WIN! Signed Kate Havnevik Albums!

Norwegian songstress Kate Havnevik is back! As current single “Disobey” demonstrates, Havnevik may have taken her time in delivering a follow-up to “Melankton”, but by no means was it through lack of capability. “Disobey” is beyond brilliant and epitomises everything that is right with latest album “YOU”. To celebrate the release, Kate Havnevik has kindly given The Kaje a handful of signed albums for us to give out to our lucky readers. If you would like to get your hands on one, simply tell us the title of the closing track on “YOU”. Email your answers to jeremy@the-kaje.com by June 20th.

The Kaje talks YOU to Kate Havnevik

Having conquered hearts through numerous song slots on Grey’s Anatomy, The O.C. and The West Wing, Havnevik is all too aware that TV brings you in to the hearts and more importantly the heads of a wanting audience, Norwegian songstress Kate Havnevik must have counted her lucky stars when Apple contacted her to feature her long-awaited sophomore release “YOU” on their global advert for the iCloud. Like many others, The Kaje‘s ears propped firmly up as her gripping vocal struck the right chord and so we are thrilled to have finally caught up for a chat…

It has been half a decade since “Melankton”, was there a conscious decision for you to wait before unleashing “YOU”?

No conscious decision at all, life does not always go as planned and I have spent the years in between the two albums writing, touring, moving between London, New York and now Norway. There has been lots going on.

How would you say your sound has evolved during the time away?

The sound evolves all the time, but I also think it is the need to move on and not make the same album twice. The need to try slightly different things.

How have your intentions and ambitions altered?

I think my ambitions have changed from thinking things will build up to one thing happening, to thinking of a long career as a whole. Things are happening all the time and keeping the music alive and moving forward.

What would you say are the defining sonic attributes of “YOU”?

Electronic mixed with organic sounds. A lot of pace and energy. Its a very varied album, but with voice and lyric in focus all through the record.

And the overriding themes?

Relationships between all sorts of people, lovers, siblings, parents and strangers.

“Disobey” is the second single to be launched from the record-can you tell us about the song…

It’s a playful song about breaking the norm and the ‘rules’ our parents and teachers give us from when we are young. Trying out things that are unusual or not considered ‘the safe thing to do’, taking risks and discovering the world for ourselves.

Sometimes being a bit cheeky or misbehavin’ a bit isn’t so bad or damaging and can lead to some fun and liveliness …

What makes a good single in your eyes?

A song that is easy to enjoy in one way or another and that you can listen to many times without getting sick of it. But there are no rules really, sometimes there are songs that people think are the least likely to be a successful single that make it to no.1. Songs like the “Mad World” cover by Gary Jules for instance. Beautiful!

How did you settle on “Disobey”?

I personally think the song is a lot of fun, has a good groove and sounds a bit different. It’s a bit cheeky, but has good energy. I really like the trumpet riff that goes through the song, performed by Arve Henriksen, an amazing Norwegian trumpeter.

I used to think “Disobey” was my ‘bootylicious’ song. I always performed a little booty dance to that song a home.

What other songs are potential singles from “YOU”?

Oh, in a way sooo many. We do different singles in different territories. In Norway “MYYM” was the first single and was playlisted on a big national radio station for 13 weeks.

“THINK AGAIN” and “SHOW ME LOVE” have also had heavy rotation in Norway so there are several songs that are potential singles.

Do you have any personal favourites on the album?

Personal favourites are “Castaway”, “Tears In Rain” and “Disobey”…. I don’t know why but they are very close to me!

You have worked with Guy Sigsworth on the album-how did the collaboration come about?

Me and Guy have know eachother and worked together for a long time .Guy also produced half of “Melankton” and this time I wanted him to do the whole album so I could focus on the writing. We ended up writing a lot together and I was present it the studio during the creation of every sound, so the whole album is pretty much a great collaboration. I really trust Guy’s taste and decisions, I feel in safe hands.

Is there anyone else you are very keen to work with?

Regarding producers I think it would interesting to work with Nigel Godrich or Jon Brion, but I am also trying to become a better producer myself and I absolutely love working with Guy Sigsworth. Apart from that I would love to write a song with Matt Bellamy from Muse, they have great songs with lots of energy! And I would love to sing a duet with Canadian artist Patrick Watson (listen to his song “The Great Escape”, it’s gorgeous!)

With the new record now ready for public consumption, are you planning to take the music on the road?

I am planning to start touring this autumn, I am currently writing a film score, doing a few collaborations and writing new songs and that will keep me busy this summer.

How would “YOU” have to be adapted for the live forum?

