Bat for Lashes

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This article is about the musician. For the comic book character, see Bat Lash.
Bat for Lashes
Miss Khan.jpg
Bat for Lashes performing at the Plug Awards in New York City on 6 March 2008
Background information
Birth name Natasha Khan
Born (1979-10-25) 25 October 1979 (age 34)
London, England
Genres Indie pop, dream pop, baroque pop, folktronica, synthpop
Occupations Singer-songwriter, musician
Instruments Vocals, piano, guitar, bass, harmonium, drums, autoharp, synthesiser, vibraphone, keyboards
Years active 2006–present
Labels Echo, Parlophone, Manimal Vinyl, Caroline, Astralwerks, Capitol
Associated acts David Kosten, Yeasayer, Beck, Jon Hopkins, Toy, Damon Albarn
Website www.batforlashes.com

Natasha Khan (born 25 October 1979), better known by her stage name Bat for Lashes, is an English singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist. She has released three studio albums, Fur and Gold (2006), Two Suns (2009) and The Haunted Man (2012), and received Mercury Prize nominations for Fur and Gold and Two Suns.

Early life[edit]

Khan was born to English mother Josie and Pakistani squash player Rahmat Khan.[1] She is the niece of World Champion squash player Jahangir Khan.[2] Khan attended many of the squash matches, which she felt inspired her creativity: "The roar of the crowd is intense; it is ceremonial, ritualistic, I feel like the banner got passed to me but I carried it on in a creative way. It is a similar thing, the need to thrive on heightened communal experience." After her father left the family, Khan, aged 11, taught herself to play the piano, which became "a channel to express things, to get them out".[2]

After completing her GCSEs and A-Levels, Khan took a job in a card-packing factory where she would work while listening to songs she had made. She said: "My internal imaginary life was really fruitful at that time. I remember packing cards and just listening to songs that I had made the night before on my mini-disc player. All day long just listening and dreaming, while counting the cards to be packed; 'One-two-three… four-five-six-seven-eight-nine… 10–11–12.'"[2]

With money saved from the job, she embarked on a three-month road trip through America and Mexico.[2] After returning to the UK, Khan settled in Brighton to study music and visual arts at the University of Brighton,[2][3][4] where she produced sound installations, animations, and performances influenced by artists including Steve Reich and Susan Hiller.[citation needed] After finishing her degree, Khan worked as a nursery school teacher and began writing the material for her first album.[5]

Music career[edit]

2006–08: Fur and Gold[edit]

Khan playing New York City's Bowery Ballroom in support of Fur and Gold

Khan's debut single, "The Wizard", was released digitally through Drowned in Sound records and on seven-inch vinyl through Khan's own imprint, She Bear Records. She signed to the record label Echo and released her debut album, Fur and Gold, in September 2006. In 2007, Bat for Lashes parted company with Echo and signed to Parlophone Records, which re-released Fur and Gold the same year. A limited vinyl version was released by Los Angeles indie label Manimal Vinyl in May 2007. Fur and Gold reached number forty-eight on the UK Albums Chart and has since been certified Silver by the BPI for sales exceeding 60,000 copies. In 2007, Khan appeared at the Glastonbury Festival and toured the United States.[6]

Critics likened Khan's music to the work of Siouxsie Sioux,[7] Björk, Kate Bush, Cat Power, PJ Harvey, Annie Lennox, Tori Amos and Fiona Apple.[8] Both her albums were described by MTV Iggy as "at once haunting and way danceable."[9] Fur and Gold was one of the albums nominated for the 2007 Mercury Prize, losing out to Klaxons' Myths of the Near Future despite being a favourite of British media to win the award.[10] Also in 2007, the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) awarded her with the ASCAP Vanguard Award and chose her to perform at their "ASCAP Presents..." showcase at South by Southwest in Austin, Texas. In 2008, Khan was nominated for British Breakthrough Act and British Female Solo Artist at the BRIT Awards.

