Incredible And Terrifying: KT Tunstall Recalls Newly-Expanded ‘Drastic Fantastic’

The Scottish artist explains how the rock star mantle wouldn’t quite fit her, as the album is reissued in an expanded edition.

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KT Tunstall Drastic Fantastic credit Piper Ferguson
Photo: Piper Ferguson

KT Tunstall has shared her memories of rising to the challenges of making her second album, 2007’s Drastic Fantastic – and explained how the “rock star” mantle that she was supposed to be inheriting would never quite fit her.

The sophomore set was created in what Tunstall calls a “mad time” following her spectacular emergence with 2004’s Eye to the Telescope. The augmented Drastic Fantastic (Ultimate Edition) is available in three new formats, including a colored vinyl double LP set with bonus 10” vinyl, and in a triple CD edition, with much previously unreleased material. The Ivor Novello and BRIT Award-winning artist told this writer what Drastic Fantastic was like to make, and to go back to 13 years later.

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Did you ever even think about that “difficult second album” cliché when you were making Drastic Fantastic? Did the label ever apply any pressure to repeat the first success?

I was absolutely 100% completely immersed in the difficulty of making my second album, it was a really, really hard record to make. And yes, without doubt the label and everyone else around me were all looking for a follow-up similar success to the first album!

That idea of having your whole life to write your first record, and hardly any time at all to write the second, was less true for you because some of these songs had been around a while, right? Did that help?

Well, nothing on Eye to the Telescope was more than a couple of years old, so although yes, I’d had 15 years to craft and write songs, all the material on my first album was pretty much new. Due to the success of that album, I was really exhausted and all the amazing opportunities arising didn’t leave me much time for writing new material. So I ended up using a bit of older material on [the second album], but I think at least half of it was brand new. I do love the songs on Drastic Fantastic.

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I remember you saying to me in one of our early chats that even if your sales decreased, you’d always be ok because, without being arrogant, you knew were good live. Were you fully-formed as a performing artist by the time you took these songs on the road?

I’ll agree to eat my words on that one! Wow, how the world has changed since then. Sales would be GREAT wouldn’t they?! I was definitely pretty seasoned after playing live for over ten years, but of course I’d never played with a full band, I’d never used production, been on a tour bus, I’d never headlined to 5, 6, 7,000 people before. I feel I am constantly learning as a performer, especially now I often join bona fide legends on their tours, which has provided me with multiple masterclasses in stage craft.

I don’t know whether reviews stick in your head, but can you remember any one thing that was said about Drastic Fantastic that either made you very happy, or very angry?

I’m very happy to say that no, I don’t! I seem to remember it getting mostly well- reviewed, albeit a bit unexpected.

There was a lot of continuity from Eye to the Telescope to Drastic Fantastic, both creatively with people like Steve Osborne and Martin Terefe and with the same team around you, PR, label and so on. Did that help you through what must have been a pretty mad time?

If I could do it all again, I would allow for stronger creative bridges between Drastic Fantastic and my debut. I think the two records have more in common than was perhaps perceived at the time, but I was having a rocky time with the record label behind the scenes, [and] I didn’t click in the same way with Steve Osborne making Drastic Fantastic. I was completely adamant to break away from my busker, ‘open mic nights’ roots. It was definitely a mad time.

What’s your enduring thought about Drastic Fantastic in terms of how it sits in your catalog?

It’s an interesting question. I think perhaps that I got the title dead right. It was incredible what was happening at that time, but it was also terrifying. There was a feeling of being on a precipice. That I could definitely get it wrong, but I also didn’t want to play it safe. I felt like a kitten being spun around in a bag. So much pressure and intensity, and meanwhile I was in the process of trying to harden myself so that I could assume the position of a ‘rockstar,’ but it just never quite fit me properly.

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Anything in particular you’d like people to notice about the expanded reissue?

I’ve always been a real lover of dance music, so I’m thrilled that this reissue has some great remixes on it, including one that I’ve done myself under my remix moniker ‘Tunnelz.’ I also love issuing the instrumental tracks; not only does that mean fans get their wish of being able to sing along karaoke-style, but there are always so many multiple and careful decisions that go into the instrumentation and the arrangements of these songs. Sometimes it’s just impossible to hear it all with the vocal in there, so I hope people enjoy those too.

Drastic Fantastic (Ultimate Edition) can be bought here.

The full Drastic Fantastic (Ultimate Edition) tracklist is:

1. Little Favours
2. If Only
3. White Bird
4. Funnyman
5. Hold On
6. Hopeless
7. I Don’t Want You Now

1. Saving My Face
2. Beauty of Uncertainty
3. Someday Soon
4. Paper Aeroplane
5. Journey
6. Mothgirl

1. Bad Day
2. La Vie En Rose
3. I Want You Back – Live From Outsider Festival 2007
4. Walk Like An Egyptian – Live From Liverpool Academy 2007
5. Turn Into You – Acoustic
6. White Bird – Acoustic
7. Hopeless – Acoustic

1. If Only – Acoustic
2. Hold On – Acoustic
3. Someday Soon – Acoustic
4. Saving My Face – Acoustic
5. Ain’t Nobody – Acoustic
6. Hold On / Walk Like an Egyptian – Live In Curitiba 2019

1. Hold On – The Freelance Hellraiser (Holed Up) Remix
2. Saving My Face – Tunnelz Remix

1. If Only – Subsonar Remix
2. Little Favours – MyRiot (Big Flavours) Remix

1. Little Favours
2. If Only
3. White Bird
4. Funnyman
5. Hold On
6. Hopeless
7. I Don’t Want You Now
8. Saving My Face
9. Beauty of Uncertainty
10. Someday Soon
11. Paper Aeroplane
12. Journey
13. Mothgirl
14. Bad Day
15. La Vie En Rose

1. I Want You Back – Live From Outsider Festival 2007
2. Walk Like An Egyptian – Live From Liverpool Academy 2007
3. Turn Into You – Acoustic
4. White Bird – Acoustic
5. Hopeless – Acoustic
6. If Only – Acoustic
7. Hold On – Acoustic
8. Someday Soon – Acoustic
9. Saving My Face – Acoustic
10. Ain’t Nobody – Acoustic
11. Hold On / Walk Like an Egyptian – Live In Curitiba 2019
12. Little Favours – MyRiot (Big Flavours) Remix
13. If Only – Subsonar Remix
14. Hold On – The Freelance Hellraiser (Holed Up) Remix
15. Saving My Face – Tunnelz Remix

1. Little Favours- Instrumental
2. If Only – Instrumental
3. Funnyman – Instrumental
4. Hold On – Instrumental
5. I Don’t Want You Now – Instrumental
6. Saving My Face – Instrumental
7. Beauty of Uncertainty – Instrumental
8. Someday Soon – Instrumental

Listen to the best of KT Tunstall on Apple Music and Spotify.

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