Sensitivity is a strength – so says Katie Stump, also known as BLÜ EYES. With a musical pseudonym borne out of light sensitivity (blue eyes being the most affected), and vulnerable, soul-baring lyrics, Stump is here to encapsulate the tenderness of the human experience.
We caught up with her following the release of her debut album ‘The Last Songs I’ll Write About You’…
Introduce yourself! Where are you from and how did you get into music?
I’m BLÜ EYES! But you can call me Katie. I’m from Fullerton, California, a suburb in Orange County, near Los Angeles. My family, particularly on my dad’s side, is quite musical, so I grew up having family over singing in three part harmony, and thought it was normal to write songs about random things. My dad would often make up silly songs around the house, so I suppose that’s where my songwriting journey really started. I started piano lessons when I was 9, and guitar when I was 12, and never looked back.
Who would you say are your main influences and how have they impacted your music?
I’ve been massively influenced by Taylor Swift since day 1, all the way up to today. Her songwriting and self-expression and evolution have always been so incredibly inspiring to me, and she’s been my longest-standing influence. I also was super inspired by singer-songwriters like Colbie Caillat, John Mayer, Sara Bareilles, and Ingrid Michaelson when I first started writing songs. Lately, I’ve been obsessed with artists like Holly Humberstone, The 1975, Bon Iver, and Maisie Peters (as well as Taylor, of course).
Who is your dream collaboration?
Ms. Swift, or Bon Iver
What does your songwriting process look like?
Usually I’ll start by writing down a feeling or an observation of some kind in my notes. Then later, I’ll go back to it, and find a word or phrase that I wrote down that feels like it could be a good thesis statement or title to write the song around. Then I’ll pick up a guitar or sit at the piano and just start noodling with whatever phrase I like best to start with until I find a melody that feels natural and good. From there I’ll let myself freestyle a bit, because sometimes the best ideas come out when I’m not thinking about them at all. Once I have a decent structure for the song worked out, I’ll lay down a basic demo, and then get to work on fleshing out the production. That’s my favorite part of the process – it’s like you’ve just conjured or built this beautiful new toy out of thin air, and the production process is the part where you get to play with the toy – test out the kinks, rearrange the parts to make it work more smoothly, put a fresh coat of paint on it, decorate it just the way you want. Sometimes when I finish producing a song I find myself feeling a bit sad, like – “awww, I wasn’t ready to be done playing with it yet.”
You’ve recently released your debut album, ‘The Last Songs I’ll Write About You’. What is your favourite song on it and why?
My favorite song on the project is definitely “The Last Song.” I am so proud of that song from beginning to end, every single lyric, all the production choices, and the fact that I did it all 100% myself. It’s just such a poignant and accurate reflection of the story I wanted to tell, and I’m so incredibly happy with how it turned out.
What’s been the highlight of your career so far?
Singing to a sold out crowd in London my first time ever playing there – seeing people crying and screaming every single lyric throughout the show. That was pretty unreal. I still don’t believe that really happened.
Have you ever been to Manchester before? How are you feeling about your upcoming show at The Deaf Institute this October?
Never been to Manchester before! But I am SO excited to come play – I’ve been receiving so many messages from so many fans saying they’re so excited for the Manchester show. They seem really dedicated and incredible and I can’t wait to dance the night away with them.
What’s next for you? Anything exciting in the pipeline?
The world tour in the fall is the main thing! I’ve been writing some really incredible songs as well the last few months that I would love to put out soon – always creating new music and best believe I will find a way to get it to you as soon as I possibly can.