Katy B Rocks the Roof: Live From Billboard Tastemakers
Our Tastemakers video series presents a closer look at -- and an exclusive performance from -- the cool artists hitting the Billboard Tastemakers chart, which brings you the top-selling albums each week based on an influential panel of indie stores and small regional chains.
With her cascade of fiery curls draped over her shoulders, Katy B stepped off the dance floors of South London and onto the roof at Mophonics' NYC studios to perform "Broken Record," "Lights On" and the title track off her debut album, "On A Mission," with nothing more than a DJ and our small crew.
Legally known as Kathleen Brien, the 22-year-old songstress' first full-length peaked at No. 39 on Heatseekers Albums and No. 16 on Dance/Electronic Albums charts. According to Katy, the record simply tells the story of being a young girl in London. "On A Mission" has already spawned three top-10 singles in the U.K. and a Mercury Prize nomination for Album of the Year.
Recorded entirely during her time spent at The BRIT School for Performing Arts in Croydon (where she walked the same halls as fellow lady U.K. crooners Adele, Amy Winehouse, Leona Lewis and Jessie J), the album is a mash-up of seemingly incompatible genres. Pop-R&B, neo-soul, house and dubstep mixed with Brien's pitch-perfect vocals adding in throbbing bass lines makes up the final product. Interestingly enough, a majority of the club anthems that made it up were written before Katy could even step inside a venue that would spin her records.
Video: Katy B, "Lights On" Live at Billboard
U.K. press and its subsequent blogosphere have heralded Miss B as the "Queen of Dubstep," easily the most-blogged-about genre of 2011. But it's a crown Katy B insists she cannot wear.
"There's definitely dubstep on my album but I certainly haven't pioneered the scene in any way. When 'On A Mission' came out it got so much support from the people who had been listening to that music for so long and it kind of pushed it up to into a place where it had attention from people who hadn't been listening to it for that long."
Video: Katy B, "Broken Record" Live at Billboard
Production team Magnetic Man, producer Zinc, and Rinse FM founder Geeneus deliver the beats while Katy delivers tongue-in-cheek lyrics from the center of the dance floor, coyly dodging comparisons and come-ons alike.
"When I'm looking at a song, it needs to have a real story and I need to relate to it in some way, whether that's heartbreak or being in love or anything. When you can really feel something the singer's singing, it makes you want to dance."