Natasha Khan (born 25 October 1979), better known by her stage name Bat for Lashes, is an English singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist. She sings and plays the piano, bass, guitar, and the autoharp.
Khan's debut album, Fur and Gold, released in 2006, peaked at number forty-eight on the UK Albums Chart and was shortlisted for the 2007 Mercury Prize. In 2008, Khan received two BRIT Award nominations for Best Breakthrough Artist and Best Female Solo Artist.
Khan's second album, Two Suns, released in 2009, reached number five on the UK Album Chart and number seventeen on the Irish Album Chart. It produced her first UK top forty single, "Daniel", and was shortlisted for the 2009 Mercury Prize. Khan was nominated for Best Female Solo Artist at 2010 BRIT Awards.
Khan was born in London on 25 October 1979. Until the age of five she was raised in Wembley where her parents had met and married several years before. She was born to a Pakistani father, Rehmat Khan (a former professional squash player from Peshawar) and to an English mother. Her father decided to relocate the family to the commuter town of Rickmansworth in Hertfordshire to help with his coaching of future squash world open winner Jahangir Khan, Natasha's cousin.
As a child Khan, along with her sister Suraya and brother Tariq, attended her uncle's squash matches. In an interview with The Daily Telegraph, Khan reflected that seeing her uncle helped inspire her. "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." With her father's abandonment of the family Khan turned to the piano. Deciding to play improvised pieces instead of attending lessons, Khan felt the piano became an outlet for her emotions. "You need to find a channel to express things, to get them out", she said.
During her teens Khan was also a victim of racism. Speaking about her time in after-school clubs she claimed "the kids there totally ripped me to shreds." This rejection led Khan to rebel, making the decision to "bunk off" school and stay at home listening to music. "My mum would take me to the train station and I pretended to get the train; she'd drive to work and I would go home and play a tape of Nirvana all day". With the completion of her GCSEs and A-Levels she decided to embark on a road trip through America with her boyfriend at the time, using the money earned from her part-time job at a local card-making factory.
After spending three months touring through the US and Mexico, Khan returned to the UK and settled in Brighton to study a degree in music and visual arts at the University of Brighton. While at university her experimental work was influenced by artists such as Steve Reich and Susan Hiller, and she produced multi-media work centred on sound installations, animations and performance.
2006–08: Fur and Gold
Following graduation, Khan worked as a nursery school teacher, and it was during this period that she began writing the material for her first album.
Khan playing New York City's Bowery Ballroom in support of Fur and Gold
Khan's debut single, "The Wizard", was released digitally through Drowned in Sound records and on seven-inch vinyl through Khan's own imprint, She Bear Records. She then signed to the record label Echo, alongside Feeder and former Moloko singer Róisín Murphy, and released her debut album, Fur and Gold, in September 2006. In 2007, Bat for Lashes parted company with Echo and signed to Parlophone Records, which re-released Fur and Gold with the addition of bonus material. A limited vinyl version was released by Los Angeles indie label Manimal Vinyl in May 2007. Fur and Gold reached number forty-eight on the UK Albums Chart and has since been certified Silver by the BPI for sales exceeding 60,000 copies. In 2007, Khan appeared at the Glastonbury Festival and toured the United States.
Critics likened Khan's music to the work of Siouxsie Sioux, Björk, Kate Bush, Cat Power, PJ Harvey, Annie Lennox, Tori Amos and Fiona Apple. Both her albums were described by MTV Iggy as "at once haunting and way danceable." Fur and Gold was one of the albums nominated for the 2007 Mercury Prize, losing out to Klaxons' Myths of the Near Future despite being a favourite of British media to win the award. Also in 2007, the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) awarded her with the ASCAP Vanguard Award and chose her to perform at their "ASCAP Presents..." showcase at South by Southwest in Austin, Texas. In 2008, Khan was nominated for British Breakthrou