Magical fucking Kate Nash. If I think back to the auburn haired, twinkly-eyed teen singer I first interviewed back in 2006 when she was just 19 years old, I’d be hard pressed to predict, even with the aid of tarot cards, a crystal ball and a certified clairvoyant dredged up from the depths of the internet (they work right?), the twists and turns of this girl’s career.
There was Kate Nash—the Brit School Grad (noted alum: Adele, King Krule) making plucky pop songs in the Myspace-era, sing-speaking about relationships in her Harrow accent, her outspokeness in music and song earning her comparisons to Lily Allen.
There was Kate Nash the bad-ass who rejected the formula of “Foundations” and lunged headfirst into the world of girl groups and riot grrrl's raw punk. Fuck the British Top 40 and being a radio friendly unit shifter—she was following her gut.
There was Kate Nash who got ditched by her label (she found out over text back in 2012. Charming!) and who soldiered on, bleached and blackened her flaming hair as an ode to the ever influential 80s film Ladies and Gentlemen, The Fabulous Stains. The girl whose music circa 2013 and her third LP Girl Talk, was raw and red as steak tartare. The Kate Nash who became increasingly involved in mentoring young girls, encouraging them to rock.
The Kate Nash who shacked up in LA, hit the peroxide again and founded Girl Gang TV, a collective and an online platform for like-minded girls: outspoken, creative, questioning, supportive. Everyone making their way through the world.
Which brings us to the Kate Nash now. She’s left the cloudless skies of Highland Park in LA and skipped off back home to the UK—specifically to the leafy suburbs where her parents live, where the weather isn’t always cerulean clear. Recalibrated and ready to create Nash is back with an arsenal of new music. She’ll be releasing it as and when—her first songs since 2013. Below is the premiere of her first song and video, the seasonally appropriate “Good Summer.” The video is just about as English as you can get: Nash larking around in her backyard with her bevy of colorfully decked out mates. Tea and scones? Sure, but you know, there’s plenty of booze for afters. Sonically "Good Summer" is about as feelgood as it gets: it smacks of freedom and fun times.
We Skyped with Kate—sitting in her bed at 11 PM in West London after a nightmare journey home on the tube—to find out what’s up with her new music, the deal with Girl Gang TV, and why she’s looking back while still striding forward.
Noisey: Hi Kate! Tell me about the song?
Kate Nash: I came back to London it was my Dad’s birthday it was the summer it was grey and raining, miserable and cold, but it was my Dad’s 60th so we were having a party in the garden with a marquee tent and everyone came, no one cancelled, and we just sat out in the garden with our coats, in tents, and just had a really good day. When the summer comes out in England, it’s this crazy thing and people go mental. I was in London Fields the other weekend and it just looks like fires are happening because there's a thousand BBQs and I was on the tube just appreciating the things in London that I missed in LA. We've jsut got such an attitude of ploughing through. My main memory as a kid is walking back in the rain from school with wet laces slapping against my ankles and I hated that feeling, so when summer came it was always the most amazing time of year. You kind of felt this relief period where everything was going to be amazing. It was weird being in LA where everything was like that every day. And you were kind of like I wish it was gloomy so there was a relief from the pressure almost. There’s something about summer [in the UK] that’s a relief and I just wanted to write a pop song about that. The chorus goes "I've been waiting all year to feel this good"—even if it’s shit weather, it’s the fucking summer and we’re going to feel amazing and have wicked times so it was kind of a little ode to British summer really!
So what’s happening in the video?
The video I was inspired by Martin Parr, and I made this pinterest board, that had old pictures of the Carry On movies, and Ab Fab and cliché British fashion We shot it in my mom’s garden, had a BBQ and got my friends over and messed about and just ate loads of food. My friend made a lemon shaped pinata which I smashed with a baseball bat—a cute nod to "Foundations." It’s just my mates and my family in the garden messing around and doing what British people do when they have a Bank Holiday weekend…
Get drunk in the park, basically! I miss doing that so much! It doesn't happen here in the same specific way.
It's so specific!
Here they're like I have a margerita in a styrofoam cup and I'm like, no, it's not really like that…
It's more like, where's the tinny!? And the shit BBQ and some Strongbow.
Some sausages you may or may not get food poisoning from! How was it after shedding your label and doing Girl Talk independently?
