UK SONGSTRESS KATE NASH IS BACK IN THE COUTRY FOR PLAYGROUND WEEKER AND A COUPLE OF SIDESHOWS. SHE TALKS TO BEN PREECE ABOUT HER RELENTLESS SCHEDULE AND WHAT SHE’LL DO IF HER POP CAREER ENDS TOMORROW.
In the nine months since Kate Nash’s second album My Best Friend Is You first hit record store shelves worldwide, you could say the singer has had nothing short of a non-stop schedule. Such is the way when you’re hot property like Nash – shows, appearances, interviews, shoots, plane rides – all of this and more is just another day in the life of the pop star. Her relentless touring schedule continues to stack up and the ongoing demand as an artist has allowed her no time to really stop and be anything other than the pop star the international music world has embraced over and over.
As Time Off catches her on Christmas Eve, Nash has crammed in a frantic afternoon of last minute present-hunting and a string of interviews she has scheduled for this afternoon has completely slipped her mind. Being the consummate professional however, she doesn’t skip a beat and slips right into the conversation with ease and explains just why she appears to be so flustered.
“I’ve spent a long time away from home this year,” she explains politely. “I’ve been across Europe in the last four and five weeks, the UK for two weeks, the US for two, I went to Mexico and back to Germany and now I’m home and pretty ready to be home for a little while and just chill basically.”
But before this “chilling” can take place effectively, Nash has a few more engagements to meet, one being a quick jaunt down to Australia for Playground Weekender and a couple of sideshows, including Brisbane which was overlooked last visit. Anyone would think she likes it down here.
“Yeah I really do actually,” Nash laughs. “I think you don’t get the opportunity to go to Australia very much because it’s so far away, the opportunity often doesn’t come up. I’d like to spend more time there, I really enjoy it when I am there. When the festival came up, I was like “Yeah I definitely want to do it” - it was a no brainer to say yes.”
Following a successful debut album – Made Of Bricks – the real test for Nash came with anticipation for a second record. She tended to linger slightly in the shadow of Lily Allen last time around but once My Best Friend Is You dropped, it became clear that Nash was following no one. It painted her as the young, enigmatic and powerful young star that she is touching on everything from sexism to homophobia and beyond. Dressing it all with a glorious, nostalgic sound full of brass pipes, twangy surf guitar and poignant, often playful musings, the album is more than just another pop outing that transcends the disposable and lands well and truly on the right side of credible. It moves through the witty lyrical narrative towards the catchy hooks and is often crude and sometimes perhaps even a little too honest.
“I’m really pleased and proud of it,” Nash enthuses “I guess, early next year I’m going to be coming to the end of the run of it. It’s kind of exciting to go to Australia, I have some dates in Brazil and then one last UK tour and some smaller towns that I never got to visit on the last tour – so I’m very excited to be going out there or just to do the final tours of the record. I’ve had a really good year, I think I’ve done the best shows I’ve ever done and, yeah, I’m looking forward to it.”
But see the thing is, Nash simply won’t sit still between albums. Following the fantasy-like success of her debut record and the subsequent successes it brought, Nash did slow down but she wanted to indulge more in “normal” things. She did what any normal 20 year old would do - go to the movies, hang with friends and her first “real” boyfriend (Ryan Jarman of The Cribs) and read books but, incapable of sitting around for long, she quickly co-founded the Featured Artists Coalition with Billy Bragg and Blur’s Dave Rowntree and got involved in V-Day, the initiative to end violence against women. The coming year after the cycle for My Best Friend Is You ends, Nash will undoubtedly be itching to find something to do next. She often comments about feeling like an outsider for not fitting into the format of a typical female artist and therefore feels she needs to thrust some attention into helping fellow- female performers find their place.
“There are a couple of things that I want to do,” she reveals. “Not sure where it’s going to happen but my year is pretty open ended so it should all get done. I really want to work with young people and kids and go into schools and do creative workshops with young girls particularly to do song writing and start bands and stuff. Statistically there are less female composers than male and, over the summer, I’ve really become aware of that – there were so many girls in the charts and everyone is going “There are so many females, it’s amazing” but still all the festival lineups were completely male dominated. I did a panel talk and only one of those girls in the charts write their own material and it made me feel that rather than complain about it that I should try and do something to change that. I want to go into schools and work with kids.
“I’m in love with Joan Jett, she’s just like totally cool,” she continues of her own heroes. “I also really love Kathleen Hanna and I’m a big fan of Peggy Sue and really respect Laura Marling and Sleater Kinney. I saw The Runaways movie and I can’t believe how much those girls look like the musicians.”
And then of course, there are things like making another record to think about. Now world-famous with two successful albums on the shelf, as well as a seemingly fulfilling life, Nash isn’t concerned that contentment in her everyday existence will water down her songwriting edge like it sometimes can. She’s more concerned about whether she has actually written her last song ever.
“I don’t really think about stuff like that when I’m writing, I just get into my world when I’m actually writing and it’s just an escape from all the other stuff. The fame thing… I don’t even see myself as that person, apart from being able to travel a lot and have a really cool job, I don’t really see that as part of my life – the fame aspect, I think it’s a weird word. I still feel I will get nervous about doing the record because as a writer, I think you’re born to think you’re never going to write again once you’ve completed something. I think I’m always like “Well that’s it, I’m not going to write anything else now” and I always approach everything thinking that I don’t know what I’m going to be doing next year. I can write more records, I have it in me – I have ideas and I’m looking forward to doing it and just writing really.”
The topic of being content and happiness in general seems illusive to Nash. On the surface, she might seem to have it all but, like any thinking human and ambitious soul, she is well aware that not everything remains peachy long-term.
“I don’t really feel you reach a point in life where you’re just happy,” Nash continues. “I don’t really believe in that, I don’t believe that word or the idea of finding happiness. Life is constant ups and downs and it can be going really smoothly and you’ll be thrown a curve ball or you’ll be struggling. Everyone has problems, even if they’re small or just things I care about or am opinionated about even if they’re not happening to me or people I know. There’s issues in the world and plenty in the world that’s not right, even if I was “I feel completely fine today” I’d find something, even the urge to want to change it, be pissed off or upset about it just because the world is full of infections and things go wrong. I’m happy at the moment. Being happy makes me want to write songs too – when I’m comfortable or relaxed, it makes me want to write stuff that is fun or upbeat. And, like I said, there’s always issues in the world that can make me angry and write in that direction.