Radiohead's 2008 tour featured several shows with Bat for Lashes as their opening act. Her version of the The Cure's "A Forest" appeared on a charity album called Perfect as Cats on Manimal Vinyl in late 2008.

2009: Two Suns[edit]

Khan's second album, Two Suns, was released in April 2009 and produced by Natasha Khan and David Kosten.[11] In preparation for the album, Khan journeyed to the Joshua Tree Desert in California to gain inspiration, before returning to New York and London to write and record the finished material for release.[11]

A concept album,[12] Two Suns focuses on Khan's desert-born alter ego Pearl, whose personality she adopted while staying in New York to gain a better understanding of the character. She revealed to the BBC's Newsbeat, "I really just did it as an experiment of dressing up myself with quite garish extreme feminine make-up. I wanted to photograph myself in that situation and just see what it made me feel."[13] Khan believed that living in Brooklyn when bands such as TV on the Radio, MGMT and Gang Gang Dance were emerging on the music scene had an influence on the album's musical style. In an interview with MTV she said, "I experienced that whole thing coming out, in terms of beats and like going out dancing and checking out all this new music it was really inspiring."[12] During the album's production, she also collaborated with Brooklyn band Yeasayer for the bass and beat programming.[11] In June 2009, Bat for Lashes first appeared on the cover of The Fader, in its 60th issue.[14]

Two Suns debuted at number five on the UK Albums Chart,[15] and has been certified Gold by the BPI for sales of 100,000 copies. The first single from the album, "Daniel", became Khan's first hit, peaking at number thirty-six on the UK Singles Chart;[16] it later won the Ivor Novello Award for Best Contemporary Song and was nominated for the MTV Video Music Award for Breakthrough Video of the Year. The following singles were "Pearl's Dream" and a double A-side of "Sleep Alone" and "Moon and Moon", the latter of which was featured in a high profile advertising campaign for children's charity Barnardo's in late 2009.[17]

Bat for Lashes at the Primavera Sound 2009

Critical response to the album was generally favourable, generating a score of 77 on the review aggregator Metacritic.[18] In their review for Two Suns NME awarded it 8 out of 10 describing the album as "epic in scope and ambition and requires a similarly epic patience to unravel its charms."[19] Rolling Stone also rated it favourably stating, "Khan proves she's a powerhouse under her billowy sleeves. She could be the next Kate Bush."[20] However some critics such as Popmatters found problems, reviewing the album they claimed, "While the weaker songs are definitely not throwaways, they miss the mark in more than one way."[21] Blender magazine also felt the album was average, awarding it 3 out 5 stars, claiming "The contrast between Pearl and Natasha isn't always crisply drawn".[22] As with Fur and Gold, Khan was nominated for the Mercury Prize for Two Suns.[23] In 2010, she won Best Alternative Act at the UK Asian Music Awards and received a second BRIT Award nomination for British Female Solo Artist.

As part of the 2009 summer festival season, Khan played at Glastonbury, Somerset House and the iTunes Festival. In September 2009, a special edition of Two Suns was released in the United Kingdom ahead of Khan's October tour. The special edition, which includes a cover version of Kings of Leon's single "Use Somebody", was released simultaneously in the United States. Later in 2009, the cover artwork for Two Suns was nominated for Best Art Vinyl.[24]

2010–present: The Haunted Man[edit]

In early 2010, Khan toured South America supporting Coldplay[25] after a one-off gig at The De La Warr Pavilion.[26] In mid-2010, she collaborated with Beck on the track "Let's Get Lost" for the Twilight Saga: Eclipse soundtrack.[27] Khan expressed interest in working with Beck on her third album, saying he had "creative ideas."[28]

