BRITS nominees have been talking to Billboard.biz about their prospects for the forthcoming awards ceremony.
Double nominee Natasha Khan praised the "supportive" label bosses at EMI who relaunched her debut album "Fur and Gold" after signing her last year. She is nominated for British female solo artist and British breakthrough act.
Khan, who performs as alternative act Bat for Lashes, originally released the album in summer 2006 on Echo. She was then signed to Parlophone around the time of her nomination for the Nationwide Mercury Prize last summer and the album was re-released.
Khan, who performed her single "What's a Girl to Do" at the televised BRITs launch at London's Roundhouse, which was screened on ITV1, admits to being surprised at her nominations; saying it's "hilarious" to be up against "The X-Factor" winner Leona Lewis in both categories.
"It's just very surreal because it's such a mainstream award -- it's really well known acts," says Khan. "I do feel a bit out of place, but at the same time it's really great that someone like me gets to come and play on the TV and gets nominated alongside PJ Harvey [for British female solo artist], which is an absolute honor."
Amid the current restructuring plans for EMI, Khan says she prefers to focus on songwriting rather than business. But she says her label bosses at Parlophone have always understood her needs as an artist. Her second album is expected later this year.
"They've been supportive and quite sensitive," she says. "I've got artistic and creative control and in terms of time [for the next album] they are not really pressuring me. The people I've worked with so far have been the music lovers of EMI. People like [Parlophone managing director] Miles Leonard. When we talk about music they get very excited. There's a history there and that for me on a personal level has been really nice."
Producer Mark Ronson, who's signed to Columbia, earned three nominations -- British male solo artist, British album for "Version" and British single for "Valerie," featuring Amy Winehouse.
"It's quite weird to be nominated for best male artist," Ronson tells Billboard. "I'm not a singer, it's like a producer getting nominated for an award. But it's amazing to be nominated with Richard Hawley, who's a brilliant songwriter, in that category."
Ronson also admitted to some surprise that a record of cover versions would be up for a BRIT award. "I didn't even think that album would be nominated," he says. "When I heard, I was awestruck -- it didn't make sense to me."
Even though he's lived in New York since childhood, Ronson adds that he "absolutely" feels British, adding: "That's the best part of the nomination -- to be recognised as a U.K. artist."
Breakthrough pop act the Hoosiers' RCA-released hit "Worried About Ray" is nominated for British single. "It's crazy -- I can't quite get my head around the fact we've been nominated," says drummer Alfonso Sharland.
The best single nominees were partly decided by commercial radio listeners and the award will be chosen live on the night based on a public vote. "A lot of the radio stations have played our track which is what it's about -- if you're a pop band you need to get played on the radio," says Sharland. "We owe big thanks to Capital and Virgin and the EMAP stations for playing our songs."
Universal Music is leading the field at this year's BRIT Awards with 29 nominations, the highest ever tally for the major. Universal acts Mika and Take That both have four nominations, while Kate Nash and Kaiser Chiefs each have three.