Kate Nash Dives Deep Into Her New Album, the Importance of Women in Music and Kicking Ass in ‘GLOW’
Kate Nash began her career as a DIY web phenomenon, and catapulted to stardom, earning a Brit award for her debut, “Made of Bricks.” Last year, she embarked on a tour celebrating that record’s ten-year anniversary. The decade in between has seen enormous strides from Nash as a musician, actress, and activist.
Nash has expanded her signature blend of bubblegum pop and garage rock to explore diverse sounds over the year, delving into ‘60s girl group fare on 2010’s “My Best Friend Is You,” and rockabilly stylings on the follow up, “Girl Talk.” Now she’s back with a lively and versatile new album, “Yesterday Was Forever,” and an upcoming U.S. tour. Partly inspired by looking back through her old diaries, the new record revisits skirmishes with mental illness, and recaptures the excitement of old romances, in a set of consistently catchy, engaging, and quirky songs.
Nash declined the comfortable major label route, choosing, along the way, to work independently, with crowd-sourced funding. She has been an outspoken critic of the music industry, bringing well-due attention to their inadequacy in nurturing real talent, especially in female artists. Having taken up various activist causes over the years, Nash has been a powerful inspiration for young girls worldwide, and her latest album is meant as something of an homage to the teenage girl.
Since her starring role in the 2013 film “Powder Room,” Nash has acted in several movies, and is famous for her recent role as wrestler Rhonda “Britannica” Richardson on Netflix’s “GLOW.” In anticipation of her new album and second season of the Netflix series, Nash spoke with Entertainment Voice to discuss the stories and influences behind her new songs, the ongoing struggle against sexism, and her experience on the set of “GLOW.”
You’ve always had a vaguely teenage sensibility in the energy of your songs and you’ve revealed that your latest album “Yesterday Was Forever” is partially inspired by your teenage diaries? What prompted you to take this direction on the album?
I was doing a lot of archiving because I’ve been working on a documentary, and I just read through my diaries, and I was like, “Oh no, I forgot about how I felt about all this stuff!” and just how sincere and deep it is when you’re a young girl. I think releasing an album as a teenager and getting attacked by the media for being a young girl, seeing people saying, “Oh she’s just being silly, and writing in her diary.” And it’s almost like reclaiming that, for me, and being really proud of it. Having done the ten year anniversary of “Made of Bricks,” I feel like I have ownership over it, and I’m proud of what I’ve done, and I feel very confident about it. And I think the teenage girl has also reclaimed herself in the last few years. Like, we see so many young women spearheading incredible things and talking about issues that other people don’t. And I just have found that a lot of industries take advantage of young girls and easily mock them, but then at the same time, everyone tries to pitch and market everything to them because they’re the most loyal fan base who really invest in what they believe in, so I just wanted to pay a little homage to that, really.
Do you feel like it has improved, and that girls are less likely to get dismissed now than when you first began?
Yeah, I’ve seen massive improvement since, because I’ve been doing press for like eleven years, and I feel like I’m talked to differently, and I also see that women are written about is different. And I think there’s obviously far to go, and there’s going to be far to go for a long time, but it’s really nice to see that there are steps forward and that things like the “Time’s Up” movement are happening, and the “Me Too” campaign, and women are creating safer spaces for themselves by speaking out and being heard, and I love that.
Some of our favorite lyrics on the new album are from “Body Heat,” when you say, “You make my dopamine go fuckin so crazy.” Is there a special story that led to these lyrics?
Cool (Laughs). I was writing that with my friend Asia, and we were just having a moment where we wanted it to be like a two-become-one Spice Girls kind of bit, and then it kind of felt like a sexy Prince moment, and we were like, “Let’s make this song like a sexy pop song, basically,” and I think it’s just that feeling when you’re with someone and just all over each other, I guess, and I thought that was a really funny line, And, “Baby, you could steal my sheets,” like in the middle of the night, you know, that always happens. I’m actually usually the person stealing the sheets. I totally steal the sheets in the middle of the night. When someone really likes you, when you’re like, “I don’t care, you could kind of do anything right now,” because it’s, like, all exciting and fun. It was a fun song to write.
In your song “Musical Theatre,” you say, “one two three, one two three, one two three, count one two three.” Many people with OCD tend to pick even numbers, as there’s a sense of balance in having things sorted out in pairs. As someone who’s dealt with OCD before, do you count to three specifically, and if so, why three?
I often get threes come to me, and I think it’s like rhythm. It literally is just like “one two three, one two three, one two three, one two three, one two three.” That’s a sort of normal rhythm to me, and patterns come in threes with my OCD, and it’s funny because I just have to do things three times. It’s usually the number that pops up. And I was in Target, and this little boy was going down the stairs, and he was going, “one two three, one two three, one two three, one two three, one two three, one two three,” and I was like, “OCD!” (Laughs). I just saw this little kid doing that, and I was thinking good luck to his mum, but I really related to him (laughs), and I just thought, “That’s fucking perfect. I need to put that in this song.”
Will you share the story behind the song, “Drink About You,” particularly the title line?
