Like, don’t judge me if my writing is like, not your fancy because I’m just being me. Granted, British pop singer Kate Nash doesn’t use “like” that egregiously, but for all the banter about her diction, Nash is highly intelligent, an active feminist, maturing quickly into a well respected musician, while using the word “like” a lot less. After surviving an almost tumultuous tour that ended in an emotional breakdown, she’s taken a year to recoup before releasing her sophomore album, My Best Friend Is You. The album’s rough around the edges reflects her recent experiences, though she’ll tell you she’s still, like, Kate Nash from Harrow, London. SFCritic spoke with Kate Nash before she left to embark on her US tour. She headlines The Warfield this Saturday (October 30th).
Kate Nash: “Do-Wah-Doo”
SFCritic (SFC): Your new album is edgier and more punk than your previous album. Was there a need to conform during your first album to get your name out? Were the record labels trying to shape you?
Kate Nash (KN): My old record was way more about story telling. It felt happier in different ways. It’s more naïve as well. Then I went through shit with the music industry, because it’s a crappy place, and I learned more about things and met horrible people.
SFC: Can you tell me about your conversation with your label at the end of last tour when you were feeling horrible?
KN: I remember I was at a train station, and I was late for a train. My label called and asked how I had been, and asked what I wanted to do—and I said, “Nothing.” I didn’t feel inspired. I definitely don’t take for granted that this is not just a job, this is like my entire life. I was negative and being creative is a good thing, so I wanted to wait until it felt like a good thing.
SFC: What were those feelings that led up to that this disillusionment? You suggested some of it in your song, “Mansion Song.”
KN: I was very erratic and tired. It’s an unhealthy lifestyle because every night you’re out really late, even if you have no adrenaline going.
“I was gluing pebbles to the ground and then I decided I was going to run away. I packed my bags and had them ready to go, and I was going to run away but I didn’t know where.”
SFC: Was there a turning point where enough was enough?
KN: I think I was in Germany, but it wasn’t until a lot later that I stopped. My mom sent my sister out on the road with me because I was really emotional. I’d play a gig, or a festival and I’d drink and run around—and then, I don’t know, I’d feel weird.
I remember waking up one morning and feeling so terrible. I had been really upset the night before, and I like got up in my pajamas and walked to the dressing room area, which was near the entrance where people were coming into the show and I puked by a tree. I was like this is really bad. People that are coming in to watch me play a gig today are watching me puke in my pajamas.
I had another moment, which is a bit darker. I was in Stockholm and I played a university show. I felt like I was going to run away. I was sitting on the balcony with a glue gun. I was gluing stuff together in the hotel, like cups and saucers, but not so you’d notice. I was gluing pebbles to the ground and then I decided I was going to run away. I packed my bags and had them ready to go, and I was going to run away but I didn’t know where. Those people that I work with are my good friends, and I couldn’t let them down. It was a whirlwind. It was a lot of pressure in the end.
SFC: Can you talk to me a little about the inspiration of the “Mansion Song?”
KN: I went to a festival in Scotland and I saw these groupies running around after loads of different guys. They were thinking they were really cool, and I felt really embarrassed for them because loads of people just think of them as idiots. Groupies are not a particular cool thing to want to be. You think this is really exciting, you’re being fucked by these guys’ guitars, but that’s not a career, that’s not an ambition.
I know people who’ve picked up girls and just dropped them in different towns far away from home. It’s hopeless. It’s not a confidence builder. I think girls sometimes think that giving sexual favors, being a sexual predator, is a way to build their own confidence and get guys to like them. I just wanted to shake them, and tell them to go be an interesting person like you probably are.
“I think girls sometimes think that giving sexual favors, being a sexual predator, is a way to build their own confidence and get guys to like them. I just wanted to shake them, and tell them to go be an interesting person like you probably are.”
SFC: Where did you get the desire to be a figure and emotional support for younger women? You’re quite young yourself.
KN: I don’t know, maybe because that’s what I was searching for as well. I think that if I’m that for them, then in the same way they’re that for me. I get a lot of support from the girls that write to me, that come to my gigs, and I see in the crowd.
My mother is a very strong woman. I’ve always wanted to change the world for the better, and I know that sounds silly.
SFC: After touring recently with the Lilith Fair, you described the event as “limiting.” How so?
KN: It was nothing like what I expected it to be. I wasn’t a country singer. I didn’t fit in there. I felt that because I was myself–rash, and the way I speak, and the things I speak about—that people thought I had an attitude. I didn’t, I’m just opinionated and out-spoken. It was disappointing for me. I was really excited.
SFC: The Lilith Fair is described as a female empowering, feminist festival.
KN: I was called a “bitch” and stuff by crew members. They were like “We don’t need fuckers like that around here,” when I was walking past. In a way I felt it was important that I was there because it went wrong somewhere and it was good that I was there to be something different.
SFC: What does it mean to you to be a feminist in the music industry?
KN: Well it’s very important because I’ve definitely experienced a lot of sexism. I’m upset because people think that’s a bad word, but for me I just think it means creating equality. I want to be respected, and given the same treatment as a man would.
My body is not a political thing and I should not be expected to be sexual. Someone asked me in an interview, “Why don’t you care about being sexy, and why haven’t you done a scandalous photo shoot?” and that really annoyed me. Why don’t you do it? I’m not a model. It shouldn’t be something that I’m expected to do because I’m a woman.
SFC: Isn’t it the same if someone were to say “Why are you so innocent looking?”
KN: Yes, all of it. Women are expected to be one-dimensional characters. People love putting them into a box, and say that’s what you’re are. As soon as you challenge that, or do something different, people are like “Oooh!” (said sarcastically).
SFC: Do you ever try to avoid the female as a genre label by doing something totally “non feminine?”
KN: I like being female. I’m not ashamed to be a woman. I like being stereotypically girly as well, but just that I want to be allowed to be anything I want to be. I should be able to have the same respect and be a woman. That’s the point.
SFC: Finally, after this conversation, and what I’ve read about you—it’s evident that you read, and are very intelligent, so why do you use the word “like” so often?
KN: Like I know, I don’t know (laughs). I’m just a kid from Harrow in London. I guess I’m not as eloquent as I’d like to be. Or, I’m not as eloquent as I wish I were. How about that?
Kate Nash performs at The Warfield on October 30th. Tickets are $19.75. The performance begins at 9pm.