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Natasha Khan (born 25 October 1979), also known by her stage name "Bat for Lashes", is a British alternative rock musician. As a musician she sings and plays the piano, guitar, harpsichord and the autoharp.

Khan's debut album Fur and Gold, released on 11 September 2006, peaked at #48 on the UK Album Charts and went on to be nominated for the Mercury Prize in 2007, in the following year Khan also picked up two BRIT nominations for Best Breakthrough Artist and Best Female, leading to growing media attention.

Khan’s second album Two Suns, released on the 6 April 2009, reached #5 on the UK Album Charts and #17 on the Irish Album Charts. The first single released off the second album "Daniel" charted within the top 40. The second single "Pearl's Dream" was released on 22 June 2009. The album Two Suns has also been nominated for the Mercury Prize.

History

Early life

Khan was born in London on 25 October 1979. Until the age of five she was raised in Wembley where her parents had met and married several years before. However her father, Rehmat Khan, a former professional squash player decided to relocate the family to the commuter town of Rickmansworthmarker in Hertfordshire to help with his coaching of future squash world open winner Jahangir Khan, Natasha's Uncle.



As children Khan, along with her sister Suraya and brother Tariq would attend her Uncle’s squash matches, in an interview with The Daily Telegraph, Khan reflected that seeing her Uncle helped inspire her. "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."With her father’s abandonment of the family Khan turned to the piano. Deciding to play improvised pieces instead of attending lessons Khan herself felt the piano became an outlet for her emotions. “You need to find a channel to express things, to get them out", she said.

During her teens Khan was also a victim of racism. Speaking about her time in after-school clubs she claimed “the kids there totally ripped me to shreds.” This rejection led Khan to rebel, making the decision to “bunk off” school and stay at home listening to music. “My mum would take me to the train station and I pretended to get the train; she'd drive to work and I would go home and play a tape of Nirvana all day”.With the completion of her GCSEs and A-Levels she decided to embark on a road trip through America with her boyfriend at the time, using the money earned from her part time job at a local card-making factory.

After spending three months touring through the US and Mexico Khan returned to Britain and settled down in Brightonmarker to study a degree in music and visual arts at the University of Brightonmarker. It was during her time at university that she began writing material for her debut album and eventually assumed her stage name Bat for Lashes.

Fur and Gold

Natasha graduated in music and visual arts; while at university her experimental work was influenced by artists such as Steve Reich and Susan Hiller, and she produced multi-media work centred on sound installations, animations and performance. She went on to work as a nursery school teacher, and it was during this period that she began writing the material for her first album. "Whenever I'm writing music it's a very visual place in my mind," she said. "It has a location full of characters and colours and landscapes, so those two things really complement each other, and they help the other one to blossom and support the other. They are like brother and sister."

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 then signed to the record label Echo, alongside Feeder and former Moloko singer Róisín Murphy, and released her debut album, Fur and Gold, on 11 September 2006. In 2007, Bat for Lashes parted company with Echo and signed to Parlophone records. Fur and Gold was re-released with the addition of bonus material. A limited vinyl version was released by Los Angeles indie label, Manimal Vinyl in May 2007.

Khan's music has been likened to the work of Siouxsie Sioux, Björk, Kate Bush, PJ Harvey, Annie Lennox, Tori Amos and Fiona Apple.

On 17 July, Fur and Gold was announced as 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.After the success of Khan's second album Two Suns, sales of Fur and Gold in the UK increased and it was certified Silver by the BPI on 29 May 2009 for sales of 60,000.

Two Suns

Bat For Lashes at the Primavera Sound 2009
Khan’s second album, Two Suns, was released 7 April 2009 and produced by Natasha Khan and David Kosten. In preparation for the album Khan journeyed to the Joshua Tree Desertmarker in Californiamarker in order to gain inspiration before returning to New York and London to write and record the finished material for release.



