5 minutes with: Kate Nash

Posted by: on Sep 17, 2012 | One Comment

Photographs: Christopher Dadey

Here at Gossipdrip we love nothing more than promoting the talent of inspirational and driven women. So, it was music to our ears and a personal fan-girl moment for me, when the lovely Kate Nash agreed to chat to us!

In case you don’t know [and if you don’t, where have you been?!] Kate had a UK no.2 hit with perfect pop tune, ‘Foundations’ in 2007, followed by the huge success of her platinum no.1 album, Made of Bricks. She was named Best Female Artist at the 2008 Brit Awards and performed with legend Billy Bragg at the NME Awards. Her second studio album, My Best Friend is You, was released in April 2010 and saw Kate sample sounds from the sixties with hit tunes like ‘Do-Wah-Doo’ to her bold feminist rant in the form ‘Mansion House’.

Fast forward past tons of festivals, tours, helping with the London Riot clean-up and running an after school club for girls wanting to get into music and Kate is now approaching the release of her third album and has just performed at London Fashion week.

In June we were all lucky enough to get a taster of her new musical offering in the form of punk track, ‘Underestimate the Girl’. It got quite the reaction- spurning me to question why a change in musical direction is always considered a bad thing from a female artist. Any singer/songwriter is bound to evolve over time as creating music is an artistic process- how can the media expect her to stick with, ‘old Kate’ when she has experienced so many changes from her first taste of the limelight at 17?

This London girl defies critics, breaks rules and sticks two fingers up at the social pressures placed on women in today’s society and we love her for it!

We spoke to Kate about fashion, music and feminism… 

Tell us a bit about your upcoming album- you’ve been recording in LA right? ‘Yeah, I spent 2 months there and had the most amazing time of my life. It was a weird time for me personally so as an artist it was the perfect opportunity to throw myself into my work and my art and to express all of my feelings and frustrations into the music I was making. I was staying in a mansion, originally built by a silent movie director that was then a convent and it is now owned by an interior designer and antiques collector. It was me and the girls in my band staying there and a bunch of friends that I have in LA coming by to hang out. You know when you’ve lost some stuff and almost your mind, it’s a great time to throw yourself into adventures and just enjoy the ride. LA is a great place to do that. It’s a great place to be spontaneous. It’s the best work I’ve ever done and I’ve never been more proud of a record.’

It seems fans and critics alike often question any musical change of direction you may make- do you feel disheartened having to justify a new sound/style?  ‘To be honest it only fuels me more. Sure sometimes it is frustrating and gets me down but I think it just backs up everything I talk about politically. In a way it really proves me right so I can enjoy that element of it. It gives me even more reason to do it and to try and pave the way for other girls in the future who will hopefully have more freedom to be themselves and to grow and change without being so challenged by their changes and growth.’

We recently caught your set at Bestival- it was amazing! Your new songs definitely sound stronger and edgier- akin to some of the bands that dominated the Riot Grrl era- you’ve shown this side before with tracks like: ‘Mansion Song’, ‘I just love you more’ and ‘Model Behaviour’, why do you think everyone has reacted so much to the style of ‘Under-estimate the Girl’ and the other new tracks you’ve performed? ‘Thanks! I LOVED Bestival so much! I was super-nervous about it as I haven’t played a festival show in the UK for a couple of years so it was a really amazing welcome back into the circuit. Also yeah, after all of the reaction to Under-Estimate The Girl, I think it was nice for me to feel a real force that was in support of me and behind what I was doing. I think people are shocked by women that express anger. Society wants women to be polite and neat and tidy and to cry from frustration rather than scream about it. It’s sad how a woman changes her direction musically and the press freaks the fuck out about it, yet a man can come back into the limelight after something like domestic violence and be accepted as someone that has changed, and only feminist writers seem to be the people challenging that. But for me that just gives me more confidence about what I’m doing. It shows me how important it is to be doing this. Freaking people out and pissing people off can be a good thing. I almost feel that it’s a responsibility as an artist to make people question the way they think.’

