Birth of a song

Birth of a song

It was at a clinic last year that Australian singer-songwriter Lenka found inspiration for a song.

Pregnant with her first child, she was on her back with a Doppler fetal heart rate monitor pressed against her stomach, listening to her unborn son's heartbeat for the first time.

Lenka, who will be in town for a concert later this month, recalled being transfixed by the sound. "I thought it sounded so cool, really strong like the sound of a train moving," the chatty 35-year-old told M in a phone interview from her home in Sydney yesterday.

Her husband James Gulliver Hancock, who is also the visual artist behind several of her music videos and album art, recorded their baby's heartbeat on his iPhone as a keepsake.

The sound is now featured on a track called Two Heartbeats on Lenka's third album, Shadows, released in June.

The song, which starts off with the sound of the in-utero heartbeat of her son Quinn, is written from the perspective of an unborn child in his mother's womb.

Lenka's pregnancy influenced much of her songwriting for Shadows.

"A fair amount of my time was spent lying in the bath, staring at my belly, singing to Quinn because it's a means of connecting with him. I then thought the songs can definitely work their way into the album," she said.

Lullaby for adults

Lenka described Shadows - packed with 11 whimsical, soothing tunes - as a "lullaby for adults".

During her pregnancy, she developed gestational diabetes and had to be very careful with her diet.

"I was at my fittest and healthiest, but it was a bit of a drag," she joked. When the time came for Quinn to see the world, she had to endure 42 hours of pain, what she called "a long, difficult labour".

Quinn is now 20 months old.

"It's still exhausting caring for him, but he's very sweet and entertaining. It's definitely worth it for the cuddles and to watch him learn and grow," said Lenka.

Now on tour, she said Quinn sometimes travels with her.

"But it's very hard for him and I know he would rather play with other children and his toys at the park," she said.

Between juggling motherhood and touring, Lenka is also writing new material.

One song, Long Way Home, was penned for upcoming US TV series Believe, written by Gravity director Alfonso Cuaron and executive produced by Lost creator JJ Abrams.

Many of her other songs have appeared in TV shows and movies, such US medical drama Grey's Anatomy and the 2011 film Moneyball.

"It's all very exciting, of course. I might write more songs for TV shows, who knows?"

Meanwhile, she is also gearing up for her third visit to Singapore.

She said: "I'm really looking forward to the food, especially the chilli crab!"

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