Interview: Katy Steele on Big Star, striking a chord on Tik Tok and her upcoming tour

  • Bruce Baker
  • June 8, 2023
  • Comments Off on Interview: Katy Steele on Big Star, striking a chord on Tik Tok and her upcoming tour

Katy Steele

Katy Steele won our hearts with Little Birdy, with a voice that is instantly recognisable. She dropped her debut solo album, Humans in 2016 and on Friday this week, the follow up, Big Star is about to be released.

The first single for the album was “Feel So Bad”, which was released in September last year, and was followed up with “End is Near”, “Come And See Me” and the title-track.

I caught up with Katy to chat about the album and her forthcoming national tour that kicks off in July.

Justin Stewart Cotta

Hi Katy,“Come and See Me” is your most recent release. It’s got nice big sounds and a euphoric feel about it.  How did that one come about?

Thanks heaps. We wrote it for a travel campaign that never happened. We had a couple of big meetings with a tourism travel company. They were like, write us a song! It was during covid. When we were writing it we were stuck at home, writing about exploring again and seeing the outside world. We were in Perth, and even though we didn’t go through what the rest of the country went through, we were still stuck in that bubble. You couldn’t get in or get out.

You were an island, of sorts!

We were, amongst ourselves. Which was great to live day to day. But it was still strange. You couldn’t plan. So we were stuck on the Perth treadmill. We were still so lucky to not have to worry as much as everyone else.

It’s taken the industry a long time to recover. Especially with regards to touring. It feels like it’s still slowly gaining momentum.

I feel for those artists that were building momentum, releasing an album and then it stopped. The amount of money you need to invest now, it’s so hard. If I was in my early 20s and it was happening to me, I probably wouldn’t have had a career. It’s been quite damaging. We were lucky because we’d started working on this record. I got out unscathed in most regards really

Big Star is on the cusp of  being released – not long to go now. Excited and relieved?

Yeah – it’s exciting. I’m so proud of it. I can’t believe we did it all in the home studio. I don’t think it sounds like that, but everyone is a bedroom producer these days.

The three tracks that have been released so far, certainly don’t have that ‘bedroom production’ vibe…

We had a really great mixer – Dave Hammer, who has worked with Genesis Owusu and Lime Cordiale and so many others. He mixed the first 7 tracks. My partner Graham (McLuskie) mixed the last 3 and it was mastered at 301 in Sydney as well.

It was a ginormous journey. Some of the songs have gone through 3 or 4 transformations. Some of them were in different keys. Some of them were different versions. We have one song called “Falling Apart” which has gone through 3 transformations. It started off as an 80s, The Weeknd vibe, upbeat and very rigid, and it has ended up being a ballad.

All of the songs were written the way I normally write – on the piano, on the guitar, but I wrote them with Graham. He added his flavour. The production has that 80s type of tone. It sped things up. It made it a bit livelier than traditionally I’ve done before. It was a really cool experience.

When we started he wasn’t really a producer. He played the guitar and tinkered a bit, but he wasn’t a traditional producer. He has learnt that skill over the past 2 years.

Graham has the attention span that I don’t have. His dad’s an art restorer. He has that artists touch where he can just sit there and listen to all the sonics, and make things more colourful. All these things take time, so it’s been a big process.


Katy Steele

And it was fun having someone else to lean on?

Yeah definitely – by the end we were going a bit bonkers. I don’t think people realise how music is so solitary. It’s you on the guitar, figuring out the song, and now you on the computer producing it, and you email it to someone to mix it. There’s not a lot of connection going on. It’s very insular. The hardest thing we found was getting them across the line. Finishing them – some of them have been finished for 6 months, then you come back to them and go ‘I don’t know, I don’t know’. The hardest thing is signing off on them, saying ‘that’s fucking done man!’

It takes skill and courage in knowing that you have the best version of the song, the finished product….

Yeah – I think so. We are kind of that point right now where you just want it to be released. You want to move onto the next thing. I’ve started writing a few new songs, and I’ve got to remind myself to stop and focus on the current record

Did you have a particular sound in mind when you started?

