For her latest beauteous record, Katy J Pearson was lucky enough to team up with Orlando Weeks, Oliver Wilde from Pet Shimmers, Morgan Simpson from Black Midi, and a slew of other stars from the Bristol scene and beyond. It’s a terrific record with an ensemble of fantastic musicians all bringing their own embellishments to her singular expressive sound.
This collectivism in the current UK scene is a creative boon that she commented on when I recently spoke to her ahead of the release of the record, but it’s another thing entirely to be in the presence of someone who has claimed 57 top 40 hits in the mass market of the US and sold over 100 million singles. That is exactly where emerging Leeds post-punk heroes Yard Act found themselves when mega-fan Elton John popped into the studio with them.
Speaking about seeing her pals wind up in the same stratospheric air as the Rocketman, Pearson commented: “It’s mad. I remember when James [Smith] told me, they were playing in Bristol and I went to see them and I was talking to them backstage, and I was like, ‘So where have you been today’, and they were just casually like, ‘Oh, we’ve been in the studio with Elton John’ which was just like what the hell!”
It’s not often you get to answer the simple question of ‘How was your day?’ with something as bombastic as ‘Oh, Elton John was just working on an alternative version of one of our tracks’, but Pearson assures me that Yard Act will remain humble and typically wry. “They deserve every success.”
Continuing: “They are such a hardworking band. And they are truly such genuinely lovely people, so they deserve everything that comes to them. It’s a pleasure to know them and to get to collaborate with them. I truly love them as friends.” Not to mention that they’ve put out some masterfully original tunes and can add the reimagined Elton John version of ‘100% Endurance’ to the list.
Naturally, this got Pearson wondering who she would like to share a studio with to whisk up another spiritually sunny gem. And it is a mark of the wonderfully expressive mix of her music that the two artists she punted for are wildly different. “I think my dream collaborator would be Kate Bush or Townes Van Zandt,” she said, with a laughing acknowledgement of the disparity between the two, “Very different, I know.”
Townes Van Zandt has always been a touchstone and inspiration for her songwriting style, while Bush is someone that she has been listening to almost daily since she was 12. As she concludes: “She is truly just the best.”
Let’s hope they can go the way of Yard Act and Elton John and combine two masters at differing stages of their careers once more. I’d strike a light and burn my savings for that, and that’s saying something because “Through continued reward for skilled labour in the private sector, And a genuine lack of interest in expensive things, It appears I have become rich.” (That’s a Yard Act reference btw, just in case the bailiffs thought I was being serious).