Monday 25 June
It’s hard to believe that it’s only been five years since Kate Nash announced her arrival on the British music scene with her gold-selling debut album Made of Bricks. With the follow-up to her sophomore offering My Best Friend Is You out later this year, Kate is underway on her latest tour showcasing just what she’s been up to in the studio. Ahead of her gig in the Welsh capital later this week, we caught up with wonderfully down to earth Kate to talk music in the digital age, sexism in the music industry and what to expect from her tour.
The MMP: Its been two years since your last record; what have you been doing in that time?
Kate: I’ve been quite busy. I’ve been working on various other projects aside from working on the new album . For about a year I did this project called Kate Nash’s Rock n’ Roll After School Club.
What is that exactly and how did that come about?
I was becoming really angry about sexism and the way that women in the music industry were seemingly treated differently. I went and talked on a panel about how there are far less female composers then male in the UK, and that they’re treated differently – far worse so than I’d first realised. I became more pissed off, upset about it and felt quite hopeless. I then watched an interview with Kathleen Hanna (Bikini Kill) where she talked about rock club in America which encourage girls to get into music, so I decided that was what I was going to do. I decided I was going to stop feeling bad about it and actually start at the core with the kids in school.
So this was more aimed at encouraging the creative process, as opposed to just selling the idea of becoming involved with the music industry?
Exactly. It’s all about having an opinion, writing a guitar line or playing drums for the first time. I think the problem is that girls grow up in schools where they feel quite sexually intimidated; even just getting on stage you’re instantly judged on the way you look. I really, really hate gossip magazines. A lot of magazines that are aimed at young women are just disgusting and they all buy into it which his really sad. We’re responsible for killing off generations of musicians by destroying the self-esteem of hundreds of young women without even thinking it’s a big deal.
Back to the new album. It was recorded in Los Angeles; did the sunshine and celebrity culture have much of an effect on the sound and style of the record?
Umm… I’d say it was influenced by the town but not in that way! I’d already written the record by the time I’d gone out there so I had a really strong idea as to what I wanted to do. I worked with a producer called Tom Miller and we stayed in this insane mansion. when we got there I just thought “what the fuck is this place?” We recorded in this giant ballroom with these massive dark paintings on the walls and I feel that the sound of the record was certainly influenced by the house itself, you know?
How do you think you’ve evolved as an artist from album to album? I mean, how do you characterise yourself now?
I write really differently now. I still story-tell and talk about my feelings, but with the bass I feel much more free and easy. I’ll sit down and think “I want to write a song like this” and then I just do it. Before I’d write a story and my feelings would wrap around it – it was kind of like a thought process – but now if I want a track to feel dirty I’ll write a dirty bass line and I’m like “there it is – it’s done.” I’d put down a demo in a day – I just love the instancy of the bass. I’m really enjoying writing at the minute.
Made With Bricks – and Foundations in particular – were monstrous hits. Do you feel under pressure to emulate that sort of success or does that not really come into your mind when you’re working on new material?
No, not really. I just think that happened and it was great. It opened up a lot of opportunities but I’m not really that sort of person to be honest. I’m not interested in celebrity or chart position. When I think of my work, yeah, I want to be successful but I don’t think about how something is going to chart or what Radio 1 is going to think of it – I think of my body of work as what I’m leaving behind. This is me and I think of the long term picture that I’m creating.
People like yourself and Lilly Allen gained significant notoriety at the beginning of your careers through the medium of online music sites such as MySpace. Given that that aspect of the music industry has changed exponentially in the past few years, how do you view the online music industry now? Do you think music has become too accessible?
I think people are still figuring out new ideas and coming up with new ways to share and I think this is just the way things are now. We kind of have to accept it. I think there’s a lot of pressure on artists. You make an album – put your heart and soul into it – produce the artwork and then everybody just asks what else they can include with it. We need extra songs, photos and exclusives. The fans want to know what you had for breakfast that morning and there’s just a lot of expectation, as though people need to know everything about you to support you. An element of that is cool because it shows you to be real and you can have an honest and genuine relationship with the fans which is amazing, but then there’s the other part which is where you need to be really careful as there’s a really fine line…
Would you agree that music has become more disposable as it’s now so easy to get hold of? If something doesn’t grab you straight away you tend to just throw it onto a pile and never go back to it…
Yeah; if you’re not impressed with something in your first 30 second preview through your shitty speakers on your laptop… I mean, I just hate that. I hate iTunes. I think there’s a certain amount of beauty in the art of buying a record and taking it home that’s been lost – that excitement of listening to something for the first time. The way you can listen to these 30 second previews of a track I just find a bit gross.
The tour’s coming up. What can we expect, and do do you have anything special planned for the last night in Cardiff?
I really wanted to do the tour because I like to give the music to the fans first rather than wait for the album to come out, because that way no one knows the songs. I want it to be a fun tour, like “here’s the new album, you get it first” sort of thing. The Cardiff show is very close to my birthday, and my drummer is Welsh so a lot of her family and friends will be there. I really want a birthday cake…
Interview by: Jim Swidenbank