Artist: Kate Nash
Album: Girl Talk
Label: Have 10p Records / Fontana (Universal)
Under-Estimate The Girl captured perfectly a moment in Kate’s life. A moment when she wanted to tear up the rulebook and buck the trend for making the kind of benign manufactured pop born of talent shows. The song, with its change of musical direction, immediately caused a minor furore.
Kate was, as ever in the face of the press, phlegmatic. ‘Everyone was going crazy and I thought it was great. It created the perfect storm for a comeback. People were talking about me because I’d done something new and crazy and different. In the end the response to Under-Estimate The Girl just showed how conservative the music industry is.’
With her first two albums, 2007’s Made of Bricks and 2010’s My Best Friend Is You, she found both mainstream success and a legion of young female fans.
It’s now seven years since Kate released her first single, ‘Caroline’s a Victim’. Her childhood growing up in Harrow, north London, seems a distant dream. She was a MySpace phenomenon before she even had a record deal. Such was the excitement about her debut album that ‘Made of Bricks’ was released two months ahead of schedule. It went straight to number one.
2013 will see Kate release her third studio album. ‘Girl Talk’ is a bold, passionate and personal album. ‘If My Best Friend Is You’ was about trust, honest, sexism and growing up, then ‘Girl Talk’ is ‘almost thoughtless’. By which Kate means instinctive. An immediate reaction to the world around her. ‘I wrote songs really quickly. They are ballsy. You can hear the anger. I’ve learned a lot about people. I used to be really naive and trust people too much. Not any more.’
Kate says that ‘Girl Talk’ is a kind of mission statement about what it’s like to be a woman. ‘Working with an all-girl band has been incredibly liberating as well as being brilliant fun. I really believe in women being able to be whatever they want to be. We don’t have to be one dimensional. I can be sensitive. I can be angry. I can do a song that is screaming and then add a backing vocal that is really sweet. I’ve never been one thing.’
While in LA she hung out with Willow Smith. ‘She’d been working with Rihanna and Beyonce’s songwriters, but then decided to write her own material and got in touch with me. She’s an amazing 11-year-old, a tiny shaven-head girl with mind-blowing wisdom. Like her dad Will Smith, but without the moustache. I couldn’t believe that she even knew my B-sides!’
After auditioning for the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School many years ago, Kate is now set to appear in two new films. In Syrup, based on a cult novel about a slacker hatching a million-dollar idea, she plays a receptionist and in Greetings from Tim Buckley she takes on the role,
of an English punk.
Inspired by Rock ‘N’ Roll Camp For Girls, an American bootcamp started in 2001 to show girls that they can ‘play any kind of music they want’, Kate set up Rock ‘N’ Roll for Girls After-School Music Club. She travels to schools around the country, talks to aspiring young female musicians, listens to their ambitions and fears. ‘Over the past 18 months I’ve interviewed over 100 teenage girls about image and identity. Most of them said they felt too ugly to be in a band. I was shocked. I want to make them feel good about themselves, make them feel entitled to create music if that’s what they want. I’ve learned not to care what anyone says about the way I look. I need to be outspoken. We all have a responsibility to the next generation.’
She also performed at London Fashion Week and cites Joan Jett, Karen O and Courtney Love as style icons. She says, definitively, that music should be fun. On the other hand, she says Girl Talk is a call to arms. ‘When I was in my late teens I felt insecure about being girlie and feminine because people would judge me as a silly little girl. Now I’m confident enough in myself to be able to celebrate those aspects of my personality.’
She laughs. ‘I can look sweet and cute and talk about fashion and make up. But I’m still fucking smart so don’t mess with me.’
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