A concept album, Two Suns focuses on Khan’s desert born alter ego Pearl, whose personality she adopted while staying in New York in order 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.” Khan believed that living in Brooklynmarker while bands like 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 claimed, “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.” During the album’s production she also collaborated with Brooklyn artist Yeasayer for the bass and beat programming.



Two Suns went on to debut at its peak position of #5 on the UK Albums Chart. The first single off the album “Daniel” became a top 40 hit, while the second single "Pearl's Dream" was released on 22 June.

Critical response to the album was generally favourable, generating a score of 77 on the review aggregator Metacritic. 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.” Rolling Stone also rated it favourably stating, “Khan proves she's a powerhouse under her billowy sleeves. She could be the next Kate Bush." 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.” 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".



On 1 May 2009 Two Suns was certified silver by the BPI for sales of 60,000 in the UK and on 31 July 2009 the album was certified Gold for sales of 100,000 in the UK. Also, for the second time in a row, Khan has been nominated for the Mercury Prize for her album Two Suns and for the single "Daniel," which was also nominated for the MTV Video Music Award for breakthrough video of the year.

In the media

In 2007, Khan appeared at Glastonburymarker and toured the USA.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 ASCAP's prestigious "ASCAP Presents..." showcase at South by Southwest in Austin, Texas.

Thom Yorke and M.I.A. have previously complimented her work, Ringo Starr has said she is one of his favourite new artists and Björk was also spotted at her early gigs. Radiohead's 2008 tour featured several shows with Bat for Lashes as their opening act. In a recent interview, Matt Bellamy mentioned her as one of his new favorite artists.

The Bat for Lashes live line-up contains an ever-revolving cast of musicians often changing on a per-tour basis. The latest line-up includes Ben Christophers, Charlotte Hatherley and Sarah Jones, who also plays drums with New Young Pony Club. This line-up was announced in March 2009. In April 2009 she appeared on BBC Radio 1's Live Lounge. She performed an acoustic version of the single, "Daniel," and also covered "Use Somebody" by Kings of Leon. Her first appearance on US broadcast television was on The Late Show with David Letterman, performing the song "Daniel." In April 2009 she appeared on the BBC2 live music show Later... with Jools Holland performing two songs from Two Suns: "Daniel" and "Sleep Alone." On 11 August 2009 Bat for Lashes performed on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon performing the song "Sleep Alone" she also performed "Moon and Moon" during the Mercury Award's 2009 event.

Discography

Albums

Year Title Peak Chart Positions Certifications

(sales thresholds)
UK IRE CHE FINmarker FLA FRA US WAL
2006 Fur and Gold 48 130
2009 Two Suns
  • Released: 6 April 2009
  • Formats: CD, vinyl, digital download
5 17 94 39 26 56 141 74


EP's

Album Release Date

Live Session - EP 19 Feb 2008
iTunes Live London Festival '09 - EP 19 Jul 2009


Singles

Year Song Chart positions Album
UK ITA BEL
2006 "Trophy" Fur and Gold
"The Wizard"
2007 "Prescilla"
"What's A Girl to Do?" 141
2009 "Daniel" 36 28 47 Two Suns
"Pearl's Dream" 173
"Sleep Alone"


Contributions

Year Song contributed Release title
2007 "Trophy" (Acoustic) Acoustic 07
"I'm on Fire" (Live) The Saturday Sessions: The Dermot O'Leary Show
2008 "What's a Girl to Do? (Live) Chillout Sessions XI
"Sweet Dreams" (Live) Radio 1's Live Lounge - Volume 3
"A Forest" (Cover) Perfect as Cats: A Tribute to The Cure
2009 "Daniel" Chillout Sessions XII


Awards and nominations

Year Award Category Result
2007 Mercury Prize Fur and Gold
ASCAP Awards Vanguard Award
2008 Brit Awards British Breakthrough Act
Brit Awards British Solo Female
2009 Mercury Prize Two Suns
MTV Video Music Awards Breakthrough Video (Daniel)


References

External links




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