody has experienced some kind of heartache, especially in relationships, and music allows us to purge these feelings,” says Brooks.

The London-based artist is now delivering her new single “In Your Arms”. Vulnerable, honest and emotional, “In Your Arms” expresses the love you have for someone.

"Heart on sleeve, I wanted to tell the woman I love just how much I love her. This song is an expression of what she means to me and how much has transformed for me since I met her.  It's about that good love, that breaks you open, challenges you, drives you and I think ultimately, makes you a better you,” explains Brooks.

“In Your Arms” is now available worldwide.

Photo credit: John Morgan

Photo credit: John Morgan

Introduce yourself. What's your story?

My name is Katey Brooks and I'm a singer-songwriter producer from Bristol (UK) living in London. My story is a long one! ;) I grew up between Bristol and London, with many trips to Arizona, USA in between. My dad was a singer-songwriter back in the 70s and my mum was a dancer so I grew up with a lot of music around me. I've been playing live in one way or another since I was 15 and my music has taken a few different forms.  At present I'd call it Alternative Indie Ethereal Folk Pop with Gospel/Soul essence... Can I make that a genre?

When did you start feeling connected to art in general?

From day one. I remember bouncing in my cot to “Born in the USA” by Bruce Springsteen and feeling alive even as a tiny tot. And I think from early on it made me connect with myself deeply, sometimes almost unbearably. I would listen to John Lennon on my Walkman as a little kid and cry!

Do you remember your first musical memory?

Yes I'd say bouncing in my cot has to be the earliest one! Anything earlier than that is probably me in the womb. I wish I did have that memory... I think in that case it'd be a lot of Ladysmith Black Mambazo...my mum was a biiig fan.

What is the first song you've ever written?

I wrote pop/love songs from the age of around 9-10 years old onwards, but I'd say the first real song that came from a deep place and that I've played since was when I was sixteen. It's called “All I Ask” and it's a love song about my best friend at the time who I fell in love with. In fact she was the first girl I ever fell in love with - the one who brought my sexuality to my attention. Sadly for my 16-year-old self the love was unrequited (violins) but we're still friends to this day! I went and recorded the song with the lovely Nick Van Eede from the Cutting Crew when I was eighteen, and he produced the track. It was lovely and I still have it. Perhaps I'll bring it back one day!

When did you know you had to become an artist?

It was a conscious decision actually. I had been against the idea for years, and even lost my passion for singing for a while (that was more to do with losing a passion for life). But when I was 20 I started going to this songwriting group led by my friend and singer-songwriter Patrick Duff (Strangelove) It was just a bunch of us writers/singers getting together and sharing our songs each week, giving gentle and supportive feedback to one another.  That gave me my mojo back.  In fact, I think I discovered it there.  One day I said to Patrick "Patrick I want to be a singer-songwriter...ya know, like a real one. How do I launch myself?"  Patrick said in his most laid back sweet hippie tone (you'll know what I mean if you ever hear him speak) "You should put on a gig man... Yeah, you should put on a gig at the Folk House (Bristol) and invite everyone".  And that's exactly what I did.  I had no idea what I was doing, but pretty much overnight I became an artist and promoter haha.

As an artist, what did you learn about yourself since your first release?

Oh god so many things.  More personally than artistically to be honest!  I learned I can be impatient to the point of being self-destructive.  I've learned I was, for a long time, both stubborn and far too easily impressed/persuaded. Artistically, I've learned there's so much more to a voice than you can ever begin to realise, and it changes over time. The trick is to explore. Always explore. I've learned that as much as I try to pin myself down to a genre it's just not possible. I wake up with a song in my head every morning without fail, and it can be any different style.  I'm just not able to decide on one thing, and I don't want to. I've learned to embrace that versatility instead.

You recently released your new single "In Your Arms". What's the story behind it? Who did you work with?

I broke up with the woman I thought I'd marry over the summer. It was extremely painful. But it was also extremely illuminating. I faced things I've run away from for a very long time. It was definitely transformative. One day not long ago I just heard the first line in my head "you'll never know how much I love you", and it spilled out of me in minutes. It was my way of telling her just how much I really did and do love her, despite her expressions of doubt about that fact.  
The day I wrote it my mix engineer and pianist Paul Quinn was driving up to London to record another song with me. The moment he arrived I said "I'm parking that song, I need to finish this and record it immediately".  The whole thing was done within a day and a half because I could hear the arrangement and the sound I wanted to create as I was writing it, so it was so easy to produce. Paul engineered, mixed and mastered it, and I think he did a really beautiful job, as he always does.  

What were you feeling when you were writing this song? When did you start working on it?

I was crying haha.  September 13th. The day my ex and I were due to go to Venice for her birthday present (more violins)... ;)

What do you like to write about?

The hole in the soul. Love. Unrequited love. Lost love. Lust. The weirdness of existence. God/The Universe. I'm still working on writing about being happy...usually because when I am I'm off enjoying it.

Do you use songwriting as a form of therapy?

100%.  Songwriting has kept me going at the darkest of times, and given me meaning and joy for decades. It's everything.  

What does singing make you feel?

Alive. Like a real living feeling being. It makes me feel everything. Perhaps that's why I go through phases where I subconsciously avoid singing/listening to music. Sometimes it's too much!

What message do you want to convey through your music?

I don't know if I'd call it a message as such. I just want people to feel themselves, feel connected, feel love, joy, sadness, everything. As cheesy as that may sound.  

Photo credit: John Morgan

Photo credit: John Morgan

What are the biggest struggles you had to overcome? How did you overcome them?

I don't think there are enough column inches for this one!! Being gay... mental health struggles and general self loathing... growing up in a cult... the death of my mother and soul mate/best friend... That'll do for now ;) It's been a trip for sure! The mainstay through all this has been going within and connecting with that which is more powerful than me on my own. Some people call it God, some people call it the Universe etc. I don't really care about the label or the route to it, I just know that when I connect to that place, I'm fundamentally safe and okay. Music has also been a mainstay and a lifeline. Music feels like what 'God' is to me.

What are the things you are the most proud of?

Oh gosh now I have to say nice things about myself! Awkward! I'm proud of my resilience and strength. I think I'm a pretty tough and brave cookie. I'll give myself that ;)  I'm proud of my heart because I know it's a kind one. There are SO many things about myself that I don't like and drive me crazy, but those two I feel confident in. I can thank my parents for both those traits. They both had their demons and made big mistakes, but they both possess/possessed those qualities in spade.

What defines you?

I don't think anything.  Should it?  

2018 is slowly coming to an end, what were your biggest accomplishments as a human being and as an artist?

Human being: Pulling myself out of a depressive pit and putting in a huge effort to give myself more love and care, and achieving it.
Artist:  “In Your Arms.”  I'm proud of and excited about it as a piece of music and as the sound I want to pursue.

In your opinion, what would make the world a better place?

This is a trite cliché answer, but kindness. More kindness. If we all put more attention outside of ourselves then I think the world would change overnight. And I include myself in that, I can be totally self involved at times. We all can. Love, kindness, courage, accountability, integrity, truth.  That'd be a start.

What's your purpose?

I'm still working on it. Can I tell you in 40 years time? I wouldn't call it a purpose necessarily, but I think the thing that drives me most is making people feel good/safe/acknowledged/loved in some way. That doesn't come from some martyr/do-gooder place, I think it's simply because I felt unsafe and sad for much of my childhood, and I hate to think of anyone else feeling the way I did.  

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