She sings. She plays. She wrestles. The ebullient Kate Nash talks acting and angst, comfort and heart, Fast and Furious…
Kate Nash loves Fast & Furious. It’s her favourite film franchise after Jurassic Park. Tunes from the latest installment, The Fate of the Furious, play via her iPhone, via Bluetooth to in-room speakers during the final shots of Disorder’s exclusive photo shoot. “Thank god for this soundtrack, right?” she insists.
The singer-songwriter is enjoying a revival – her word – ten years since debut album Made of Bricks, nine years since her Brit Award win for British Female Solo Artist. She has a fourth album poised for release (“My manager said, it’s the most Kate Nash sounding record ever.”), a fifth mostly written, and she’s a proper actress, playing a wrestler in TV serial GLOW, the new show from Orange is the New Black creator Jenji Kohan. Yep, Kate Nash can now wrestle and do stunts. GLOW is an acronym of Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling; the show drops on Netflix in June ’17.
Not that the music has gone away (“I definitely don’t see myself not doing music.”) Kate is on tour this summer, hitting festivals including The Big Park in Winchmore Hill, London and Camp Bestival in Dorset, plus headline shows around the country, including two nights at the Shepherds Bush Empire. The tour celebrates the 10th anniversary of Made of Bricks, but new material is already Out There, notably an EP called Agenda, released during Record Store Day in March ’17. Liberated of a record deal for the past five years, Kate has financed her new album via crowdfunding site Kickstarter. Such is the success of this initiative she quips: “I want to do a Kickstarter for $134million to recreate Fast & Furious 8 as a music video.”
Kate Nash lives in Los Angeles. But on trips to London, HQ is with mum and dad in Harrow, where she grew up. She loves the Fast & Furious films because they are about family. She says “family” in italics, a wry acknowledgment that it’s kinda cheesy, but still… (“I have really strong family and friendships and that is the reason I’ve been able to continue, that support system.”) Kate also loves cars. As a teenager, working in Nando’s, she dreamt of pimping her ride, except she didn’t own one. (“I’d have a ’79 Mustang. Or an El Camino. Black. That’d be sick.”) She settled for hanging out with a friend’s brother whose motor had undercar neons.
Like fellow best females Amy Winehouse and Adele, Kate went to the Brit School in Croydon, an all-singing, all-dancing talent factory, aka stage school. Her breakthrough came through her songs uploaded on MySpace, given a boost by the friendship of Lily Allen. The mannered cockney of her (especially) early songs isn’t much evident in her speaking voice, perhaps softened by time in California. And 29-year-old-Kate seems fitter, more honed and toned than first-wave-Kate: from kickass curves to kickass. A showgirl wrestler: believable. But still funny and feisty and raw. She’s taken up vegetarianism in the intervening years: “I love animals. I’d rather eat a bad human being. With ketchup.”
The word “comfortable”, she uses, to describe her state of mind and her place in the biz, now. Being an early internet sensation, Kate has a direct, longstanding connection with her fan base that some record company product cannot hope to reproduce. “The most important thing is feeling good about who you are in your live show and building the relationship with fans, and using social media, and using the technology that we have and the outreach that we have now. Cos that power cannot be taken away from you,” she says.
DISORDER: Begin at the beginning, what got you started?
KATE NASH: First albums and starting bands, it’s all about trying to claim identity. It’s proving who you are and you feel frustrated a lot of the time. The way you’re written about can feel very undermining. Everyone’s trying to box you and you’re trying to fight, as any young person is, to not be boxed.
How is the scene different from your early days?
Everything is so sponsored and marketed, you’re not getting a pure reading of anything. But for the first time in ages there’s a scene happening in London and the UK. When I was 14, 15 it was that UK garage scene, which was really DIY. Kids made music in their bedrooms. I’m going to see a band called Dream Wife tonight, and there are a lot of cool female acts. Girli Music I’m really into. Black Honey. There’s a buzz.”
Because of zeitgeist, the shift in politics?
I’ve been talking about politics at the moment because I don’t see how anyone couldn’t talk about politics at the moment. And a magazine Tweeted me, “Kate Nash… using human rights to sell music is wrong.” I was like, what are you fucking on about? You really think talking about human rights is going to sell music? Dick. I wish talking about being kind to people and trying to be good is what made people money. That would be sick if that was true.
What is the opposition position?
Being the best you. Making the best art you can make. If there’s something you want to do, just fucking do it. We need to be feeling as strong, as creative, as empowered as we can be. We need a strong army to fight this depression and suppression and all the right wing politics that’s crashing down on us.
How have people adapted musically?
