’Deeper Into Reality’ is the first of many, we hope, collaborations between Natasha England and producer/performer Robert Logan. Natasha, who first came to prominence with her cover of ‘Iko, Iko’ way back in 1982, has had a remarkable musical career and she gave a detailed account of her early days in the business and also filled in the gaps as to what she had been doing up to the release of the excellent ‘Back from the Mists of Time’ compilation when we interviewed her around the time of that double CD three years ago.

Already then Natasha was talking about some new songs she had written and now, with the release of ‘Deeper Into Reality’, we finally get to hear why she was so enthusiastic about them. Natasha has never been one to rest of her laurels and, although there is no doubt that this latest album is the strongest and most thought-provoking set of songs Natasha has issued so far, it’s also the one where she pushes the boundaries of the electronic genre even further.

Natasha is still passionate, really passionate, about the music she makes. Considering that she is one of the few true innovators we have Natasha must at times wonder why her music is not receiving the attention it so rightly deserves yet it doesn’t prevent her from still producing music the likes of which no other artists are making.

As I write these words Lady Gaga is on the radio for about the fourth time today so far with her version of Madonna’s ‘Express Yourself’ which the (admittedly talented) singer has renamed ‘Born This Way’ and we’re told once again how inventive Gaga is and what a great innovator she is. Have these people never heard of Natasha England? Never heard her music? Or do those that have still have Natasha labelled as a pretty blonde who hit it lucky with a cover version years ago? Personally, although ‘Iko, Iko’, opened many doors for Natasha I feel it’s become a millstone for her. The ‘Back from the Mists of Time’ collection must have opened up a few ears and eyes as to how talented and genre-breaking Natasha was back in the eighties and now with ‘Deeper Into Reality’ there is no doubt that Natasha has kept all her integrity, vision and passion through the years.

The album is, in a word, captivating. While the overall sound firmly belongs to the electronic genre both Natasha and Logan really push boundaries on the album to produce a collection of songs that just keep drawing the listener back time and time again. You don’t have to be a synth-pop/electro fan to appreciate ‘Deeper Into Reality’; the songs indeed have a depth to them that is usually missing from this genre and while Natasha has always been vocally strong she has never sounded better than she does on this album. It really is a career-peak.

Natasha has proven that she’s no one trick pony. Her past accomplishments have already shown that. Apart from having one of the most appealing, passionate and versatile voices in contemporary music Natasha is also a songwriter who has never been given the recognition she deserves. Hopefully, with the release of ‘Deeper Into Reality’ and the fact that with this album a whole new generation of music lovers will discover her for the first time, Natasha along with Logan will be rewarded for their efforts with the attention and airplay that these new songs should attract.

Natasha kindly found time to answer a few questions for us about how the album came about and what she had been doing in the three years since we last spoke.

PB: We last interviewed you nearly three years ago. Apart from recently releasing your new album, 'Deeper Into Reality' how have you been spending that time?

NE: Is it really 3 years? it seems like yesterday. During this time I have written and recorded the new album 'Deeper Into Reality' with Robert Logan. We have had to do this over a period of time due to mine and Robert's commitments and schedules. Robert has had his own albums to write, record and perform . He wrote several film tracks and was also involved in remixing Grace Jones and supporting her at the the Royal Albert and Royal Festival Halls last year. He also re-mixed Faithless, Siobhan Donaghy of the Sugarbabes and Grace Jones during this time. Robert is very creative and productive.

On the days we did get together we always wrote and recorded a new track for the album. Ideally I would have liked for us to have had exclusive time to concentrate on the music, writing and recording this album without any time limit interference...I felt that we were on a roll and I just wanted to get on with it. I must admit that I found it quite frustrating having to wait sometimes weeks at time to hook up with him to continue the album. When I start something I just want to finish it. I believed then and I still believe now that 'Deeper Into Reality' was well well worth the wait and I am very proud of this album. Last month I recorded a video for 'Stop Doing Nothing' which you can see now on YouTube.

I have been back to Canada to work and record with another musical partner of mine, Gregg Deckert. Gregg played and toured with Dave Gilmour and prior to that he was in Bad Company. He is another exceptionally talented pianist/keyboard player who has worked with the best of them. We have written several albums of material over the years both here and in Canada going back to the late 80's and 90's and I hope to include several of these tracks on an album I plan to do with Tom Newman.

I have been to Ireland to hook up with Tom, who produced my original hits, 'Iko Iko' and the 'Captured' album. Tom is very keen to do another album with me and I am looking forward to working with him again. Tom produced and played on 'Tubular Bells' and has worked with many world class artists. I have the utmost respect for him as an artist and a producer and I plan to record a more organic album with him in Ireland this summer.

It will include more acoustic and band numbers and I will draw on my folk and blues roots to create a more contemporary sound. I have also been collaborating and writing with other artists and musicians during this period and I hope to include some of these tracks on this new album. I have not stopped writing during this time and I hope to release all of this material in the near future.

PB: You mentioned in our last interview with you that you were working with Robert Logan then. Were those songs the ones that now feature on 'Deeper Into Reality'?

