Frisky Q & A: Songstress Kate Nash Talks Love, OCD, And Bunny Rabbits
If you are reading this and “Foundations” isn’t running through your head right now, you have problems. Kate Nash burst onto the music scene in 2007 with her album Made of Bricks, giving a whimsical alternative to other British songbirds like Amy Winehouse and Lily Allen. Three years and one mental breakdown later, she is back with a new album, My Best Friend Is You, that has a serious retro vibe while letting her scream at the top of her lungs. (Check out her first video, for “Do Wah Doo,” below.) After the jump, Kate talks to The Frisky about her obsession with airports in the ‘50s, her issues with OCD, and why she wishes she could join Bikini Kill.
Which experience was harder for you—recording and releasing the first album or the second?
They’re very different experiences. On the first record, all of it was happening for the first time. It was the first I’d ever experienced touring. Dealing with the changes to my life was intense and difficult. Recording the second album was easy, but actually thinking about releasing it and putting it out there is very different. The first time around you’re a new artist and people are interested. It’s new. The second time, it’s like “Oh s**t. I’m coming back with something now.” I was really proud of the album and happy with it. I think that’s important, especially for a second record. A lot of people put out something they’re not fully satisfied with because of that pressure that you have to do it quickly and it has to be similar to your old stuff. For me, it was important to take time and focus on making it quality and writing something I was happy with.
In what ways is this album different from the last one?
Sonically, it’s got some new directions. The writing has developed—I’ve grown up a lot as a writer. I’m five or six years older than when I wrote the last songs, so they have to be different. If they weren’t, it’d be rubbish.
It’s called My Best Friend Is You. How did you come up with that name?
It took me a while. I was really frightened about it. I think romance and love is about being someone’s best friend. It was inspired by my grandparents because my granddad is quite sick and my nan is taking care of him. I found these really amazing photos of them in the ‘30s and it was all very romantic and beautiful, and now it’s quite stressful and difficult. For me as a young person, looking at that as an example of love is one of the most romantic things I’ve ever seen. It’s about being someone’s best friend and being a team. I thought it was a cute title.
Who do you consider your best friend?
I have a lot of really, really good friends. My sisters. When I’m on tour, my band and crew are my best friends. My boyfriend [Ryan Jarman of The Cribs] is my best friend. He’s really amazing. I’m really lucky—I’ve got a lot of amazing people in my life, and that helps me stay hopeful and interested in life and kind of sane, really.
I love the video for “Do Wah Doo.” [Check it out above!] How did the stewardess concept come about?
I had the idea for so long. I actually wrote the treatment. I never did that before, but I’m going to do that from now on. I watched a film about an airplane one night at like 3 a.m. It was set in the ‘50s and I loved how glamorous it was. Travel was exciting and it was a big deal. We take it for granted that we can fly across the world everywhere, but then it was a glamorous thing to do. I wanted to do the dance routine. I can’t believe no one had thought of that before—it’s so obvious, really. I have another idea at the moment—two good ones, actually—but I don’t want to give them away in case someone steals them. Videos for me used to be stressful because it’s like, “What am I gonna do?” Now, I’ve seen it in a totally new light. It’s just a fun, creative outlet. You’re just making a little film. So I’ve decided instead of worrying too much about the song, I’m going to pick something that I like or that I’m inspired by and just chuck it in the video and act in a short film that’s silly and fun.
There are two songs on the album—“Do Wah Doo” and “Kiss That Grrl”—that are about competition with another woman. Why is that a theme for you on this album?
They’re lighthearted pop songs, so I don’t want anyone to take it too seriously. “Do Wah Doo” is about a girl who just instantly sees you as competition because you’re female. She would not at all stand by you. If there’s a boy involved, you’re nothing to them. There are some girls like that that you meet and I find it confusing. I love women, and I love girl company, and I have a lot of female friends. All my favorite bands and musicians are female artists. I always get really sad when women don’t think you’re trustworthy because you’re a girl. I find myself trying really hard to put them at ease. Even if their boyfriend is there, they can be really edgy with you. “Kiss That Grrrl” is more about being sulky. You’re the one who’s being a bit of a dick. You’re the one who’s jealous of everyone and everyone is like, “Whatever. I’m just gonna leave you to sulk. Get on with it.”
Are you excited to play at Lilith Fair?
I got asked to do [Lilith Fair] early on and I said yes straight away. I’m really intrigued about what it will actually be like. There’s so many artists on the bill, and I’m a little confused as to who I’m actually playing with. I don’t want to get my hopes up, because I’ve done that before where I’m like, “I can’t wait to see ___________” and then they’re not even there.
If you could be a part of any all-female group in any era, which would you join?
Oh God, I can’t decide between Bikini Kill or Sleater Kinney. That’s my favorite music. Bikini Kill was the real revolution, but Sleater Kinney … or maybe The Runaways!
How do you pick a great outfit to wear on stage?
Whatever feels the most comfortable and whatever puts me in the mood for performing. I go through phases of needing to wear something really simple and needing something fun and flamboyant. I bring a bunch of things with me, and however I feel at the moment, I’ll just put it on.
We write a lot about our relationships and lives here, and we’re always trying to figure out the line between what’s OK to share and what isn’t. How do you decide that in your songs?
I’m a private person, so I write a lot about other people’s relationships, too. I would never badmouth anyone I loved or was with at the time. There’s certain things you have to keep to yourself, and other things I can’t help but be honest about. Sometimes, I mix a little bit of fact with a little bit of fiction to protect myself. Sometimes I don’t even think when I’m writing—it just comes out.
You’re dating another musician. Do you think that when it comes to relationships, birds of a feather flock together or that opposites attract?
I think it’s easier to be with someone who does the same thing you do. But I’m in love—I’m biased. I can’t even think about being with someone else. Being with a musician is nice because we understand what it’s like being on the road. We totally relate to each other, we share music together, we can help each other out and be supportive. It would be hard for someone else to relate to this job—because it’s not really a job, it’s a life. It’s all-encompassing.
And you’re a new vegetarian, right?
Yes, since September. It helped me control my OCD. I was like doing loads of weird things like straightening tea towels in drawers, and putting things in shapes and patterns, and I’d leave the house and have to come back because I hadn’t done something and I thought something bad would happen because I didn’t do it. Then my pet bunny rabbit was going to have an operation and I felt even more that I had to do the things or something would happen to my rabbit. Then someone talked to me about being vegetarian. And it just popped into my mind that, “If I’m a vegetarian, then everything will be OK.” It’s weird, isn’t it? But I thought, “If I’m sacrificing eating other animals, my bunny rabbit will be OK.” I sound crazy, I know. Now she’s had the surgery and she’s fine—so now I just do it out of choice. Plus, it’s healthier on tour. Over here in America, I can eat a cheeseburger a day. Being vegetarian forces me to be healthier and search for alternatives. It’s such a pain in the ass sometimes—I’m such a foodie and I do miss it quite a lot. I don’t think I’ll be vegetarian forever, but it does help ensure you’re not getting totally unhealthy, because the lifestyle is unhealthy anyway.
When you’re in the US, what are the places you look forward to going?
I was just in New York and there’s this place I love called the Spotted Pig. I also like being in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. My friends the Trachtenburg Family Slideshow Players are there, and I went to their house, which was wonderful. I also like going to smaller towns as well—places like Asheville. And in Atlanta, I love the aquarium—it’s the biggest in the world and they have sharks there, which is pretty cool. I always make an effort to see somewhere if I traveled there—just seeing the inside of a hotel room is rubbish. We’re going to Minneapolis next and we all love “Purple Rain,” so a friend is going to take us to Lake Minnetonka!