Throwback Thursday: Bat For Lashes Interview from 2007

The Sound of Dreams

Jun 26, 2014 Summer 2007 - Tegan and Sara Bookmark and Share


For Throwback Thursdays we are posting classic interviews from the Under the Radar print archives to our website. Under the Radar used to keep its print articles exclusive to the print magazine and so there are a lot of older articles that aren't to be found on our website. For this Throwback Thursday we revisit our 2007 article on Bat For Lashes, our first interview with Natasha Khan. Read on as Khan discusses her debut album, Fur and Gold, and how it was inspired by dreams.

"I've seen whole concepts in my dreams beforelike an hour and a half of completely new material," says Natasha Khan, the woman behind Fur and Gold, the surreally riveting debut of Bat For Lashes. "'Horse and I' came to me in a dream," she continues, mentioning the album's spellbinding opener. "It was very vivid, and I suppose it's a song about traveling and journeys and initiations into new places that are a bit frightening, too. All the words and the story came from that. At the time I was dreaming a lot, and I had this particularly strong dream of the horse coming to me and taking me through the forest and then to these ghosts of children singing. And there's a crown there in this clearing, and it's just this obvious symbol of me starting off on a journey."

As if pulled from Carl Jung's book of subconscious archetypes, Fur and Gold is the roadmap for that journey, translating the secret language of a singularly focused artist as she brings to life a cast of heroic wizards, anthropomorphized animals, and lost and lonely souls. But as much as she revels in illustrating complex mythologies, she remains the central character in her drama, her carefully theatrical vocals and solemnly meditative piano melodies infusing her narratives with a dark and ominous energy. Such storytelling comes naturally to Khan, as her Brighton, England childhood gave her a rich background in the fairy tales and folklore of Great Britain and the symbology of her Pakistani father's religious faith. An obsession with film further formed her visual vocabulary, and by the time she got around to the business of recording her album, Khan found that she was exceptionally prepared, with a precise idea of what she needed to do to bring her vision to life.

"Especially for the first album, it's something that has been living with you for awhile, and it has developed all of your life to that point. When I went in to the do the album, I had pages of notes," she admits. "Each song had quotes from different films that made me think of it and different sounds and visual images and bits of poetry and drawings. I'll build up from the roots this certain part of the universe, and each song forms a part, and it has all of its own characters and colors. I think when I went in, the producer I worked with [David Kosten] was pleasantly shocked that I was so prepared. He said that he'd never seen that before," she laughs. "But it was also important that there was an element of spontaneity and experimentation, as well, because otherwise you'd miss out on all of the intuitive things that you try."

Case in point, her desire to capture just the right eerie ambiance led her into the woods to record "Horse and I," with the whistling wind and rustling leaves forming an unusual instrument in the mix. "I didn't want to stay in the gray boring vocal booth," she explains. "So I said to David, 'I really want to record this vocal track out in the forest,' and it was raining and misty, and we were recording in this dilapidated old mansion house out in the country. So he made the lead 40-feet long, I went out there and recorded the lead vocal, and if you isolate the track, you can hear all the rain on the leaves and wind. There's another one where we all ran across a huge meadow and set up mics, like 30 mics all the way around, and we shouted backing vocals. That's on 'Bat's Mouth.' At the end you can hear all this whooping and jubilation and girls shouting and laughing and that's because we were probably a bit drunk at the time. I really like the idea for the next album of recording spacesrecording it in a haunted house in New Orleans or something."

Until then, Khan says she'll be open to all channels of inspiration, continuing her communication with the dream world of her subconscious. "I can't imagine how anyone would get ideas otherwise, but I suppose it's just my way," she says matter-of-factly. "I regularly go down to the sea, and just walking and looking out at the flat horizon is an ancient way of reconnecting with the source. That sounds really cheesy and hippie, and I'm not really a hippie. I don't flounce around wearing tie-dye and eating vegan meals all day, but I do believe in those ancient rituals. It's just plain and obvious to me that if you quiet and still yourself, then you're going to start to increase your sensitivity to things that are flying around in the ether. I could do it a million different ways, but that's my way."

 



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