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Interview: Kate Aumonier

Rock Stars...

'Here I Am' and here to stay, Kate Aumonier talks playing to a crowd, living the dream and loving Axl Rose...

I am a confirmed Kate Aumonier fan. Having now been to three of her live performances, I can now sing along in perfect unison to 'Morning After Girl' and 'Fall from Grace', two of Kate's songs that won her the attention of Glyn Johns (legendary producer) and eventuallly Sanctuary Records. With production credits linking her to the likes of Gordon Raphael and Ethan Johns (The Strokes), Kate's forthcoming album demonstrates a perfect mix of rocky attitude and soulful feeling.

And hey, lets not forget that Emmylou Harris and Linda Ronstadt both invited Kate personally to appear on their Tucsan Sessions album... Feisty and fun-loving, with a mane of curly hair, Kate provides a gorgeous backlash to the media hussies in the industry today, and proves that being a successful female solo artist can be more than reducing oneself to wearing as few clothes as possible.' It's all about being true to yourself', says Aumonier, with a twinkle in her eye.

And who better to talk about being true to oneself than the girl who consistently refused to compromise herself for the sake of being a media darling, and stood true to her main assertion that its the music that matters..

Where did the passion for music all start then?

I've always loved music, but I think I really started to get into it (starts laughing) because I had this massive crush on this guy, and he was utterly obsessed with Pearl Jam! Being a bit of a big bird at school, and not being too confident with the boys, in order to get him to notice me, I had to know about the band, but then they took me by surprise and I really enjoyed it and became a bit of a fan!

I was a rock-chick for a long time, Guns and Roses, Counting Crows, I was really into all that stuff.

I think it was that type of music that really got me into going to see live gigs, and that's when I started to fall in love with the whole buzz around playing live. I used to go and just dance like a mad woman, it was great. I remember being too young to go and see Axl Rose in Milton Keynes.. I was absolutely gutted. I remember crying when my brother walked out the door with his mates to go and see him. The man was a long haired legend..

So, would you say Guns and Roses had any lasting influences then?

Well, I can't see any immediate similarities between myself and Axl, but you never know, I mean, I do get told I'm quite ballsy in my songs, maybe that's part of the subtle influence! But I grew up listening to artists like Carole King, Cat Stevens, Texas and James Taylor, and they all definitely gave me a taste for singing.

I think the key influences were Sheryl Crow and Lenny Kravitz though. Sheryl Crow was the one who inspired me to open my mouth and have a go. I also had a classical education in music, so putting that into practice whilst using all that I'd learnt from the artists I'd mentioned earlier, just seemed like a perfect mix for interesting music.

What gives you the real buzz, writing the music, or performing live on stage?

Oh god, both are great, you can't possibly pick between the two! Very different buzzes for each. I love playing live on stage, there's nothing quite like it. The best time was when I was touring with Dr John, and his band played for me in the penultimate gig of his tour. But then obviously on stage you have things to worry about, like embarrassing yourself, not that I really care too much. I've never done anything too ridiculous on stage, but I remember one night I made the huge mistake of wearing very high stiletto heels, which were agony to wear anyway, and as I was coming off stage I managed to fall on my arse in front of most of the crew down an entire flight of stairs.

But its all good fun. And writing music is brilliant too, when you know that you've hit upon a good chorus or verse, it is the best feeling in the world.

Going back to being ballsy, is this a stage persona or does it reflect on yourself?

(laughing) well, all the songs on the album are drawn from personal experience, so if people think they sound ballsy then I guess that's me! Nah, I think I'm fairly laid back though, I just get fits of feistiness occasionally, as much as the next girl. That's when I end up writing tracks like 'Morning After Girl', with that sort of anger at myself, that I had fallen for the boy's classic line again. I guess that song might come across as a little arsy! But I think that's healthy. A bit of healthy justified aggro. Anyway, I think the music industry is a lot more open to women expressing themselves freely through their songs now. Folks like Norah Jones and Avril Lavigne have really paved the way for that sort of approach. When Sheryl Crow first started, I think it was harder for her to get accepted.

But no, I don't deliberately try to be ballsy, I think my music is too varied to be categorised by one word. Some of the songs are quite melancholy in tone, some are quite attitudesy, some are just meant to be light hearted and comical, like 'Laugh As You Fall', which is all having one too many and falling over. I remember the first time we performed that song live, afterwards we were walking across a dark car park and I fell down this hole, typically me! And no, I wasn't laughing as I fell then, I must confess, it bloody hurt....

With an attitude to life every bit as intriguing as her album, Kate Aumonier is a really amazing talent who deserves to be paid a significant amount of attention to. Her forthcoming album, 'Here I Am', will be released on July 12th and is a total must have for any collection.

Interview © 2004 Lucy Carter

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