This summer it’s all about lungs, and while most of the hype storm has been whipping up the vintage chic skirts of Florence & The Machine, the more adventurous bluster has gone over the rainbow and landed in the back yard of Toronto native Katie Stelmanis. Having paid her indie rock dues as one-third of avowedly non-heterosexual, riot grrl-influenced power trio Galaxy, Katie’s solo work casts a much wider net that’s laced with her impressive musical pedigree as a classically trained pianist, violist and opera singer. Her 2008 debut Join Us was notable for many things, primarily its refusal to adhere to any known indie-pop norms and a fantastically curious cover of ‘(You Make Me Feel Like A) Natural Woman’, and her subsequent collaborations with censor-baiting Torontonians Fucked Up (she provided vocals on the song ‘Royal Swan’ from last year’s celebrated Chemistry Of Common Life) have only added to her prospects as the outsider most likely to huff and puff ’til she blows down the doors to success. There are times when her MIDI-processed, orchestrally leaning compositions sound like Casiotone For The Painfully Alone’s art-school kid sister with a megaphone in one hand and a copy of Kate Bush’s The Dreaming in the other (and that’s not a comparison Wears The Trousers uses lightly), and others when they sound like nothing else on this good green Earth.
Katie’s debut UK release, out next week, will be a limited edition 7″ of her deliciously witchy new track ‘Believe Me’ backed with a cover of Roy Orbison’s ‘Crying’. She’s currently in the country promoting the release with a busy gigging schedule that runs right through to mid-July, so it was extra nice of her to take some time out to quickly answer our wee questionnaire. Florence, watch your back!
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What’s your middle name?
What’s your earliest memory?
I had a recurring nightmare when I was still in a crib about this jungle poster I had in my room…the tiger would crawl out of the page, turn into a scary knight and then turn my mobile. It was terrifying.
What’s the worst job you’ve ever worked and what was so bad about it?
I used to sell pop at the Exhibition in Toronto. It sucked. I was 14, but I remember feeling like it was free money when I got my paycheck.
What would you tell your 18 year old self if you could go back in time?
Go to university, stupid.
What did you want to be until you decided to become a musician…if you ever did ‘decide’ that is!
I wanted to be an opera singer, and before that I suppose anything that would make me a lot of money. Doctor? Surgeon?
What would you be if you weren’t a musician?
I can’t imagine…I would probably be much better off though that is for sure.
What did you listen to when you were growing up?
I didn’t really have much of a musical identity while growing up – I pretty much listened to everything my friends did, plus Radiohead, which saved me through high school.
Who was the first person you saw in concert?
Ummmmm, I think Bob Dylan? With my mom. I was a little bored!!
What’s the biggest guilty pleasure in your record collection?
Which female musicians have most inspired you?
I have been immensely inspired by Björk, PJ Harvey, and more recently The Knife.
Which artist would you most like to work with – your dream collaboration?
Tegan & Sara.
What kind of person would have sex to your music?
A gay one.
What’s your favourite song to cover and why?
Dolly Parton’s ‘I Will Always Love You’, because it’s the most beautiful song ever written.
Tell us about your favourite instrument…
I have, like, 11 keyboards – all of them have different qualitites that I like… I suppose my favourite instrument is my real piano at home that I got for free from the garbage of an elementary school.
What is your most loved item of clothing and why is it so treasured?
I love my new flowery pants that I bought from Paris because they are beautiful, but my favourite item changes frequently.
If you could star in any TV show, past or current, which would it be and what kind of character would you play?
‘The L Word’ – I would play Alice.
What are your views on feminism?
Everyone should be a feminist. Obviously.
What are your pet hates?
Pet peeves? I hate riding the tube / the underground / the subway – name your city, I think it all sucks.
What’s your biggest fear?
Flying in airplanes and spiders.
Would you rather see a ghost or simply have a piece of toast and watch the evening news?
I would like to have a piece of toast.
What’s your tipple?
Is this a lost in translation moment?
If you chanced upon Aladdin’s lamp what three things would you wish for?
A car, a house and a record label.
What have you done today to make you feel proud?
I woke up!
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FREE MP3: Katie Stelmanis, ‘Believe Me’ [via NME]