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Natasha Bedingfield talks writing rituals and style

Scene's Nyree caught up with the lovely, bubbly and very talented singer-songwriter

Natasha Bedingfield
Image Credit: Supplied picture
“I’m actually quite melancholic and write about twice as many sad songs, it’s just that peoplelike my happy songs more.”

So, what do you think of Dubai so far?
I arrived late last night so I didn’t see the surroundings until this morning and it took my breath away because it’s so beautiful. I feel like I’m on a ship or something because I have a really good panoramic view of the ocean [Natasha was staying at the Grosvenor House].

You’ve been singing your whole life, what are your earliest memories of music?
I grew up in a very musical home and my brother obviously sings. In fact all the kids in my family – there’s four of us – sing. I thought everybody sang, and then I guess when I turned about 12 I realised that not everyone can, and I started writing songs. I was
very drawn to songwriting.

Can you remember the first song you wrote?
Yeah, it’s probably a song about not being able to write. I remember this incredible urge – I had all this stuff locked up inside me and didn’t know how to get it out. I was very shy, and very self judging. I just thought everything I did was bad, but then I worked on my self-esteem… and also realised that you have to write a few bad songs before you write a good one…

Even still, I imagine?
Yeah – if you have writer’s block you have to just start and then you write a few rubbish ones and then you get to the gold.

Speaking of getting to the gold  – do you have a ritual or process?
I definitely feel like tea is important. Twinings or PG Tips… although coffee’s not a bad substitute! I’m not sure if I have a ritual. I like to just be in the studio and have a microphone set up, and then I sing all my ideas directly into it, so it’s very much like brainstorming. And I have to make sure I have no filter at that point. I just sing out every idea I have, that way I’m not judging myself. And then I come back and start tweaking it – and that’s the hard part.

Can you remember a moment that sparked one  of your big hits?
Unwritten came from a poem that I wrote for my younger brother for his birthday. Him becoming a teenager reminded me of all the uncertainty you feel at that age, and that whole song sprang from that.
Your music spreads quite a positive message, is that intentional?
I’m quite melancholic and I  write about twice as many  sad songs, it’s just that people  like the happy songs more. Even on  the albums, there’s a darker side.

What song exemplifies that side for you?
There’s a song called Soulmate, and people can interpret a song however they like, and it sounds like it could be a song about your love being out there, but I actually wrote it at a very sad time when I realised that someone wasn’t my soulmate. Pocketful Of Sunshine also comes from feeling rejected, but it has a positive feel. It’s just about whatever helps transport you to a better place in tough times.

Which of your songs do you feel closest to?
I normally like about track seven or eight on my albums. They’re hidden in there. I have a real struggle within myself because I’m just good at writing pop songs, but I have a quirky element. Within my albums there’s this kind of war within myself, trying to marry the two things together.

What do you mean by quirky?
Like kind of alternative, like a lot of my influences – Radiohead – and then Jamaican influences, and Lauryn Hill, and then Bjork.

So who is your number one musical inspiration?
That’s a really hard question – I love Lauryn Hill. I love Floetry, but I always listen to male singers more than female singers. People like Stevie Wonder and Sting…

Speaking of male singers, do you get your brother – Daniel Bedingfield – to listen to your stuff first?
No, he’s the last person to listen to my music!

We’re good mates and I feel like it’s because we don’t show each other our music. We don’t get involved… it’s always been the best way. I worship him, he is my first original idol – he’s two years older than me, and he could sing like Michael Jackson when he was two years old. I watched the video of Justin Bieber drumming as a kid, and I was like, ‘yeah, that’s just how my brother was’, only better! I love Justin, but my brother’s better. I guess I also don’t show him my music because I feel intimidated.

You’re working on an album right now, what can we expect?
It’s a new fresh sound. You’ll definitely recognise me in there, it doesn’t sound like a new person, but it is more soulful…

Who would you love to collaborate with?
Bruno Mars – I’m talking to a lot of people about collaborations. Mick Jagger would be fun!

Which young artist do you see something special in?
I think Ellie Goulding’s got something quite unique, there’s also someone called Jessie Ware.

What’s your favourite fashion trend?
I love ethnic jewellery… but actually, I just love it right now as fall is my favourite season – I love all the layers.

And what’s something not many people know about you?
I make a lot of dirty jokes. When I’m in a creative mood… I feel like I’ve got some kind of creative tourettes – it just all comes out.

It must be hard to film things live then!

And if you weren’t a musician, what would you’d be?
I’d be a writer… the first single I had was These Words… I probably write about 10-20 pages per song. And I wrote a poem on Twitter once, live… it took a lot of tweets to fit all the characters!