Kate Nash headlines the Bowery Ballroom on Wednesday, January 9. It is already sold out.
photo by Alice Rosenbaum
THIS WEEK: Kate Nash, part one
Listen. I conducted this interview–what–almost two months ago, same night as a Kate Nash show in Brighton.
She vaguely disappointed on stage, like someone behind her told her she should be courting a certain indie demographic and she was only half-listening but took on board some of the suggestions–there were too many thuds on the drum and flaunting of the guitar, vocals not mixed high enough…and what’s more, I didn’t appreciate the rudeness of her own personal security man. Ms Nash’s songs, on record, are quite charming: sexy, bubbly, self-deprecating, filled with pus and ephemera, everyday and sometimes spiteful, beats that recall 2007, a voice that’s way better than the album may lead you to believe. Dry sense of humour, Mockney accent, guests on Kano’s album, mates of Lily Allen (whom she’s been compared to). . . derided by the serious ‘critics’, but fuck it. Who wants to be considered one of them? Pitchfork only gave it 5.5–but Jesus. Pitchfork grade albums.
Kate Nash is quite the major star in the UK: a Number One single (‘Foundations’: achieved around the time of this interview) and album (Made Of Bricks) will see to that. But anyway: reason this transcript hasn’t appeared before is cos my two-and-a-half-year-old son Isaac went and hid it. We found it, in his tape box nestling next to The Gruffalo and Dr. Seuss.
As you join us, we’re talking about recent shows, backstage at the Concorde 2.
“…was one boy who kept crowd-surfing. It was very funny. They got so excited during ‘Merry Happy’ they threw this pint of water on stage and it landed all over me: and I was laughing, ‘Ah-ah’, it was so cool. It was the first time I felt like what I was on a mission to do was getting through.”
So the kids sing along with every song…
. . . do you just stop sometimes and listen?
“First, I used to be laughing. It was so funny people knew all the words. Now, I try really hard to concentrate. And also…um…sorry, sometimes I get a hole on my brain…”
No worries. How long ago did you write those songs?
“About a year-and-a-half ago, probably: ‘Skeleton Song’ was written this year.”
Have you got past the stage of finding it weird that people are singing along to songs you just wrote for yourself?
“Sometimes, yes. At Reading, I played ‘Merry Happy’ there were so many people there – 10, 20 rows outside, just packed, guys in boxer shorts crowd-surfing, really raucous, people crying…it was amazing cos it was like…it’s that whole thing again, what was I saying…I was laughing cos I was like, ‘I just wrote this at two in the morning in my living room’, and now it means so much, all these people going mental…”
Would you have gone to see you, couple of years ago?
“I dunno [laughing]. Maybe. I like to think so.”
Can you put yourself in the audience and see yourself up there?
“Yeah. I think it’s cool. I think I’d like, probably cos I’m a bit grungy and I don’t care.
Like that time I got water thrown in my face and loved it…I think it’s a good role model for girls to see, me shouting and screaming on stage, having a good time. I think it’s a good attitude. I’d like that attitude.”
Who were your role models when you were growing up?
“When I went to gigs…?”
When did you start going to gigs?
“What, gig-gigs? It was more like concerts when I was really young–like Irish music, cos my mum’s Irish, and classical music. Then, when I was 14, all my friends went to see metal bands at Wembley Rugby Club, in Harrow: and then all the rude boys would come down and stab everyone and smash windows, and we’d all have to run home because the police would come down–and everyone would be home by 10 o’clock, la la la. Then my friends started going to Putney and Camden, gigs there…”
Who were your role models? Did you have any?
“Yeah, I guess so. I started to go to gigs like The Strokes and Regina Spektor and loads of people, then I got into the amateur scene with people like Peggy Sue And The Pirates [her support band], blah blah blah…”
Did you want to be a rock’n’roll star?
“Yeah, everyone wants to be a rock’n’roll star. Cool. Don’t they? Didn’t you?”
I always wanted to be Yoko Ono when I was young…
“Yoko Ono [laughing], did you? [Laughs more.] I loved Regina Spektor and Janis Joplin because she was crazy, and Eva Cassidy, I loved her…Destiny’s Child…”
With Eva Cassidy, do you think the reason so many people fell for her voice so heavily was because it was the first time in ages the mainstream had encountered any music so unaffected, so little production?
“I still really love Songbird. I do know what you mean, but her voice is really beautiful, so clear and smooth and strong, and I like her songs – they’re different. People don’t write songs like that now. I like the restraint.”
Yeah, me too. Restraint is good. I get the impression you can sing a little better than you do on record…
“Yeah, maybe I do. I don’t know. Maybe I can. Sometimes…”
Because I’ve heard some of the other stuff you did, the demos from a year ago…
“Yeah, I guess it just changes, the way you sing and the way you present it: and now I see it as more like not the songs and I don’t want to be seen as a singer…”
Is it theatre?