NE: 'Deeper Into Reality' was the result of a full collaboration between myself and Robert Logan with the exception of Track 8, 'How Do You Like It?', which I wrote in Canada back in 1988 with Gregg Deckert. This song was originally written as a 'Rock' song well before 'The Wall Came Down'. We could not get it played on air back then because of the Gulf War and the song's lyrical and subject content. With Robert and mine's version of' 'How Do You Like it?', Robert used simplicity and depth in his instrumentation to capture and interpret the mood of the song perfectly. The song and its lyrics were significant then in the fight for injustice and it is still significant today....Nothing has changed...

The current single off this album is 'Stop Doing Nothing' and the video for this can now be seen on YouTube. It is the antithesis of female pop video, no flesh or gimmicks just the song and its meaning. I have used some hard hitting images on this video and I won't make any apologies for the truth. The album draws on many different genres to create what I hope is something quite original, intelligent and cutting edge. It can be both punchy,yet ambient and haunting in parts. Lyrically I just tell it how it how it is...

PB: I wouldn't say that this album completely abandons the Natasha England sound of old, as you have always covered many genres in your music, but would you agree that Deeper Into Reality' is the most experimental album you have made?

NE: Yes, I believe that this album is very innovative and cutting edge. I have not heard any other artist/s that sound quite like Robert and I.

The beauty of this album is that I had total freedom to express myself at its deepest most conscious level. That combined with the depth of Robert's instrumentation and sounds gave me the perfect vehicle to do this in the most natural way. This combined with the pure ability of Robert's musical talents created an album which is both brave and experimental.

We took risks but we took them instinctively. Above all this album is honest and it expresses real emotions about real issues.

From the instant I met Robert and his wonderful family, we just clicked. Robert Logan is an extremely talented and spiritual young man with a deep understanding of life. He is original and honest and he is not afraid to push the boundaries in his expression of the truth. I was transported and free to lose myself in the mood and the passion and let the melodies and the words flow. Writing and recording this album with Robert was a total pleasure. We just channelled and pressed the record button. When it's right, it's right and it could not have been a more natural process. I have found in Robert a true kindred spirit.

PB: It's an album that while never losing sight of your past accomplishments is pushing new boundaries in the electronic field. Is this yet another side to Natasha England that you will explore more in future recordings?

NE: There are many sides to me. I will always be eclectic in my choice of music. I love blues folk, jazz, rock, r&b, house, garage, club. classical and so on...Anything that conveys a true emotion and touches the soul I'm hooked. If the music lifts the spirit, makes you think, or calls you to dance I'm there. As long as I believe in the feeling behind the voice or the mood or angst of the instrumentation...It could be 'That guitar' that hits you in the gut as it cries out with emotion and pain pulling at your heart strings or it might be that voice that expresses so much of life, love and loss. Maybe it is the depth of the bass or the beat of the drums alone that beckons you. Whatever it is music is the food of life and it can calm the beast.

I am very passionate about all music and my interests span many genres. I keep a very open mind...but I must be free to write, sing and to express my feelings. Music is all powerful. It crosses all language barriers and can be used for good or bad. It can kill or cure, calm or incite. Artists have a duty of care and they should not abuse this by selling their souls for money and fame.

If through my music I can make someone feel good or help others to confront their demons, deal with them and move on in a positive way then it would all have been worth it and there would have been a good reason for all of this. I would have done a good job.

Oh , back to part of the original question. Yes I fully intend to do more tracks and another album with Robert Logan as soon as time permits and we can both be in the same place at the same time...and more to the point I believe the feeling is mutual...

PB: When you write a song with Robert do you collaborate together or do you handle lyrics for example while Robert takes care of the music?

NE: I like to work and write spontaneously and when I work with Robert nothing is planned. I don't open my mouth until the record button is on. I know through experience that when I hear a sound or chord I just lose myself in the music and the music evokes the mood and I go wherever that mood takes me. I have lost so many new ideas and songs by not having the record on. When I am at the mic about to write and record, I will not open my mouth or my mind until I know the record button is on. I know what I want musically and I will suggest different chords, sounds and rhythms. I play everything badly, but enough to write and create atmosphere. I played harmonica on 'How Do You Like It?'

I know what I want and I am fortunate to work with talented musicians that understand what I want to achieve. The melody and the words came naturally and Robert and I just channel and follow each other arranging the song as we go. Sometime I would start to sing into the mic creating a melody and story line and Robert would then follow me, complimenting my mood and expression.
Of course, I am aware of the emotion, melody and lyrics as I perform and we record but it is not until we have finished the recording the song that I then fully understand exactly what I was singing about, what it truly meant.
It is like I am transported to another place.

I love improvisation and that's how I write. I prefer to work like this as it is all so natural. From the moment of conception we did not change one word, melody, arrangement or movement on any of the tracks on this album. I may have written an extra verse or added some backing vocals afterwards or Robert would maybe add another part but once recorded we did not change anything including the vocals. The song was there at birth and we had captured the moment.

