Well over a decade into her solo career Natacha Atlas is still refusing to play it safe and trot out chart friendly trip hop as her excellent new album Mish Maoul proves, indeed for those of you willing to step outside the westernised concept of ‘popular’ music for a moment a genuine world of wonder awaits. TotalMusic-Online's Andy Basire chats with Nat and opens up a treasure trove of Eastern exotica
Total Music: There appears to be plenty of divisive discussion about your family roots, indeed you have described yourself as a `human Gaza Strip´, but how important were your parents in shaping your musical career?
Natacha Atlas : My parents shaped my career only with the influences of where my cultural background lies, the places I have lived and the people I have interacted with from different communities [these] are the real influence for the music I make.
Total Music: You had a pretty nomadic upbringing where do you feel most at home?
Natacha Atlas : I wouldn't really say that my up bringing was any more nomadic than many other people I know [many of whom] have traveled more and lived in more of a diversity of countries than I have [but] as an answer, at present the countryside is more home for me whether that be England, France or Egypt.
Total Music: What was the first music you remember hearing?
Natacha Atlas : Abdel Halim Hafez (an Egyptian singer and actor who became one of the most popular perfomers of his generation. Sadly, Hafez died young (aged 48) on March 30, 1977).
He really did something to me and to this day I listen back as it was an inspiration to me.
Total Music: Transglobal Underground (pictured above), was truly groundbreaking outfit when they first appeared, what do you recall about those days and that outfit?
Natacha Atlas : We knew it was groundbreaking, but it was difficult to convince the common media that this was the case, looking back I think we influenced a generation, I can now hear those transglobal-esque influences in modern music today, look no further than TV ads and general media usage of the Arabic style.
Total Music: Your solo career has focused more and more on your Eastern roots is this in an effort to educate your fans about the world outside of Europe or an effort to get in touch with your past?
Natacha Atlas : Both are equally represented here, it is really great to be singing in my natural tongue and in a way it never lets me lose touch with my roots [but I also] like to think my music provides a window, small it though may be, into my culture and the part of the world where I am from.
Total Music: You seem to struggle in the UK, something we would suggest is at least partly down to how the UK music press perceive you - The UK/US axis sadly still has enormous difficulty accepting any other kind of musical style as anything other than a fad
Natacha Atlas: I´ve been around now for fifteen years, it´s true that the UK and USA have a very linier perception of music in general and then they feed mediocre music to the masses, they are not evolved enough to absorb rich and culturally diverse music, I´m trying to change this, people need to get with the programme and look at the world around them instead of being so insular and narrow.
Total Music: What next for Natacha Atlas?
Natacha Atlas: Film work, more touring with my live band all around the globe, a new acoustic project, a project involving me singing suspended 40 feet in the air with the Fidget Feet Aerialists performing around me, ohhhh lots of crazy things............
Mish Maoul is out now on Mantra Records and more info is avaialable at there is also an extensive Nat resource at
* cha'abi is Egyptian pop music