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Baker's Dozen

Sonic DNA: Natasha Khan Of Bat For Lashes’ Favourite Albums
Laurie Tuffrey , May 7th, 2013 08:50

As part of our series of articles previewing this year's Field Day Festival, Natasha Khan roots through her record collection to pick out her 13 top LPs


Lou Reed - Berlin
Berlin, for me, is one of the most complete albums. It incorporates and encapsulates everything I love about albums and music, which for me is it being like a film that plays out in your mind. There's a sort of cinematic aspect to the whole thing. It's storytelling in its darkest and most beautiful form, it takes you through a relationship from the beginning to the end and you get invested in characters and people that are inhabiting the scenery that Lou Reed's talking about. You feel pain, in the end, when it's: "They're taking her children away / Because they said she was not a good mother". Those lyrics, and "this is the place our children were conceived / Candles lit the room brightly at night" and "this is the place where she cut her wrists / That odd and fateful night". It's just like, fuck me, who actually talks about that stuff any more? Who's brave enough to believe in the album as a whole? Because you take out any of those songs, and they're fantastic songs, but the whole point is it's a novel, and you have to invest in listening to the lyrics and absorbing the atmosphere and going with it the whole way through to really get that fucking hit at the end, where you're just devastated. The full entity, that's the album I wish I'd made.

My boyfriend for seven years, when I was 18 to 25, was obsessed with Lou Reed and we saw him loads of times. He probably played it to me quite early on, maybe when I was 19 or 20, but I think I actually got obsessed with it on my own around 23, and just listened to it over and over again. And then luckily, it got brought back live and he toured it with the full children's choir and bloody string section in his band. It was such a treat to see that.

In 'The Kids', they put all the samples of the children going "mummy!" and crying and banging on the door. Apparently they actually locked someone's kids in a room and recorded them, sobbing away. [laughs] Absolute bastard, you know, but what have you got to do for the arts? That really struck me at the time, thinking how much I love film and whenever I write music, I see it, in characters and colours and locations and places, and it's like they had, like lots of other people I suppose.

There are so many songs by him that I love, but I wouldn't say there are any albums by him that I love the whole way through as much as this one. Obviously there's 'Satellite Of Love' and 'Perfect Day' and 'Walk On The Wild Side', which I think are fantastic pop songs because they've got grit - when I think about great songs that have darkness and grit and integrity, I think of Lou Reed and Kurt Cobain, and those are my two men that I reference. When I was writing 'Laura', I was like "okay, Lou", can I summon the spirit of Lou? Just to be able to talk brutally and honestly about a thing, but within a context of a song that people will remember. It's just in my DNA now, always with me, it's just part of me.