Katie Melua brings her house up to date

By Liam Allen
Entertainment reporter, BBC News

Image caption,
The House, is Melua's fourth album, is the first not produced by Mike Batt

Katie Melua, 25, says that with new album The House - her first without manager and mentor Mike Batt - she wanted to "experiment with myself as a human being".

Batt, 61 - who wrote Art Garfunkel smash Bright Eyes and is the man behind 1970s cartoon pop stars The Wombles - composed her two best-known hits The Closest Thing To Crazy and Nine Million Bicycles as well as producing her first three albums.

William Orbit, best known for his work with artists including Madonna, Blur and All Saints, produced the album while Batt has an executive producer credit.

Here, Melua talks about biscuits providing inspiration, selling albums to the older generations and writing with sometime Robbie Williams collaborator Guy Chambers.

Mike sent William four of the tracks. He just heard the tracks and he liked them and that was kind of it.

I liked the sound of it because here's a guy who's more from the electronic/dance world, but the song out of those four tracks that he loved most was I'd Love To Kill You. It was the most acoustic, organic-sounding song out of those four.

It was two people being equally totally involved with the record and I always used to think that it was unfair that it was just my name on the front cover.

Image caption,
Mike Batt is the man behind The Wombles records

It really should have been Katie Melua and Mike Batt or we should have come up with a band name.

I think he really loves the new album. He's been there from the beginning - he was there with helping me work with the songwriters, with the songs.

There were sometimes when I had to say to him: 'Listen, I really believe in these songs and I need to take them to the final stage and we can decide whether they're right or not'.

Our collaboration is such that we trust each other and give each other the benefit of the doubt.

I think it has been probably, especially in England.

We never really marketed it to a young generation.

But also, because there wasn't big beats on there, there wasn't the current way of making music, it was more traditional, it was more organic.

So, yeah, things just panned out that way, I think.

That would be absolutely lovely but, as far as I'm concerned, it'll be a side effect because I've already gotten what I want which is to make an album that I'm really proud of and one that's taken me to new places in my mind.

I don't really make an album thinking about audience. That would just give you the biggest block ever.

If you try and think about anyone apart from you liking it then you're just screwed.

You just can't worry about what people are going to think because, if you worry about it, it would just make me have a nervous breakdown.

I'm just happy with it and I feel like I've done my job and now I'm excited about introducing it to people.

If it challenged me, I expect my fans to be challenged by it too - I like them to be shocked and intrigued and surprised.

Image caption,
Melua will tour Europe in the autumn

One of the most incredible things that I loved about working with him was he's so easy about the process of writing. He doesn't deliberate over it too much.

Sometimes when I write on my own I can get really bogged down with it.

But he just writes. It's so simple. The process is simple and I found myself writing easily then.

I have done in the past a lot. He's one of the people that I've worked with who's taught me that there's no need to do that.

Basically, it's about completely trusting yourself that you are at one with your talent.

Even if you say, 'I eat biscuits' - if that's what's come in to your head at that moment, that is a point of inspiration.

Katie Melua's new single The Flood is out now. Album The House is out on on Monday 24 May.

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