Katy B

By
Photography David Burton

Published July 26, 2013

On her most recent single, “Easy Please Me,” 22-year-old Katy B warns a potential lover: “I won’t call you 20 times a day because I’ve got my own shit to do.” It’s a refreshing diversion from the usual POV in female-centric pop, which often paints young women as either love-starved, incredibly angry, or sexed-up to the stratosphere. Katy B—the latest British singer to become a hit with both Top-40 obsessives and snobby indie aesthetes—is none of those things. If anything, the Camberwell, London-born B (real name, Kathleen Brien) is like a girl you would want to know—supersmart and refreshingly non-Gaga-ishly normal. “I never thought my album would get such a big reception,” says B. “I just thought it would be my small introduction to the world, but it’s taken on a life of its own.” Recorded in part while Brien was finishing her music studies at Goldsmiths, On a Mission (Columbia) is an intensely catchy treatise on everything interesting happening in dance music at the moment: neatly synthesizing house, dubstep, drum-‘n’-bass, and U.K. garage with radio-friendly pop. The appeal of Brien’s music comes not only from her kaleidoscopic take on dance music, but also from the wide-eyed optimism of her lyrics—all of which she writes herself. “I had wanted to be a dancer when I was younger,” she says. “But at some point I figured out I was a better singer.” While the critical reception for her music has been a pleasant surprise, the trappings of sudden stardom will clearly need some getting used to. “I just did a photo shoot today that was funny,” says Katy. “They said they wanted to shoot me in my natural environment, so I took them to the cemetery near my house. Everyone seemed to think that was really weird, but I like to go and walk my dog there. It’s really old and Victorian. I actually sat on a bench there and wrote one of the songs for my album. I work well in pretty places.”

PHOTO: KATY B IN LONDON, JULY 2011. JUMPSUIT: LEVI’S. SHIRT: DIESEL BLACK GOLD. EARRINGS: TOPSHOP. NECKLACES: DOMINIC JONES. HAIR: ALEX BROWNSELL USING BUMBLE AND BUMBLE/BLEACHLONDON.CO.UK. MAKEUP: NAOKO SCINTU/BALCONYJUMP.CO.UK. SPECIAL THANKS: FILM PLUS