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Bat For Lashes

After the Reception

Oct 11, 2016 Issue #58 - The Protest Issue Photography by Neil Krug Bookmark and Share

When Natasha Khan began dreaming up the concept that would become her fourth full-length release, she wasn’t sure she was making an album. In fact, she wasn’t even sure she was making music at all. She had been reading books on screenwriting and movie-making, including a book titled Driving Visions that explored the enduring symbolism of the road-trip in cinema. Soon, she saw in her mind flashes of a story about a woman on a journey of transformation, one that could take the shape of a film, an album, or both. “It suddenly hit me the idea of putting your heroine in a position where she can’t fulfill her obligation,” Khan recalls. “She is stopped, and what happens when all the plans that you’ve made backfire? That’s an interesting way to get a character on the road and searching for something deeper.”

Khan now had the protagonist for The Bride, an examination of a woman sent into an emotional tailspin following the death of her fiancé in a car wreck on the way to their wedding. With her Fender Telecaster and an Omnichord, a sort of electronic autoharp-synthesizer that she says sounded like it should be accompanying a “trashy Las Vegas wedding ceremony,” she began crafting a series of demos for songs that drew deeply from her love of fairytale storytelling. The story had all of the hallmarks of a good drama: reeling from loss, the bride flees the church while her guests look on, going on the honeymoon alone. By the end, she has weathered her grief and come out stronger, grateful to her dead fiancé for sending her on the path of personal growth. “He helped her find herself and eventually feel comfortable in her own skin,” she says. “I think there’s a beauty in that unconditional love that ends up being the true love story at the end, not this kind of romantic, idealistic, sometimes superficial thing we all think we want.”

Perhaps sensing that The Bride could be the album that finally pushed Bat For Lashes onto the pop singles charts, her record label’s A&R people set her up with a series of hotshot pop producers. “But I kept coming away dissatisfied,” she says of the early recording sessions, “because I had such a strong vision of what the album was to sound like, and I couldn’t describe it to anyone, especially people who are used to doing more pop kind of music. And so, in the end, I told my manager and everyone started to realize that it wasn’t working, that process. I needed to go and produce it myself.”

With co-producer and multi-instrumentalist Simone Felice, she would do just that, converting a house in the mountains of Woodstock, New York, into a makeshift studio. Once there, she embarked on a whirlwind six-week session, where she and a group of collaborators set about making her uncompromisingly meticulous vision into a reality. She would produce the album, write string arrangements, and obsess over every detail and doubt. Once finished, she started preparing the novella version of the story in hopes that it will be turned into a movie script. In the end, she had taken a journey of self-discovery not completely unlike that of her story’s protagonist.

“I think I’ve learned a lot about my own capabilities as a musician and that I trust myself,” she says. “I know that I know what to do. I know that my intuition is right. I guess I learned that I can do it,” she says with a laugh. “Which is a really nice thing to know.”

[Note: This article originally appeared in Under the Radar’s August/September/October 2016 Issue, which is out now. This is its debut online.]


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October 30th 2016

Love your work Congrats again