The Little Red singer talks us through 15 tracks of pure female power ft. TLC, Lauryn Hill, Grimes and Aaliyah
It's hard to believe it's been three years since Katy On a Mission. Back in 2011 Katy B joined the boys club scene at Rinse and became a female force of nature in the club. With the release of her second album Little Red next week, we spoke to Katy B about the female artists that have inspired her over the years, and she selected 15 classic tracks, from Aaliyah to The Shangri-Las.
Destiny's Child – "Independent Women Part I"
"When that album came out, the whole school was absolutely buzzing for Destiny’s Child. I remember going on my first date and being terrified of telling my mum. She was fine about it but I remember she gave me a lift and drove me to the cashpoint and she said 'Here's some money, make sure you buy everything yourself, don't feel like you owe him anything' and that always stuck with me. I never want a guy to buy me a drink, I would always rather buy my own so then no one can kinda follow me round the club or bother me and say "you used me!" and all that rubbish."
India.Arie – "Video"
"If you ever feel down – like if you ever try on a pair of jeans and they feel a bit tight – then this song is amazing. Basically she says 'I'm not the average girl from your video and I ain't built like a supermodel but I learned to love myself unconditionally because I am a queen.' I just think these are the best lyrics in the world because it's about self love and being kind to yourself, I really feel like India’s songs nourish you."
Alicia Keys – "Girlfriend"
"I love Alicia Keys because I think she’s super-talented and classy, she’s done a lot for charity and growing up when I was about 12 I used to get all her song sheets and I’d write my own songs over the top of them – I even wrote her a letter and put my demo in it. I was such a big fan of Alicia Keys."
Jill Scott – "Love Rain" (feat Mos Def)
"I remember the first time I heard Jill Scott, I remember thinking ‘wow’ – the lyrics are so incredible and she's got a lot of songs that are very empowering. You listen to her music and you literally feel sexy, you instantly feel like you can take on the world, thats how i feel when I listen to Jill Scott."
Erykah Badu – "Didn't Cha Know"
"I love Erykah Badu, her music is very spiritual and I like listening to her talking about making some of the tracks from her album. I was listening to her talk about this track she did with J Dilla and he was like ‘pick a sample’ and it just felt very natural, and that’s why I like her it just feels like she's constantly doing her own thing, she's a bit of a hippy and she's got so much attitude."
Lauryn Hill & Mary J. Blige – "I Used To Love Him"
"Me and my best friend, who is a singer as well, all we used to do when we were younger is sit at the bus stop and sing this song. Sometimes we’d even let the buses go past and carry on singing it that’s how much we loved it. It seems like she's going through some shit on that album but she's still working her way through it and feeling strong about it, there’s a sense of hope on that album."
Amy Winehouse – "Take The Box"
"I remember getting Frank in Camberwell in a CD store my friend’s brother used to run, and I remember convincing her to go and ask him for a discount on it and he was like ‘I know this album's not for you, stop trying to lie’. I literally went through the wars to get this album and when I got it I didn't stop playing it. I think everyone loves this song its got such powerful imagery to it. This song just makes me feel cold, it's so powerful, I just cant believe that someone could write a story or lyrics like that. I always really wanted to befriend her, there was just something so authentic and raw about her, I felt like I knew her, so much of her was in her music that you just instantly felt like you knew her."
The Shangri-Las – "Leader of the pack"
"My mum used to have this CD, it was a 1950s compilation. I used to make up a dance to it and act out the whole song and make her watch it over and over again, so yeah i used to have this weird thing with 50s music. I had an obsession with Elvis as well, it's really weird, I think its because it was three chords and not ‘simple’ but a kinda rock 'n’ roll vibe. The Shangri-Las were like the bad girls of their time."
Nina Simone – "Sinnerman"
"I remember I had to sing this song at uni for a project, I played it with a bass player and I had to play the piano for it. I was really terrified because I never play the piano and we managed to pull it off. Nina's an interesting character and learning about her and her life was just really inspiring. She has some many different influences from classical to jazz, a real individual – and my Dad's a massive Nina Simone fan.
Lily Allen – "Littlest Things"
"I really like Lily Allen 'cause I feel like she’s got something to say. There’s so many songs out there are like ‘I love you, you love me, let's play family’, y’know what I mean? Which is nice! I write songs like that as well, but Lily puts a lot of thought into her lyrics. This is my favourite Lily Allen song because I really relate to the lyrics in terms of being yourself with someone and then losing that, or someone accepting you for who you are and losing that and being so terrified that you're never gonna find that ever again."
The Eurythmics – "Sweet Dreams (Are Made Of This)"
"When I performed for Woman of the World, International Women’s Day, Annie Lennox was so great on that night. She inspired everyone, and was such a voice for AIDS, feminism, poverty everything, I think she's a really good person to come out of the industry."
Grimes – "Genesis"
"The way she produces her music and has such a vision to who she is is incredible. When I hear that there's a new Grimes interview coming up I get really excited about it – they're such good reads. Can we just put it out there that she needs to write a book?"
TLC – "Waterfalls"
"Such a good girl band. I could definately relate to them because they were all such tomboys. And they had a message with their music as well y’know: safe sex, wanting someone who treats you right."
Aaliyah - "Are you that somebody"
"There's something really dark about Aaliyah’s music, but then it's sexy in such an effortless, classy way – it's all the things that you want done down to a t and her voice actually sounds incredible in that as well."
Gwen Stefani – "Luxurious"
"I love this tune, especially because it's over the Biggie beat as well, and the video. Oh my god the video to this song – I used to watch it over and over again. The way she expresses herself visually as well as musically is just incredible – her style is so slick and on-point, she's sexy and such a tomboy all at the same time."