exclusive: listen to katy b's new mssingno x geeneus collaboration, water rising
Press play on the track before the release of third album, Honey, tomorrow.
It seems appropriate that Katy B should be holed up in East London, plotting her upcoming Brixton Academy show. New record, Honey, was practically designed to be heard live; either projected over festival PA systems or dropped in clubs (and, failing that, blared out of a iPhone on the night bus home). It is, for all intents and purposes, a love letter back to the multi-genre scene that spawned her: a South London club kid with the musical chops to go from Friday nights spent sneaking into SeOne to Friday night's spent performing on Graham Norton. For this, her third outing following 2011's On a Mission and 2014's Little Red, the Peckham-born songwriter has enlisted a veritable who's-who of talent: from Four Tet to Floating Points, Craig David to Major Lazer, Novelist to MssingNo, the latter's Geeneus produced collaboration Water Rising, premiering exclusively on i-D below. It all adds to the sense of community that permeates the record. That feeling of the nightclub as a beacon for kindred spirits and sounds; one that London's city-wide purge on club culture seems determined to extinguish. Not that Katy's giving up without a fight. Press play on Water Rising and read our chat with the singer below. Just make sure you unplug your headphones first - this is a record that deserves to be played loud.
Hello Katy B. We were trying to count the number of artists and producers on your new record this morning. Is it 21?
Is it? That's a good number!
It is a good number. How difficult is it to make an album that hangs together when there are so many different people on it?
It's not as difficult as you might imagine! I think the ethos and the energy is all similar. It all has ingredients of each other. It's all has the same sort of vibe. And because I'm on it, and it's my taste, I'm hoping that that brings it together as well.
Do you have a favourite collaborator on the record?
Is it Craig David?
[Laughs] Craig is lovely. Craig is lovely…. Let me have a look who's on it [Reaches for laptop].
You can't even remember who's on there!
I know. Look at me… [Scans track list] They're like my children! I love them all in different ways!
This record's been described as a "love letter to the underground club scene"… Why did you decide to make a club record?
I guess because, at the time, it was actually meant to be an EP. I wanted to get music out there very quickly, before I started making my next album, because I had festivals coming up and I didn't want to be doing the same thing I'd been doing for the last two years. I wanted to inject some new material. And the stuff that I like performing at festivals is club music really.
And it really does feel like being in a club too. All of those different styles could almost be the different rooms.
Yeah! I was saying the other day that I would describe it as a "multi-genre" rave. Like, if you went to Fabric on a Friday or something and you'd be wandering around. That's how I want it to be. Because that's my favourite kind of rave, when you go to Warehouse Project or Fabric or Ministry or somewhere and it's got a Room 2. It's always sick when a place has a Room 2! And then you can go to the smoking area and chill out there for a bit as well and have a little break. That's the moment when it gets a bit slower, you know what I mean? That's the Mr Mitch track on the album!
Do you remember what your first clubbing experience was?
My first clubbing experience was at SeOne… I mean, my first, first clubbing experience was probably some dodgy club in South London. But the first sort of rave that I'd ever been to was at SeOne in London Bridge. And it was at a drum & bass rave called Summer Splash or something. I remember having an argument with my best friend because she was wearing tracksuit bottoms and I was like, "You can't come to the club wearing tracksuit bottoms!". Then we got there and everyone was wearing them. I had a photocopied passport that I'd changed the date on Paint! On Paint! And it looked amazing. The bouncer was quizzing me, asking my star sign, all these things. But I managed to get in. And I remember literally being in there until 7.00 and my mum coming to pick me up!
What did you like about it so much? Was the whole ritual of getting dressed up? Was it the dancing ? Was it the music?
For me, the thing I love most about raving is definitely the dancing. And the commitment that you have of going somewhere to listen to music really loudly. I think that's a really nice way to think of it. Someone's about to play you a record and you're going to listen to it and appreciate it. The social side of it. Music defines culture and it defines who you are as a person. So the act of gathering with people that are like you and who you have things in common with… That's where you're going to make new friends or meet a lover. You're gong somewhere to find people who have the same values as you. And I think a lot of people who go raving are quite fun and enjoyable people, so that's where I want to be.
Where do you like to go out these days?
I've been raving a lot in Birmingham recently actually [Brummie DJ Hannah Wants features on Dreamers]. I've got friends up there. Rainbow's probably one of my favourite clubs.
It's interesting you're going to Birmingham for your nights out, with what's happening to clubs in London at the moment.
Yeah! Like Dance Tunnel closing down… It's so sad.
How important is it, culturally, that we protect these places?
I think it's really important. I understand that people need to sleep and go to work, but at the same time it's like… I was reading this article the other day about what foreign people think when they come to London. And one person said that they appreciate how sort of strange everyone's dress sense is. They didn't think there was anywhere else in Europe where people could just express themselves. Which I think is really amazing. And I think going out is a form of expressing yourself. I like the outgoingness of London and if people aren't allowed to be outgoing, if everyone is just in watching TV… They're saying there's going to be a "Night Mayor" or whatever and I'm like, "Listen, Boris, where's this Night Major at?!"
Maybe you should volunteer?
Well, I was going to tweet him the other day actually and say, "Hey, Boris, I'm ready to take this on as my second job".
You should tweet at him and say, "Listen, BoJo. I've been to a few clubs in my time…"
Yeah! I understand!
And you would have i-D's full support if you wanted to run for it.
I might have to check with people but probably.
I'm so ready. I'll go and do a dummies crash course in politics really quickly. I'll be ready to go.
Where does this album fit in the Official Katy B Canon… Is it an album? It it a big mixtape? What is it?
For me, it's more of a collaborative album… I love giving freedom to producers. I'm not precious about sitting in a room with someone and telling them what to make. For this project, that really didn't interest me. I just wanted to get the kind of current thing of what people were enjoying and listening to in the clubs right now.
Was it quite freeing in that sense?
100%. Oh, my god, I can't even tell you how freeing it was. It was very liberating and to have none of that kind of pressure on you. I can't even tell you how much I enjoyed it.
Is it closest to the music you want to make going forward?
Not necessarily. I imagine my next album won't sound anything like this. Because I've got it out my system. I'm not 100% sure of what I want to do, but I'd like the next album to have a different identity to this one… Maybe I should mix it up a bit. It's exciting.
Honey is released tomorrow (22 April).