By Josh T. Landow & Joey Odorisio
British singer-songwriter Kate Nash made a splash back in 2007 with her debut album Made of Bricks, showcasing her sharp songwriting and witty lyrics. Since then, her sound has expanded and gotten more eclectic over the course of the past decade. The past year has seen her profile skyrocket, as she used Kickstarter to fund the release of her fourth album Yesterday Was Forever while also co-starring on the smash Netflix series GLOW. Recently, Kate sat down with Josh T. Landow & Joey Odorisio of FMQB to discuss her new record, feminism, mental health and pro wrestling.
How was your experience of working with Kickstarter?
I feel like it still is the experience because it’s still figuring it out as you go along. It was nerve-wracking doing the Kickstarter. I didn’t want to do it at first because I thought it might fail and I was nervous the entire time. But I was also pretty excited. The more time went on, I realized it made more sense for me to be doing that. I had terrible meetings with record labels that made me feel like crap.
You already had three albums out through bigger labels and that helped you build enough of a fan base that when you go off on your own with something like Kickstarter, they’ll follow you.
It was so stressful. You have to brace yourself for failure or you have to change how you measure success. It’s really easy to feel like “I’m falling because everything’s hard” or “Should it be easier? Should I keep going because it’s so hard?” But actually, we’re having amazing experiences on tour that are a constant reminder.
I met a girl the other night who was crying through “Nicest Thing,” so much so that Emma in my band wanted to run down and hug her during the show. We met her afterward and she said her and her sister had listened to my music together and they’d always talked about going to a show. Her sister died, and that was her sister’s favorite song. And she was from Alaska and we were in Denver, and her grandparents lived in Denver, so she decided it was a sign and came to the show on her own. That is so amazing and that’s how I want to measure success – just having a connection with people through music.
You can’t take it for granted. It’s easy to get caught up in that fast-paced lifestyle and what boxes you need to tick, but I’ll remember that for the rest of my life. When I look back on Made of Bricks and being on the charts and played on the radio, that’s not something I look back on and think, “Oh it was so moving being played on Radio 1, wow.” It was fine but I wasn’t happy then and I’m happier now as an artist and I still get to have these amazing, emotional moments with fans.
You’ve done a lot and spoken out for young women and artists in the music industry, and with #MeToo and the whole Harvey Weinstein saga, do you feel that things are finally getting better?
So much better, especially in the last year. It’s so encouraging, even on a basic level, like seeing Beyoncé stand on a stage with “feminist” scrawling behind her. In 2007, when people would interview me about feminism, it was a controversial subject. The fact that it became a popular mainstream thing is amazing because it’s become at the forefront of a lot of conversations and there’re so many more female bands out there. I’m seeing new talent coming up all the time.
These women running the #TimesUp and #MeToo movement coming out and talking about these horrible experiences…sexual assault and rape…these are not nice things to talk about. And the reason women have been so afraid to talk about them before is, even being the victim of something like that, you become also the villain and get all of the s**t. No one wants to go public about all of this stuff. It’s not fun to talk about. And now it’s incredible because more and more women are doing it so it’s becoming a safe space for talk about it and consent and to teach young boys about sex.
We’ve seen the extremes and now we’re seeing these muddy blurred lines come out that are more difficult and ugly to sift through, but I think it’s all part of a great shift.
You’ve also spoken very openly about mental health issues in recent years and tackle them in the song “Life in Pink.”
As I’ve gotten older, I’ve really grasped the concept of mental health and looking after yourself and addressing your demons. I feel constantly caught in between a state of trying to save myself and destroy myself. [“Life in Pink”] is kind of about that. I need the balance of the things that society is telling me to do that I actually need to do, like get up, put clothes on, have a shower…you need to be part of society. So I need an element of that, and in the video, that’s the nurse who is trying to get me to conform to those things. And the other part is the crazy side of me, which is more creative and fun. But both of them can get out of control.
The things that make me artistic can also become overwhelming and make me unhealthy. So I need both. I need to rebel against society but I also need to play my part in it a little bit.