Yeah, it’s kind of like that feeling of being obsessed with somebody. And, you know, we all get into unhealthy obsessions sometimes, and if it’s during a breakup, when it’s the only one that you kind of hold on to, if there’s like one particular person that you get hung up on, it’s easy for things to become unhealthy, and it’s just saying, like, “You’re the only one I, like, drink my sorrows about” kind of thing.
You have a distinctive accent and were featured in an exhibit at the British Museum about the evolution of the Cockney accent. You have never affected other accents like many other artists do. What does your accent mean to you?
It’s funny because I do think my accent has changed and evolved as I’ve grown up, and I think that that’s definitely a maturity thing. I’ve just had different phases of living in different areas of London, and when I was going to school in South London, I became really affected by South London, and it was just a more youthful time. And now I think I reset. As soon as I talk to someone from London, it just comes back really strong. I don’t know, I try not to think about it too much because it’s kind of a headfuck. People have comments about it, and I just try to be myself, you know? It’s interesting though, language is so evolutionary. It can just evolve into new things. It’s kind of crazy.
There’s much to be read about your biggest influences, but are there any new influences that you feel might have made their way into your sound, or your output in general, this time around? If so, who?
I think the Velvet Underground, I think garage rock… I don’t know, it’s very hard to define your own music like that.
The Velvet Underground, nice. Is there a particular song (or moment) in which you feel the Velvet Underground shows up?
I feel like the song “Today” feels like that to me. But like every song I make is pretty different. I feel like there’s Alicia Keys inspired on [the album]. There’s also the sort of punk rock stuff that I listen to. I think wrestling has inspired it as well.
There’s a lot of ‘90s, and a good bit of ‘80s, in your latest album, as well as plenty of present spirit. If you had to pick a decade that you think made its sonic stamp on your latest album more than any other, which one would it be and why?
Oh god… I guess maybe the ‘90s. Or the “naughties” (laughs). Just because that’s like what I grew up in as a child and that always heavily influences me.
You’re passionate about the importance of women in music along with their experiences and influence. You’ve started a “Rock ‘n’ Roll for Girls After School Music Club,” have brought attention to sexism in the music industry, and even called out a certain record store for having a “females of all description” music category. Have you seen that a lot?
I’ve seen that loads. I mean, you see it at magazine stands, when there’s a sports section, a gaming section, a music section, and then it’s like, “Women’s Section,” and it’s only like beauty, and you’re kind of like, “Why isn’t music considered women’s, or like sports?” It’s just so sexist. I’ve seen it a lot.
Have you seen a decrease in sexism in the music industry over the last couple of years?
It’s hard to say because I feel like I have left the music industry, in a way.
Even though you just came out with a new album?
Yeah, but I don’t feel part of the industry. I feel like it’s an independent record, it’s on kickstarter, and I’m promoting it and touring it, but in terms of record labels and stuff like that, I have no idea what happens there because I don’t exist there. I don’t have any experience there, and I haven’t for about six years, so I don’t feel like I can speak on that, and I think it’s worth talking to women who are actually, like, in the industry. There’s definitely a lot of different types of sexism.
What do you see as the way forward?
I think nurturing talent, nurturing real, experimental talent, women that don’t fit into boxes, being supportive, and not expecting people to be one thing forever, and not judging women so much for the way they look.
You play the character Rhonda “Britanica” Richardson on “GLOW.” How much has acting influenced your music?
I would say the acting side has really inspired the performance. The disciplinary side of things, you know. As an actor, you’ve got to be extremely professional, and the music industry is, by nature, like unprofessional. And I think showing up, having done the work before, and having to perform on “action,” and that’s a disciplinary that’s cool for a musician to learn because we’re so much, often times, about feeling and being in the moment, and sometimes you can’t be in the moment. You just have to get the job done, so I found that really cool. And also, the wrestling side of it has really freed up my relationships physically and just given me a whole new confidence.
Has music influenced your acting?
Yeah, I don’t know how it specifically has, but Rhonda is definitely creative and has a musical side to her, which I think is cool, and I think developing my persona as a performer really helped me on set.
Many actors put a bit of themselves into the roles they play. Is there a certain scene in the first season of “GLOW” in which you put a lot of yourself into your character Rhonda “Britannica” Richardson?
I feel like the way Rhonda approaches things is really positive, and I feel like that. She greets people with a sort of naivete, but she’s not naïve, it’s almost like she just doesn’t think that way, and she’s really living in the moment. Some people can be judgmental of her, and she doesn’t take it weird, she doesn’t take it badly. She can easily spin something into a positive thing, because she is just quite chill about stuff. I’m not necessarily chill, but I always see the positive in everything, so I can really relate to that.
The first season of “GLOW” was so physical and energetic. What can your fans expect from your character in Season 2?
Rhonda has been like a solo person, living in her car and doing everything herself, and I think she experiences being part of a team in this season.
What would you consider to have been the most challenging aspect of filming the second season of “GLOW?”
The wrestling is definitely more intense (laughs). And I think having some more serious scenes, and figuring out the balance within comedy, like how dramatic you take things.
What aspect would you consider the most fun?
Just being with the girls, being reunited with my “GLOW” girls. I just fucking love them so much. They’re amazing, they’re so funny, and we just have such a fucking blast on set.
Love it! Anything else you’d like to add?
Just enjoy the album. I worked really hard. It’s taken a long time to do it, and I really hope people love the record.