Belfast Telegraph

‘Outrageously amazing’ - critics rave over debut album by Belfast musician Kitt Philippa, who uses bike wheels and prayer dish

NI musician Kitt Philippa
NI musician Kitt Philippa
Kitt’s new album Human
Lauren Harte

by Lauren Harte

Northern Ireland's rising musical star Kitt Philippa is wowing critics with a debut album, hailed as "transfixingly beautiful" and "a must-listen for all".

The young Belfast-based singer-songwriter's offering, Human, due for release tomorrow, has scored a whopping 9.5 out of 10 from the Press Association, and is being lauded as "outrageously amazing".

The arrival of Human comes almost a year after the track of the same name scooped the 2018 Single of the Year accolade at the Northern Ireland Music Prize.

According to PA Deputy Entertainment Editor Lucy Mapstone: "From start to finish, the collection shows Philippa's power to blend the old and the new while portraying the deepest of emotions in a digestible manner. An album free of bombast and overproduction, it is a must-listen for all."

The public vote saw Kitt fend off competition from fellow home-grown talents, Ash and Snow Patrol.

Originally from Portadown in Co Armagh, a recent name change from Katharine to Kitt has given the artist a greater sense of non-binary neutrality.

The change means Kitt does not identify rigidly as either a man or a woman.

Kitt has always regarded music as a means of communication and can recall singing in the pram to unsuspecting people when out for a walk and crawling to the piano upon hearing their mother play.

The multi-instrumentalist says their formative years were spent "being exposed to a range of musical styles" - a broad mix of vintage rock and pop from the likes of Queen, Simon & Garfunkel and The Beatles alongside "a lot of classical".

Kitt's first exposure to live music was a visit to see the Ulster Orchestra perform and it seems the talented musician has never looked back.

Having studied music at Queen's University, the organ scholar has come a long way since performing their original work and a cover of David McWilliams' Days of Pearly Spencer live onstage in Belfast's Ulster Hall with the Ulster Orchestra in 2012 at the age of 21.

Despite classical training in clarinet and piano along with being a proficient guitarist, Kitt has also utilised some more unconventional instruments - including a prayer dish and a bike wheel.

These classical influences are still reflected in the current offering, although the tracks are largely tainted with a mild urban, contemporary edge.

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Kitt’s new album Human

The album comes hot on the heels of the release of Kitt's stunning four-track EP You earlier this year and featured the singles Human, Grace and You.

On stage, Kitt has silenced audiences in Belfast, Dublin, London and Berlin with a natural flair for connecting with an audience through poetic, poignant lyrics and even more emotional musicality.

Over the past year, Kitt's mesmerising live performances have been witnessed by many, including fans of Daughter, SOAK, Villagers, and Lisa Hannigan, as well as festival goers at Stendhal, Body and Soul and Electric Picnic Festival to name but a few.

They also wowed 40,000 Snow Patrol fans at Bangor's Ward Park in May.

Kitt said: "It was great to be involved. Snow Patrol are incredibly supportive of music being made in Northern Ireland so it says a lot about their generosity to encourage the likes of me."

Kitt has also been championed by multi-instrumentalist Hozier who has said "impressive is too weak a word" to describe their music, which they regard as "very kind indeed".

For Kitt, the process of putting together their debut album was steeped in a desire to capture the push and pull of what it means to be human in 2019, and in particular, what it is to struggle.

"I make music that I care about and put a lot of effort into it," Kitt says. "I have quite high standards for myself so at the end of the day, nothing comes out unless I'm happy with it."

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