I have had a few shows with the songs here in Norway and it works really well with a band, drums, cello, bass, vibraphone, and me on piano and guitar, and some electronic sounds from the laptop. I also do some solo shows with me on guitar/piano/vocals and the laptop with some sounds. I really enjoy both depending on the size of stage.

Is it musicianship or performance that drive you?

I think it is very much musicianship and the urge to write that drives me , thats kind of why I started singing in the first place, because I wrote songs.

I do love the performance as well, but in the beginning it was hard for me as I was very introvert and shy and also a perfectionist. As soon as I was a bit easier on myself and stopped caring so much if something wasn’t perfect I enjoyed live performance much more, now I think it’s great to perform live, and I am so fond of my fans and the audience as they participate so much during the show. Maybe shouting out a song they would like to hear or something. It’s very much a give a take .

What are your hopes for the record?

I hope people will discover it and enjoy it and that it will have a long life. People are still discovering “Melankton” for the first time.

I have already been lucky enough to have the “YOU” album cover featured in a world wide iPhone-iCloud TV advert so hopefully people will check it out, and if they like it spread the word.

The songs have been rotated a lot of norwegian national radio, and indie UK and US radio, so I am very pleased people enjoy the songs. Two of the songs ‘Halo’ and bonus track ‘Grace’ have also been featured in TV-series Grey’s Anatomy.

And have you started thinking about album 3 as yet?

I am currently writing and recording the 3rd album, I have so much unreleased material and this 3rd album will almost be a part 2 of “YOU”, and it will be called “&I”. They belong together, hand in hand. That is why I am not waiting too long after “YOU” to release it.

“You” is out now.

Interview by Jeremy Williams

VIDEO: Kate Havnevik “Disobey”

“Disobey”is a rampant charge. There is no other way to describe the latest single from Norwegian songstress Kate Havnenik. Lifted from her forthcoming second album “YOU”, Havnenik has worked with Bjork and Imogen Heap producer Guy Sigsworth and crafted what is set to be one of the album’s of the year. While you await our praise-giving album review, we thought we’d  tempt your taste buds…

LIVE REVIEW: Little Fish, Roadhouse (Manchester), 04.11.2010

As little known gigs, by little known bands go, this was no exception. I got to the venue quite late so was just in time to see the first act finish up her song to a roaring group of friends and family. About 12 in all. But I chose not to be too disheartened so early, so off I went to the bar to get a pint of weak, weak beer and await the second act, which was going to be a treat, no doubt.

After a few minutes, lead singer of Little Fish, Juju, came on to the stage to great applause to say simply, ‘Well Manchester, you’ve really gone and f**cked us up this time, haven’t you. We had no second act for you but we’ve been able to draft Richard Walters to help us along. So here he is.’ So, two things: why did this girl just come out on stage and tell a stunned crowd that their city had f**ked up her night? And why on earth did she introduce Richard Actual Walters with such a  degree of louche?! So, out he came and yes, he wowed. I was completely blown away. Simply because Richard Walters is one of the best of the current crop of male and emotional singer/songwriters and because I wasn’t expecting to see him at all. Two of his songs “All at Sea” and “Needless Advice” made me melt a little bit inside and for ten beautiful minutes I was taken away enough to forget to watch that my bag wasn’t being nicked. A dream, a sweet sweet dream. After the gig he asked me for a light outside. I said, ‘Sure. Lovely songs.’ He said, ‘Thanks’. Swoon.

So on with the show, as they say. It was a few minutes more after Richard finished delighting that the main act came out. I was surprised to see that the crowd that had assembled in this damp, underground question mark of a venue were so incredibly joyful at the prospect of a rude southerner who didn’t appear to want to be there at all. However, it was when Juju and Nez came to the stage that all became clear. Immediately the room was filled was a two-fingers up attitude, which I guess is all part of the image, right? And I figured too I would soon find out if this apparent attitude was in any way justified.

I can tell you now that it was. Little Fish are a band who know what they are doing. Juju on vocals and guitar and Nez on drums  were infinitely better than many ‘pop-rock’ duo’s I have seen at carving out a credible tune. Baffled and Beat was one of the top tunes of the night ad was helped along very nicely by Juju stomping around the stage, throwing off her hat, screaming in the faces of those closest to the stage. If there is something this girl can do, it’s perform. As well as having a stage presence which deserves to be on a bigger platform than the modest little Roadhouse, Juju’s voice is the like of which I have never heard. If you want to hear a girl screech in perfect pitch, then go and see this band. Kudos on the cleverness of seamlessly weaving such high notes and unearthly sounds into their tunes and actually enhancing the song, instead of ruining which is most often the case.

