Singer/Songwriter Katie Melua first hit the scene ten years ago to international claim with her album Call the Search Off. Since then, she has gone on to set a Guiness World Record for the deepest underwater concert ever performed, as well as released 5 other multimillion-selling albums. Now just about to release her 6th album Ketevan, we caught up with Katie during a rare peaceful moment while she was on the Eurostar to Paris.
Katie, welcome to our Tripping With segment. What are you up to at the moment?
Thank you. I’m right in the middle of promoting my 6th studio album Ketevan, which I will officially launch at the Roundhouse (in Camden, London) on the 2nd of October.
Congratulations! What would you say is different about this new offering?
This is the first record I kind of crack the up-tempo, rocky kind of sound successfully. My past 5 albums have been very soft and melancholic, a bit like Georgian folk music which is very bluesy and sort of wallows in the sadness that life sometimes brings. Ketevan has a rockier edge to it and it’s more energetic.
Your song No Fear of Heights was once featured on our Musical Sunday segment after I saw it featured onThe Tourist. Which of your songs would you say would be good accompaniments to:
a) A roadtrip: Shiver and Shake from Ketevan.
b) Lounging pool or beach-side: If You Were A Sailboat from Pictures.
c) Waiting for a delayed flight: I’d Love To Kill You from The House.
You are very proud of your Georgian heritage and spend as much time as you can in the country. Which places would you recommend travellers to visit?
I would first of all recommend skiing in the Caucasus mountains because it is simply one of the best places to ski. It hasn’t been discovered as a skiing destination yet so you get that unspoiled, not crowded experience. In the summer simply swim in the Black sea. I grew up by the sea which influenced the cover of my album so you can probably tell this is one of my favourite things to do in Georgia. Most importantly enjoy the culture. Georgians consider guests a gift from the gods so enjoy their hospitality.
What is your earliest travel-related memory?
Travelling from Georgia to Moscow back when both countries were still communist. The plane ride from Tbilisi to Moscow had no seat belts at all, and I distinctly remember running through the aisles with excitement.
How about your best travel memory?
That will have to be my first proper holiday with my then boyfriend, now husband in 2011. We had been dating for 6 months when we decided to go to the Anantara resort in The Maldives. That was where he proposed!
What would you say is the best hotel you’ve ever stayed in?
I’m still searching, I have a feeling I might have found it but I’m not sure yet. But The Siam in Bangkok comes pretty close to the top I’d say.
Do you have any non-work travel planned in the next months?
I’m going to Thailand in December, staying at the Sri Panwa in Phuket so you can bet I’m really looking forward to that. Other than that I have an autumn weekend escape to a log cabin in the Cotswolds.
Worst travel memory?
My first trip abroad with my best friend when we were very young. We went to the South of France and contracted food poisoning, an ordeal that lasted three days. Just when we were feeling better we went out for dinner and sat next to a family where the father was breaking the news to his children that he was getting divorced from their mother. We just ended up crying along with the children.
How would you describe your travelling style?
Travelling a lot for work has turned me into a travel snob. As a teenager I could go backpacking and be utterly content, but not anymore.
And finally, if you could put together a travel itinerary, without any time or money constraints, where would you go to?
I would go to India, after reading Shantaram which is based in the country. The way the book described India, it’s people and culture makes me want to go there for a month or two. But if there were no time constraints I would go back to Georgia – first to Tbilisi to see family then to the Black Sea town of Batumi where I grew up.