‘You need to be your own Big Star’: Katy Steele on perseverance and self-belief

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‘You need to be your own Big Star’: Katy Steele on perseverance and self-belief

Katy Steele
Words by Lesleigh Luiten

Last month Katy Steele released her second solo studio album Big Star, marking her first album in over six years.

Lovingly co-created over two years with her partner Graham Mcluskie, the album has received praise including comparisons to PJ Harvey and Chrissie Hynde, as well as scoring a Double J Feature Album. Now Katy is on the road, touring Big Star, and convincing us all to believe in ourselves.  

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The first seeds of Big Star were planted all the way back in 2018. Katy and Graham were in Scotland visiting family when the two decided to work together. At this time Graham was not a producer, Katy described him as a “tinkerer” who could play guitar really well. The duo spent the past two years experimenting and learning the ropes together. For Katy, her love of creating is at the forefront of everything she does, however through this process she tells us she had to get her hands dirty. “I love production, I just lack the patience to kind of see things through and the patience to really kind of sit there and get it across the line. It’s the hardest thing for me. I just love creating the ideas.”

Although Katy appreciated the time to experiment and fine-tune her processes, working in her home studio meant she wasn’t as disciplined as she would have liked to have been. She spent many nights in the studio which she says “went on forever”. Her goal for the next album is to set a strict deadline. 

“It’s just a real endurance test, I guess. You know, there were times where we just felt like we weren’t going to reach the finish line, and then there were times where we just thought, are we crazy for doing this? What are we doing? Like we have no idea what we’re doing and we thought we were delusional.”

At the end of it all self-belief got Big Star to the finish line. Katy says that doing things alone meant there wasn’t anyone to bounce ideas off of. She also said her friends told her things sounded great all the time but she wasn’t sure if that was real feedback or just her friends being supportive. 

“That was the hardest thing – keeping that self-belief. I think that’s where the title came from. Like I the way I see it is you need to be your own Big Star, like finding that one thing that just keeps you going and that drives you.”

“Just having that belief in yourself and finding your own Big Star to keep you moving and to keep you progressing in your life. To keep you physically and mentally strong.”

Don’t let the names of the songs fool you – Big Star is resoundingly about hope, resilience and perseverance. It’s an emotional journey that was written during COVID-19 and explores how Katy was feeling as an artist.

“We were trying to make a positive record. You know, a lot of the song titles sound really negative but I think at the end of the day I think it’s literally just a record about emotions and it’s about resilience and like the human condition. And, you know, it was written during COVID. So we were all going through some pretty crazy things. So, I think it kind of touches on a lot of those themes.”

In the lead up to the release of Big Star, Katy released four singles before dropping the record in its entirety. Her fear was that people would react to one song or another on the album but wouldn’t appreciate the story that is told throughout each track. To her relief the album has done incredibly well gathering praise as a whole piece of work. 

“I feel like once people have heard the album as a whole, they’ve really understood, like the vision of it and I think that’s really great. I’m really proud of that because it shows that people are still enjoying albums as a whole. You know, you’re not just separating it down to singles, in this day and age I think that is really cool. So that’s the thing I’ve been most excited about is that people are just enjoying it as a whole body of work.”

Now there’s one more thing to do – and that’s to take the album on the road, taking the audience through some Little Birdy tracks and continuing on to tracks from Big Star. When asked to hype up the tour the Big Star singer said she still struggles to talk herself up – even with the self-belief she garnered from this album. She did however promise us a hot band and a good time. 

“I think the band sounds really hot. I don’t know – it’s hard to up yourself, isn’t it? I guess it’s like the show is really interesting because it kind of covers, you know, a few different records. So I think that if you’re a Little Birdy fan, there’ll be something for you. But if you’re a fan of the new record, then you’re going to be hearing that as well. I think they actually all fit in really well together, so I think I think it’s gonna be a really cool show. And we’ve got Moreton supporting us as well and she’s really great.”

Catch Katy Steele at The Workers Club on August 4.