The maker of Katy On A Mission is not a celestial alien. She's a small, friendly and alarmingly pretty Peckham lass who is joined by her mentor and producer Geeneus, the co-owner of the legendary London pirate radio station Rinse FM in East London, which finally got its long overdue licence in June 2010. He's going to help his protégé explain how a BRIT school graduate with a couple of garage tunes to her name has become the maker of a classic underground breakout anthem and, in the forthcoming On A Mission, one of the most eagerly-awaited dance albums of recent times. It seems like overnight success, but actually took over three years. And Katy is still just 21.
It all begins back in Peckham. The young Katy was an R&B loving girl who wasn't satisfied with just listening to her favourite Boyz II Men, Destiny's Child and Alicia Keys records. Her parents were supportive of her ambitions for a musical career, and sent her to The BRIT School. Her soul fan father had been a singer himself, and various aunts and cousins were musicians. Hanging out with like minds at The BRIT School led her into an enduring love for neo-soul, particularly Erykah Badu and Jill Scott.
Katy got her first break at the tender age of 17. DJ NG and an MC called Versatile (not the Toddla T collaborator) hooked up with Katy on "Tell Me," one of the first and most enduringly popular UK funky house anthems. Geeneus got in touch. Along with his compadre Zinc, they were both falling in love with Katy's voice, lyrics and melody lines. It became increasingly obvious that Rinse FM's initial showcase had turned into a potential debut album for Katy B. "It just seemed natural. Geeneus and Zinc were providing the best tracks and I loved working with them."
As the album developed, Katy also insisted that she move away from P.A. style live performance and front a proper band. Her ten-piece live group, complete with horn section, are accomplished enough to pull off a triumphant recent support slot with John Legend and The Roots. Word of mouth about these early shows has led to extraordinary demand for her first headline tour in May 2011. Small regional venues have had to be hastily bumped up to 1000-1500 seaters, while the immediate sell-out of her London show forced an additional date - which will be sold out too, by the time you read this. Katy is one of the UK's hottest tickets in 2011.
And for her next album, Katy intends to experiment more with live instruments. 'We've got trumpets and keys on this record, but I'd like to bring more of that next time around.' But there's still the small matter of her debut to deal with before ambitious musical visions can be pursued. The girl may not have planned to be a pop star. But she increasingly has no choice in the matter. So what, exactly, is Katy B's mission? "I've always had this, "Who cares about the charts?" attitude. But I've always wanted to be successful in what I do. All I've ever wanted to do is make a living."