Matt Champion & The Marias - Masthead Banner

Interview: Bat For Lashes frontwoman Natasha Khan backstage at Laneway '13.

Interview: Bat For Lashes frontwoman Natasha Khan backstage at Laneway '13.

On Bat For Lashes' maiden voyage to New Zealand, [eternal goddess] Natasha Khan graced Coup De Main with her presence for a quick chat backstage at Laneway Festival 2013.

Bat For Lashes is touring in support of her third studio album, 'The Haunted Man' - to which Khan is so devoted, that during the recording of the album she paid out of her own pocket, the expenses of travelling to Italy to record the slapback from projecting massed male vocals across a canyon with an amp.

It's paid off in spades. All of Khan's extra efforts to marry "sacred spaces" and "communal, collaborative activities" - which reading David Morgan's ‘The Enchantment of Art' inspired her to do, whilst battling writer's block during the development of her latest album - have culminated in a beautiful, magical record.

Khan says: "On this album there are more jubilant, overwhelmingly ecstatic songs and I don’t think I’ve really accessed that part of myself before. I feel those things all the time, but hadn’t really expressed them in a musical way. It’s always been easy for me to be atmospheric and look at the darkness - and I do love that side of art and music - but I think it’s much harder to be unabashedly joyous and vulnerable and happy. I wanted to challenge the creative patterns I’d set myself in and also to just surprise myself. I’d bored myself. So, out of that came some very lovely and some very challenging moments for me as an artist. But I think it’s very important to be challenged. It’s a good sign to be scared, I think!"

We discussed Natasha's first ever co-write, how to re-inspire yourself, and the children's picture book that she's written...

"Each album denotes how it wants to be made and it will tell you if you listen, what it needs. Exploring the different avenues and being open to synchronicity and crazy coincidences and little things happening is part of going on your journey to investigate..."

COUP DE MAIN: Your single 'Laura' was your first-ever co-write - why did now feel like the time to start collaborating?
BAT FOR LASHES - NATASHA KHAN: Obviously I've written quite a lot of piano songs and ballads in the past and I felt there was a gap on the album for a good ballad. And I think what I wanted to do was meet someone who knew more than me about songwriting structure and progressions and middle eights and things that more traditional writers write and I don't usually employ. It was almost like having a little workshop and going to school to write. It's good to keep learning, I think.

CDM: Lyrically, what's your favourite song that you've ever written?
NATASHA: My goodness, that's a difficult question. I think lyrically, it's probably... on the new album I do really like the lyrics for 'Lilies' which is the first song on the album, just because it's so pro-life and it's a good affirmation.

CDM: At what age did you write your very first song ever, and what was it about?
NATASHA: I think I was about nine or ten. I don't really remember what it was about, it was kind of just instrumental music.

CDM: Do you write songs feeling like they are a monologue of your own thoughts? Or more of a dialogue between Bat For Lashes and those that listen to your music?
NATASHA: It's definitely my own thoughts and expressions for me as a focus, I don't tend to think about the audience until quite a bit later or even I suppose when the album comes out, that's when it happens. It's my own stories and my own narrative that goes on inside my own world.

CDM: You go to great lengths to record sounds - like paying for yourself to go to Italy to record harmonies on the edge of a canyon - is that authenticity really important to you?
NATASHA: Definitely, I think it's all part of the process. Each album denotes how it wants to be made and it will tell you if you listen, what it needs. Exploring the different avenues and being open to synchronicity and crazy coincidences and little things happening is part of going on your journey to investigate - and the little jewels you might find along the way, my job is to bring those back home and put them on my album.


CDM: What do you think is the best cure for writer's block?
NATASHA: For me, I think the best cure is to stop doing the thing that you think you should be doing and go and have a bit of fun in another medium, maybe other crazy things. I did gardening and cooking and drawing and reading to try take the pressure off the music - just being eclectic and putting the fun back in and bringing more innocence in again is really important.

CDM: What can you tell us about the work you created whilst taking a course in children's book illustration?
NATASHA: I spent a week away from home in a beautiful countryside house, I did a lot of botanical observational drawings, read lots of books that they had and illustrated children's stories. I just spent time doing technical drawings and then doing storyboards - just was working on building up the imagery to go with my story.

CDM: Will you ever release your story?
NATASHA: Possibly, I don't know. Maybe when I'm older I wouldn't mind doing something like that.

CDM: If you had the opportunity to take a year off from Bat For Lashes commitments and just dedicate yourself to studying one thing - what knowledge would you be interested in pursuing?
NATASHA: I'd love to study Quantum Physics and Cosmic Astronomy type things, because I've been watching this English guy called Brian Cox who does all these amazing astronomy programmes and every time I watch them, I end up crying because it's so profound. I find it really amazing, so I'd love to study that. Or French cooking, maybe. I'd love to go to Paris and study there.

CDM: If you were to curate your own music festival, who would you want to play?
NATASHA: I'd want Tame Impala to play, I saw them the other night and they were absolutely amazing. I just saw a woman called Angel Olsen playing in LA, she just plays with electric guitar in a Leonard Cohen-y beautiful Jeff Buckley style, so she'd be playing. And there's a British soul-musician called Laura Mvula - her sister plays violin and she has live strings and harp - when she sings it reminds me a bit of Alice Coltrane, I thought she was amazing. And then we'd have The Cure for a bit of old-school eighties vibes. <laughs> I'd love to curate my own festival, it would be fun... maybe a Laneway Festival curated by Bat For Lashes?

CDM: A friendship-crush is someone that you have no romantic interest in whatsoever, but just really wish that you were best friends with them. Who would be your top five friendship-crushes, living or dead?
NATASHA: Patti Smith... my goodness, I can't think who I want to be my friendship-crushes. I've got so many nice friends in my life already, so I don't feel lacking in that area. <laughs> Maybe David Attenborough because he's super cool and knows everything about nature. Maybe Michael Jackson if he was still alive, just because he's intriguing and amazing. And someone who's a really good cook? I like going to friend's houses for dinners. Jamie Oliver? Yeah!


CDM: If B.A.T. F.O.R. L.A.S.H.E.S. was an acronym, what would each letter stand for? That's quite long, so feel free to just do B.A.T.?
NATASHA: Bewitching... <laughs> Athletic. God. T? I dunno. What starts with T?
CDM: All I can think of right now is T-rex.
NATASHA: Bewitching Athletic T-rex. Brilliant!

CDM: If you could have the clothes from any character in any movie, who would you choose?
NATASHA: Wow, that's so hard. I think it would probably be 'The Virgin Suicides'. Those girls' dresses and bedrooms are pretty cool.

CDM: Do you have any up and coming musical-crushes?
NATASHA: Probably Laura Mvula would be my latest crush, and 'The Drive' soundtrack is a big crush of mine, it's very sexy.

CDM: If you could be any mythical Goddess, which one would you want to be?
NATASHA: I don't know if I'd want to be, but I'd be Persephone, Goddess of the Underworld, because then... <laughs> I like to get dark sometimes and then come back out into the light.

CDM: What's left on your bucket-list that you'd really like to achieve?
NATASHA: I'd love to win a Grammy! <laughs> Not ambitious or anything. And just having a really lovely bunch of kids and a happy family life, would be good for me.

BAT FOR LASHES' latest album 'The Haunted Man' is out now - featuring the singles 'Laura' and 'All Your Gold'.

Click HERE to read CDM Issue #7.

Watch out-takes and highlights from CDM Issue #7 interviews below...

Load next


Open in new window
Open in new window