One of the highlights of our jam-packed first weekend at Coachella was the performance by Natasha Khan, better known as British songstress Bat For Lashes. Singing for a giant crowd in sweltering 90-degree heat, Khan belted out tracks spanning her entire discography, including some breathtaking highlights from her latest album The Haunted Man. Even though she played in the middle of the afternoon amidst countless other bands, the festival itself seemed to quiet down as she belted out a heartrending version of album standout "Laura." Before the set, we caught up with Natasha, who was impossible to miss in a bejeweled vintage dress that shimmered in the sun. We sat down to talk her current tour, the best place for thrifting in London, and the unlikely mantelpiece she snagged at SXSW.
Last time we spoke was right before your new album had come out. How has it been playing the new songs now that everyone has had a chance to let them sink in?
"Well, the songs have become a bit dynamic, I think. They sound more powerful and just bigger because we have live instruments and human beings bringing their own nuances into it. I've been playing it live since last summer, so it's fun now because we've got it down. We just brought on a new drummer –– our old drummer dropped out –– so that was quite scary. We've just played one show with him last night in Phoenix, but it was cool. It keeps things fresh."
Are there any sets today that you're especially excited to see?
"I literally arrived about an hour before this...I just put my gold dress on. I really wanted to see Savages, but they're happening in like five minutes. But tonight I'm looking forward to Grizzly Bear and Simian Mobile Disco."
How does playing a big festival change how you play your set? Do you have anything different planned?
"I think it's important to change your set depending on the environment and the audience you're playing to. If we were playing a concert I would probably do a lot more quiet things where you can really listen to the textures and emotions. If it's a big hot festival like this we tend to play slightly more arresting songs."
You've been on tour for a while now. How do you stay sane constantly traveling from place to place?
"Well, I'm a deft hand at that now because I definitely get uprooted by touring – I'm such a homebody. I bring my yoga mat with me and I do a special warm up and yoga stuff before I play, and I have my singing warm ups also. But, to keep me cozy, I bring my own pillow that smells like home. And pajamas. I also have a special tea that I make, a sage tea. I watch as much Breaking Bad as possible, and drink cups of English Breakfast tea."
Have you been able to do any shopping or thrifting while on tour?
"I love thrift shopping, and I'll be doing that when I get to L.A. and San Francisco. I was in Phoenix yesterday, and it was hot, we were like 'this is crazy.' We couldn't walk around very much. But finding good thrift shops and cafés with nice people that work there — that's always a bonus."
Is there anything you've picked up that you're especially fond of?
"Oh my God, so many things! So many things. When we did South by Southwest in Austin, I picked up a giant metal eagle. This huge beautiful metal eagle that sits above my fireplace now. And I'm always buying clothes."
And I wanted to ask about your dress –– it's awesome.
"It's vintage. It's from North London, there's a place in Camden Passage where all these weird old ladies sell strange second hand stuff. It's on cobbled streets, and there's clothes hanging everywhere. I just saw this one hanging. And I made this headband to match it!"
Photo: Courtesy of Bat For Lashes