Bangkok gladly puts its arms around British pop princess Natasha Bedingfield
British pop singer Natasha Bedingfield unleashed the power for Thai fans last Tuesday, her voice resounding around Parc Paragon for Siam Paragon’s ninth-anniversary party.
In the space of just three albums, she’s already produced a long string of hits – “Unwritten”, “These Words (I Love You, I Love You)”, “Soulmate”, “Put Your Arms Around Me”, “Love Like This”, “I Bruise Easily”, “Again” – and sold 2.3 million discs.
Bedingfield is geared up for a fourth album next year, she told us during a chat before the show.
HOW ARE YOU FEELING BEING IN BANGKOK FOR THE FIRST TIME?
My parents came to Thailand before I was born – my mother was pregnant with my brother at the time. They wanted to come back but never managed it. I’ve always wanted to come and it was on my list of places to go. So, when I was asked to come, I couldn’t say no!
IT’S BEEN A WHILE SINCE YOUR LAST ALBUM, “STRIP ME”. WILL WE BE HEARING ANOTHER ONE SOON?
I’ve spent the last three or four years writing for the new album. It’s nearly ready and I’m just waiting for the right time to bring it out. I’m so excited, because when you’re writing new music it feels so good, and it’s like a secret that nobody knows about yet. You’re writing a collection of songs that need to have a flow, a story to tell.
On this album I’ll be focusing on the vocal tone. When people hear it, they’ll hear themselves in it.
WHY IS IT YOU ALWAYS SEEM TO TAKE ABOUT THREE YEARS BETWEEN ALBUMS?
Because I write my own songs and I have to come up with the material myself. It normally takes about two years for an album, but this one has been a bit longer. I start to think the album is ready, and then I write a few more songs and I’m, like, “Oh, this is even better!”
In a way writing songs is the same way as digging for gold. You find gold, and you keep digging and you find even better gold. The question that every songwriter has is when is the time to stop digging and cash your gold in.
AND WHEN DO YOU STOP DIGGING?
For me a good song needs to have a good lyric and a number of other things that have to be satisfying for me to release it. I could write songs just for me, but I also write songs for other people, so I have to think about what people are going to feel when they hear it and what they’re going to talk about.
But I do go back and change songs that I’ve written because there’s the production aspect. Production is like putting on your makeup. With songwriting I’ve made my biggest mistakes and had my biggest successes, so I’m not afraid to try anything. The way my process works is that I brainstorm – I throw out lots of ideas out, and then I take out all the good ones. There’s no judging – it’s a process to get into a very creative mindset.
A LOT OF YOUR SONGS ARE ABOUT EMPOWERMENT AND INDEPENDENCE.
I found myself a lot through music. I grew up quite a shy kid, and music has given me courage. Whenever something difficult occurs in my life, I’m able to process it with music and come out feeling hopeful.
WHO’S YOUR IDOL IN MUSIC?
I love Stevie Wonder – that’s the first album I bought. I love a lot of male singers, actually, people like Sting, Bruno Mars and Jeff Buckley. There’s something soothing about male voices. I grew up listening to Lauryn Hill, Bjork, the Cardigans, the Beatles, Radiohead, Eminem and a lot of things.
IF YOU COULD DO A DUET WITH ANY ARTIST, WHO WOULD IT BE?
I would love to do a song with James Brown. I love his energy, and you couldn’t have had Michael Jackson without James Brown. And I’d probably do “I Feel Good” with him.
YOU GREW UP IN A MUSICAL HOME.
All my brothers and sister – everyone does music! Yes, it was a fun way to grow up. My brother would do beat-boxing while doing the dishes. I didn’t sing very well – I was exploring and trying to sing like Bjork, and that was really annoying for everyone.
Anyone who does music, you have to thank their parents, because they obviously put up with a lot, like having kids banging on drums all the time and things like that.
MIGHT THE FOUR OF YOU PERFORM OR RECORD TOGETHER?
I would be too much [laughs]. We’re all very energetic! My brother [Daniel Bedingfield] is the biggest inspiration for me – he’s the one who got me into music. He’s two years older and I learned everything I know from him.
WHAT’S YOUR VIEW ON THE EDM [ELECTRONIC DANCE MUSIC] CRAZE?
I live EDM! The first music I wrote – we didn’t call it EDM at the time – we called it dance music, house or garage. It’s become so big now. It’s become the new pop. I love it and I’ve written with quite a few DJs. Actually, in America I had five No 1 dance hits, because every song released there gets remixed.
WHAT DO YOU THINK OF THE MUSIC SCENE TODAY?
It’s a wonderful time because new artists can really put their music out – they don’t have to be signed. I think the challenge now is that a lot of people watch something, but that doesn’t mean it’s particularly good. Sometimes it’s like a circus, really. A lot of people watch something really bad just because of how bad it is. There’s so much information out there, but I think there’s a place for everyone.
WHAT DO YOU DO TO KEEP UP WITH ALL THE INFORMATION?
For me it’s always an evolution. It’s about growing as an artist and as a composer. You have to stay in touch with your audience to stay in line with how their heart is beating. It’s important to have your eyes and ears open. Some people get old quickly because they stop growing. The secret of staying young is learning and having fun.