better known by her stage name Bat for Lashes
She's not exaggerating about that fierceness. Khan's off an a U.S. tour to support 2012 release The Haunted Man,
the third in a line of stark, reverb-heavy LPs. Those keeping up with the press during the making of The Haunted Man
know production was a bit like pulling teeth - - word is Khan had to finance her own time in the studio and stage her own video shoots to make the record she wanted to make, no excuses.
"I think the record company and I have very different ideas about what will be commercially successful," Khan says on the phone. "They want those type of songs, [that work on the radio] and I don't necessarily feel like they fit within a body of work unless they're just there anyway. ... [And] sometimes, when you're under financial pressure, it's really hard if you can't back it up with commercial success. So I had to step forward to complete the album, really."
And the aforementioned metaphorical teeth pulling doesn't even touch the profound writer's block that descended on Khan after the conclusion of her 2010 tour. She spent the two years in between records taking drawing classes, gardening and intensifying her dance studies while trying to shake the mental fuzziness. Now, all that in-between work, especially the dancing, has paid off.
"This tour is definitely different due to [all the dance training Khan did in the interim]," Khan says. "I use it quite a lot onstage. Sometimes it's almost like using my body as a percussive instrument. Because I've delegated quite a lot of the playing parts over to the band, I'm free to just sing and perform. I sometimes miss where I've written drum parts - - I like rhythmic things - so I use my body as an instrument. I like embodying it, singing it in my performance."
Critical comparisons to Kate Bush have clouded Khan's work in the past - - they're not undue, with those dark synth rhythms, breathy, belted, English-accented choruses and dedication to an exploration of the supernatural world - but on The Haunted Man
, it feels like she's broken free. She's an artist at her most confident, equally adept at simple ballads (including the striking "Laura") and uptempo, layered jams ("A Wall," "Oh Yeah"). The Haunted Man
is perfectly produced, endearingly performed and a natural stylistic evolution from Two Suns.
What's new and notable, too? The break from the darkness that has tinged most of Khan's previous output. She made a concerted effort to seek the positive in Haunted Man
- to get away from the wizards and wolves of albums past and step into the light. And it was an effort.
"When I was developing as a human being and looking more at my emotional spectrum, I felt that it had been harder for me to tap into the lighter side, the more joyous side, and write something from an honest place," Khan says. "I think there can be joyous-sounding music - super happy, hyper kind of music - but I think coming from a true, joyous place is hard, because it's such a fleeting emotion. So many of us chase it all of our lives. Sometimes it's easier just to wallow in the sad stuff. I found it difficult, but I supposed I just wanted to see if I could do it."
I've always had that real fierce devotion to the vision I had for each album, and I've never compromised," Natasha Khan,