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Kate Nash and I sit talking on a worn leather sofa somewhere in the labyrinth of Interscope HQ. A snowicane is blowing through Manhattan on the day, and it makes for a cozy, if hilariously damp and rumpled setting. The fast-talking, redheaded whirlwind that is Nash quickly spots what looks to be a corpse on an adjacent building roof. Thankfully, much to our collective chagrin and laughter, it appears to be an abandoned Ronald MacDonald statue covered in winter.

Nash is 22 now, and more mature than the precocious 20 year-old who released Made of Bricks in 2007. She lives with her boyfriend Ryan Jarman of the Cribs, and is a doting mother to her bunny, Fluffy. After finishing the cycle for Bricks, she took time to live again, breathe, learn to drive and join a punk band with some friends (The Receeders). A self-proclaimed “really messy person,” Nash is a light-speed chatterer; a breathless charmer. After all the corpse talk, I couldn’t help but begin our discussion of the excellent, if relentlessly emotional, My Best Friend is You (produced by former Suede guitarist Bernard Butler) by telling her that, after studying the album’s lyrics, she probably would be the ideal best friend. One who will sit in her jammies with you, eat pasta and biscuits, laugh to Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion and discuss Twilight star Robert Pattinson like every other young girl in the world (and woman). It’s a job she’s happy to cop to.

Did you choose Bernard Butler? How did you two get together?
It was Ryan who introduced us because he’s worked with Bernard before. I was a little bit unsure because I didn’t want to get tied in to the, “Oh, Duffy’s producer,” or one of those girls. Not in a rude way, but just a bit risky, because you don’t want to get tied into group stuff. I had quite fully formed demos because I’d been working on them for awhile, and he just got it. He understood. I really liked Bernard and got on well with him. I really respect him and I’m just really happy I chose to work with him.

That’s refreshing, because a lot of people run into trouble with the whole “sophomore record” thing.
People don’t get enough time. You have your whole life to write your first record and for the second one, [they’re] like, “Get it out in six months!” And that’s why there’s so much pressure, and a lot of second albums are shit because people don’t have enough time to write them. But my label, Fiction, was so supportive. Jim [Chancellor] the head of my label, rang me and was like, “What do you want to do?” and I was like, “Nothing… Leave me alone.” And he was like, “Okay, cool. You call me when you want to work.” And I did. The thing is that people don’t live, either. They don’t… you have to take a step back and have friends and have a life. You need experiences to draw from.

Which is great, because it’s so easy to get caught up in the machine of it.
Yes, which I understand, having been within it. It’s so scary itself, but it’ll also protect you by being kind of hidden by it. And then coming back out and seeing your friends again…it’s kind of scary thing to do. And also thinking of people who might think I’m a tosser now because I’m doing [this]. So I get why people become a tosser! [laughs]

Like Made of Bricks, many of the songs here seem to be centered on dickhead boys, and how they treat girls. Now that you’re older and in a committed relationship, what do you find that you’re bumping up against?
Communication is the most important thing. That’s where any arguments you have come from. I always feel when we argue that, God, is it totally me? Is it my issues? It’s not anything you’re doing, it’s not like you’ve done something wrong – it’s just me being insecure. I’m young and unsure of the world.

And sensitive!
Yes! Oh my God. [laughs] Fucking hell, I’m so sensitive about everything! But you know, it’s really healthy to argue. I always say, “I just want to be able to argue with you and it to be okay.” The best thing about it is that you can be fucking mental and shout and scream at each other and then be like, “I can’t believe we did that, I’m so sorry!” And then everything’s fine again. I think sometimes in relationships, you get scared that you’re arguing too much. And honestly, we’re not always doing that! But my sisters, my mum, those are people that I’ve fought with the most, and that I love the most. I think that when you love someone, it’s OK, and then you can enjoy the best times.

katenash I love the homework assignment you gave fans on your website for the book that comes with some pressings of the album. How have the entries affected you?
There was this one letter that was really, really personal, and I was unsure whether or not to use it. It was so good because it was so extreme. It was a mother who said, “You want to know what pure love is? This is pure love: my four-year-old baby girl is dying of leukemia…” It was saying, “Nobody else knows what love is. A mother in the wild will look after her child.” It gives me goose bumps to think about it. I wanted to have loads of different experiences of love, and the different types of love. I’ve been thinking about it a lot recently. I’ve been thinking about how I hate the way society portrays love to us. I hate it. I think it’s so oversexed. It’s gone 360 – we’ve liberated ourselves so much where everything’s so sexual, it’s like, you’re making me feel more uncomfortable about sex than ever before. It’s in my face, all the time.

