Kate Nash: ‘I Was Getting Really Bitter And Angry’

Kate Nash is back, and she’s got reasons to be bitter.

“Have I got lipstick on my teeth?” Kate Nash grimaces across the table at London’s Southbank Centre, asking us to check for any ruby red residue on her pearly whites. She doesn’t, as it happens, but as she pulls a face, we’re instantly reminded of that video for ‘Under-estimate The Girl’. Heralding her return to the music scene after a two year absence, her reinvention into a gnarling, angry, grungey Nash kicked the internet into derision overdrive.

“I was trending worldwide on Twitter!” Kate can laugh about it now, then. “It was really funny. I was so angry, and needed to release something, it was like..hrrrrrrrrmph. The whole thing was an explosion. I literally hadn’t thought about the consequence, of what people might think, or anything. Which I know is quite weird, because it is so different, but because it was what I was doing at the time, it really felt like what I’d been doing every day. It was hilarious… oh, that’s a few months worth of press I don’t need to do now…”
‘I was trending worldwide on Twitter!’
You could get the wrong impression from that single. Think that Kate’s going to release an album of screaming, angst ridden, riot grrrl-infused guitar thrash. But Nash has always thrown curveballs; her first single, ‘Caroline’s A Victim’ was nothing like debut record, ‘Made Of Bricks’. Yes, there’s aggression and heartbreak in new record, ‘Girl Talk’, but to suggest her only reference point is Bikini Kill would be to do her a massive disservice. There are moments where she’s more Kimya Dawson than Kathleen Hanna; hell, there’s even a section of Disney-esque orchestration thrown in the mix. It’s more interesting, more subtle, than you might be anticipating.

That being said, Nash does confess that the record was a cathartic vessel for releasing some of the pent up emotions that had built up; after a year that personally, could probably be described as ‘rotten’. “I wrote most of it on bass, and bass is the best instrument in the world, because it’s really heavy and strong,” she tells us, “It’s quite guttural and raw. It was a way of being powerful and loud, when I couldn’t be like that in my personal life, or publicly.”

It would be easy to be all tabloid-esque and focus our conversation on her much publicised break up from a certain Crib, which clearly does inform the record to an extent. But to assume that all her aggression is based around a boy; that’d be bullshit. You only need to look at what she’s been up to over the last couple of years to see that.

“I got angry, because I was interviewed all the time and people kept saying, “wow, this is so amazing, there’s so many female artists.” Kate begins to get visibly riled as she discusses her 2007 breakthrough, during a period that, at the time, was considered to be particularly strong for women in music. There was Nash, Lily Allen, Amy Winehouse and… umm… oh. “I didn’t want to make it a big deal, don’t make a big deal out of women being able to be musicians, that’s fucking weird, and so patronising. But, actually, there aren’t that many, so you feel really contradictory.

“Then I found out all these statistics; there’s 14% of PRS that goes to female songwriters. Loads of girls in the charts, telling us that they’re writing their own songs, aren’t. For me, you’re making it less believable that I do, when you’re going around saying you write your own songs. People would ask me, “do you write your own lyrics?” But they never ask if I write my music. I was getting really bitter and angry about the way things are now, and there’s nothing I can do to change that. But what I can do is try and change it for another generation. So they don’t grow up even asking each other those kind of questions, they just know that women can be musicians.”

With that in mind, ‘Kate Nash’s After School Rock ‘N’ Roll Club For Girls’ was born. After visiting different schools around the country during her days off from touring, she decided to focus on a couple in Yeovil and Liverpool; “I can’t go to every single school in the world, however much I’d like to…” she says, pragmatically. Kate helped the students to use music as an outlet for their emotional issues. “It was really amazing to see the transition. One of the girls, she looked like a peach, so fresh, and she’d written about how her best friend was a dog called Biscuit, because he didn’t tell any of her secrets. I was like, ‘oh my god, I love you,’” she laughs, “She did a drum session, and when I came to close up because her parents were there to pick her up, she wouldn’t stop. It was like, okay, we’ve finished, and she was looking at me and…” she air drums at us, as though possessed. “This tiny girl had found a way to be loud.”

The project culminated in a concert at the Queen Elizabeth Hall, the 900 seat theatre above where we’re currently sat. “It was a really emotional night. Fuck, it was so cool to see; just a little bit of pushing and encouragement and nurturing. Not trying to rip someone apart and make them into something they’re not, just by saying that it’s okay to be themselves.”

“I’m going to Africa next month, to Ghana,” she suddenly announces. We have a feeling that Kate is not taking her album promo as seriously as perhaps her label might want, but given the circumstances, we suspect she’ll be forgiven. “I’ve started working with a charity called Plan USA. It’s a campaign called ‘Because I’m A Girl’, and they work in developing countries. My thing is trying to empower young women, and theirs is too, but they literally have to try and change the world to do it. Because they’re not just battling confidence issues, they’re dealing with a ‘this is what this girl is born to do, and will do the rest of their life’. Whether it’s becoming a cook, or a prostitute when she’s seven, or having her clitoris removed as a baby…”
‘It was a way of being powerful and loud, when I couldn’t be like that in my personal life.’
Admittedly, it’s all starting to sound a bit serious, but aside from her acts of altruism, Kate has found a little bit of time to behave in a manner befitting a bass-wielding rock star. She recorded ‘Girl Talk’ in LA, “In a fucking mansion,” she deadpans. “There’s no real subtle way to say that. It was completely insane.” Heading stateside with her girl band, who she informs us are “really badass”, they shared a massive bedroom, made friends with the ‘mansion dogs’, and picked fresh grapefruit from the grounds for breakfast. Okay, that doesn’t sound too rock ‘n’ roll. But then Kate opens up about meeting one of our favourite punk bands, via her acting manager’s assistant.

“She lives with the guys from FIDLAR. Then I started hanging out with those guys, and now I have a crew of real friends in LA. I used to really hate it there, I only knew Hollywood from when I played shows, and not being able to drive, I’d be in a hotel room drinking during the day, watching Courtney Love videos on YouTube. But I love it now; when I was in the mansion, we’d have parties and have those guys around.”

Which explains how she came to be guesting on their track last year; ‘AWWWKWAARRRDDD’. But with that, her charity work, the After School Club, and doing some acting (she’s set to appear in the Jeff Buckley biopic, ‘Greetings From Tim Buckley’, as well as a female ensemble Brit-Flick, ‘The Powder Room’ later this year), you’d normally worry that’s she been spreading herself too thin. That the album might have suffered for all the extra curricular activity. It’s not the case, and Nash is quick to point that out. “It’s the best work I’ve ever done, and there isn’t one thing I’d change about it.” She’s right, and we’re sorry if we ever doubted it. Lesson learned; don’t under-estimate that girl again.

Kate Nash’s new album ‘Girl Talk’ is out now.

Taken from the March 2013 issue of DIY, available now. For more details click here.

More like this

​The Second Coming of Kate Nash

The Second Coming of Kate Nash

Ten years after catapulting into the public eye, Kate Nash is having one hell of a second wind. With new album ‘Yesterday Was Forever’, we find the singer grabbing her new life by the balls.