In 2010, Bat for Lashes contributed the song "Sleep Alone" from Two Suns to the Enough Project and Downtown Records' Raise Hope for Congo compilation.[29] Proceeds from the compilation fund efforts to make the protection and empowerment of Congo's women a priority, as well as inspire individuals around the world to raise their voice for peace in Congo. For Record Store Day 2010, Bat for Lashes released an exclusive double A-side 7" single comprising a live performance of "Trophy" single B-side "Howl" recorded at De La Warr Pavilion and a cover of Wild Is the Wind, originally written by Dimitri Tiomkin and Ned Washington.[30] In 2011, Khan recorded a cover version of Depeche Mode's song "Strangelove" for a Gucci advertising campaign. The song was released as a free download from Gucci's channel on YouTube and various blogs.[31] In June 2011, Khan performed two shows at the Sydney Opera House as part of the Vivid LIVE Arts Festival, her only performances of the year.[32][33]

Khan stated in May 2010 that she was in the early stages of writing a third album and "wanted to take more time with this one".[34] The album, titled The Haunted Man, was released in October 2012 in the UK. The lead single from the album, "Laura", presented previously on live concerts, was released in July. The second single, "All Your Gold", was released in September.[35] The Haunted Man debuted at number six on the UK Albums Chart, Khan's second consecutive top ten album; subsequent singles released were "A Wall" and "Lilies". Khan attended the 2013 BRIT Awards having been nominated in the Best British Female category, and was also nominated at the Ivor Novello Awards in the category of Best Song Musically and Lyrically (for "Laura").

In 2013, Khan performed at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, supported Blur at the Irish Museum of Modern Art in Dublin, Ireland, and opened for Depeche Mode on the first half of their North American tour. In September 2013, Khan premiered the track "Garden's Heart", a collaboration with Jon Hopkins for the soundtrack of the film How I Live Now. She is credited on this release as Natasha Khan rather than Bat for Lashes.

In 2013, Khan's collaboration with Damon Albarn (frontman of Blur and creator of Gorillaz) was confirmed – they recorded a track for his solo studio album, Everyday Robots. Speaking of it, Khan said: "If I could go back and tell the 15-year-old me that I'd just sang with Damon for his new record, she'd probably wet her pants with excitement, I had such a massive crush on him [...]"[36]

Discography[edit]

Awards and nominations[edit]

Year Award Category Result
2007 Mercury Prize Fur and Gold Nominated
ASCAP Awards Vanguard Award Won
MTV Europe Music Awards MTV Europe Music Award for Best Video ("What's a Girl to Do?") Nominated
2008 Brit Awards British Breakthrough Act Nominated
British Female Solo Artist Nominated
2009 Mercury Prize Two Suns Nominated
MTV Video Music Awards Breakthrough Video ("Daniel") Nominated
Best Art Vinyl of 2009 Two Suns Nominated
2010 Brit Awards British Female Solo Artist Nominated
UK Asian Music Awards Best Alternative Act Won
Ivor Novello Awards Best Contemporary Song ("Daniel") Won
2013 Brit Awards British Female Solo Artist Nominated
Virgin Media Best Album of 2012 (The Haunted Man) Nominated
Ivor Novello Awards Best Song Musically and Lyrically ("Laura") Nominated
YouTube Music Awards Innovation of the Year ("Lilies") Nominated

References[edit]

