Tag: MTV Video Music Awards

New Video: Bat For Lashes Release a Cinematic and Wistful Visual for “Kids in the Dark”

Natasha Khan is a Brighton, UK-based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer, best known as the creative mastermind behind the acclaimed solo recording project Bat For Lashes — and for being the vocalist for Sexwitch, a collaboration with the members of British psych rock act TOY and producer Dan Carey. Born to an English mother, Josie and Pakistani squash player Rehmat Khan, Natasha Khan traces some of the influences of her musical career to attending her father’s and her uncle’s Jahangir’s squash matches, which she felt inspired her creativity: “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.” Her father left when she was 11, and she taught herself to play the piano, which quickly became an important channel to express things, to get them out.

Khan’s debut single “The Wizard” was released digitally through Drowned in Sound Records and on seven-inch vinyl through her own imprint, She Bear Records — and by 2006, she caught the attention of Echo Label, a record label owned by Chrysalis Records that acted as an incubator for emerging artists and assisting their careers while moving them to major labels. Echo released her debut, 2006’s Fur and Gold. The following year, Khan and Echo signed an international licensing deal with Parlophone Records, who re-released Fur and Gold that year. The album reached #48 on the UK Albums Charts and since its release, it’s been certified gold. Building upon a growing profile, the British singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer played at Glastonbury Festival and toured across the States. The album was shortlisted for that year’s Mercury Prize, losing to Klaxons’ Myths of the Near Future, despite being a named a heavy favorite to win — and being critically applauded. She won ASCAP’s Vanguard Award, which resulted in her performing at their “ASCAP Presents . .  .” SXSW showcase. 

2008 continued an incredible run by the British singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist as she was notated for two Brit Awards — British Breakthrough Act and British Female Solo Artist. She opened handful of dates for Radiohead, and she released a cover of The Cure’s “A Forest,” which appeared on the Perfect as Cats charity album. 

Khan’s sophomore album, 2009’s David Kosten and Khan-produced Two Suns was inspired by a trip she took to Joshua Tree, CA. The album focuses on her desert-born alter ego Pearl, whose personality she adopted while living in New York. Sonically, the material was inspired by the Brooklyn bands that had started to receive attention nationally and internationally at the time — in particularly, TV on the Radio, MGMT, Gang Gang Dance and others. Interestingly, the album also found her collaborating with the members of Yeasayer, who contributed bass and beat programming. The album debuted at #5 on the UK Albums Chart and has since been certified gold as a result of “Daniel,” which peaked at #36 on the UK Singles Chart. “Daniel” later won the Ivor Novello Award for Best Contemporary Song and was nominated for an MTV Video Music Award for Breakthrough Video of the Year. Additionally, Khan received her second Mercury Prize nomination and a second BRIT Award nomination for British Female Solo Artist. 

Summer 2009 saw her play at Glastonbury Festival, Somerset House and the iTunes Festival, which was followed by a special edition of Two Suns, which was released ahead of her October UK tour an included a cover of Kings of Leon’s “Use Somebody.” 

Khan’s third Bat for Lashes album, 2012’s The Haunted Man debuted at #6 on the UK Albums Chart, her second consecutive Top 10 album, an effort that has since been certified silver. Khan was nominated for her third Best British Solo Female BRIT Award and was nominated for two Ivor Novello Awards — Best Song Musically and Best Song Lyrically for album single “Laura.” That year saw her play at Coachella Festival. She also opened for Blur and Depeche Mode. 

During a surprise 2015 Green Man Festival set in Wales, Khan debuted her collaboration with Dan Carey and TOY — Sexwitch. That September, the project released its self-titled debut through Echo and BMG, which featured six covers of 1970s psych and folk from different parts of the world. 

2016 saw the release of her fourth full-length album The Bride, an album that was nominated for the Mercury Prize. 

Slated for a September 6, 2019 release through AWAL Recordings, Khan’s forthcoming album Lost Girls continues a run of concept albums in which she creates an off-kilter coming of age film in which fans of marauding female biker gangs roam the streets — and teenagers make out on car hoods. The women characters are parallel to the protagonists of her previously released albums — particularly, the street tough, darkness-driven Pearl from Two Suns. In this case, the album’s main character is Nikki Pink, one of the album’s Lost Girls. Thematically, the album is a romantic album that pays homage to Los Angeles, being a child of the 80s, and to the films that touched and changed her life. 

Sonically, the album finds Khan mixing sounds she’s always loved — heavy bass line, synth arpeggios, Iranian pop beats and cascading choruses. Interestingly, the album’s latest single “Kids in the Dark,” is a hazy bit of 80s inspired synth pop centered around shimmering synths, reverb-drenched blasts of guitar, a soaring hook, stuttering beats and Khan’s ethereal vocals, and interestingly enough, the track bears an uncanny resemblance to JOVM mainstay ACES, as it possesses an achingly wistful air. 

Directed by Natasha Khan, the recently released video for “Kids in the Dark” was shot against the Los Angeles hills with the eerie and gorgeous waning of dusk casting shadows — and it emphasizes the song’s wistful air, as it features the Lost Girls and two star-crossed lovers. The video hints at how its protagonist Nikki Pink became a Lost Girl. 

