Kate Nash is heading to Leeds in August. She speaks to Neil Hudson about crowdfunding her latest album and the US series GLOW
Kate Nash is enjoying what you might call a revival, although the pop singer-turned-actress doesn’t see it like that.
She has a new album out, Yesterday Was Forever and in August, she is part of the line-up at this year’s Leeds Festival. As if that wasn’t enough, she is currently appearing in the second series of the acclaimed US drama GLOW, in which she plays a female wrestler.
At 31-years-old, she’s done more than most, having been a household name in the early-to-mid 2000s, when she topped the charts with hits like Foundations, Nicest Thing and Do Wah Do, all of which are introspective, verging on morbid ‘talkie’ songs, in that they articulate a kind of internal monologue riddled with self-doubt and general teen/tween relationship angst. In 2008, she won the award for Best British Female Artist at the Brit Awards but thereafter faded from view.
While she might be back in the public eye, she sees her resurgence as merely a continuation of her career.
In some ways, her Mockney singing patter puts one in mind of Lily Allen, a comparison she has previously distanced herself from. Still, she is prolific (and rebellious) enough to have earned her colours when it comes to being a genuine agitator. In the past, she has railed against the record industry and its merciless predilection for profit, not to mention a dearth of anyone who’se not ‘straight, white and male’ in the industry.
Having seen first hand how record companies treat artists ‘on the wain’, she’s a vehement supporter of change. In part, that’s why she ‘kickstarted’ her latest album, raising the £150,000 needed to produce and distribute it herself, thereby cutting out the record companies altogether.
When I speak to her, she is in London, at her sister’s house, helping deliver leaflets to drum up support for a new dog walking business her sibling has started and “helping to fix up her van”. Later the same day, she is due to fly to New York to resume filming on GLOW.
“There have been so many phases to my career. I didn’t know if I was going to be able to explore acting, it’s so much in other people’s power but I am really grateful to be doing this, it’s refreshed this side of my career and tapped my creativity. With GLOW, half the year taken up being a series regular, so it’s all about making decisions about where best to spend time/energy. When I am home, I will be writing quite a lot. When I am on GLOW, I am settled, I can go to studio at weekend, it comes in bursts.
“I am really excited to be coming to Leeds,” she enthuses. “I have played there before but this is my first time on the public stage, I have not played my new songs in the UK yet so I am excited to do that.
“I have been looking for ways to get this [album] out for a while, so I’m happy to see it released finally. The great thing now is a lot of artists have the power to carve out their own career. The internet has given them a direct relationship with their fans, it’s made them more powerful. I feel like I’ve created my own career almost.
“I Kickstarted the record, raised £150k and was able to globally release the record.
“I have no idea what the future holds, I never say never to anything. I feel like I want to keep moving with the times. Personally, I hope the [music] industry changes and I am hopeful that it will, to create some opportunities for artists and nurture their careers.”
Her part in GLOW - she plays Rhonda ‘Britannica’ Richardson - came about after she was spotted in a pilot for a since-cancelled HBO show called The Devil You Know, starring Eddie Izzard. It was a complete change of pace for Kate.
“I was really nervous about the whole thing but so excited to try it. We were all learning to do something we were scared of but we really learned to appreciate the wrestling community. You learn things which are quite difficult and really impressive to look at.”
Despite her globetrotting, she remains relatively grounded. “I love the North, I spent a lot of time there as a kid and I have also toured the North quite a lot. People there are really up for a good time, I’ve had some amazing gigs in Leeds. The Leeds and Reading Festival has reputation for having rowdy, passionate crowds, it’s exciting to be part of it. You get real music fans there, so I’m excited to be playing new music in that environment.”
She is no stranger to the North, living in Newcastle for a time as a child, the middle of three sisters. “We were very close to each other but we used to fight a lot, we were quite passionate teenagers, quite hormonal.”
While hormonal frustrations may have fuelled her first foray into music - she played piano from seven and aged 17, suffered a leg injury which prompted her to write her first songs - she remains passionate, honest and grounded.
“I’m still very passionate. I do not think anyone should mellow when there’s children in cages and Donald Trump as president. I care about the progression of the world, I would like to think everyone does but there’s clearly a lot of sexism and homophobia... if you have a voice, if you have power, that’s a privilege and I think you have a responsibility to use that to benefit people.”
Her next project is working on the score for an ‘in-house’ musical called Only Gold, which is due to be shown to Broadway producers.
Kate Nash will play the the Public Stage at Leeds Festival on August 26.