Posted on April 12 2022
Content Notice: This interview contains details about grief and loss.
Introducing ‘Bright Eyes’, I can’t wait for you to listen to my cover of this wonderful song. I hope it brings comfort and healing to the listener as it did for me.
Find out all about my inspirations for ‘Bright Eyes’ below!
How would you describe the song ‘Bright Eyes’ in your own words?
‘Bright Eyes’ is a soul soothing song about the unknown of losing someone and the wonderings of the journey that follows. It is a song of beauty where the listener can find comfort, healing and solace.
I love the way that it is a vocal-led piece and that it has a beautiful classical yet Celtic quality which reflect my musical inspirations.
What was your inspiration behind deciding to record a cover song and can you give us a little bit of background about the song?
After the release of my album ‘Lost In Love’ in 2019, I lost my dear father to Prostate Cancer, and as you can imagine, it was a really difficult time. I found solace in listening to songs that reminded me of my childhood and the wonderful memories with my Dad.
One of the songs that holds these fond memories, is ‘Bright Eyes’ which is from one of my favourite childhood films, ‘Watership Down’.
I wanted to find a way to be able to artistically express myself as I wasn’t in the right frame of mind to write any original material. This is when I decided I would create my own cover version of this song.
Can you tell us a little bit more what happened behind-the-scenes whilst creating and recording ‘Bright Eyes’?
When I decided to record this song, it was during lockdown. I was on the hunt for a new producer to work with and I discovered Peter ‘Ren’ Renfree who is based in Nashville, USA and it turned out to be one of the most serendipitous relationships imaginable.
When I met Ren, I explained my situation to him, I was in a dark place and I really needed a producer who was not only talented but who would also be patient with me! Some days I didn’t feel like singing, I didn’t feel like making music, but I knew I needed to pursue this goal to help me heal.
Ren and I connected immediately over our love of music and he was really happy to be facilitating my healing process through music. He was with me every step of the way and the fact that we were all in lockdown, facing a lot despair at that time, it really intensified our efforts to work together, albeit remotely.
I discussed my hopes for the track, that I wanted to create a Celtic, stripped back, raw version of the song that reflected my emotions. I wanted to create a beautiful song, full of comfort.
I asked my wonderful friend, and accompanist, Stefano Marzanni (who recorded all of the piano arrangements for my ‘Lost in Love’ album) to record a beautiful piano arrangement for ‘Bright Eyes’ and from that I recorded rough vocals and sent them over to Ren.
Ren helped me find two more amazing musicians to accompany the piano arrangement that Stefano had recorded.
On Cello we have Dirje Childs, an amazing Cellist that brings that really beautiful, comforting quality to the mix. She recorded for me from her home studio in Texas, and did a fantastic job of not only the Cello arrangement, but just by her presence on the track she instils the calming lush, ethereal quality which I love.
On violin, we have Michele Gazich who is an amazing Italian, folk violinist. He has a real recognisable and personal style that draws on different genres. He recorded violin in Italy and created some really beautiful runs that we incorporated into the track.
Ren then layered all of the performances together and I recorded the final vocals and sent them over to him. His production is pristine and timeless and I feel like the end result is a combination of wonderful musical minds coming together to create a very simple yet very full of life piece of work. With Ren as the lynchpin, I’ll be forever grateful to him for really being my musical rock when I needed it.
What did you most enjoy while recording the song ‘Bright Eyes’?
I really enjoyed and appreciated working with Ren and being able to create something that was very dear to me. I loved working remotely with the musicians and hearing their first takes and arrangements raw and unedited. It always give me goosebumps when I hear those!
With regards to the vocals, I wouldn’t necessarily call it enjoyment whilst I was recording, but it was definitely cathartic. Looking back now at the process, recording my vocals on my own, without a sound engineer, without any assistant’s, my experience became very personal.
I really took my time and I tried to give the vocals the attention they deserved and I think I have some of the rawest vocals that I have ever recorded on ‘Bright Eyes’.
Do you think your singing style has evolved since the release of your debut album ‘Lost In Love’?
Yes and no! I think definitely my singing style changed during recording ‘Bright Eyes’ but, of course, it wasn’t out of choice.
I think you will hear more depth to my vocals than you probably hear in ‘Lost In Love’ and I think that was because of the emotions that were coming out physically whilst I was recording.
I can see this song is really important to you, can you tell us your thoughts about a deeper meaning to the lyrics?
Mike Batt, the original songwriter, put a lot of thought and feeling into how to cover a very difficult, and sometimes taboo, subject of loss and wondering.
The opening lyrics for Bright Eyes start with:
‘Is it a kind of a dream
Floating out on the tide
Following the river of death downstream
Oh, is it a dream?’
‘Is it a kind of a dream’ really resonated with me because during those first few months (after losing my Dad), the reality of the situation would hit.
I noticed during my own process of grief that as I was stirring from slumber, I was at the point of still being half asleep but half awake and I would feel as though I was speaking to my Dad. It had a beautiful dream like quality to it; which now looking back, I think was a way that my body and mind was creating a way to cope with the loss I was feeling.
Having these ‘conversations’ with my Dad had such an immense, profound beauty. They really helped me cope and I think Mike Batt captured that feeling very well in the initial lyrics.
He also writes very plainly with the line ‘Following the river of death downstream’, it gets right to the point, which is rare as death can sometimes be a taboo subject.
When you lose someone, you have to face reality and there are many accompanying emotions that you have to work through. Mike Batt managed to encompass this in the first few lines of the song the lyrics do not beat around the bush, so to speak, which I think is very important.
I feel this is similar to the grieving process. You have to face your emotions, there is no way around them. That is how I feel about the lyrics, there is no way around the subject.
In the second verse of Bright Eyes the lyrics include:
‘There’s a fog along the horizon’
Whilst you are grieving, there is a brain fog which follows you around daily, where you can’t think clearly or function properly. You go through the motions and you are just about able to eat and wash and just getting through the day.
The ‘fog’ that Mike Batt writes about here, I believe is representative of how I was grieving and he has cleverly weaved that into the lyrics.
About the chorus…
‘Bright eyes, burning like fire
Bright eyes, how can you close and fail?
How can the light that burned so brightly
Suddenly burn so pale?
As a lot of people say, ‘eyes are the windows to the soul’ and my father had these gorgeous bright eyes which I was no longer able to look at. The question in the lyrics, ‘How can the light that burned so brightly, suddenly burn so pale?’ is very significant, it is almost an internal questioning, wandering of disbelief.
This brings you back to the last line in the verse ‘Oh is it a dream’ – When a loved one passes away, you know they have gone, but we don’t know what happens to them. There is a sense of the unknown. One minute you are angry, one minute you are sad, one minute you can’t even breathe. One minute you are in pain but the next you can laugh at a beautiful memory that you remember.
The grief process it is different for everyone and there are no right way or wrong way of dealing with it, but being able to find solace in a song was a healing tool that really helped me.
What do you hope for the release of ‘Bright Eyes’?
I just really want people to enjoy this song. I hope it brings comfort and healing to the listener as it did for me.
Do you see yourself singing more cover songs after the release of your upcoming single? If so, what does the future hold?
After recording ‘Bright Eyes’, I was inspired to look at recording more cover songs. Being able to immerse myself in somebody else’s lyrics and create my own interpretation was more enriching than I imagined it would be.
So yes, I have got more songs on the horizon so watch this space!
To find out more about check out www.natashahardy.com
If you are dealing with loss or grief at this time for support visit: Cruse Bereavement Support www.cruse.org.uk or call their helpline on: 0808 808 1677
Interviewer: Emily Carter
Interviewee: Natasha Hardy