T in the Park - KT Tunstall
Kicking off our T in the Park special preview KT Tunstall looks back at her festival debut and celebrates the whirlwind that paved the way for her star turn on this year’s main stage
‘I remember playing T in the Park for the first time in 1996. I was 21 and a backing singer with the Skuobhie Dubh Orchestra, the band led by the man now known as King Creosote. We played in the ceilidh tent and Radiohead, Alanis Morrisette and Beck were on the Main Stage. It was brilliant, dancing away to ‘Odelay’ and just taking it all in.
Over the years, I’ve had some great experiences at festivals throughout the world. One of my best was when a Jewish hip hop band called Oy Va Voi – who weren’t really hip hop but more drum & bass – hired me. I was down to play with them at Glastonbury on the Thursday, so we travelled down on the Wednesday and didn’t come home until the following Tuesday. We just camped out and didn’t wash. I had, perhaps, the best time of my life. That’s what festivals are about: utterly removing yourself from your normal life.
Going as a punter to a festival is hard work. I really felt for people last year at Glastonbury because the weather was so bad and there was nowhere to sit. You can’t just sit down anywhere and you just get absolutely exhausted walking through the mud to get anywhere and then there’s the queuing for toilets and it’s so often cold. It can be really hardcore, but as long as you’ve got a little hip flask and a funny hat then you manage to get through it somehow.
Coming back home to play is just amazing. British crowds are hilarious. Someone will be swinging their pants and then there will be someone who has written you a message, which they put up at a certain time. We did one gig and during ‘Under the Weather’ all these umbrellas went up. People really put thought into it and plan what they’re going to do; it’s really cool.
Often when you think of the scale of where you are performing, you can’t really understand it. It’s just massive and each festival differs.
The Isle of Wight was hard for me because I couldn’t hear, so I went out there and it was like: “Oh no, people think I can’t sing” because I couldn’t get the pitch right. It’s always a lot harder when they’re filming, because you’re in a situation where you haven’t had a sound check and you might not be able to hear anything and the monitor engineer’s doing his best but he’s got literally 30 seconds to get seven people sorted out. Besides, often you just can’t digest it anyway. I remember when I was in Sydney I went to see Wilco in the same venue that we were playing the next night. It seemed so much bigger from the audience than it did from the stage. You often don’t really get it, as a performer, what it looks like from the big screens, so you just have to go in and have fun and can’t get too uptight about it.
Meeting other acts is a great part of the festivals’ scene. We see a lot of names going round the festivals and it’s great to meet bands and people you really admire. I remember bouncing into the Foo Fighters tent at T in The Park one year and going, “Hello!” and they were so friendly.
As regards the bill at T in the Park this year, there are things I’m definitely pissed off at missing as I’m playing other festivals for the rest of that weekend. I’d like to have seen the Kings of Leon and I do love a bit of Primal Scream live, depending on Bobby Gillespie’s ingestion that day.’
KT Tunstall plays Main Stage, Fri 11 Jul