Listen to KT Tunstall's Soundtrack For Traveling Around the World, With Radiohead & More: Exclusive

KT Tunstall
Piper Ferguson

KT Tunstall

With more than 15 years of touring under her belt, KT Tunstall is well accustomed to life on the road. And this summer will be no different, as the 44-year-old Scottish singer is part of Daryl Hall & John Oates' 2020 trek, kicking things off on May 29 at Los Angeles' famed Hollywood Bowl.

Before she sets out on tour with Hall & Oates, Tunstall is playing her own headlining shows in Europe, North America (even Hawaii!) and her native UK, the latter supporting Rick Astley and The Barenaked Ladies. She curated a playlist for her travels, and today (March 9), Tunstall shares the on-the-road soundtrack with Billboard.

"My life is in constant motion -- always traveling, never staying in one place for long," Tunstall says. "My constant companion is what I listen to. I’ll often opt for listening to instrumental tracks, as a lack of lyrics can have a really calming effect on my brain. I also love listening to electronic music when I travel: soulful beats, a bit of euphoric ambience, anything that turns the view out of the window into something that feels profound and beautiful. Listening to this music turns the the world going by into a rich, film-like experience for me."

The 25-song playlist includes low-key songs by Radiohead (as well as one from frontman Thom Yorke's solo catalog and his supergroup Atoms For Peace), Bon Iver and Sufjan Stevens (and a song from his side project, Sisyphus). As Tunstall suggested, there's also several ambient tracks on her playlist, with electronic acts Apparat, Floex and Daphni also making an appearance.

Take a listen to KT Tunstall's "Traveling" playlist -- and hear her thoughts on why she chose each song -- below, and see when she'll be stopping by your city here.

Apparat, "Circles": I really like the DJ-Kicks compilations, you find some amazing music on these curated playlists. I particularly like electronic music that uses organic instruments, and this is a really beautiful example of that.

King Creosote & Jon Hopkins, "John Taylor’s Month Away": King Creosote was my musical mentor growing up in Fife, and his voice will always make me feel emotional. This whole collaborative album with Jon Hopkins is a gorgeous experience. I sang backing vocals on one of the tours of this record which will always be a favorite musical memory.

Jon Hopkins, "Open Eye Signal": This is one of my favorite songs by Jon Hopkins. I probably listen to his music more than anything else when I’m traveling, particularly if I’m walking or in busy environments. It makes me feel very connected to the "whole" listening to it.

Pictish Trail, "Slow Memories": Another friend from Fife, I love Johnny’s voice and melodies. This is from his brand new album Thumb World and is my favorite song of his to date.

Jain, "Makeba": This song hooked me the first time I heard it. I love when a song has hit the perfect tempo -- it rolls so easily, and you feel you could keep listening to it way after it has ended.

Thom Yorke, "Harrowdown Hill": The whole of The Eraser album is a favorite listen of mine, but this song in particular I find really opens a door in me. I remember reading that Yorke had written the song about the controversial death of David Kelly, a British weapons expert who told a reporter that the British government had falsely identified weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. It was a tense time. This song always reminds me to turn my head towards darkness as well as light.

Radiohead, "Daydreaming": I listen to a lot of Radiohead when I travel. I find a lot of their music very meditative. Hard to pick one song, but I particularly like this one when I’m driving. The opening line "Dreamers/They never learn" is so tender.

Little Dragon, "Twice": I often return to this song when I’m making a record to remind me of the powers of simplicity and taking your time. The quality of Yukimi Nagano’s voice on me has a similar effect to Thom Yorke’s voice, coming into my head almost more like an instrument rather than a voice. Soothing to my brain.

Cocteau Twins, "Cherry-coloured Funk": Heaven or Las Vegas was my first proper record that I bought myself on the recommendation of a friend. Liz Fraser’s extraordinary voice immediately transports me to a higher realm. This song is so full of longing and dreaming, and I love not being able to understand what she is singing. Listening to it is more of an emotional experience than a cerebral one.

Sisyphus, "Calm It Down": A friend bought me the Sisyphus vinyl knowing I was a big Sufjan Stevens fan, and this album gets a lot of play in my house. I love good beats paired with interesting musicality. Son Lux is also another really interesting artist. Great walking song.

