Natasha Khan and Decca execs on the return of Bat For Lashes and her new label deal with Mercury KX

Natasha Khan and Decca execs on the return of Bat For Lashes and her new label deal with Mercury KX

Natasha Khan and her team have spoken to Music Week about her new label partnership, following the release of the first Bat For Lashes album in almost five years.

The Dream Of Delphi was released via Decca’s Mercury KX on Friday (May 31). It is the British singer-songwriter, producer and visual artist’s sixth record as Bat For Lashes. 

During her celebrated career, Khan has won two Ivor Novello awards and racked up three Mercury Prize nominations. Following a long spell with Parlophone and then a partnership with AWAL, she has now signed to Decca’s label for experimental artists.

“Mercury KX is a home for artists who push boundaries, often through a very clear sense of their musical and visual world,” said Decca co-president Tom Lewis. “It’s that clarity of self-definition that we love and we jumped at the opportunity to work with Natasha. Given the reactions we have had to her signing, it is very clear the high esteem in which she is held across the industry. She is a pioneer.”

“She effortlessly captures the zeitgeist and has the ability to nurture diehard fans,” added Cerys Weetch, label and A&R manager at MKX. “Across the Mercury KX and Decca roster, she sits among Ólafur Arnalds, Aurora, Jordan Rakei, Fizz, Keaton Henson and Jean-Michel Blais to name a few. What they have in common is their multi-faceted commitment to their art.”

Signing to Decca/Mercury KX has felt like the perfect balance, according to Khan.

“In this day and age, I do feel more comfortable in this scenario, being on a label that’s affiliated with a major,” she told Music Week.  

Mercury KX has that indie feel, they’re very creative and work with very brilliant, artistic, unique people, but they’re affiliated with a huge major that can also fund those things,” she added. “I feel like I’m in this protected bubble of an indie, which is perfect for me, but we’re supported by a larger thing. When I was on just a major label it was hard, on an indie that was hard as well in a different way, now it’s this amazing marriage of the two.”

Tiger Hagino Reid, manager at Giant Artist Management, thinks that there will be further recognition for Bat For Lashes in the wake of the new record. 

“We’re in an era where there are so many female artists classed as being older who are making amazing music,” she said. “There’s this wave that will come back to Bat For Lashes through the zeitgeist moving and changing. She’s an artist that’s ahead of the curve every time. I totally trust that there is some new frontier out there that she’s pushing towards.”

Given the reactions we have had to her signing, it is very clear the high esteem in which she is held across the industry

Tom Lewis

MKX’s targets for success are varied and all about laying down a pathway for the long term. 

“She has a fiercely loyal fanbase who have been waiting very patiently for her record," said Cerys Weetch. "A Mercury nomination would, of course, be amazing. Success for us is growing and reactivating her fanbase in a meaningful way and building momentum towards projects in the future, as well as executing Natasha’s vision to the best of our abilities.”

Tom Lewis added that it would be a mistake to think about the masses when making sure the record cuts through. 

“Instead, it’s about identifying, serving and nurturing discreet, curious audiences who share aesthetic or musical values that resonate with Bat For Lashes,” said Lewis. “These audiences might be anywhere in the world. This requires a patient, longer- term, global approach. And it’s something we have come to understand more clearly working with the artists across our roster. That said, we would hope and expect that music writers, broadcasters and opinion formers, will be looking forward to hearing and talking about this wonderful new album.”

“Our creative, marketing, media, merch and audience teams have been working since last year to come up with both traditional and non-traditional strategies,” explained Cerys Weetch. “Working with the team at Giant has also been brilliant. We are focusing on nurturing micro-communities, a compelling merch range, as well as investing in realising Natasha’s creative vision.”

The label is engaging core Bat For Lashes fans, a group that consists mostly of millennials and skews 60% female, at the same time as bringing in a new audience. One touted direction is what Weetch calls “millennial nostalgia” campaigns using Bat For Lashes’ extensive back catalogue. 

“Natasha’s incredible influence and body of work allows us to position her as an influential figure amongst the new generation of artists breaking through: The Last Dinner Party, Girl In Red, Boygenius, Ethel Cain and many others would arguably not be here today without Bat For Lashes,” said Weetch.

Building on radio support across BBC Radio 6 Music, Radio 1 and Radio 2 (particularly from Mary Anne Hobbs and Jo Whiley), the label plan to continue the good business Khan’s records have done in physical product alongside expanding her profile on DSPs – at the moment, she has just over 465,000 monthly listeners on Spotify. 

“Streaming is about relationships: whether it is finding long-time champions or introducing Natasha’s world to editors that may not have heard of her,” said Weetch. “There’s an abundance of editorial spaces that the music belongs in, be it contextual and mood playlists, or cinematic and experimental pop playlists.” 

Subscribers can read the full interview here.


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