A IS FOR NATACHA ATLAS

Best known (in the UK at least) as being the former singer for Transglobal Undergrounds in the early 1990s. Natacha’s solo music is a rich blend of influences, including Western electronic, Middle Eastern music, Indian vibes, French chanson and Dub. She once termed her music “cha’abi moderne” (an updated form of Egyptian pop music).

The daughter of a neurology lecturer of Egyptian descent and an English (occasional) costume designer, Atlas was born in Belgium and grew up in a Moroccan suburb of Brussels, becoming (semi) fluent in French, Arabic, Spanish and English and studying singing and the raq sharki (belly dancing) techniques she uses today. Her paternal grandfather had shortened the family name, El Atlasi, on arriving in Europe: “I have ancestry in Morocco further back than Egypt,” she says. “But that name is also found in Syria and Lebanon.”

She began her career with two jobs as a belly dancer and the lead singer of a Belgian salsa band. In 1991, she recorded the track “Timbal” with Balearic Beat on the album ¡Loca!. Atlas also worked with Jah Wobble composing five tracks for the LP Rising above Bedlam. Through the recording of ¡Loca!, Atlas met British labelmates Transglobal Underground (TGU), who had the hit, “Templehead.” She became the lead singer and belly dancer for the group, which focused on mixing Eastern and Western sounds as well as other styles.

She eventually went solo. “I sang with them [TGU] from about the time they started in 1991, we went out on tour for the first time in ’92. Then in ’93 we sat down and came to an agreement that I was the fourth core member of the band. That was very much what I wanted.” (NB: I think she’s a year or so out on the dates) “Charlie Gillett from Oval suggested a solo album. I went back to Dubulah, Alex and Hamid, laughing about it and said ‘Charlie Gillett says I should do a solo album, ha ha ha’ and Hamid said, ‘Well, why not? In fact we can help you to do that. In fact let’s start now!’ I was going ‘Hold on. Can you imagine how it’s going to become? We’ll all go mad. We’ll be so busy. Haven’t we got enough to do?'(she was right).”

Most of Atlas’ solo albums have been produced by TGU. She continues to focus on her Middle Eastern Eastern roots: Diaspora (1995), Halim (1997) (in honour of Egyptian singer Abdel Halim Hafez), Gedida (1998) and Ayeshteni (2001). Due to her French-language tracks, Atlas is now quite popular in France. In the UK, on the other hand, she has not had the same amount of success. She is not very happy about the way her music is perceived in the UK: “Someone from the NME rang us about a feature we’re to do with them and said ‘We don’t want it to be about the multi-cultural angle’. In other words that fad is over. And I’m personally insulted… what other… angle is there for us? I get sick of it all.”

In 2007, Atlas collaborated with Belinda Carlisle for Belinda’s 7th album Voila. She contributed additional vocals on songs “Ma Jeunesse Fout Le Camp,” “La Vie En Rose”, “Bonnie et Clyde” and “Des Ronds Dans L’Eau.” Voila was released via Rykodisc in the U.K. on 5 February, 2007 and in the U.S. the following day.

From early in her solo career (1995):

 

Natacha Atlas – Yalla Chant (Latvian Shade) Banco De Gaia Mix

 

Natacha Atlas – Leysh Nat’Arak (Fun-Da-Mental Mix)

 

Natacha Atlas – Yalla Chant (The Lesson Four Mix) Youth Remix
Natacha Atlas website
Natacha Atlas MySpace

~ by acidted on April 24, 2008.

One Response to “A IS FOR NATACHA ATLAS”

  1. […] Loop Guru. But the featured track is credited to Atlas/Coley/Kakoulli, presumably Atlas being Natacha Atlas from Transglobal Undergorund. Whatever, this is Fabi doing what he does best which is remixing other […]

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