You now have an all girl group- how did you find them and why did you to decide to have an all female band? ‘They all study at Guildford Music College. I interviewed like 30 musicians, male and female, when I was looking for new band members and they were the girls that I connected to most. I love having female company on the road and there is something really different about having women behind you on stage. It feels like a gang and I like that. I am happy to be able to show my female fans examples of extremely talented young female musicians. Hopefully it will inspire other girls to get out there and do it too. I really think the whole taboo surrounding female musicians needs to die out. It’s ridiculous. ‘

You recently performed at LFW- how did you become involved? What was it like? ‘My stylist Rebekah Roy took me to the Felder Felder show last season and I loved it and I met the twins Annette and Daniella through Courtney Blackman who put forward the idea. Under-Estimate The Girl really suited their brand and vibe and when I met the girls I knew straight away that it would be a great fit. They are the sweetest and coolest girls in fashion, SO down to earth and so hardworking and there are so many cool ideas behind their work. After spending some time together, I realised that we had really similar ideas on women and feminism. It made sense because they’re about breaking rules and women not having to be put in a box, which is what I’m all about too. I spoke to them about their prints and collection this season and then wrote a song specifically for them, we also did a cover of the Kinks and Under-Estimate The Girl. It was the SCARIEST show moment of my life because I have never done anything like that and I also felt a huge responsibility towards the girls as it’s their show not mine. I wanted to do something really special and make an exciting live show but did not want to take away from the collection or distract from the models. It was really interesting and a great thing to learn as a performer.’

Your style has evolved over the years, much like your music- is there a link between the two? How would you describe your style at the moment? ‘Yeah it really has. It’s cool because I actually feel more comfortable with myself than ever before. I think it’s getting older. It feels good. When I started I was 17, so I sort of grew up within the industry I guess. I think the thing that attracted so many young girls to me when I started was the fact that I was totally unprepared for the whole thing to happen. I am not related to anyone in the industry so “fame” and the press was a totally new thing. I was just a teenager kind of bobbing along and learning as I went. Which is cool. When I started I had only really just discovered my own sense of style. I had figured out that wearing vintage made me feel confident and fit my body shape a lot more. Then on my second record I got into this leather jacket and Joan Jett look. I also broke my foot at the start of an American tour and had to wear converse and leggings on stage every night. I started doing this crazy black and red eye make up thing to give me an edge cause I was insecure about my broken foot and then that became what I felt really good in, a kind of harder look. I feel like now being 25 and on my third record, I’m in a really nice place between the two. I love vintage. I love punk/rock style and music icons and I also love finding out about and supporting new artists.  Also experiencing fashion week last season for the first time ever was really exciting for me because it made me realise how much the fashion industry embraces the weirdos and the outsiders. My style right now is very dependent on my mood and it’s also mainly based around my music and what I do on stage. It feels very movie inspired. I like to dress like a character or to a theme and then I feel like I know what I’m doing. I have a sense of fun with it, which is cool and getting into designers is really cool as well. I am in love with BORA AKSU!’

You are arguably a feminist icon for this generation- in the wake of Pussy Riot, America’s legitimate rape scandal and the general media portrayal of women do you feel there needs to be a new wave of Feminism?  ‘I feel like there is a really cool wave of feminism on the internet. On tumblr it seems to be really popular, but I would like to see it brought more into the mainstream. I’d like to see other pop stars and actresses and male celebrities talking about feminism. I think that there’s this awful taboo around it. I wanna see people talking about it in a positive way in mainstream culture and then I will really feel like there is a change happening. People still see it as an aggressive thing and as a man-hating unsexy thing. I mean obviously that’s totally ignorant and stupid. For me feminism is really simple, it’s about being fair. It’s about equality. It’s about seeing that women are not lesser beings. And that works on the big, scary, serious issues and on the smaller, more everyday issues. Both are important and both need addressing and changing. Anyone that thinks that sexism doesn’t exist is uneducated and could spend just 10 minutes on the internet or watching the news to see that that isn’t true. And anyone who thinks that sexism does exist and that won’t say they are a feminist is very confusing to me’.

We couldn’t agree more Kate…