PB: You've been involved in many aspects of the music business for many years now. 'Deeper Into Reality' sounds so contemporary I'm sure listeners who haven't heard your past music will have problems believing you were making music as far back as the late seventies. You've had no problems it seems with keeping your music fresh and exciting.

NE: My passion is what keeps the music fresh and exciting. Back in the eighties I was always coming up with innovative ideas but I was prevented from doing certain things by my record label who were not prepared to take a risk and break the mould. After I had a hit with 'Iko Iko' the BBC seemed to have put me in a box...blonde, legs, puppet...At that time the BBC were so powerful and the labels courted them for airplay. They did not want to offend them so they did pander to certain suggestions.

At one point whilst planning a new single release and choosing a track I was so frustrated by the label's lack of support for me doing something very original and different that I actually said to my record label, “Why don't you just cut the crap and ask the BBC what I should do next?” I had a constant fight to be free to express myself. I had several ideas that were not supported by the record label at that time which several months later I would witness another artist having a big hit with. Back then I felt like a very sad caged animal.

With music I have never followed any rules. How can you be free to express yourself when your hands are tied and your mouth has been gagged? I never did like restrictions...never will.

PB: Given that ‘Deeper Into Reality’ is such a remarkable album will you work again with Robert on future recordings?

NE: I most certainly will work with Robert again. We have a wonderful working relationship and it's fun. We are definitely two of a kind when it comes to writing and recording. He is an incredibly talented young man who is not afraid to experiment and push the boundaries. He is most modest with it. Whilst working together he would often after we had just finished a new track thank me for inspiring him. I would smile and say, “But you inspired me too.” We brought the best out in each other and we have a very strong spiritual link. I so look forward to our next collaboration.

PB: The next step now after the release and warm reception of 'Deeper Into Reality' must be to tour the album? You mentioned in our last interview that you would like to tour when the album came out. So is that likely to happen?
NE: I would love to tour with this album. Nothing compares to performing and singing live. There's no bullshit just you and the audience. If they love it you will know and if they don't you will know. No media or spin. Fortunately whenever I have played live I have always had a great reception. We are currently setting up a series of gigs to include some intimate shows along with some festival dates.

Northern Pride has shown an interest in me performing at their event on 16th July in Newcastle and I am hopeful that I may get the chance to perform at the Manchester Pride late August. I have always gone down well with the gay community and I love playing to such a loyal and appreciative audience.The more live shows the better. Our first gig has been confirmed for Saturday April 9th at London's New Cross Inn.

PB: Lyrics are not always the strongest part of the electronic/ambient genre but 'Deeper Into Reality' has some really powerful lyrics, not least on lead single, 'Stop Doing Nothing', which make your songs more interesting. After all the let-downs you've come up against in the music business do you still feel that music and lyrics have the power to move and affect people?

NE: I think my lyrics and the subject matter on all of the tracks is what has given us and this album an edge over other artists in this genre. Words can be so powerful and I think that it is important to express the true meaning and emotion behind the words. It has to be believable and convey the genuine feelings. I sing about things that matter and I tell it how it is. I am not scared of bearing my soul. and I am a very positive person who believes there is always a way out. Most songs are about love however you look at it...Love can conquer all.

The message throughout is love over evil every time.This album is thought provoking .both directly and subliminally and I am challenging views and opinions on issues that are fundamental to us all in the hope that we can change things for the better.

PB: As all the songs on 'Deeper Into Reality' are co-writes with Robert apart from 'How Do You Like It?' they are probably songs written over the last few years. Are the songs you wrote prior to meeting up with Robert ever going to be released?

NE: I have several albums worth of songs that I have written over many years. These are good songs that I truly believe in and I fully intend to release sometime in the future. Unfortunately people and situations above my control have prevented me doing this up before now.

PB: 'Deeper Into Reality' is an album that both you, Robert Logan and your fans can be proud of. Is this now a new start in your musical career and one where you will hopefully stay around by releasing more records in the near future?

A 'Star Control' dance mix of 'Darkside' comes out on March 7th. You can hear it now on YouTube. It's an entirely different treatment to the album version.

Apart from a re-release of 'Iko Iko' in 2007 (as it had never been available digitally), I have no intention of re-hashing any of my old songs. I have no shortage of new material and although I stay true to my roots I will always move with the times and be experimental. I love creating new songs and drawing on all of my musical experience.

There are songs on my first album that with a slightly different production would fit very easily into today's market and could so easily be a hit for one of the more established artists. The only thing that dates them is the 80's production. Retro still remains cool. These songs were good then ,but this is now. I have grown and so have my fans. We are older and wise. That's all.

I remain the same person. The only difference is that I have less chains to tie me down and at last I have total freedom to express myself and my music. All I ask is that this album and single gets the airplay then the people can decide for themselves. You can have the best track/song in the world and if no-one hears it then it does not exist...

'Deeper Into Reality' has given me the chance to breathe again. It has been a long time coming and I am not finished yet...there is much more of me to come...

PB: Thank you.

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