photography / ELIOT LEE HAZEL story / HEATHER SEIDLER
“For we’re creatures of the wind and wild is the wind.” – Nina Simone
Natasha Khan makes her glorious and soulful return as Bat For Lashes with her upcoming third album The Haunted Man. It’s a modern album, it’s an old-fashioned album, it’s a classic album. The English singer/sonic-shifter lets Ladygunn sit in her world for a little while and gives some insight about what we can expect with her newest endeavor. With a helping hand from Beck, Dave Sitek, and Rob Ellis, among others, Khan enchants and bewitches eleven self-produced & expertly-crafted tracks that threaten to ensnare your playlists. It is that sort of music that transcends the usual expectations of the fabricated, pre-packaged music ruling the airwaves.
Khan delves into her past, her hard-won present, and her elliptical imagination. Her soul-soaked voice will hopefully stop you in your tracks and haunt your ears for some time. We’ll let you be the judge.
LADYGUNN: What does a “haunted man” mean to you conceptually?
BAT FOR LASHES: A haunted man, he’s a lot of different things. On this record, I’m exploring relationships and the importance of memories of past relationships. There are a lot of themes like family and history and ancestors. Certain things trickle down generations. It’s been haunting me and I wanted to explore that.
Do you find that you’re attracted to haunted people?
I don’t know, I guess we’re all haunted in some way. Things that haunt you creep up in a relationship because that’s when you reveal your true self. Where we come from is important and how you choose to move forward, as well.
Let’s talk about the making of this album. How did the process differ from your last album?
When I first started writing it, I was writing at home in my studio. I definitely had the intention to make more minimal songs, so I was recording songs that were really clear and taking away a lot of reverbs that I like to use. From the get-go, I had a lot of faith in the music. Things were more direct and quite emotionally raw; bolder than the last album. It developed organically over the years. I collaborated a bit and worked closely with my producer to keep refining it and sculpting the sound. All of the themes were coming out of life experiences I was having. It’s a very personal, organic piece of work that I didn’t want to push too hard.
Tell me a bit about coming to the States…you were in LA for a while collaborating with Beck. Were there any influences that America had on this album?
Yeah, one of the first people I reached out to was Beck. I stayed with him and his family in Malibu. It was great having him to bounce ideas off him. I had an incredible three weeks hanging out with him. We watched a lot of Ingmar Bergman and French films. He has this amazing collection of instruments and it was really nourishing to me because before I was on my own juggling this record at home, feeling alone and under pressure.
Was there a particular time or place in last of couple years that stands out as a defining moment during the making of this record?
That’s hard because there were a lot. Some I want to keep private. I was watching a lot of old English wartime movies. It was during that time that a lot of the album started to trickle down and take shape. I came up to LA for New Year’s Eve last year and I spent some time driving around. I guess obviously relationships always come in and I’ve been doing a lot of work on my family tree stuff that led to a lot of realizations.
What inspires you now?
I’m really into movement at the moment. I’ve been working the last six months with a choreographer, developing things for a music video. While the album was taking shape I was [incorporating] sounds and movements. I’m inspired by fighters, boxers, soldiers, and people coming out of the other eras. Also modern ballet. The film PINA has been really inspiring me. I’ve been taking dance classes.
Are you planning on incorporating that into live performances?
Yeah! I don’t know if it will be choreographed or anything like that, but I’m getting more confident with performance and more relaxed with my body and no longer performing for performance’s sake. It’s become easier for me to tap into certain things. I felt like it was hard to separate the normal me from the performances. I wanted to get more confident stepping into characters, stepping into the songs and inhabiting them, becoming larger than life and more comfortable with my body movements, so I’d feel more strong and bolder. I’m excited about that aspect coming into the live shows.
What’s your biggest fantasy?
My biggest fantasy is, I suppose, to continue creating work and feeling creative in all those things.
Bat For Lashes is in the #6 Fantasy Issue of LADYGUNN out now!