Natasha Bedingfield talks writing rituals and style


Staff member

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!