Harold Budd and Brian Eno, "A Stream With Bright Fish": I often listen to Brian Eno and Harold Budd if I am writing or reading whilst on a plane or a train. I particularly like this collaboration album The Pearl, and have a slightly different experience of it on each listen.

Bon Iver, "Hey, Ma": Bon Iver to me is one of the most exciting contemporary musicians around today, I think he’s a genius. I have no idea what his lyrics mean, but paired with his melodies they emotionally move me more than the majority of lyrics I actually do understand. His musical arrangements are so fascinating. I have really visceral memories of particular places I have been traveling through while listening to his music.

Floex, "Ursa Major": I discovered Floex via a beautifully illustrated computer game called "Machinarium," which features a very cute little robot. I loved the soundtrack and ordered it on vinyl from Minority Records, a label in Prague, and ended up buying a few more of his releases from them. Again, I love the mix of electronic programming mixed with real instrumentation.

EOB, "Brasil": Ed is a Glastonbury buddy of mine, and we both have a deep affinity for that experience. It has been so magical to hear him talking about his solo project and then witness it coming to fruition. "Brasil" is such a beautiful piece of music, and really captures the magic and pulse of Glasto. Listening to this in an airport can transport me to the fields of summer wonder.

Owiny Sigoma Band, "Norbat Okelo": After six years of touring my first record with a band, the guitarist I played with, Sam Lewis, went on to become part of the Owiny Sigoma Band. I‘m really drawn to a lot of African music, and the Kenyan aspect of their material mixed with the London-centric electronica works so well.

Atoms For Peace, "Before Your Very Eyes...": AMOK is an amazing album, which I listen to a lot. There are great patterns all over this record, a lot of staccato repetition and really interesting riffs and rhythms. As always, Thom Yorke’s voice brings so much emotion to the songs, and I find this song full of beauty.

Sufjan Stevens, "Concerning the UFO Sighting Near Highland, Illinois": I find Sufjan Stevens to be an audio painter. He’s a brilliant storyteller, and every song takes you on a journey of its own. It’s never predictable, and he manages to challenge your expectations in really subtle ways.

Kelvin Mockingbird, "A Call To Love": Travel can sometimes be overwhelming and sonically unpleasant, and I really appreciate listening to this in those moments. The flute is full of breath and helps me feel more connected to the natural world when I’m in non-nature based surroundings.

Limitless Project, "Earth: Original Frequency Planet at 432 Hz": I started learning about the original 432Hz frequency of music and Solfeggio frequencies a few years ago. It’s fascinating stuff. I like to try and include some meditation time on my travels, and this track is a favorite for that.

Camille, "Janine 1": I love this whole album, Le Fil. The way she uses her voice like this, I find really grounding and exciting, and it feels great with the added physical motion.

Daphni, "Jiao": I enjoy Caribou’s music, and discovered Dan Snaith’s solo albums as "Daphni" through that. This song, and album Jiaolong has amazing energy and ideas, and this song is a particular favorite. It also reminds me of some of the African music I love listening to.

Ry Cooder, "Paris, Texas": I’ve actually never seen the film this music is from, and I love this piece so much that I have become nervous to watch it as I have such a great connection to it without any added information. The atmosphere and suggestiveness of this piece is really powerful to me.

Bulgarian State Television Female Choir, "Erghan Diado": This is just extraordinary. The tone of the women’s voices, the urgency of their singing, the strange quality of the shouts and whoops, it’s just magical listening to this and heightens how I see the world as I move through it.

Ali Farka Touré and Ry Cooder, "Sega": I first heard this piece of music when I was 17. I was heavily into dance music at the time, and realized how this music made me feel similar to listening to Leftfield, or Underworld, or The Orb. The pulse of it and the wildness to it. I still listen to it often and use it creatively to remind me of how much I love the realness of the instruments.

Steve Reich and Carsten Cording, "Six Pianos": This is probably the pinnacle of my love of listening to non-lyrical music whilst traveling. The slow changes in patterns and meditative nature of Steve Reich’s music are such an amazing companion to travel.


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