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By Tom Murphy
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The lushly atmospheric, mysterious and richly resonant music of Bat for Lashes first caught the attention of critics with the release of the single "The Wizard" in 2006. Subsequent releases, including Fur and Gold and the recent Two Suns, have been nominated for the prestigious Mercury Prize and have earned the project an ever-increasing number of fans. A Rolling Stone review of Two Suns snarkily said that singer Natasha Khan could be the next Kate Bush. Like Bush and Tori Amos, Khan aims to create music with imagery that taps into the mythological and combine personal mythology with the archetypes and archetypal experiences expounded upon by thinkers like Carl Jung and Joseph Campbell. But instead of resulting in pretentious art rock, Bat for Lashes' songs sound like a rare and welcome injection of artistic ambition and spirit into pop music. We had a chance to catch up with the insightful and intellectually curious Khan to talk about her influences and music.
Natasha Khan: I discovered both of those artists when I was doing my degree in music and visual arts. Up until that time, I knew a lot about certain types of music and artists that were more mainstream. Suddenly I was introduced to people like Susan Hiller, who did installation works using audio and sounds. I remember a specific piece about using people's voices from all different parts of the world, whispering through small speakers about their experiences with UFOs. Almost strangely confessional and religious words kind of connecting something you couldn't see. It just started to occur in my mind that there were these other forms of art that were kind of ceremonial, ritualistic, magical and strange.
Listening to Steve Reich was a similar experience. I like classical music, but I think his music was like modern classical music, but it had emotion and beautiful wind instruments. It reminded me of '70s film scores. It had amazing synth songs in strange timings. It opened my eyes to new ways of being creative.
What is the significance of the title of your latest album, Two Suns?
The album itself is all about twos. The theme of the album is duality, opposites, twins, couples of things — lovers, two countries across an ocean, night and day, the sun and the moon. I took that title from the from the first song on the album, "Glass." That song is almost like a condensed narrative of what we can come to expect throughout the album. It's kind of a fairy-tale story of traveling across the ocean to this city of glass and how these two lovers have burned each other out by being too bright, too free and too creative to be able to orbit together. I called it Two Suns because it was a cosmic metaphor for a lot of more intimate, private and much bigger questions about duality.
For more of our interview with Natasha Khan of Bat for Lashes, visit blogs.westword.com/backbeat.