It’s something of an understatement to say signing a record deal has opened a few doors for Katie Raven.
The singer-songwriter, who grew up in these parts as Katie McNeill, has been off the radar since she was snapped up by Dunedin/London-based label Far South Records.
She’s spent the last three years in development, creating a strong collection of material with the likes of Sacha Skarbek.
The Grammy Award-nominated producer might not be a household name – but when you hear he wrote Miley Cyrus’ hit Wrecking Ball, co-wrote James Blunt’s You’re Beautiful and has worked with artists such as Adele and Lana Del Ray, you begin to understand his calibre.
Raven, who won Queenstown song contest Songstars in 2011, says: “He’s written a couple of songs that are on my debut EP.
“Far South flew me to Thailand to record for a few months and that’s where Sacha got involved.
“He’s very generously donated some of his work, which is wicked.”
Raven’s been based in London, recording with Amy Winehouse’s original band from the album Frank and Ronnie Scott’s band in Abbey Road Studios.
Not bad for a girl who was once set for a career in construction, earning a degree in town planning and resource management, before following her passion and returning to uni to study music.
She shares those same emotive and affecting vocals as Blunt and Adele, in a genre she labels adult contemporary.
“It’s a hard genre to place really. I kind of like to think of it as intelligent pop because it’s got more going on – you think more about the lyrics, and they’re generally based on life experiences.”
Raven will play tracks from her eponymous EP, along with covers and some other originals, at Queenstown’s Front Room Gallery this coming Wednesday, with her three-piece band.
“I decided to come back to New Zealand this year and finally do a little tour just to get my feet wet as it were and let people here know who I am.
“Because doing all that kind of stuff is all well and good but it doesn’t mean it registers anything.
“You need to start getting fans and the only way is to go out and get them, so this is me doing that.”
The gig is the last on a ‘living room’ tour.
“I think I prefer the intimacy of a living room and the music I have, it’s really the type of music people need to sit down to listen to it.
“Kiwis aren’t really known for coming to a bar to sit down and listen.
“So I just thought changing the environment where people hear the music would change the way they respond to it.”
Raven will then return to the UK before releasing an album of covers and a second EP this year.
Catch Katie Raven’s Living Room Tour at Front Room Gallery, Queenstown, on Wednesday, January 14. Doors open 7pm. Admission $10