Katie Gregson-MacLeod on viral TikTok single ‘Complex’ & the Ivors


Katie Gregson-MacLeod has spoken to NME about her recent Ivor Novello nomination, the TikTok success of her song ‘Complex’ and what the future might hold in store.

Last week saw the NME 100 star nominated for the coveted Ivors, pitted against the likes of Harry Styles, Florence + The Machine, Tom Odell and SAULT in the Best Song Musically and Lyrically category for her breakthrough single ‘Complex’. Speaking to NME at the nominations launch, the Scottish singer-songwriter said she was “in shock” to be in such a celebrated shortlist.

“For me, The Ivors are the pinnacle acknowledgement of songwriting,” she said. “I remember growing up and hearing about it. Even my parents are huge appreciators of music and writing. They would always say: ‘If you had one those, that you made!’ It’s an insane acknowledgement of something that is often overlooked.

“For me, it’s everything but it’s not always the most appreciated part of what we do. This is the greatest honour, and I can’t really believe it’s happened to me. [The Ivors nomination] just has something that’s so extra and validating.”

‘Complex’ was a real landmark moment for the artist, having gone viral on TikTok and amassing over 30million listens across streaming platforms.

“This song really changed my life in so many ways and propelled me into a world that I didn’t ever see myself getting to,” she said. “The lovely thing for me is that this song had its moment because of TikTok and the internet. Anything attached to the word ‘TikTok’ can have a stigma, but having this song reach so many people but be acknowledged by a body like the Ivors is an added bonus. It feels like a nice rounding off of this chapter of my life.

“I often forget how much things have changed, but it was just one little song that I wrote in my bedroom which started it all. It means everything that this is the song I’m here for. I wrote it on my own on a piano at my parents’ house, so this is ridiculous.”

Striking a chord with millions of the listeners due to ‘Complex’ touching on the pitfalls of coming of age, Gregson-MacLeod explained how the song was “the product of an amalgamation of months and months – maybe even years – of life”.

“I feel like the song is very reflective,” she said. “I was looking back upon a few years and recognising patterns. I had some feelings brought up about a situation from my past. In that moment, I realised how much it still affected me a year or so on.”

She continued: “It was hard to pin down the exact meaning or motivation of a song, but it was just a stream of consciousness of thoughts that had been brewing for a long time. It’s lovely when you have those moments. It’s so cathartic to be able to put thoughts that are so complicated into words. Often, ugly feelings that you don’t really want to have. It all just poured out. It was quick to write, and it’s hard to even remember putting it together. I just said this list of thoughts exactly as they came to me.”

Katie Gregson-Macleod
Credit: Megan Henderson

With such a personal song being adopted by millions across TikTok, Gregson-MacLeod described it as “the most bizarre experience”.

“The crucial thing is that it was written for me and my life,” she said. “For it to resonate with anyone is a huge bonus, but for it to connect with millions is pretty mad. It has shown that as much as I wrote it about my experience, it can be taken in every way – the rewrites, the covers, the comments, the messages I get, they all show that.”

“That’s the greatest honour as a songwriter – to have your lyrics not only properly listened to, but connected with. It can be weird to have other people telling you what your song means or dissecting individual lines, but it’s overwhelmingly lovely.”

Looking to the future, Gregson-MacLeod said that she was exciting about a busy summer of touring with dates including The Great Escape, Montreux Jazz Festival, BBC Radio One’s Big Weekend and a headline gig at London’s Hoxton Hall. Beyond that, she said she was focussing on “writing more than ever”.

“I was worried about drying up amid all the excitement and stress around the music, but it’s been great and really worked in my favour,” she admitted. “There’s going to be a lot coming out soon. You have to ride the wave.”

She continued: “There’s probably going to be something before my debut album, but the foundations of that are being set up. It’s always in the foot of my mind and I’m saving a lot of music for that, but there’s something interesting coming out first.”

Credit: Megan Henderson

Speaking of what to expect from the album, the 22-year-old said that she knew “where she wants it to sit, thematically” but wanted to give her ideas time to breathe and grow.

“That’s why I want to release some stuff before the record, because I’ve hopefully got some great songs that don’t sit in what I see the album as being, but will hopefully a great moment themselves,” she revealed. “There’s a huge pressure for your debut album and you spend your whole life writing it. For me, the idea of growing up in girlhood and the formative experiences that really define my writing; that’s what I feel the album will centre around. A lot of these songs have these similar themes and I want it to feel like a cohesive body of work.”

And what does she make of her chances of winning at the Ivors next month?

“What the fuck? That’s so funny to me, that’s hilarious,” she replied. “Beating Harry Styles would be the biggest gag of the century!”

The winners will be revealed at The Ivors with Amazon Music at Grosvenor House in London on Thursday May 18. Arctic Monkeys, Kate Bush and Wet Leg are also among the nominees, with Sting confirmed to become a Fellow of the Ivors Academy.

Originally Posted Here

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