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Kristyna Myles

‘You know how it is,’ she says. ‘One day you’re singing outside a Tesco Express in the rain and the next day you are touring with Chris de Burgh and supporting Mick Hucknall. Isn’t that how it happens for everybody?’ And the full-lipped, coquettish smile says it all. It’s not cocky, it’s self-deprecating. She knows this is not how it happens for everybody.

Perhaps even anybody, other than Krystyna Myles. Oh and maybe… James Morrison and KT Tunstall. Not many more make the transition from high street busker to international singer-songwriting sensation with a multiple album deal in the back pocket of their worn-out boot-cut jeans. ‘I loved busking,’ she says now. ‘In a strange way it is the purest form of music.

‘You just play and the people that like it think about if they are going to throw any money in the guitar case or whatever and how much and you can see them going through their pockets: 2p, 20p, 50p, a gold one [a pound]… wow!… a handful of change. If they don’t like you, then they walk-on by and you don’t eat.’ And she shrugs.

‘I woke up one morning and decided that I had to [go busking]. I was given a talent, I’m from a musical family and I was studying for a music degree so it made perfect sense, kind of… I play the piano but that is not what you’d call a busking instrument so Ben [Williams] played guitar and I sang.’ And then there is a pause. ‘Sometimes I carried the amp,’ she smiles.

‘On a very good day we could make about £100 between us but it was never anything to do with the money, it was the buzz and the crowds we attracted. Whatever I achieve, it will have to be incredible to beat the buzz I got when one lady threw a fiver in the guitar case because she’d heard a song I’d written and it moved her to tears. That’s when I knew this was for me.’

Her parents fled from Czechoslovakia during the Prague Spring in 1968 and settled in the Midlands but, like a moth to a flame, Myles moved to Manchester. ‘It’s a music city,’ she says. The people love music and if they like what you are trying to do they’ll support you all the way. I love living here and have never once thought about leaving. My friends are here.’

In 2005 she was named busker of the year on BBC Radio 5 Live. She has since performed on BBC television and radio, recorded at Abbey Road studios and played dates across Europe. Her self-written debut album, ‘Pinch Me Quick’, will be out in the spring and has been produced by acclaimed, multi-award winning producer Ken Nelson (Coldplay, Badly Drawn Boy, Paolo Nutini). ‘I was thrilled to be working with him,’ she says now. ‘We clicked straight away and it is exactly how I wanted it.’

‘It might seem as though it has happened really fast to everybody else but it has taken years to get to this stage. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve loved the journey (a compilation album, ‘Songbird 2008′ , featured one of her songs alongside tracks from Amy Winehouse and Erykah Badu) but I’ve not really started yet. You do a lot of covers when you’re busking but I’ve written songs that I need to be heard.’

Citing her influences as Stevie Wonder and Aretha Franklin, she describes her music as ‘Soul and pop with a bit of jazz thrown in. It is all the music I was listening to really.’

‘Wouldn’t Change A Thing’, her first single and due out in early 2012 was written on the same day she first met co-songwriter Stefan Litrownik in LA and it has ‘that LA sunshine vibe. It’s about being with somebody amazing and how you accept them, flaws and all, but it doesn’t have to be romantic love, it could be a friend.

‘When I wrote “I’m Not Going Back” (with another co-writer, Tamra Keenan) it was about that feeling that you sometimes get. You know what you want to do and you get a break, there’s a glimmer of hope but then it’s taken from you and you start to doubt yourself. This song is about me saying that I don’t want to go back to a life when I’m not writing and performing music. Either on the street or in the studio.

‘The difference between playing on Market Street in Manchester and supporting Mick Hucknall is that when you are on your own you can see the whites of their eyes, there are no lights to blind you. It is the best education a musician can have. There is no place to hide. But I’ve graduated and when I’m on stage, I come alive. I was born to do this.’