SHE will forever be known for her biggest hits from her debut album, Eye to the Telescope.

But KT Tunstall has her eye instead to movie cameras these days. After conquering the pop world, the Scottish singer-songwriter is forging a new career as a composer for film soundtracks.

In 2014 she left her life in Edinburgh behind for the bright lights of Hollywood. The 41-year-old even got to train at Skywalker Ranch, the workplace of Star Wars creator George Lucas.

KT told Weekend: “It was the most incredible learning experience of my adult life. It was a total thrill. I was so overjoyed to be chosen to be a part of that.”

The experience is already paying off as KT has been involved with major films like Winter’s Tale and Disney’s Million Dollar Arm.

KT, whose favourite films are Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey and The Shining, added: “It was a massive learning curve in terms of learning about scoring and it pushed me in a way I’ve never been pushed before.

“We had James Newton Howard, Harry Gregson-Williams and Alan Silvestri come up from Hollywood to give us a lecture and play us a scene from one of their movies.

“They took the score away and we had 24 hours to score it ourselves before we came back and it was played at the cinema. It was really the beginning of a deep love affair with film scores and appreciating how different it is to writing songs.

“I’m a big film fan but part of the draw as well is that I’m a solo artist so I’m in charge all the time. There’s something really exciting about collaborating and being part of a team.

“I love the director mentality. It fascinates me that a single person can have this vision and this huge project in their mind when there are sometimes tens of thousands of people involved with making it with a budget of hundreds of millions of dollars.

“I find it so incredible that is somebody is capable of bringing that home and I love being part of that process. From an egotistical point of view I never get to hear my own gig as a member of the audience and it’s such a buzz hearing your music over a massive sound system in the cinema.

“I enjoy seeing my music as a puzzle piece in a scene. I love it particularly when it tells you something you’re not seeing. There’s a very interesting relationship between the visuals and the sound.”

The world of cinema is occupying a lot of KT’s energies at the moment, which is why she was planning a break from songwriting. But she said the songs for 2016’s Kin came to her unexpectedly in a moment of inspiration.

“I’d just been through such an intense journey of life change,” said KT, who spoke to Weekend while she was in France as part of her tour with Simple Minds.

“I sold up everything I owned and moved to LA a year before I started writing it. I thought I was done for a while. I was just going to concentrate on writing songs for movies which is why I moved to LA.

“So it was a surprise to me that these songs arrived and the way that they sounded.”

Warrington Guardian:

It may be her fifth album but KT describes Kin as the ‘true follow-up’ to her debut album.

She added: “When I started getting the ideas for this record there were these really big, bold, muscular pop choruses. I haven’t really written like that since Eye To The Telescope. I think part of that was because I was coming from a very carefree place which is, of course, where you come from with the first record.

“You haven’t had any success, you haven’t got any expectations. I was coming from a unfettered place of really not caring who was going to be pleased by the songs and whether they’d get on the radio.

“I was just enjoying writing songs which is where I came with that first one so the spirit of it felt like coming full circle in a way. It’s funny. As you make more records you look at this growing pile of material and you see it as the soundtrack to your experience.

“It was a moment to sit back to look at what I’d done.”

KT was thrust into the limelight when she sang Black Horse and the Cherry Tree on Later...with Jools Holland.

In the same year the Ivor Novello and Brit Award-winning artist’s debut album reached number three in the charts and went five times platinum. More than 1.6 million copies were sold in the UK alone.

So does the songwriter feel that overnight success overshadowed the rest of her work?

KT said: “I don’t think I could ever complain about having the amount of success I had with that record. I don’t think I could ever complain about having the amount of success I had with that record.

“It was an incredible experience and it’s an absolute gift to have a couple of songs that no matter where you go in the world people know. I think you’d be an absolute fool to think that’s a bad thing.

“But the tricky thing is having that overnight pop success belies the range of what I do as an artist. If I was to choose where I should sit it would probably be in the indie rock genre

“So the one thing it did make a little bit difficult was I suddenly found myself in a commercial pop world that didn’t feel very familiar. It was fun but at the same time I don’t think I’m built to be a big, shiny popstar.

“That was weird and even now 13 years later I have this strange juxtaposition of having one foot in mainstream pop and the other one in a much more experimental world of crafting songs.”

With KT’s success also came fame – and pressure.

She added: “Billy Connolly’s missus wrote a really interesting thing about this – that people react to fame in the same way that they react to trauma. You’ll either put your head down and pretend it’s not happening, take loads of drink or substances or have a breakdown straight away.

“I was definitely the first one of those. I pretended things were the same. I didn’t know quite how to handle it. I remember saying things like: ‘It’s exactly the same just with more people’.

“But, of course, it’s not the same. There is a whole new level of expectation and a whole new level of possibility of what you can achieve. No matter how hard I tried I found it completely impossible to ignore the pressure.

“I remember when making my second record I didn’t feel ready to release it. I didn’t feel it was finished and my manager was saying if it’s delayed it will affect Sony’s share prices.

“I always call it the Eye of Sauron. The more successful you are the more people are going to listen in your direction. That’s good and bad. It’s great if you can clamber over the pressures of success to the point where you have all the leverage.

“But there’s definitely a kind of hinterland where you’re successful but you’re not successful enough to be calling all the shots. I found it the most difficult with the artwork and the videos and things like that.

“They wanted to portray me as the girl next door while I was growing as an artist and changing as a person. I felt very stifled and I’m very glad to be out of that now. I’m in a great situation with my record label where they trust me.

“That has been a massive breakthrough creatively for me. It’s a joy that it’s as simple as I write music and they sell it. That’s how it should be.”

  • KT Tunstall performs at the Parr Hall on Friday, May 26. Tickets are from £19.25. Visit or call 442345