  1. ^ Pidd, Helen (20 July 2007). "Profile: Natasha Khan". The Guardian. Retrieved 26 March 2014. 
  2. ^ a b c d e "Bat for Lashes: off the wall". The Daily Telegraph (London). 26 February 2009. Archived from the original on 1 March 2009. Retrieved 26 February 2009. 
  3. ^ Fox, Imogen (16 October 2006). "The Guadrian – Fashion – The Close-up:Natasha Khan". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 10 June 2010. 
  4. ^ interview with Natasha Khan, arbobo.fr, 11 June 2007.
  5. ^ Pidd, Helen (19 July 2007). "'Bat for Lashes are beyond a trend ... she has an ancient power; like Bjork or Patti Smith, she is in part shamanic ...'". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 21 September 2013. 
  6. ^ Bat for Lashes
  7. ^ The Guardian The Observer, Garry Mulholland, Sunday 13 August 2006. Excerpt: "Khan and producer David Kosten reinvent Siouxsie/Bush/Bjork mystical sex, musical travelogue and poetic dreamstate for the contemporary singer-songwriter milieu"
  8. ^ AllMusic.com, Bat for Lashes' biography by MacKenzie Wilson. Excerpt: "Echoes of Björk and Siouxsie Sioux are heard throughout Bat for Lashes' mystical indie rock sound."
  9. ^ "Bat For Lashes".  |MTV Iggy
  10. ^ Mercury Prize: The nominees BBC NEWS | Entertainment | Mercury Prize: The nominees
  11. ^ a b c "Bat For Lashes announces new album plans and tour dates". NME. Retrieved 4 August 2009. 
  12. ^ a b "Bat For Lashes interview". MTV. Retrieved 4 August 2009. 
  13. ^ Pinnock, Tom (31 March 2009). "Bat For Lashes' glittering return". BBC. Retrieved 4 August 2009. 
  14. ^ "Issue 60: Bat for Lashes / Beirut". The Fader. Retrieved 21 November 2013. 
  15. ^ "Chart stats for album Two Suns". chartstats.com. Retrieved 4 August 2009. 
  16. ^ "Chart stats for single Daniel". chartstats.com. Archived from the original on 30 March 2012. Retrieved 4 August 2009. 
  17. ^ Brook, Stephen (4 December 2009). "Barnardo's launches 'palindrome' TV ad". The Guardian (London). 
  18. ^ "Two Suns by Bat For Lashes". Metacritic. Retrieved 4 August 2009. 
  19. ^ "Album Review: Bat For Lashes". NME. Retrieved 4 August 2009. 
  20. ^ "Bat For Lashes: Two Suns". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 4 August 2009. 
  21. ^ "Bat For Lashes: Two Suns". popmatters.com. Retrieved 4 August 2009. 
  22. ^ "Bat For Lashes: Two Suns". Blender. Retrieved 4 August 2009. 
  23. ^ "Kasabian, Florence Lead Mercury Prize Nominations". Billboard. Archived from the original on 3 August 2009. Retrieved 4 August 2009. 
  24. ^ "Best Art Vinyl 2011 – Nominations". Artvinyl.com. Retrieved 31 December 2011. 
  25. ^ Slender Fungus (1 October 2009). "News – Latin American stadium tour announced". Coldplay. Retrieved 31 December 2011. 
  26. ^ "Live". Bat for Lashes. Retrieved 31 December 2011. 
  27. ^ Breihan, Tom (12 May 2010). "Eclipse Soundtrack Gets Vampire Weekend, Beck/Bat for Lashes Duet | News". Pitchfork. Retrieved 31 December 2011. 
  28. ^ "Bat For Lashes May Recruit Beck For Album". Billboard.com. 14 September 2009. Retrieved 31 December 2011. 
  29. ^ "Raise Hope For Congo". Raisehopeforcongomusic.org. Retrieved 31 December 2011. 
  30. ^ "Record Store Day – Exclusive 7". batforlashes.com. 15 April 2010. Retrieved 10 April 2012. 
  31. ^ "Bat For Lashes Covers Depeche Mode". Stereogum. 22 February 2011. Retrieved 26 March 2014. 
  32. ^ Bat for Lashes – Vivid LIVE 2011
  33. ^ Natasha, Home from Australia
  34. ^ "Bat for Lashes Talks Next Album, Hints at Another Beck Collaboration " exclaim.ca". 31 May 2010. Retrieved 10 January 2012. 
  35. ^ "All Your Gold – Single by Bat for Lashes". iTunes. Apple. Retrieved 20 July 2013. 
  36. ^ "Damon Albarn's Solo Album to feature Natasha Khan". BlurBalls. 4 September 2013. Retrieved 26 March 2014. 

External links[edit]