The set was mainly the latest album release, which is entirely as standard of course. I haven’t yet listened to the album but I suspect strongly that what is put down on record will be much, much different from what I saw Little Fish and her fishy fans enjoying that night. Songs such as “Am I Crazy” and “You, Me & The TV” were absolutely made to be performed live and I will trepidatiously listen to the album in the hope that it lives up to these guys on the stage. VERY much worth a look.

Rating: 5/5
Reviewer: Hugh Hamill

FORGOTTEN GEM: Shelby Starner “From In The Shadows”

Sometimes you stumble across an album that moves you so deeply that you can not wait to tell all your friends about it. But then, after a few too many plays the record sinks to the back of your collection and gets forgotten about for all eternity. Yet sometimes, the connection to the record runs so deep that it never leaves the top of the pile.

“From In The Shadows”, an album I first heard nearly a decade ago is still as frequently played today as it was when I first got sent it by my friend Nikki, who is based in New York. Having initially sent me “Don’t Let Them”, the only single I believe Shelby ever released, I fell in love instantly with Shelby’s voice and so I wrote back asking her to send the album should she ever find it.

Soon enough the album came tumbling through my door. I was completely captivated by Shelby and moved me immensely by the emotional display, most notably on ‘You’, a song to which my own personal would further grow as I matured. Having co-penned ‘Poppyock!’, a play about an odd couple, my co-writer Lynsey Mellor and I needed to find a song whose lyrics summarised our characters inner frustration. I did not hesitate in my suggestion.“You don’t belong here. You are so different from me” cries Shelby. Her inner torment at the relationship between her father Ray J. and his new wife expressed explicitly. As a pair of twenty year olds we could not find the words ourselves, as Shelby had said them all so much better.

Therefore comes as a big surprise when five minutes into a conversation with Ray J. Starner, father of the late Shelby, when he reveals that “Shelby was never really happy with “From In The Shadows”. She envisioned herself as more of a rocker. Craig Street (Norah Jones, k. d. lang, Cassandra Wilson, Charlie Sexton) produced the album, he’s a jazz producer and he pulled her away from her rock sound. She liked it but two years later she wasn’t happy.”

Critically acclaimed at the time of it’s 1999 release, “From In The Shadows” was a relative commercial failure. Launched at the peak of bubblegum pop, her contemporaries were too busy in schoolgirl uniforms and demanding “Hit Me Baby One More Time” or talking about their “Genie In A Bottle” to be taken seriously. But Shelby was “was a kid who was 14 turning 15. Who would believe that the lyrics would come out of this girl’s mind?” Her emotional honesty proving that she was “wise beyond her years”.

“I never thought that I was special, but I hear I used to be” sighs Shelby Starner on the heart wrenching ‘Empty Mind. Her direct approach to lyricism exemplary of a girl wise beyond her years. With her evident eloquence, it is little surprise that “You” ended up on the soundtrack of the eloquent teenage drama Dawson’s Creek, yet even this did not convert the critical acclaim to sales.

“Shelby could sing all the songs from “The Wizard of Oz” by the time she was three.” Destined for a career in music, Ray J. assures me “Shelby could sing all the songs from ‘The Wizard of Oz’ by the time she was three.” When Alanis’ first record came out, I would play guitar and she would sing all the lyrics.” As a young teenager Shelby was “constantly writing in her journal, be it poems or lyrics” and it was these musings that translated into her debut record. With her parents divorced and a dislike of her one step-parent, Shelby used her songs to express her emotions. The sheer honesty of her lyrics is doubled with a heartfelt vocal delivery that transcends genre and send shivers down the spine. A unexpected development of her twelfth birthday present, a session at a recording studio, Shelby’s original recordings a world away from the album that was released.

Add into the equation that “From In The Shadows” would be the only release from the tragic child singer and the album’s merits are multiplied. Her unreleased second record was to have featured Chad and Flea from the Red Hot Chilli Peppers and would have reflected her maturing rock tastes. Yet unhappy with the control her record company had cancer the discovery that her mother was suffering with cancer, Shelby retreated from the industry. Shelby descended into a battle with bulimia which would cost her her life at the tender age of 19, as she was about to start college.

Upon listening to the record and re-examining the album’s artwork, it is strangely haunting to fi nd a ghostly presence and an ethereal quality to Shelby’s vocal performance. Shelby appears to be consistently evaluating life through her lyrics, and this externalization of emotional expression is uniquely moving.

“From In The Shadows” is out now.
http://www.theshelbyproject.org

Words: Jeremy Williams

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