London based singer Bang Bang Bang (aka. Natalie Chahal) has released her debut single “Dreamphone” on Luv Luv Luv records and it takes us on a nostalgic trip back to the sounds of early Madonna, Hole and Debbie Harry. Only twenty-five years old now, Natalie has been writing her own songs since the age of thirteen having grown up in a musical household and whilst she is citing the likes of Iggy Pop, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Patti Smith and Velvet Underground as key influencers, along with cult ‘90s movies, like Jawbreaker and Heathers as inspiration – we’re desperate to hear more.
“Dreamphone” is a hazy offering of fantasy-fueled childlike vocals with a Pixies-esque bass line and a thick distorted chorus, whilst the video is a nostalgic cam-corder offering of ‘90s induced film snippets and care-free ‘60s dance moves, featuring the pink dreamphone. Did we mention she is also drop dead gorgeous? We caught up with Bang Bang Bang herself to talk “Dreamphone”, festivals and teenage angst fueled grunge.
So when did you first start making music?
When I was really young. I got my first microphone/recording device toy thing when I was two and a guitar when I was four. I remember my first song was called Boing Boing I Can Fly. Probably inspired by living opposite the runway! But seriously, I properly started writing songs when I was about thirteen. I was in an all-girl grunge band called The Ultra Violets – it was all visceral three-chord garage rock and teenage angst.
The Ultra Violets sound great! What other music did you grow up listening to?
My dad is the biggest music fan I know. So I grew up listening to a lot of great music – mainly guitar led, rock n’ roll. When I was really young my parents used to have a lot of house parties, always set to a soundtrack of really good ‘80s pop, as I guess that was du jour back then. I remember a couple of seminal moments – being played a tape of Nirvana’s “Nevermind” in my dad’s car when I was 11 and then suddenly wanting to play it to all my friends at sleepovers, I was obsessed with it. And Patti Smith, hearing “Horses” for the first time was another watershed moment for me, a real turning point. I felt really connected to her and what she represented as an artist. I remember hearing it and thinking: “What is that? I wanna do that!”
Which other artists influence the music you make?
So many – I’m like a sponge! I get inspired by stuff really easily. Lyrically, I love The Shangri Las, Morrissey and The Pixies – their kind of effortless tongue in cheek humour is so distinctive. I also love Beach Boys, Phil Spector, Sonic Youth, Verruca Salt, Hole, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Velvet Underground, Iggy Pop, Talking Heads, Sleigh Bells, Best Coast… And of course Patti and Nirvana are still faves.
You can definitely hear elements of them in your music. What else inspires you?
Nostalgia. Badass girls in bands. Movies with really great dialogue like Heathers, Jawbreaker, Mean Girls, Clueless. The juxtaposition of something beautiful and something nasty. Being a girl in the 21st century and not living up to stereotypes. First world problems. Erm, boys, they can prove to be inspiring at the best of times.
I’m sensing a pattern! Talk us through Dreamphone…
Dreamphone is a game I used to play when I was younger. It’s basically Cluedo for which boy likes you and you have to find out by process of elimination. There’s a big pink phone involved. I think my songwriting can have a naive, childlike, undertone to it, as well as gravitating toward nostalgia as an inspirational tool – I always knew that basing a song on Dreamphone was something I wanted to do. Sonically, I wanted a Pixies-esque bass line meets a Phil Spector style super-layered, thick, reverb’d and distorted chorus. I wanted to turn the idea of the game on its head though, like I was a stalker and so into this boy that he didn’t have to come looking for me via clues, I wanted him to find out about me in a scary kinda obsessive way. That’s how the idea of the video, ‘Dreamphone; A Stalker Movie’ came to me – I imagined a One Hour Photo-style wall of Adam Driver pictures and me being this kinda huntress, casting a spell over him through ‘60s dance moves. This whole darker side is balanced out by the fact that it’s a pop song and if you didn’t really pay attention to the lyrics or watch the video you would just be humming along without understanding the creepy undertone. That’s what I really love about pop music.
The huntress look is definitely working for you. What about festivals, If you could perform at any one in the world, which would it be?
I went to Reading Festival for like, six years in a row when I was younger. So that holds a special place in my heart, I’d love to headline there one day. Glastonbury and Coachella would be AMAZING also.
What about fashion, who is your biggest icon?
Jane Birkin, Kurt Cobain, Cher Horowitz and Cindy Crawford.
Love Cher! Finally, who should we be listening to in 2014? Apart from you of course!
Sky Ferreira, the new Warpaint album and also Verucca Salt are making a comeback, they were underrated the first time round so I hope they get the recognition they deserve for their new work.
Photo by jamesperou.com.
Words: Brooke McCord