Dance music listeners were introduced to singer Kate Stewart – then performing under the name KStewart – in the mid-2010s.
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The deep house revival was in full swing, and major labels looked for strategies to boost these groovy, retro-sounding tracks into the mainstream.
Stewart sang on the vocal version of Oliver Heldens’ “Koala” titled “Overdrive,” sounding both ethereal and commanding against the producer’s distinctive swinging style.
A few years later, Stewart started to venture out on her own, carving out a spot as a pop-inflected R&B singer. As she flourishes as a solo artist, recent single “Numb” showcases her full spectrum of talent – vocal process and lyrics that connect with listeners.
Stewart was born and raised in West London to an artistic family. She followed their legacy by participating in musical theater and then attending stage school in Chiswick.
As she honed her passions, she discovered her strength as a vocalist and ventured down this path. Today, inspiration from Whitney Houston to Beyonce and Mariah Carey shape her sound.
Out on April 8th and following this year’s smash “Hate You,” “Numb” illustrates the confluence of heartbreak and dysfunction arising from toxic relationships.
The track further features work from Grammy-winning producer Swagg R’Celious and Multi-ASCAP® award-winning producer Frank Romano, as well as Grammy-nominated producer and songwriter Keithen “Bassman” Foster. The music video, meanwhile, was shot by Vogue magazine’s featured filmmaker Lucas Wilson.
Both tracks segue into Stewart’s upcoming EP, titled You Had to Be There, slated for release this fall and building on the themes highlighted in “Numb.” As her profile continues to rise, we had a chance to speak with Stewart about this track.
Your single “Numb” came out earlier this month. Thematically, it touches on toxic relationships. What inspired you to write this track?
I used to be in a very toxic relationship myself. In fact, I’ve been in a few. And towards the end, unless something dramatic has happened, the feelings start to become completely numb.
The love might not have completely gone, you don’t feel happy, you don’t feel sad, you just feel lost. You could be in the same bed as them and still feel like you’re sleeping alone.
It’s a horrible feeling, and I know a lot of people have been through or are going through the same thing. So, I wanted to write a song about it.
“Numb” also features production work from Swagg R’Celious, Keithen “Bassman” Foster, and Frank Romano. How did this team come together for your song?
I was in New York. And it was my first ever session with Swagg R’Celious. Keithen was also there in the studio with us, and we all got on so well and clicked instantly, both on a personal level and musically.
We made this song super quickly, and all fell in love with it. They both completely understood what I wanted to do, and what kind of song I wanted to make.
“Numb” follows your single “Hate You.” How would you say these tracks define you as an artist?
I think both songs are totally different to one another, but still sound cohesive. They were both produced by Swagg R’Celious, so they have that same feeling in both of them.
I feel like “Hate You” is a lot darker – I’m of course singing in a much lower register – whereas “Numb” feels a bit more light hearted. I think they both define me well, because not only does it show two sides of me – the lyrics very much relate to me and things I’ve been through.
The video for the song sees you working with Vogue’s featured filmmaker Lucas Wilson. Tell us about this experience. Who came up with the concept?
I came up with the concept. I just wanted to show a totally different side of me from the “Hate You” video. I wanted to show my relatable and fun side with this.
I’m good friends with Lucas and Hannah (who shot the stills), and we always have such a fun time together, so I knew this shoot would be a laugh, and I wanted to show that.
You come from a musical family. What inspired you to start singing and writing songs?
I’ve always been around it, so singing has always come very naturally to me. I always knew I was going to go into show business.
I originally studied musical theater and then quickly realized it wasn’t for me, so after studying music and songwriting, I started writing a lot more and that then also came naturally to me. The fact my family is so supportive is really amazing and has helped me so much.
You previously released music under moniker KStewart, including a few collaborations with dance music producers. How does doing vocals for a producer like Oliver Heldens differ from your own tracks?
Stylistically, they’re very different genres, so I approach my vocals and the melodies a lot differently to my own tracks. I love writing for dance music; however it doesn’t come as naturally to me as writing R&B.
What influenced you to jump from dance music and pop tracks to R&B?
It wasn’t an influence that caused me to jump from dance to R&B. I always made pop and R&B music and that’s always what I wanted to do/what I was influenced by growing up.
However, my first label that I signed to when I was very young, didn’t allow me to do so, but now I don’t have to listen to them and I’m able to write what I want.
Your latest EP drops in the fall. Aside from these recent tracks, what should listeners expect from this release?
Every song on this EP has a different vibe and feeling to it. Even though they are all cohesive, I feel like there’s a song on there for every mood.
Do you plan to perform or tour this summer? Where should we expect to see you?
I hope so! I have nothing planned as of yet, but performing live is my absolute favorite thing to do, so I hope I can either support someone amazing on tour or hopefully go on my own. Fingers crossed!