|Kate Tempest is a 29 year old poet/playwright/musician who made her US musical debut at the Echo last night (March 14th, 2015)|
Is Kate Tempest the next Eminem?
@ The Echo Los Angeles, CA.
The week before SXSW is the traditional opening of the season for live music in Southern California. Bands either start their journey in Los Angeles (many foreign bands) and play here before heading there, or they continue on from Austin to play Southern California after the festival (many bands from the East Coast and Midwest.) After that happens, the pre-Coachella period begins, where many of the non Coachella artists start touring the West Coast, then Coachella, then post-Coachella, etc, on through the summer.
For me, this period is typically one of reengagement with music and live music in particular. Several years running I've hardly done a music related thing between November and mid March, and the traditional period of detachment was brought in to focus by my decision to leave Zoo Music. I'm currently talking to Alex of Dirty Beaches about working with him on something, but who knows really. If my relationship with music is meant to be a hobby, then I've had my fun and why not just end it. If it's something that I can grow into a separate profession alongside lawyering, I'm nowhere close, so either way no rush and why worry.
It was with those thoughts in mind that I agreed to attend the Kate Tempest show at the Echo last night. She was sold to me as a published poet and playwright from London who also did music. Doing no prior research, I expected a singer songwriter type. My first inkling that I was hugely mistaken was when my companion, a music industry professional, Id'ed Steve Berman AKA the man who signed Eminem to Interscope and as of 2012 the 96th most powerful man in the music industry according to Billboard Magazine. (BILLBOARD POWER 100: STEVE BERMAN) He was escorted by a half dozen healthy looking music industry bros and as I sat there on the patio of the echo watching the gaggle of them kill time waiting for the headlining set to start, I joked, "What, does Steve Berman think that Kate Tempest can be the next Eminem?"
Turns out the Eminem comparison is not wholly unmerited, and certainly more appropriate than other white, English, female artists who were influenced by hip hop(who will not be named here, you know who I'm talking about.) Kate Tempest fairly commanded the stage in a way that you would expect from an artist who was not making her US musical debut that very night. She had a great report with the audience and the stage show, which featured a backing female singer, a guy on drums and a producer with backing tracks, was far beyond what I normally see at Echo level venues.
The idea of Kate Tempest being signed to Interscope is not particularly far fetched. She is managed by ATC Management. ATC Management also manages Twin Shadow. In November, Twin Shadow announced that he was leaving 4AD (after two records) for Universal. 4AD is not known for giving artists two record deals, so Universal either bought him out OR he had negotiated a two record deal with 4AD.
I'm not sure what Steve Berman thought of the act. I left about six or seven songs in and it looked like Berman and his Interscope bros had beat us to the exit. Personally, I found Tempest revelatory- a voice with authenticity and a well worked out, positive message. Although it is clear that she developed her delivery in the context of the poetry slam circuit- not really something I'm into- the sophisticated production of her backing tracks added an element of interest for people like myself who have little interest in poetry slams.
I frankly shudder to think what a major label would do with Tempest- I can imagine her debut single being a duet with Iggy Azalea- I mean that is how the major label system works. But I wish her all the best, and she seems like she has a clear vision for herself and her art. Kate Tempest can take care of herself is what I'm saying, and if she wants to sign to Interscope, and Interscope wants to sign her- or some other major label- more power to the both of them. The world needs more artists like Kate Tempest.
And if you are shopping for SXSW musts- she is most certainly a must watch to believe. The recordings don't even give you a sense of her charisma on stage.