Away from the radio wash. Away from stuff that’s overly produced. There are times when people want pop stars to be [sings], “I got lots of money… and you’ve got nothing… Look at my amazing money, money, money life and how much better I am than you.” And people are like, yeeeeaahh. Escape and pretend. And there are other times when it could be like, this is fucking real, and we’re in it together. [Whispers] Yeah, it’s real. I find it weird when people want the fake shit. But then at the same time, I can go and watch Fast & Furious and be like, fuck yeah! And maybe that’s how some people are with music, just like dmm feel the drops and have the pop music tricks just penetrate me.
Have your health issues fired your motivation?
My heart condition [tachycardia, a higher than normal resting heart rate] has had more effect on me than I realized. Cos I’ve been back in the hospital with it a little bit. And that’s the first time in ten years. It was a really big deal. I had the surgery and they lasered off part of my heart. I was working in Nando’s, all my friends were off at Uni. And I was like, I have to do something now. Looking back, I see that [starting my music career] was driven by that. I quit my job, I didn’t worry about the risk. Because once you’ve gone through surgery where you have a risk of dying, you think it’s literally a risk to leave the house.
And how are you now?
I take my health more seriously, but I’m not freaking out. Physically and mentally it’s important for me to be healthy. I did training for six months last year to be a wrestler. Anxiety and working 24/7, I thrive on that. So, the physicality was amazing. Because when we were wrestling three hours a day I was getting up at six or seven and literally falling asleep on the sofa by 9pm. I couldn’t do anything else.
Tell us about GLOW?
Set in the 80s. The clothes and makeup were so fun. My bangs were up here [indicates some way above her head.] Hairspray. Spandex. Lycra and Glitter. That was the title line of the script. Then I watched the documentary. It’s kind of meta. They wanted to be on TV. And we want to be actresses. But now we’re wrestlers. It’s weird. And 14 women as the main cast, so empowering. We did a month’s training with each other before. And it made the bond between the girls so strong. We had each other’s backs so much because we literally had protected each other’s bodies physically. We’re in a group Whatsapp and we message all the time.
Who is your character in GLOW?
Rhonda Richardson, she’s British. They’re all failed model-actresses. Bunch of misfits. People think Rhonda’s dumb but she’s not, she’s resourceful. She’s really kind, really confident and she’ll try anything. And she’s been a really positive influence on me because she’s so confident as a character. There’s a naivete to her that’s really free-ing. The experience I’ve had on GLOW is totally changing me as a performer and a musician.
How do you feel about the music industry?
I get why people quit and get bitter and stuff. I definitely had times, [whispers] “can’t really do this any more”. Because all the clichés are true. But doing GLOW saved me, stopped me from getting into anything too angry or vulnerable. Wrestling with all those women built my confidence up that had been battered for years.
Tell us about your fourth album?
I’ve written so many songs. I started writing my fifth album, which is why I was like, gotta figure out what to do with my fourth album. I have a lot of pop music. It’s a mix of all my albums in a way. It does sound like all three. Poppy. Inspired by all my friendships, relationships, mental health. Bit of rapping. It’s quite genre-less. I just did songs. Just a shit ton of songs and pieced it together later. And that was freeing.
What are you like going on stage?
I don’t feel like Beyonce, where I’m Sasha Fierce and I have a different personality. I have always been a natural performer. I feel the free-est, the least judged and most free on stage. I feel, this is mine, this is my fucking stage. I like to find eyes [in the audience]. And just gravitate back and forth. Get close to my audience. And connect in the most personal way. If anyone’s like, I don’t know if I should go to this Kate Nash show, I’m like – go, you’re gonna make ten friends for life.
01. Necklace: Kate's own
02. Necklace, Kate's own
03. Jacket by Gilda & Pearl, crop top by River Island, hotpants by Kim West, fluffy slippers by Miss Pap, earrings by Sarina Suriano, fishnets by Transparenze from uktights.com
04. Jacket by Gilda & Pearl, crop top by River Island, hotpants by Kim West, earrings by Sarina Suriano
05. Bodysuit by Kim West, bolaro by L.O.M., boots by Public Desire, fishnets by Transparenze from uktights.com, ring by Kat & Bee Jewellery, sunglasses by For Art's Sake
06. Red dress by Naya Rea, earrings by Sarina Suriano, fishnets by Transparenze from uktights.com
07. Jacket by Gilda & Pearl, crop top by River Island, hotpants by Kim West, earrings by Sarina Suriano, fishnets by Transparenze from uktights.com
08. Jacket by Missguided, necklace by Phannatiq, earrings by Sarina Suriano, fishnets by Transparenze from uktights.com, fluffy slippers by Miss Pap
09. Jacket by Missguided, sunglasses by Rokit, necklace by Phannatiq, earrings by Sarina Suriano
Photography: Yoshitaka Kono
Fashion: Rebekah Roy
Hair and makeup: Evan Huang using Barry M and MAC
Fashion assistants: Adanna Chikwe and Lauren Mann
Location: The Lalit London Hotel