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Preview: Secret Solstice Festival 2017

With its inaugural run back in 2014, Reykjavik, Iceland’s Secret Solstice Festival has quickly become one of Iceland’s largest music festivals, featuring a diverse and eclectic array of established and internationally recognized artists, locally renowned acts and up-and-coming artists from all over the globe, performing in one of the most unique backdrops in the entire world – the roughly 72 hour period of near constant daylight Iceland experiences during the Summer Solstice, because of its proximity to the Arctic Circle. (After all, Reykjavik is the northernmost capital and administrative region of the northernmost country in the entire world.) Building upon its growing reputation as one of the world’s most unique music festivals, the fourth edition of the festival may arguably be one of the biggest and most diverse lineups to date as it includes Foo Fighters, Rick Ross, the UK electronic act The Prodigy, The Verve’s former frontman Richard Ashcroft, Pharoahe Monch, Chaka Khan, Foreign Beggars, Dubfire, Novelist, Rhye, Dusky and Chicago house music artist Kerri Chandler. Along with those artists, some of Iceland’s renowned acts, including Högni, Úlfur Úlfur, Amabadama, Emmsjé Gauti, GKR, Tiny, Aron Can, KSF, and Alvia Islandia will be performing. And adding to the 72 hour party vibe, the festival’s organizers have planned a series of electronic dance music takeovers and showcases featuring some of the world’s best party crews – including Ibiza’s Circoloco, Above & Beyond Records’ deep house imprint Ajunadeep Records’ dance floor collective Crew Love, ATG and Dubfire’s SCI+TEC among others.
Interestingly, for the second consecutive year, Secret Solstice is currently the only major music festival in the world to be certified CarbonNeutral®, as the festival sources almost all of their power needs from the use 100% renewable geothermal energy, hybrid vehicles provided by Toyota Iceland – and from offsetting any residual emissions through the purchase of high quality, verified carbon credits. Unlike any other festival I’ve attended or heard of, festivalgoers and artists alike can know that they’re being environmentally responsible while partying and catching some of the world’s most interesting artists. Of course, during a multi-day festival like Secret Solstice, it’s difficult and damn near impossible to catch everyone and everything, so consider me as a helpful guide – with some information on artists I’d love to catch while in Reykjavik.

Preview: Living Colour at City Winery 3/13/17

Currently comprised of founding members Corey Glover (vocals), Vernon Reid (guitar, synths, backing vocals) and Will Calhoun (drums, percussion, keys, samples, backing vocals), with Doug Wimbish (bass, drums, guitar, programming, backing vocals), the New York-based rock quartet Living Colour originally formed in 1984 and they quickly received attention for a sound that meshed elements of heavy metal, funk, jazz, jazz fusion, soul, prog rock and alternative rock with lyrics that frequently focused on the personal and sociopolitical, frequently commenting on and attacking Eurocentrism and racism in America. The quartet’s original lineup, featuring featuring the founding trio of Glover, Reid and Calhoun with Muzz Skillings (bass) cut their teeth and honed their sound and live show playing shows at CBGB’s.

Interestingly, the band found an unlikely champion in The Rolling Stones’ Mick Jagger, who took the band under his wing, produced a demo, which caught the attention of Epic Records. And with the release of 1988’s commercially and critically successful full-length debut Vivid, the band’s original lineup, quickly rose to attention with their smash hit “Cult of Personality,” which won a Grammy Award for Best Hard Rock Performance; they also won the Best New Artist Award at 1989’s MTV Video Music Awards. Adding to a growing international profile, The Rolling Stones had Living Colour opened for the rock legend’s Stateside leg of the Steel Wheels tour. They quickly followed that up with 1990’s sophomore effort Time’s Up, which also won a Grammy.

After releasing three full-length albums with a number of major and minor hits, the band split up with the members focus on a variety of creative projects; in fact, Wimbish, Calhoun and Glover had teamed up with Glover in a project called Headfake, which played frequently in the New York City area. And as the story goes, in late 2000, Headfake played at CBGBs with Reid joining them, leading to rumors of a Living Colour reunion. Of course, those rumors proved to be true, as Living Colour went on their first tour together n six years the following summer.

The members of the band have since released one of their most experimental efforts to date, 2003’s Collideøscope, followed by 2005’s rarities and B-sides compilation, a few live albums, 2006’s Best of compilation, Everything Is Possible: The Very Best of Living Colour and 2009’s Chair in the Doorway. And over the past couple of years, the band has been on a rather busy touring schedule, touring to support the 25th anniversary of their seminal effort Vivid.

As a personal note, as a music obsessed boy, I’ve almost always listened to a wildly eclectic variety of music, and in the 80s metal was a big thing. I loved Metallica, Def Leppard, Ozzy Osbourne, Motley Crue and the like; but when I watched their videos and concerts, I didn’t see anyone who looked like me — and even in my 8 year old mind, I knew that I couldn’t be those guys. I was black and from Queens. However, seeing someone who looked like me with guys who came from neighborhoods that I knew or had family in, kicking ass and taking names was a revelation. And it made them heroes to me.

Sadly, I was too young to catch them back then; however, I have since seen them twice — once at Afropunk during their Vivid 25th Anniversary Tour and later at Brooklyn Bowl, and I’m thrilled to know that the band is playing tonight at City Winery.