"Pearl" is the alter-ego/character on Bat For Lashes's second album, Two Suns. On a press release, she is described as "a destructive, self-absorbed, blonde, femme fatale of a persona who acts as a direct foil to Khan's more mystical, desert-born spiritual self."
While Natasha lived in New York during the conception of Two Suns, she would dress up as Pearl and have photos of her taken by her then boyfriend. "We just went out together like two kids in the night," she told The Guardian. "I really just wanted pictures of Pearl. I wanted to take a picture of her and document her."
"Perhaps Pearl fitted better in New York than I did. Or perhaps she was the personification of how destructive and lost I was feeling."
Natasha said that Pearl is not an alter-ego, but it's "just kind of a representation of New York".
“I think Pearl was my way to deal with the disappointment of New York not being what I thought it was going to be. And so she was kind of like an art project I created, by putting on a blond wig and changing my face with makeup and dressing up and taking pictures quite privately in Brooklyn at night-time. She represents a night-time, underground, quite dark and debauched side fof me.”
The seeds of inspiration for Pearl were largely visual: the portraits of Cindy Sherman, the shape-shifting drag queens of Paris is Burning and particularly the 1955 film noir The Night of the Hunter, where a young boy and his even smaller sister Pearl try to escape Robert Mitchum’s murderous preacher. “Perhaps my Pearl is like that little Pearl grown up, orphaned and traveling down this dreamy river surrounded by dark forces. Also, in folklore the pearl is like a droplet of the moon falling into the ocean. She’s supposed to govern the subconscious world.” On March 20, 2021, Natasha commented on Instagram:
"PEARL... the first two photos beautifully captured by Jordan Bennett in New York 2008, where I first stumbled upon one of my favourite documentaries of all time “Paris is burning” and poured my broken heart in to creating a blonde bombshell siren who would cover up all the cracks and was cold as ice. She had a heart of gold underneath it all though..."
In August 2009, Khan discussed Pearl in an interview:
"Pearl was an experiment for me in the same way that [the artist] Cindy Sherman might work with aspects of her personality through films and photographs. I would put on this make-up on and put on my wig and be someone else for an evening. It was a period where I suffered a lot of disappointment. I think Pearl was a fantasy, she was my way of coping."
Natasha explained in detail what Pearl is about:
"Pearl's all about the unconscious, and instant gratification. She has diamante tears on her face... because it's painful to be aware. The people that have the most pain in mythology, like Jesus, are those that get crucified by people for trying to bring them out of their illusory state. I don't profess to be that person, but I'm struggling between the two - everyone does. I'm trying to do things the right way, but it's much easier to stay drunk on illusion".
Pearl was killed off on Two Suns's closing track, "The Big Sleep". The song is "Pearl's dying song" and the death of all the drama and illusion on Natasha's ended relationship. When the song was performed live, Pearl would be screened on a TV and make a duet with Natasha, singing Scott Walker's part. Watch it here.
- Scott, Bruce (20 January 2009). "Album Review: Bat for Lashes – Two Suns". Prefix.
- Campion, Cris (6 September 2009). "Bat for Lashes: she's not wicked, nor kooky. And don't tell her she's like Tori Amos". The Guardian.
- Pearse, Emma (1 May 2009). "Bat for Lashes’ Natasha Khan on Dinnertime With Radiohead, and Her Alien Alter Ego". Vulture.
- Lucas, John (19 August 2009). "Bat for Lashes' Natasha Khan blurs fact and fiction". Georgia Straight.
- "FEATURE: Bat For Lashes". 5 March 2009. Fader.
- "Bat for Lashes - Away with the fairies". 10 July 2009. Independent.
- "Far Out Into Orbit With Bat For Lashes | Issue 170". February 2009. Dazed & Confused.
- "Bat For Lashes Documentary (Part 8/8) Two + Two"
- "The Big Sleep by Bat for Lashes (feauring Scott Walker)". Songfacts.
- "Two Suns (bio)". Batforlashes.com.