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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


The Langley Schools Music Project - Innocence & Despair
I really like to do covers, but the idea of a children's choir doing such classic songs and interpreting them… In 'Space Oddity' there's 'ding!', one vibraphone hit that's totally out of time and a tambourine will go at the same moment and then there's "ground control to Major Tom", these little kids - you can imagine them being really stoic and really getting behind what they were singing and being so serious about it. And then there's little jangly guitars that are so 70s as well, you can almost hear the school wall. People would do anything now to record an album that sounded like it was in a 70s school, but that wasn't them trying to be cool, that was them being who they were and what they were doing. And then 'Desperado', there's a nine-year-old girl who sings, like the quietest voice I've ever heard, but they've mic'ed it up so well. I purposefully try sometimes to mic up my voice really quietly so it sounds like you're being told a secret. This little girl, her voice is shaking, but it's the most gentle sound - it's like when a little child reaches up and touches your face, that feeling of… it's called Innocence & Despair - they're absolute innocents, but they're also singing songs like 'Desperado' and "oh Mandy, you came and you gave without taking and I pushed away", but it's seven-, ten-, 12-year-olds singing. 'Space Oddity', the fact that that's about a spaceman just stuck out in space just drifting away, and they do make it sound quite psychedelic and eccentric and funny. And the shambolicness of it is so cool. What I like is that so many people try to do that, that faux-childishness, and this guy who was running it was obviously a passionate, avid music lover of that time, and persuaded the school and the parents to let these kids sing pop music, which then was pushing boundaries.

It's beautiful. He [Hans Fenger, organiser/arranger of project] really managed to pull something together. I think it all comes down to the beauty of being not self-aware. They're aware, they're trying their best, but it's like the older you get I suppose the more you feel nostalgic about those times and that feeling. Picasso and Matisse and great artists have always been trying to get back to childhood. You get to a certain stage and you want to revisit, but trying to keep that childhood alive is almost the hardest thing, because you build up all these layers of self-awareness and what you want to project and how you want to do it. Even now when I watch Glee and all that shit, all these kids have got the dance routines down - I'm sad that there's no one being this shit anymore. You should be a bit shit when you're little, because that's the freedom. Having perfectly scaled voices, and projecting, and knowing how to communicate with your audience. It's just like, "really? Is that what it's about or is this what it's about?": a bunch of kids getting together, loving it and making mistakes and not caring and sounding a bit out of tune. "I'm going to play my vibraphone part, it's in the wrong place, but I loved it, I'm going to do it again!" Just one note, in the wrong place, amazing. You're playing David Bowie and you're seven, what more is there?