I never dreamed of my wedding when I was a child. I didn't stage imaginary ceremonies for my Barbies or stuffed animals. Matrimony has always felt like an improbable fate, something strictly fictive, that didn't apply to me. My own vision of the future included going to college, writing stories, and winning awards for being smart. There was no space for being a bride.
Decades later, that sentiment shifted when I fell in love with a guy that I met on OKCupid. We started dating after a few weeks of hanging out, and within a year, I began to picture what it'd be like to be his wife. I'd practice writing different variations of my signature with his last name, sometimes hyphenated. I created a secret Pinterest dedicated to bridal inspo from the '70s and compulsively saved images of Victorian engagement rings on my cell phone. But as I reveled in my daydreams, my relationship with my boyfriend became the opposite of a dream. I became codependent and he became distant. In attempts to keep things from falling apart, I confessed one night through a desperate text that someday I wanted to marry him. His response was silence. Months later we broke up, which was painful, but the experience taught me so much about the importance of self-love and of being independent.
My current ideas about bridehood and weddings are now hypothetical, and practical at best. When I think about the future, I still don't picture myself as someone's wife, but I do see myself being loved. Like the central character on the latest album from Natasha Khan of Bat For Lashes, I found myself on the other side of a romance's end.
Through eerie melodies and breathtaking vocals, Khan explores the complexities of romance, desire, and identity on her fourth studio album, The Bride . Heavily influenced by "I Do," a short film that she directed in 2015, her forthcoming follow-up to The Haunted Man is a much-needed corrective to our contemporary culture's misaligned narratives about intimacy and love.
I sat down with Khan on a humid afternoon in Manhattan to discuss what unpacking the archetype of the bride and the myth of idealized romance meant to her and why following her muse is so important.
Dianca Potts: What inspired you to explore the archetype of the bride on this album?
Natasha Khan: After my last album, I was thinking about writing a script and learning about screenplay. This idea about the bride came to me because I did a song called "The Bride" with Sexwitch, who I did the side project with. It's an Iranian song about a woman who is banished to the desert because her husband doesn't turn up to the wedding, and how broken and cast aside by society she is because she's not a married woman. I was also watching Rebel Without a Cause and The Wizard of Oz, and lots of road-trip movies, and [that's when I got] the idea to look at the archetype of the bride and the wedding, at that kind of romantic heightened idealistic ritual that we're fed through popular culture. I also really liked the idea of going on a honeymoon, but going on your own, and how then you would only have yourself to fall in love with. I wanted to create a metaphor that moved away from the projection of romanticized idealistic love and the idea of someone rescuing you toward a much deeper love for yourself and a journey through the psychic terrain and the landscape of your own soul.