Yesterday Was Forever is very eclectic and you branch out into different genres. There are some R&B influences, in “Body Heat” and “Hate You,” and “Karaoke Kiss” is a kind of ‘80s dance tune. Were you trying to get yourself out of your comfort zone?
I always try to stretch out a bit but also I was inspired by moments. I didn’t go to the studio and sit there and make a record, I did loads of different songs across a period of four years. So whatever mood took my fancy, “I want to do something like this or try something like this.” And then towards the end, I was able to put it together and get a record out of it. The process was fun because I was literally experimenting with songs and thinking individually about them.
You also said that some of these songs are a bit of a reaction to how Made of Bricks was received.
Yeah, I read some teenage diaries of mine and had forgotten about whole chunks of depression that you have as a teenager that are so dramatic. And I started thinking about when my music first came out. There was something written about my first record saying, “It’s like having to listen to a teenage girl’s diary” in this really derogatory way. And I was a teenage girl when I wrote it so it’s kind of like “f*** you – how dare you?”
It’s such a weird world because everything that’s being marketed in the mainstream is basically being marketed towards teenage girl fandom. Cause if you get that, then you get money forever. Yet none of the people doing that respect teenage girls, thinking they’re silly idiots. So it’s so weird to be selling to teenage girls while underestimating them basically. I found that really insulting and as a 30-year-old, I feel now teenage girls are really reclaiming themselves and I don’t think you can talk about teenage girls in the same way that you used to. That’s great because teenage girls are starting to realize their power and say to people, “Actually I’m smart and sincere and have depth. Yeah, I can write in my diary and have feelings.”
After the shooting in Parkland, FL, it showed that people really should be listening to teenagers.
Yes, absolutely. There’s so much power and strength there and intelligence. That is always the future, young people are always the future; it’s just science. So it’s really inspiring, especially in this political climate, to see young people so empowered and strong and being respected.
GLOW was outstanding and one of the best shows of last year. Season 2 starts June 29 – what can you tell us?
I think this season is even crazier than last season. It was just so much fun. The girls made their first episode of the show in the last episode of Season 1 but they’re still trying to figure out how to make it work. So the GLOW girls are still not too polished yet. [My character] Rhonda personally has been very independent, she’s been living in her car and figuring out stuff by herself. And you see her now dealing with being a part of a team and having all these women around her and how that affects her life.
How has getting in shape for GLOW helped you physically as a performer on-stage on tour?
My show’s been getting more and more physical and now it’s more physical. I need to jump! I need to take a bump! <laughs> I absolutely love being in the ring. It’s like a live show really. When we do our wrestling scenes and we have the extras in the audience and they’re cheering, it’s the same adrenaline that happens. The physicality, the comfort with my body, knowing what my body can do…I trust my body now, I feel more coordinated because of the wrestling and the strength. Plus the stamina and the discipline of an actor of coming to work.
Something about being an artist leads you to believe that you have to be damaged and fragile and emotionally unstable all the time, and even though we are <laughs>, you don’t have to be suffering to do your job. That’s an unhealthy image that’s projected as cool. Touring is really hard and doing live shows, you’re going to come across problems every single day that you wouldn’t even think of. But there’s an hour-and-a-half or two hours every night where everything syncs up and you’re here for this reason and I’m going to give these people in this room the best night that I can possibly give them. It’s really helped me to have that discipline of being professional and no matter how rough the day can be, I’m going to show up for work.
How did you get the part in GLOW since it feels like it was written just for you and blends so much of your personality and interests?
It’s a dream job and I completely agree that it feels like my perfect world that I never would’ve realized. A female wrestling league somehow fits my life perfectly. I met Jen Euston the casting director when I was cast in a pilot Eddie Izzard starred in that was directed by Jenji Kohan and Gus Van Sant and it was such a cool experience. That pilot never got picked up, but because of the experience, I met Jen and Jenji. The casting for GLOW said something like “Hairspray and glitter and spandex and wrestling” and I said, “I wanna do this!” I watched the trailer for the documentary about the original GLOW, which is also on Netflix, and I just auditioned. I made a normal audition tape with the scenes and then a weird audition tape with the skits. But I feel like I’m living a dream every time I’m on set.