“It could be. It is theatrical. I was on some kind of a mission and at the time wanted to do it through fear: and I couldn’t access it, I couldn’t get into drama school and I couldn’t get into a company, so I changed the medium and now I do it through this music, but it could be spoken word and it could be stories and it could be a book…”
Do you do spoken word?
“Yeah, I have got stories…also…no, I’ve forgotten…”
No, that’s alright. Have you had a day off since whenever?
“Um…I had a day off yesterday, but I was making this really cool magazine and was very excited about it. It’s called My Ignorant Youth issue one, and it’s just photocopied and stuff.”
Issue one is a good place to start.
“Yes it is. Start at the very beginning. The intro starts, ‘Welcome friends’, I’ve stayed away from magazines a long time because I was fed up of reading about people who wanted to be in magazines…I found London frustrating because it was really cool cos loads of people were doing things and getting involved, doing nights and thing, but almost the attitude became so lax, like, ‘We can do whatever we want’–and that’s cool, I like that, but it’s not good enough to abuse that. Where’s the drive, where’s the passion, where’s the principle, where’s the opinion and where’s the creativity? Do what you want, don’t give yourself boundaries, don’t hold back–believe in yourself, don’t have a back-up plan–but have a purpose and have some soul and have some vision, otherwise it’s boring and it’s abusing it and it’s like, ‘Take take take take take’ and it’s disgusting, and I hate that. So that’s the intro; and then it’s basically: ‘I am young and I am ignorant, I speak before I think, I shout, I laugh, I cry, I scream, I fail, I succeed, I fall, I don’t get up, I change and grow, I’ll change my opinion always, I’ll contradict myself…’ Youth is the reason there’s still hope because as long as there’s new minds and new brains and new faces coming into the world, there’s always hope. It’s fresh and there can be change.
“So I’ve basically asked a bunch of my friends who don’t want to be in magazines, who want to live and be creative and have opinions, to contribute: there are short stories, monologues, poetry, speeches on the ride of fascism and ‘Islam is Peace’ and breastfed diplomacy, a comic…stuff I think is cool…my mum’s recipes, some fun stuff, some light-hearted stuff…
“I’ve got a platform now. I’m in a position where people listen to what I’m saying–not everybody, but some people. Some people will take it and be inspired by it. No one speaks any more, no one has opinions–people have ‘opinions’, like ‘I don’t give a shit and I’m going to slag everyone off and get really drunk and I don’t care’, but it’s not inspiring. It’s like yeah, you don’t care about being a dick. That’s not a risk, that’s not scary. You’d never take the risk to do something heartfelt. It’s more of a risk to say something that is passionate and political and feminist and socialist and whatever you want to be…People don’t do it now, and I think it’s good to do it. In the public eye, I mean.”
NEXT WEEK: Kate Nash talks about her influences, playing in front of Sir Paul McCartney and 20,000 girl guides (not together)…and has a minor breakdown when she discovers that Everett True…wait for it…once met Kurt Cobain.
HUGS AND KISSES TOP 5
What Everett True listens to when he’s not taking Isaac swimming
1. DAN DARTAIN VS THE SERPIENTES, “Cobras Pt II” (B-side of One Little Indian single “Tryin To Say”).
…because Dan called me up the other day to say how sorry he was I wasn’t coming to Alabama, and he wasn’t going to Brighton, and someone sent me the seven-inch of this, and reminded me how kick-ass awesome Dan sounds when his rock’n’roll is all stripped back and raw…
2. KATHRYN WILLIAMS AND NEILL MACCOLL, “Innocent When You Dream” (from the forthcoming Caw album Two) ….because I love to play this Tom Waits song on the piano myself, and I’ll allow that Ms Williams has a marginally better voice than me…
3. LOS CAMPESINOS!, “Broken Heartbeats Sound Like Breakbeats” (from the forthcoming Wichita album Hold On Now Youngster).
…because every so often I like to feel part of the indie zeitgeist…
4. NEIL YOUNG, “Let’s Impeach The President” (from the Reprise album Living With War)
…because I’ve only just gotten round to listening to this, and one of my fondest memories of New York still remains the night Rolling Stone‘s David Fricke passed along two front row balcony tickets to see Neil Young live. It was my first visit to NYC…
5. ARETHA FRANKLIN, “It Was You” (from the snappily-titled Rhino 2-CD compilation Rare & Unreleased Recordings from the Golden Reign Of The Queen Of Soul)
…because I try to be honest in these Top 5s, and I have barely listened to anything else during the last week…and Pete And The Pirates. Damn. Can I have a Top 6 this week?