Bat For Lashes: 'I think it's good to push myself and let the music take people somewhere in their minds'
- Fiona Shepherd
- 8 November 2019
credit: Logan White
Ahead of her upcoming UK dates, Natasha Khan talks to us about new album Lost Girls and feeling inspired by west coast Steven Spielberg-style films
In the two-and-a-half years that she has been living in Los Angeles, Natasha Khan, aka the imaginative, inventive musical auteur Bat for Lashes, has taught meditation to pre-release prisoners, worked with teenagers at a continuation school to help them towards graduation, enrolled in a screenwriting course at UCLA and driven a heck of a lot – west to the coast for walks, nature trails and camping expeditions, and around the Mexican neighbourhoods where she lives in east LA.
'If you try to take on too much LA, it's sprawling and overwhelming,' says Khan, as she takes her rescue dog on a morning walk through the grounds of Obama's alma mater, Occidental College. 'I've been immersing myself in the parts of LA that are suffering from the whole political system but also seem to be the strongest to me in terms of culture and richness.
'It's been really nice in my late 30s to have such a huge lifestyle change that shakes things up. People are so up for things. There are actors and dancers and performers everywhere that you can collaborate with and they're really open to experimentation. It's been really inspiring creatively.'
Specifically, her new home has inspired the latest Bat for Lashes album, the sleek, synthtastic Lost Girls, which is saturated in the (sub)urban romance and neon noir of LA's diverse cityscape, as captured and celebrated so often on camera. The reference to 80s teen vampire flick The Lost Boys is entirely deliberate – in fact, Khan was also inspired by the script she was developing on her screenwriting course about a vampiric girl gang on the tail of her lovestruck heroine Nikki Pink.
'I was doing a lot of driving round at night and going to the beach,' she says. 'It was a very romantic period in my life, and living in these suburban areas in LA with all the pine trees and telegraph poles and mountains in the distance and kids riding bikes, I did feel like I was revisiting ET and The Karate Kid and The Goonies and all those west coast Steven Spielberg-style films that I was obsessed with as a kid.'
Lost Girls is more John Carpenter than John Williams, with its analogue arpeggios and unabashed saxophone solos. Khan, who has already won an Ivor Novello award for her soundtrack to British TV horror series Requiem, contributed a track to the Stephen King adaptation Castle Rock and directed a couple of short films, would love to script and score her own horror film.
But, ironically, this most filmic of albums will be promoted with one of Khan's most stripped-back shows to date, featuring just her, an additional synth player and little in the way of the projections, costumes or visuals which have embellished previous Bat For Lashes performances.
'I haven't done that since 2006 when I went out with just a guitar and my beat machines,' she says. 'I'm nervous and scared but I think it's good to push myself and let the music take people somewhere in their minds.'
Bat For Lashes, Queen's Hall, Edinburgh, Sat 23 Nov.
Bat For Lashes
Offkilter pop from boho Brighton songwriter Natasha Khan.