Bat for Lashes Redux
By Noah Michelson
Let's talk about Pearl a little bit. It seems like there is Natasha and then there is Pearl and they almost play out the classic saint / sinner dichotomy. How did she factor in how you made the album and how you perform the album?
I felt like when I dressed up as Pearl it kind of made me get in touch with a darker, witchier, siren sort of situation. Pearl is kind of overtly sexual, as well, in the way she looks and how she's coquettish and powerful and dark and the way she is presenting femininity. I got to explore an ultra feminine side and quite a destructive element of my personality. She's not really my alter ego -- she is more of a cinematic character because I documented her and took pictures of her and put them in my sketchbook and then when I was writing songs like 'Good Love' or 'Pearl's Dream,' I would think about Pearl and the way she looks and how she makes me feel. It was quite a private experiment.
Is she going to be in future projects or is this a one-time deal?
I think Pearl is going to remain in the Two Suns universe. That is where she belongs -- driving down the highway looking for her loved one. On the last album I had the song 'Sarah,' which was kind of inspired by the JT Leroy novel Sarah and she was blonde and I was black-haired in that one, so there is this sort of theme that might run through [my work]. It always comes up subconsciously and after the fact I'm sort of surprised -- OK, there's a link that I didn't realize. I think Pearl is going to stay with me in this place.
The other thing I noticed while listening to the album is that there's both a spirituality and a romanticism that seems to run through it.
The romanticism has to do with the fact that it's about love and heartbreak and distance and longing and confusion and disappointment and all those things you can feel in a relationship and I think the spirituality underpins that and is a soothing balm to that. I would go to the desert and try to get in touch with nature and feel more grounded again and understand the bigger picture and sometimes when you are in a love relationship it's all sort of involved. There's an offset between the two. The spirituality kept my feet on the ground and the love let my heart soar into the heavens. It was all mixed up.
The other thing is that the album -- I don't want to use the word 'timeless' -- but it feels very current to me while also reminding me of ' almost -- medieval jousting tournaments with the armor and castles -- it reminds me of a past life.
I feel like the fable behind the album and the storytelling is very much in that king and queen situation, which is really a natural byproduct of me and my ex-boyfriend and how our mythology created itself and it felt archaic and archetypal and powerful in that sort of old way. And obviously I really love medieval sounding instruments and timeless ancient sounds and also because I'm living in New York and I'm young and I want to dance and I love the eighties, it's all sort of in there as well.
When you are performing the songs from the album, are you trying to project the album itself onto the audience or do the songs take on a new meaning for you?
I think it's different with the live show because in the studio it's such a focused and intense and delicate and intricate process to get down exactly what you want. But when you play a live show you have human beings sharing in the communal experience and sometimes it can really recapture where I was at when I wrote the song and other times a whole new thing is created from the response you get from the audience. [The live show is] a lot more dancey than the record in some places and people really get down. We've got an amazing drummer and there are a lot of percussive, big sounding elements. I've completely rearranged 'Good Love' and turned it all around so it is this really psychedelic, shoegazing, dreamy version of the song, which doesn't sound like the [version on the record] at all. And then there is a lo-fi version of 'Daniel' that we do with the harmonium. There are a lot of changes and some similarities and some differences. It's really bigger I think and I really like the live show.
Two Suns is now in stores and Bat For Lashes is currently on tour. For a list of tour dates, head here.