Radar Band Of The Week – No. 17: Katy B

Katy B – Dubstep’s first proper pop star is ready to rave

“You’d be in the club raving to these garage tunes and thinking, ‘This singer is amazing!’ Who is she?”

Lying on an Ibizan beach, a little piece of south London amid the local bronzed bods, Katy B reflects on her spiritual godmothers; the garage divas who’ve slipped between the gaps of session singer and superstar, landing slap bang on the ‘no hats, no hoods’ circuit somewhere off Peckham Road.

You want to tell her that her fate leads somewhere new, that the newly appointed princess of dubstep’s future looks as bright as the Balearic sun. But just a day away from performing the biggest set of her career – at Annie Mac’s Ibiza Rocks blowout – two holiday reps divert attention by ramming home the enormity of her immediate job at hand.

“These guys tried to sell us tickets to the afterparty of the event we’re headlining!” she laughs. “They said: ‘There’ll be 2,000 people there!’ I was like, ‘Oh, and that’s the afterparty!’”

Still, she’s done her prep. She’s been honing her club craft for nearly five years now, a preoccupation she didn’t let the long arm of the law get in the way of. “When I first started performing ‘Tell Me’ [her trailblazing debut cut with DJ NG], I wasn’t supposed to be in the club.” Really? Sounds dodge. “I was 17 and only had a doctored photocopy of my passport.”

Now 21, a pipe-flexing stint at Croydon’s Brit School put her in pole position to become the go-to gal for all the bigtime bass-heads, from Rinse FM don Geeneus to DJ Zinc and now Magnetic Man. But it’s her teaming with Benga on ‘On A Mission’ that’s set to trample the mainstream under a skanking beat. Her neo-soulful vocals lend a layer of slinky gloss over knotty dubstep swing and rubberised arpeggios, creating a centre-piece of rave-pop that leads the wave of big-room dubstep breaking commercial spheres as we speak.

Star quality, proper pop anthems, a true takeover movement… who knows what exactly those ’90s sirens lacked. But whatever it was, Katy’s already dispersed any such concerns. But I would love to have seen the look on those holiday reps’ faces at about 3am when the headline act hit the stage…

Need To Know
*Alongside the piano, Katy B studied the French horn as a child

*She studied music at both the Brit School and Goldsmiths, but her lifetime aspiration is to run a shop that sells nail varnishes

*She was thrown out of a hotel in Ayia Napa when she was 19. “It was a bit ropey,” she says of the establishment


This article originally appeared in the August 21 issue of NME

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