It was an amazing experience, although it was really rough at the time, it taught me so much and strengthened my relationship with my fans and it was such a relief as well. I had certain things that I was under a lot of stress to do certain things that I felt like I had to do otherwise I felt like I couldn’t stay afloat. We played this amazing show at Shepherd’s Bush Empire which is one of my favorite venues and the stage manager there still talks about it was the most ever spent at the bar in the history of the venue, just at the after show party because all my friends and family came down! I think everyone really felt the pressure and everyone got wasted, it was such a relief to us all. It was one of my favorite shows ever. Then playing at Coachella and Lollapalooza, actually at Coachella, I was nervous about playing at big festivals without the backing of a label, but we had huge crowds and packed tents. After that is when I signed my publishing deal with Warner Chapell and that was kind of my start of new stuff again in 2014. I was in LA and didn’t really know what I wanted to do, so I wrote for other people for a little bit I wrote for Rita Ora, Keke Palmer and a couple people in America in one of those songwriter camps things which are a bit weird, but necessary..
What songwriter camps what are these?
So songwriter camps are you go to write for other people and labels and publishers pay for you to go. Like I went to one in Vegas and stayed and you go to the studio everyday with different producers and writers that put things together for different artists. I did one in France in a castle, but I met a couple of producers I really liked and ended up working with them on my own stuff and stayed in LA just writing.
Did you find it liberating writing for other people?
At first I liked it then after a while I was like I don’t want to do this anymore, but I do it every now and then. After a while I was just ready to do my own stuff again, so writing for other people became a bit like going to school and having to do something because you just want to do your own thing, but I also found some really great writers out there. It was fun to be able to do it because I’ve always been such a private songwriter so it’s quite nice to learn that you can share that process with someone else because it makes you feel like you’ve grown a little bit to be able to open up like that in front of other people.
What’s happening with Girl Gang TV?
Girl Gang TV I’m excited because I just started working with School of Doodle so we’re going to try to partner on some stuff like this UK tour I’m doing and planning a tour in the US together. I was working with girls who were in America one of them went to college, so we just took a little break from doing the YouTube stuff for a while and I did a radio show for a while that I just did by myself in LA at Bedrock which is really fun. Then I spoke to Molly from School of Doodle and we just clicked and she said it’d be the perfect collaboration for School of Doodle and I thought it would be perfect for Girl Gang as well to be able to work together. I really just wanted a partner as well who’s established with the layout and everything, we haven’t exactly figured out what we’re doing or announced anything yet, but we’re working behind the scenes to collaborate on stuff which is really cool.
What else can you tell me about the record?
I worked with Dave Bassett [Elle King, Fitz and the Tantrums] who is awesome, he was in Malibu, and we just got connected and I brought my dog to the studio and he has a dog, and we were just up in the hills in the middle of nowhere. He's just a really nice he’s a really nice guy. What I’ve realized with producers in the last year, it's almost like finding a translator for you finding someone who knows about to translate who you are and he got who I was as an artist. It was really cool working with someone who’s a talented producer and knows how to draw out someone who they already are, so it was pretty easy working together. We just did it in one day and then both of us were kind of like oh this is really fun it’s like a little surprise summer pop tune. The reason I wanted to put it out first—well it was summer, so the timing—but second of all there's little things about the production that reminded me of pop indie 2007, so I thought it was a cool sound to come back with because it reminded me of things about the scene from that period of time.
Like what specifically?
The sounds of the synths reminded me of things in my music, Metronomy, and some of the bands were around at the time like this is cool, little indie-pop song that's really understated. You know how pop then was really understated. I feel like everything now is really in your face!
That's funny, considering that Metronomy's released that record Summer '08!
I saw a massive poster for that that day of all the crazy BBQs in London Fields!
It's great! It is refrential to that time period but it still feels like he's progressing.
It's cool! It was my ten year anniversary of my first show in April. It’s a cool time to be releasing music again, I’m really ready to be back out there. I’m really excited about going on tour and I have all this music stored up from the past few years. I’m quite open about how we release it, we don’t have a structure or anything, but I'm just going to continuously releasing music now and work up to an album at some point. It’s quite a liberating time for an artist because although people have been complaining about how the industry is, maybe the labels haven't quite figured it out but some managers have and some artists have and there are some cool things about releasing music now. I don’t feel like now you have to stick one thing as much as people used to.
There's more freedom and flexibility.
Yeah, and diversity of stuff. There's people just doing what they want. Even quite big people. The rules have been broken a bit I guess because of the freedom of social media. I just want people to know that I'm going to be releasing regularly—as of now I'm not going to have big breaks between songs, I'm going to release music every five to six weeks probably.
I'm so excited!
Kim Taylor Bennett really misses getting drunk in the LDN parks in the summer. She's on Twitter.