Scottish singer-songwriter KT Tunstall, best known for her singles “Black Horse and the Cherry Tree” and “Suddenly I See,” has signed on with Caroline Records and Jeff Castelaz’s Cast Management.
The singer’s new EP Golden State is due in June and will be the first release of the revived Capitol imprint Caroline — which is now run by Harvest’s Piero Giramonti and Jacqueline Saturn — with an album to follow in the fall. Tunstall has sold 1.7 million albums and 4.2 million tracks in the U.S. since the 2004 release of her debut album, Eye to the Telescope.
The moves are the latest manifestation of a new phase for the singer, who moved from London to Los Angeles in 2014.
“I was between managers for a year and a half,” Tunstall tells Billboard, “and the crunch time was getting pretty close. But I remembered an email from my friend Marty Diamond [East Coast head of music for Paradigm Talent Agency], who is sort of known for his incredibly short and helpful emails, and it just said ‘Call Jeff Castelaz’ with a number, and nothing else. So I called Jeff in November, and our first phone call lasted two and a half hours and the next was three and a half hours, and then I hired him.”
Tunstall says the challenges of that period are reflected in the album, which was produced by longtime Castelaz client Tony Hoffer (M83, Beck, Silversun Pickups, although both insist he was entirely Tunstall’s choice).“The changes and moving to L.A. were all very freeing, but like any big change, it was sometimes difficult, too,” Tunstall says. “I wanted to write a record that is really about connecting people to the feeling that everybody has to go through this sort of sh–, no one is immune from it, but at the end of the day, ‘Well done’ to us for surviving it. So it’s a celebratory record that’s steeped in some life wisdom that I haven’t had in the past. I would say it’s my most un-self-conscious and joyful record. I’m happier than I’ve ever been.”
While Tunstall is signed to Virgin U.K., finding a place for her music in the U.S. Universal operation was Castelaz’s task. “I played the music for Piero, a longtime friend of mine — he was president of Dangerbird Records when I ran it. He listened to the demo and stopped it after a few songs and said, ‘How would you like it if we relaunched Caroline Records around KT?’”
“Since Jacqueline and I took over the reins at Caroline, it has been part of our vision to relaunch Caroline Records as an integral part of the strategy,” Giramonti says. “Jeff played us the KT tracks, and I thought this would be a great first signing under our supervision of Caroline Records.”
Castelaz has been focusing on Cast Management and his charitable efforts since September 2015, when he stepped down as president of Elektra Records after three years in the role. “It’s been everything that I hoped it would be,” he says of the management company. “I’ve had a steady stream of potential clients and now I’m at the point where I can’t take anyone else on. I don’t mean to sound ungrateful because Warner Music were wonderful to me, but running a major label showed me that what I really want is to be an artist manager.”
Apart from Tunstall and Hoffer, his clients include producer/musician Justin Meldal-Johnsen (who co-wrote and co-produced the forthcoming M83 album) and new charge Eliot James (Kaiser Chiefs, Two Door Cinema? Club and Noah & the Whale) as well as longtime clients the Dropkick Murphys, with new signees to be announced soon.