With her U.K.-chart-scaling 2016 comeback “KIN,” Scottish folk-rocker KT Tunstall understood how far she had come since her punk-fueled 2004 debut “Eye to the Telescope.” And she trusted her instinct, which — after divorcing bandmate Luke Bullen — made her leave her home in London for California’s Venice Beach and take Skywalker Ranch courses in film scoring. Those led her to her new sixth album, “WAX.” The cinematic effort includes the “Telescope”-evocative single “The River,” co-produced by Franz Ferdinand’s Nick McCarthy. She suddenly saw that it was part two of a trilogy dealing with the spirit, body and mind. “In my 20s, I thought I knew everything, and in my 30s, I was anxious, because I realized I don’t know anything,” she says. “But in my 40s, it was like ‘Aha! I see you now!’ and none of it mattered anymore.”
You’ve composed for three films now, “Late,” “Chasing Satellites” and “Be As You Wish to Seem”?
Yeah. “Seem” is an electronic score I did using the new rolly keyboard, this incredible instrument that you can program and then slide your fingers all around, and it goes from strings to brass, just as easily. So for that, I wrote an entirely electronic score which is almost verging on horror. And I’m working on a feature this Christmas, which is just a project among friends. But “Late” was really cool. I got nominated for my first score at a festival, the Underwire Festival of all-female filmmakers. I don’t think I’ll be around for the festival itself, which is a shame. But studying all this a few years back was a really great learning curve.
Do you have your own private studio where you create?
No. I’ve just got a room in the house, and I work in there, and I have a great engineer who comes over to help me. I’m very lucky that I can get help when I’m doing something like that, so I can just concentrate on the music side, not the technical side, in terms of writing for pictures. But there are other things I’ll do just with my laptop and headphones while I’m traveling. Even my albums are soundtracks — they’re not just random pieces of music, one after the other. There’s a flow, and a story to be told.
What’s the story of “WAX,” exactly?
It’s all about the body, the carnal. About being present and being accepting of all of the bulls—. It goes from my last record, which was all about the soul and spirit, to being about the visceral nature of being a human being. I mean, you’re basically driving a meat car, and you’ll have to deal with it.
IF YOU GO
Where: Great American Music Hall, 859 O’Farrell St., S.F.
When: 9 p.m. Friday Oct. 19
Contact: (415) 885-0750, www.slimspresents.com