Having risen to prominence as a 20-year-old, Myspace generation singer-songwriter with 2007 debut LP ‘Made of Bricks’, Kate Nash has spent the following decade creating a career path that no-one would have expected. Dropped by her label before the release of third LP ‘Girl Talk’, she’s become an independent artist, a vocal women’s rights activist and, more recently, an on-screen wrestler as part of Netflix series GLOW.
With the singer currently on a 10th anniversary tour of said debut, we spoke to Kate about returning to her beginnings and the lessons she’s learnt along the way.
Hi Kate! How does it feel to be returning to your debut album for this
“It just feels really nostalgic and exciting. If it was three years then i’d be like ‘No! That’s not who I am!’, but 10 years is different and I can look back on it as something that changed my life. I haven’t played some of these songs in forever and I know how people feel about them; I think it’s just going to be really celebratory and euphoric.”
Looking back, what do you think of the Kate from 10 years ago?
“I’m really proud of myself and what I went through and for staying true to who I am. It’s hard. I’ve learnt a lot about the industry; I’ve really been put through the wringer as I’m sure every female pop star has been, and it makes me want to fight for it to be better for other females coming up. Whenever I meet younger girls, I always give them my number and say to call me whenever they need to. We need to be the community that we want to see, and that can only happen by bonding together.”
Do you remember that period as a happy time?
“Well, I got nervous about GLOW coming out because I haven't had this kind of attention in a long time and I didn't like it. I literally, physically ran away from it sometimes; I remember being at an awards ceremony and I set all the fire alarms off and ran away. I just hated it. But I think I'm older and better at dealing with things now. I look back and I'm torn: there's the nostalgia and the positive side of getting to do what I wanted to do, but then also, I was so young and there were a lot of men around me who didn't care about my mental health, or my emotions. No-one ever asks how you are or if you need support.
It's a cliché that you hear about, but I've honed it to being what I want now and I'm so grateful. I feel things so much more. I remember playing Hammersmith Apollo [in 2008] and I just felt nothing. I was so overworked and I just couldn't compute it. But when I played Shepherds Bush Empire with [third album] 'Girl Talk', which I achieved on my own, I felt so fucking proud and happy and had one of the best nights of my life. It's an industry where you have to be really hard and tough, but my advice is never give up on yourself. Be an advocate for yourself is basically what you need to do."
That's good life advice, just as a human being.
“The hardest thing to do is to sit comfortably with who you are, and I'm
not there by any means. But being an independent artist has helped. And touring with my girl band, working on GLOW, just women really – being around really strong women who believe in you and support you is the most uplifting thing in the world. And learning that you need to take care of yourself, because I didn't for so long in loads of ways.
Everyone feels a level of [pressure] now on social media and Instagram; you're trying to present this life to people all the time. I'm still learning how to manage it and not be too addicted because it doesn't make me feel good. But then also how would I have known [that I had that fanbase] when I got dropped if I didn't have 120k fans on Twitter and 500k on Facebook? That kept me going.”
You've just finished a Kickstarter to fund your next record – how was that experience?
“It was so scary. I nearly didn't do it so many times. I was just worried about failing. If I didn't raise it, it'd be so embarrassing and I'd feel like I was fucking up my chances for getting signed after that. But once I toured in February it all kicked into place. Touring's the best because it's the tangible part of music, and I could see the reactions of fans to my new music and I could see it coming together. So I thought if I could get even some of the people who came to those shows to fund my album which isn't insane because it's just preordering an album, then it just started to feel a bit easier. But I was stressed from the very second it started to the end."
Was it hard asking for help?
“It's terrifying but it's so much more normal than it used to be and it's just cool really. The major record label thing is not artist-friendly. I'm not gonna say no to [going back now] but I'd have to feel really good about it. I had meetings before but I didn't feel inspired; it just felt so un-innovative. I've just turned 30 – why would I go into business with someone that I don't feel inspired by?”
But now the money's raised!
“Yes, so now the album's just being mixed and I'm working out when it will come out depending on GLOW season two, but it will be out by February.”
SO, GLOW's been out for a month or so now and gone down a storm. What first attracted you to the part?
“I did a pilot with Jenji Kohan called 'The Devil You Know' about Salem witches, which starred Eddie Izzard, but it never got picked up. It was literally sticking sticks up girls vaginas, it was crazy. She wanted to see me audition for GLOW, and it was described as 'Sequins, spandex, hairspray: Women's wrestling in the 80s' and I thought that was the best show I'd ever heard of. I felt like my life was training for this – fighting with my sisters growing up, being a musician, it's all the same thing.”
How deep did you go into the training?
“We were taught by Chavo Guerrero, who's basically wrestling royalty. It's a culture I didn't understand before, but it's this really innocent, almost comic book-type superhero [mentality]. The fighting's fake, but it also isn't – they're really hurting each other sometimes but they're also trying to protect each other. When we were learning to do front bumps and back bumps, I was waiting for the trick – like, ok where's the secret part where it's not going to hurt? But you just have to accept that you're going to fall. It's a rush though; the first time I did one, my whole body was shaking. You can do things with your body that you have no idea that you can do, and I found that so empowering and inspiring in every way because I thought, if I can do that then what else can I do? If you really put your mind into something it's amazing what you can do.”
Has it changed your relationship with your body?
“It's completely changed my life. I cared more about looking like a good wrester on camera than I did about looking good; even the response I've had from girls saying 'I wanna be strong' has been so cool. I want this show to do for people what it did for us. It reminded me what some women say about having a baby, about how it makes your body have a different purpose – you made a human, it's functional. Obviously I've not had a baby, but it reminded me of that; I wasn't worrying about the usual things.”
Are there any takeaways from wrestling as a musician?
“I feel like being a wrestler is like becoming this exaggerated version of yourself and celebrating that stereotype – taking it to an offensive level. But there's something in it; breaking through this barrier of what people think of you. Bringing it into music world, is just trying to elevate my musical performance. I feel so comfortable now, and I think my shows are going to be the best they've ever been because I have this defiance. First of all, I'm protected by the Guerrero family now, but also [from] the emotional shit I've overcome by doing physical stuff. Doing things with my body with wrestling, doing my first nude scenes, really having to accept myself in a different way and also playing someone else on camera. Playing Rhonda, who is really positive, body confident and lives in the moment, was such a good influence on me.”
If you could tell Kate during 'Made of Bricks' one thing to get her through the next 10 years, what would it be?
“I would tell myself to take time and meditate. I'm an over-thinker and I have anxiety and OCD and I just needed to take a bit more time for
The 'Made Of Bricks' anniversary tour continues this week.
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