In the tradition of British female singer-songwriters Annie Lennox and Dido, Natasha Bedingfield brings lyrical honesty and vocal clarity to her music: not surprisingly, record buyers throughout Europe and beyond have responded to those qualities in droves. Album Unwritten - which Natasha described as 'anthemic, quirky mixture of pop and soul' - achieved triple platinum status in the UK, has gone double platinum in Ireland and gold in Singapore and South Africa while the infectious single These Words has been a major hit in almost a dozen countries from Australia to New Zealand (her parents native land). Natasha is also nominated for four coveted BRIT awards this year in the categories of British Female Solo Artist, British Breakthrough Artist, Best single and Best Pop Act.
Natasha - younger sister of UK pop star Daniel Bedingfield (who achieved US success in 2002 with the hit 'Gotta Get Through This' and 'If You're Not the One') takes the response in her stride: 'I'm blown away by how well my first record has done. I think there's an honesty in what I'm writing and singing about. I'd like to think that this is what the audiences relate to.' With production by Patrick Leonard (Madonna), Guy Chambers (Robbie Williams) and the team of Steve Kipner, Andrew Frampton and Wayne Wilkins, UNWRITTEN is an edgy, hip fusion of upbeat grooves, rhythmic pop with some heartfelt ballads thrown into the mix.
Titles like I Bruise Easily, We're All Mad, Silent Movie and Size Matters gives an insight into the kind of songs Natasha writes. Based on personal experiences and observations, 'Unwritten' touches on a wide range of themes and emotions. 'What do I want people to get from my music' she ponders ' identify with it, be inspired by it, dance to it'.
Released in the fall of 2004 in the UK (where it debuted at no. 1) Unwritten is the culmination of years Natasha spent writing songs, making demos and preparing for what seemed like an inevitable career in music. 'I came from a very musical family', she shares. Her New Zealand born parents encouraged the creative impulses of Natasha and her siblings from the off.... Natasha admits they even sang to them in the womb! Listening to a diversity of artists (including Bj√∂rk, Sting, U2, Marvin Gaye, Aretha Franklin, Stevie Wonder, The Cranberries, The Beatles and Lauryn Hill) Natasha's defined involvement with music took root when at the age of 12 she wrote her first song. By the time Natasha was in her mid teens ' I really got into the whole song-writing process. Working in music felt like the true and natural thing for me to do.'
After school Natasha was torn between art college and studying psychology at university. The art college, noting that she seemed to be more interested in the emotional content of her own paintings, advised her to study art therapy, she took this as a sign that psychology, and other people's heads were where her head was at. 'But even then, I was interested in psychology because I knew that'd make me a better songwriter. It's given me a deeper insight into people. I was sick of empty music - people whip up a melody then any kind of words to fit. I'm not interested in lines that go 'blah blah blah'. I want something that provokes me as well as the listeners.' After a year of juggling studies and songwriting and singing Natasha left university to concentrate on her studio work. 'I got to a place where I had to choose. I knew music was my passion and my parents were great about it. They encouraged me and I knew what it would take, having seen the ins and outs of the industry from such close proximity...'
It took a couple of years until Natasha had enough material she felt was representative of what she could do. She'd been told enough times that she had a good voice, but she also wanted good material of her own. 'I didn't want to be created by a record company. I know who I am, and I'm proud of what my talents are. So I waited until I was ready. I spent every spare moment in friends' home studios, at my home, writing and recording and getting ready.'
Natasha's perseverance paid off in 2003 she signed her first record deal and began working on her all-important debut. 'It was very important to me to create something organic, different and real.' There would be no moulding, shaping or styling of Natasha to fit some music biz pigeonhole. She is who she is and who she is will be what makes her an artist who is both excitingly of the moment and emphatically in it for the long haul. 'I don't want to be the next anyone. I just want to be me.'
Natasha is a Londoner with strong ties to the other side of the world, a city girl with a love of New Zealand's great outdoors. She is natural, fresh and honest. Her attraction having nothing to do with how little clothes or how much slap she is wearing - that glamour is all well and good, but if you ain't got soul.... Her go-getting sense of adventure is underpinned by wisdom and emotional maturity. She is intelligent emphatic and confident. As her first single to be released in the UK 'Single' suggests, she is unattached and independent. 'Contrary to what some women's magazines might tell you, you're not incomplete if you don't have a bloke. You don't need a strong man to give you 'significance'. You don't need anyone else to 'save' 'validate' or make you 'whole'. For me, being single, has made me stronger...'
'These words', Natasha's second single to explode in the UK, debuted at no. 1 on the sales, airplay and download charts. In reaching no.1 with 'These Words' Natasha entered the Guinness Book of Records along with her brother Daniel, as the first siblings to have no 1 singles in UK Chart history. With its dash of humour the song definitely has an autobiographical flavour to it, referencing the pressure Natasha may have felt to come up with that elusive classic hit while preparing her all important debut album. Ironically the phrase 'I love you' became the song's hook... 'We can try so hard to be clever with words when expressing our emotions, but sometimes simplicity speaks more powerfully.''
Upon release in September 2004 Unwritten debuted at no 1 on the UK album sales chart and was platinum by its second week of release. This made Natasha one of only three female solo singers to debut at no 1 with her first album. The others were Bonnie Tyler and Annie Lennox. Speaking about the emotive slow jam 'I Bruise Easily' Natasha says. 'Every relationship involves taking risks and love can definitely leave its mark'. Musing on 'communication breakdown in a relationship"' the song Silent Movie is both reflective and real. While the standout We're All Mad was written after a visit to Venice Beach in California and an encounter with a man who at first glance seemed 'just a beachbum'. "Sometimes we miss out on life when we spend so much time judging others instead of just accepting that we are all different."'
With an instant appeal to her fellow single girlfriends 'Frogs and Princes' is Natasha's way of revealing the frustration us girls have with the dating game! It's pretty self-explanatory!' 'Unwritten' is majestic and inspirational. Natasha wrote it for her teenage brother's birthday. 'It started as a poem about how your life is a blank page and you hold the pen. No one else is going to write it for you. Get out there and get on with it! That's a theme to a lot of my songs - taking life, owning it, living it to the max'.
The past 18 months has certainly seen Natasha Bedingfield taking life, owning it, and living it to the max. With a European tour in the offing for the spring of 2005 and a growing list of accolades and accomplishments, Natasha is set to make her presence felt in the US and is signed to Epic Records. 'I know it is hard for British artists to break through in The States Natasha says 'understandably so - the standard here is very high. But I can assure you, I am very much looking forward to the challenge. I feel there's a place for me here.'