If you’re not slutty…
Yes! Then you’re a prude. It annoys me. It makes people think that there’s something wrong with their relationships. That arguing is not cool. I have massive issues with all of it, and think it could be a reason why a lot of people have issues in their relationships, and why they miss out on things. It takes work to be in a relationship! Life isn’t easy. It’s hard to get out of bed in the morning. Why should a relationship be easy?

I think that my most amazing example of love in my life is my granddad. And I’ve only started to realize that because I have these incredible pictures of my granddad, and he looks like a boxer. My nan looked like a Hollywood movie star. And now, they’re older, and my nan looks after my granddad because he cannot care for himself. Everyday is spent crying or arguing, or being frustrated… and that’s love. That’s caring for someone.

I got my nan to write a piece for [it] actually. It starts by saying, “I didn’t know John, but he saw me walking past a shop, and he told his friend, ‘That’s the girl I’m going to marry.’” And 18 months later, they got married! They have three children and five grandchildren. And then she says, “We’ve had our ups and downs, but never any serious arguments. Ill health has now taken over and I care for him, and that’s just life.” I want to see more of that in the world. I want to see more of that in film. You have romance, and you have all those beautiful moments that are really special and really amazing, and then you have everyday life as well. You live for the romance, and you live for those little moments that come up every now and then, but you’ve got to work at things. People need to know that, because otherwise they get scared and miss out on an amazing relationship.

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“I Just Love You More” is quite punkish, almost reminiscent of PJ Harvey. What does it mean to you?
I’m really looking forward to playing that live because I think it’s going to be such a good release. It’s kind of ambiguous. It can mean you are being passionate and emotional, it can be pissed off or it can be funny or whatever you feel you want it to be about. It’s a release, and it’s fun and energetic. Like, “Yeeeahhhhh!!!”

“Do Wah Doo” is interesting because it seems to touch on female dynamics. What are you exploring here?
I based it on this friendship. In the song, it’s kind of about “girl fancies boy,” but where it came from, it was about my best friend from when I was five. We used to play in the woods together; I wasn’t a very girly girl. When we got to high school, I was friends with these girls, and they were very girlie, and lip-glossing and into boys. I introduced them to him, and they start hanging out. Then these girls turned on me and started being bitches. He picked them over me. I felt so betrayed, like, “You’re like me. You don’t like that kind of person. You don’t like someone shallow, we’re not shallow people, and not interested in all of that shit. I can’t believe you’ve betrayed me, and let me down for someone that isn’t you.” It just made me feel bad. Girls can be such bitches to each other. I think it’s bred within us to feel like everything is a competition.

Survival of the fittest, to an extent.
Yes, survival of the fittest. And girls, probably, again, coming from it being bred within us from a long time ago wanting to be the girl that’s most attractive, or…

The one with the most cake.
Yeah! And I just think we need to fucking get over it, and support each other. Fine, hate a girl as well, but because she’s a bitch, not because she’s someone you might actually like, but that you’re afraid of.

“Later On” seems to show you under the microscope instead of a boy.
The lyrics are, “I’m not what you anticipated…” and that’s very defensive. So say that I fucked up, and did something wrong, but I’m like, “Fuck you! I’m not what you thought. I’m not perfect.” I think everybody can feel like that. When you’ve really fucked up and done something bad and you’ve hurt someone’s feelings or made a mistake, you can turn it on someone else straightaway. So yeah, [it] was turned on me, questioning. I do it all the time as well, because I’m like, blah blah blah all the time and opinionated and have all these morals, and then I get really down about it. I always want to be one of those mysterious people who don’t really talk much and don’t give away so much.

The stream-of-consciousness monologue during “Don’t You Want to Share the Guilt?” is extremely raw.
I wrote it in Australia, while there for Big Day Out. It was a really amazing experience and it’s probably one of my more ambiguous songs, which is nice for me, because I feel like I’m so obvious in my storytelling. It’s quite sad as well, and you almost don’t know why. I feel like talking about the person you meet, it could be a lover, a parent that you’re caring for, an older person… It feels damaged in some way. Fragile. And the monologue at the end has got nothing to do with it – it’s a ramble of trying to figure yourself out. –Carrie Alison, Photos by Pat Graham

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