April 20, 2010

An Interview with Kate Nash

Kate Nash certainly can’t be accused of playing it safe in her creative expression lest anyone take offense. On the strength of her million-selling 2008 debut, Made of Bricks, she garnered as much notoriety for her brazen, often tongue-in-cheek lyricism as she did for the infectious, melodic distinctions of her music.

On her sophomore LP, My Best Friend Is You, Nash has ratcheted up the irreverence, the most vivid instance occurring on “Mansion,” a spoken-word piece in which she fires off expletives with deliberate intent. Perhaps of greater significance overall, though, is how she has matured as a songwriter. With Bernard Butler producing, Nash bears out a dizzying retro vibe spiked with moments of an experimental edge, revealing herself as a confident artist further coming into her own.

What was your ambition for this new album? What did you do this time that you didn’t do last time?

I wanted to try some new things out, make it a little bit rawer. And I wanted to put the spoken word stuff in there; take a few more risks and just experiment a little bit more sonically, really.

The mood of “I Just Love You More,” its edginess and guitar, did you strive for that or was it something Bernard Butler contributed to? How did the song get to sound like that?

The demo that I did before I worked with Bernard was really similar to that; all the parts were the same. So it was like Bernard knew how to make it sound as best as it possibly could.

It’s got a rawness that expands upon what you did on Made of Bricks, in ways that weren’t introduced as fully.

Yeah, that’s what I wanted to do. I just wanted to do something really harsh and that I really want to play live, scream and just fucking shout.

Album art unfortunately doesn’t seem to be as important to people as it was even 10, 15 years ago. But it's important to you. You designed the artwork for this album. You did all that yourself, didn’t you?

I definitely worked very hard with people. If I could have done it all by myself, I would’ve. I definitely care about it a hell of a lot. I had all these influences, like Bauhaus art collages, and some photographs and art pieces that were quite similar in feeling. There was another woman as well and I can’t remember her name, but she had a piece that was, like, images, female body parts and also mechanical things and tires. It’s completely faceless. The idea of it is there’s no face in that because she felt as a woman she was faceless in society. She wasn’t as respected. Then I found all these beautiful photographs of hands and of people not facing and being covered by things, their faces being covered.

Are the themes and temperament of these art pieces you were inspired by reflected in the music: the view of society on women without a face, them not receiving their due respect and dignity?

I have felt like that quite strongly having been in the music industry and come across that quite a lot. Obviously sexism still very much exists. [From] my favorite bands like Bikini Kill and Sleater Kinney and Bratmobile, that’s kind of instilled within me in my subconscious. I do want to make a point of it and I do want to talk about it and try to change it get people to just be more…


Yeah, and not be afraid of the word “feminist” and see it as equality.

“Mansion” comes as a jolt.

Yeah. It’s extreme, isn’t it?

What were you trying to do with that song? It’s not until you hit the last line that the narrative becomes clear.

The message is so strong that it has to be in your face, but it might sound explicit and kind of like, O my God, what the fuck? Then, as you said, it resolves itself at the end; then the point is made kind of clear. And then it moves to the second part of the poem, which is the more positive, empowering side of it. I was angry in the moment when I wrote it. I was really pissed off and felt really passionately. And so I thought, I’m not going to censor it. I’m not going to edit it. Everybody is too scared of making points these days. A lot of music has become kind of bland because of that. So I thought, I’m just not going to bother being scared of it.

My Best Friend Is You is available now everywhere music is sold. For more information on Kate Nash, including upcoming tour dates, please visit the artist's official website.