In this brilliant piece from Pitchfork, Laura Snapes follows Natasha Khan’s journey from post-tour crash to Roald Dahl inspiration. With Bat for Lashes new album The Haunted Man, it’s obvious Khan has also discovered a creative and spiritual rebirth.
GREAT MISSENDEN, A PRIM VILLAGE 40 minutes north of London, feels like the kind of place that only exists in story books, which is fitting since it was once home to the master of the form, Roald Dahl. There’s a small museum dedicated to the writer here, as well as cottages with tiny front doors, jagged roofs, and watercolor blooms that happily bleed into each other.And Dahl devotee Natasha Khan—dressed daintily in ankle boots, an Aztec print woolen skirt, and orange speckled jumper complete with Wednesday Addams lace collar—is wide-eyed at the prospect of exploring it all. Unless you look too closely, in which case you’ll spot the slight smudges around her eyes; surrounded by the pastel walls and jazzily decorated cakes of the museum’s café, Khan is pretty hung over. Last night,it turns out, she downed too many cocktails with her brother following an endless day of promotional duties at her label. “It was one of those, ‘Fuck it, I’m going to drink myself to death!’ days,” she jokes, a tiny key dangling from a ring on her left hand.
However bleary, we move on, peering into windows and surreptitiously taking photos of farmhouses. She mentions how Great Missenden reminds her of her family home in Hertfordshire, where they moved from London when she was five; the greenness, the sense of community, the likelihood that both villages held sterling street parties for the Royal Jubilee this year. We discuss traveling long distances for love and absorbing your partner’s friends. Over the last few years, Khan went about tracing patterns in her lineage to see whether her relatives’ relationships tended to work out. The project was inspired by her eking past 30 (she turns 33 at the end of October) and becoming“more preoccupied with wanting to have a healthy relationship so you can have a family, and not faffing around as much.”
Although exploring her family tree didn’t elicit many great revelations—other than reminding her that her English mother’s ancestors were as buttoned-up as her Pakistan-born father’s—Khan’s research attuned her to her grandfather’s experience, returning after war with little to help him process his trauma. It’s one of the elements that makes up the titular theme behind her third album as Bat for Lashes, The Haunted Man.
Read the whole story at Pitchfork.com
Written by Laura Snapes
Photos by Shawn Brackbill