I was going to do a full gospel piano and choir type of record.

But we got in the studio and we started playing around. With “Feel So Bad” – I wrote that on piano and Graham came in and wrote the cool guitar riff, and added in the synth. He is really into the synth-heavy 80s sound, and it rubbed off me. I don’t mind it either now (laughs).

What else have you been listening to?

I’ve been into Labrinth who has done the soundtrack for Euphoria. I reckon he is amazing.

Katy Steele

I just did double-j artist in residence, and guest host for Rage. I’ve done Rage a few times but it’s still a dream.

I was looking at the track listing, “End is Near”, “Feel So Bad”, “Falling Apart”, “Fear” – what gives?

(laughs) I don’t mean to write songs like that! There are a few positive ones on there.

Ha ha – gloomy titles perhaps, but the tracks I’ve heard are certainly upbeat

Yeah – the music is upbeat, and the lyrics – I don’t know. I can’t even tell you where the songs come from. The lyrics are very organic and very natural. We were going through a hard time at Covid.

I feel like my songs have always been pretty dark. I just tap into that emotional place that sometimes we don’t want to think about. Some of those hard moments in life. I feel the music is always upbeat though. So it’s kind of a strange juxtaposition.

Your tour is coming – that’s exciting. You are going far and wide!

Yes we are – it is exciting. It should be really fun. It’s a full band tour. It will be great to play them the way they are meant to be played. I’ve been playing a lot of solo shows back in Perth which is great but it will be great to hear the full sound of the record in its full glory. I’ve got a great band.

I feel like I’m just on the cusp of things rocking.

The thing is I’ve always been working. That’s what’s so frustrating for me. I’ve been working the whole time through the past 10 years. I’ve written so much music, I just haven’t released a lot of it. I’m going to be gung-ho about being a lot more prolific. And saying, you know what, that song’s done, I’m going to get it out and move on to the next thing. I think it would help me mentally a lot as well.

I see you are busy on social media these days. How are you going with Tik Tok ?

I went semi-viral the other week!

We were filming this video in Kwinana about 40 minutes out of the city. There were these guys having their lunch under a tree. This guy came over and said ‘what are you filming’? I said a video clip, and he asked if I was famous!  Anyway – he was a legend.



The shoot was a success with an unexpected mate creating the latest TikTok sound #fyp #australia #katysteele

♬ original sound – Katy Steele


That’s epic. Good luck with the album, and hope to catch one of your shows on the tour.


Justin Stewart Cotta

Katy Steele – Big Star Tour 2023

Fri 7th July – Mary’s Underground, Sydney – TICKETS
Sat 8th July – Heritage Hotel, Bulli – TICKETS
Sun 9th July – Lizottes, Newcastle (SOLO) – TICKETS
Fri 14th July – Adelaide Beer & BBQ Festival – TICKETS
Sat 15th July – Altar, Hobart – TICKETS
Thu 27th Jul – Black Bear Lodge, Brisbane – TICKETS
Fri 28th Jul – Tank Arts Centre, Cairns – TICKETS
Wed 2nd Aug – Town Hall, Ararat, Vic – TICKETS
Thu 3rd Aug – Sooki Lounge, Belgrave – TICKETS
Fri 4th Aug – The Workers Club, Melbourne – TICKETS
Sat 5th Aug – Bridge Hotel, Castlemaine – TICKETS
Sat 12th Aug – MOJOS, Fremantle – TICKETS
Thu 24th Aug – Six Degrees, Albany – TICKETS
Fri 25th Aug – The River, Margaret River – TICKETS

Big Star will be released on 9th June 2023. You can purchase CD’s, Vinyl and Cassettes HERE

You can give Katy Steele a follow on Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, Spotify and Twitter

All photos by Bruce Baker


Bruce Baker

Probably riding my bike, taking photos and/or at a gig. Insta: @bruce_a_baker