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Natasha’s doing it for the kids at NAMM

British singer-songwriter Natasha Bedingfield shot to pop stardom back in 2004 when her debut album Unwritten sold 2.3 million copies worldwide. Last week, she spoke to Paul Watson at the NAMM show in Anaheim about her latest passion…

British singer-songwriter Natasha Bedingfield shot to pop stardom back in 2004 when her debut album Unwritten sold 2.3 million copies worldwide; and last month, she released her third studio album Strip Me in North America. Last week at NAMM 2011 in Anaheim, CA, she took time out to talk to Paul Watson about her latest passion – helping underprivileged kids find their way in the music industry with the aid of the Lennon Bus… Tell me a bit about what you’ve been up to then… Well, I met the Lennon Bus team at NAMM a few years ago; and I am keen to help these amazing kids. When you give opportunities to people, it’s an amazing feeling just how much it gives them hope; I didn’t have a tool like this when I was trying to get a demo out there. Absolutely; and for any readers who aren’t familiar with the Lennon Bus, it’s a high-end portable music studio and video facility kitted out with a plethora of pro audio gear to provide hands-on experience in recording and songwriting for students of all ages; and international artists are invited to collaborate with students to help them create their own records; but you took the bus on tour with you, right? Yeah, it came on tour for with me for a few weeks around America, which was a lot of fun. But I have also come to NAMM just to talk about it as well. It’s a way of showing that I care about what it stands for. So what is your role exactly? You work with the kids on composing their songs? Yeah, but from an artist’s perspective. They have an amazing technical team too; and it’s really great that the kids can come with you on tour, as they can see what a big live concert is all about. We also do contests within the gigs as well – for example, they can win prizes; such as coming along to a special live performance; and we did stuff like that to generate interest. There have been some major American artists involved with the Lennon Bus including Black Eyed Peas, but you’re one of the few Europeans; and there’s talk of this coming to Europe isn’t there? Yeah, I think it would be brilliant. Yoko [Ono Lennon] has always had a very global mindset; and I just think you capture the life and the blood that keeps people pumping in every area; and it’s always going to have a different flavour and a different sound; and the kids get to walk away with demos of their stuff, so it’s an amazing tool for them. You’re a true music lover, obviously… I just think music is something that gives people hope – not hoping to become famous one day; that to me has never been the case, not really. Fame is fickle; and I have had number ones – but that’s not everything. It’s nice, but then you’re like ‘what next? Is this the meaning of life?’ No, of course not – music is more than that; it’s something powerful; and letting kids see that is kind of special – and they get to meet artists, and see what goes on behind the scenes and during a gig. It brings new life to everyone. Do you have a favourite live venue? Oh, one of my favourite ever gigs was in Dublin – you know, I don’t even remember the venue [laughs] but the crowd just did it for me; it’s all about the people. And the crowds in Manchester are always amazing too. When I perform, I want to feel the audience as well as see them. Of course there’s something special about a big audience too. I performed at the Concert for Diana in 2007, and when you see an ocean of people watching you, that’s quite an amazing thing too. But there are definitely bonuses to doing small venues too, because of the intimacy. You flit between L.A and London; and you performed here at NAMM today; what type of venue do you tend to play at over here? Yes – well, L.A is much more quirky; you have a very good music scene out here, but it’s more like clubs and smaller live venues really. I did a very cool gig at The Troubadour recently; and those are things you can just announce on Twitter, which is fun [laughs] but I want to go back home and release the new album in the UK; and then all over the world – well, that’s the dream… Helping a load of kids along the way… Yeah! For me, this project at NAMM is nothing to do with me or my album. You know when you first fall in love with something? Well, you get to see that in kids’ faces – which is just amazing. I remember when I was seventeen and I actually had the guts to write a song for the first time [laughs]; I looked back in my diary and it said ‘one day I want to write songs, but I’m too embarrassed and shy now so I can’t do it’ [laughs]; but it also said ‘I hope I can some day’, which was kind of cool to read. And luckily, someone then gave me a chance who had a studio at home and I went in there after school every day and we’d write songs together, so it was just this whole new world opened up to me; and that’s what you see when you come here. The joy of creating; it’s about kids having fun and being rewarded.