The Nash is back! Not only is Kate back, but she's got a new album. While Made of Bricks was a smashing debut filled with smart lyrics and toe-tapping catchy tunes, the new album is that, but backed with an orchestra transported from the 1960s. The sophomore album, My Best Friend Is You, is a bold mixture of fun ideas that has her delving into rocking new waters. With Bernard Butler taking care of producing duties, I think all fans will be pleased. It comes out April 20th.
She's been one of my favorites in the five years I've been doing this -- dating back to her early demos. I couldn't have think of a better or more appropriate person to come by for my 2,000th post.
While she was in NYC last week, we talked about the new album, her songwriting and playing in different places. I would like to welcome Kate Nash to this space.
Did you take time off from being Kate Nash, singer-songwriter extraordinaire and let yourself be Kate Nash, everyday woman?
[Laughs] The whole process was such a whirlwind. I toured the world so extensively. My label phoned me at one point and asked, "What do you want to do now?" I said, "Absolutely nothing. [laughs] Please, don't call me or talk to me about music." So they let me be and they've been brilliant in letting me take time off. I hung out with my friends, get into a normal sleeping routine, passed my driving test, moved into a new flat and bought a bunny rabbit.
For me, it was the only way I could start writing a second album. I do understand the amount of pressure there is on a second album. You have your whole life to write your first and then you are dumped into a situation where you have six months to write and record your second album. It's just not a fun way to work. You need life experience to write about anything interesting.
What kind of songwriter are you? Do you need to isolate yourself so that you can concentrate or are you writing things down on pieces of paper as you go?
If I have an idea, I'll write it or sing it into my phone, so that I can remember it later. I tend to forget things by the time I get home. I'm quite shy when I write. I do like to be alone, not because I need to be in deep thought. It's just a personal process.
For this album, I went into this grungy room where we have rehearsals which is really dark and really freezing. It was good because it got me away from watching daytime TV. My thought process was that I had to write something even if it was shit. At least I can say that I did something that day. I don't do much editing with my work. It will change in the rehearsal process so it feels more natural.
The last time I saw you was in Philadelphia, and you already where playing "Do Wah Do." Listening to the finished product and comparing it to three years ago -- from what I remember, it's bigger and brassier now.
Oh yeah, it complete evolved. When I was doing the full tour in the states, I was getting tired of playing the same songs. I had the song in demo form and we just played it however we felt it should sound just so that I can have something new to play. When we eventually got to the studio, I wanted it to be big, fun and girl-groupie.
To get that sound, you went with Bernard Butler to produce. Obviously, he has a distinct sound, drawing from classic orchestral pop sounds. Was that something you were looking for?
Actually, no. I met up with a few producers, and I didn't click with anyone. My boyfriend (Ryan Jarman of the Cribs) had worked with Bernard, and he suggested him. I was hesitant at first -- not because of his work because he's done some amazing work. I was nervous in working with somebody who did Duffy's record. So I didn't want people to think, "Oh, he did Duffy's record, and now he's doing the same thing with Kate Nash." I was paranoid about being grouped into something.
In the end, I was so glad I worked with him. It was the best decision. He's amazing, cool, down-to-earth and he doesn't bullshit you. I had most of the songs in demo form and he got the sound right away.
When I first started listening to you back when you had just demos on your Myspace page, your songs were pretty stripped down. It was just you and the guitar. When I was listening to the album, there's a part in "Kiss the Grrls" where all music just drops out and it's you and the guitar. It reminded me of that time.
Yeah, me too.
Are those moments important to you where it's just you and not the whole production that surrounds you?
I feel more comfortable being a musician now. When I started out, I felt like more of a storyteller. Now, I want to get involved in every aspect of the song. Even on the first record, I felt that if something didn't have to be in, then just take it out. This time around, I felt more confident in trying different things. When I first write songs, it will be just me and the guitar or piano. It's a little bit of who I am. Those small moments feel intimate to me.
I know you're a fan of riotgrrl bands like Bikini Kill and Sleater-Kinney. So, "I Love You More" is your rocking out song.
I can picture you just knocking things over when you play it live. Is this something you wanted to get out of your system?
Oh yeah. I think once you've toured for so long, you think about what would be fun to play live. I started with the riff. I was inspired by those girl rock bands. I've always loved punk music. So I wanted the song to be dirty, but fun.
The first album was a pop album. This one is still a pop album, but there are different styles in there. It paves the way for me to do other things in the future.
This seemed like a fun album to make. Was it fun?
When you make an album -- it can be fun, but it can also be a grind. I'll always think of the positives first. Working with Bernard was important in that. It's nice to consider him a friend rather than my producer.
You'll be back on the road again soon. Are there certain places you like playing like France, Japan, Spain, Los Angeles ...?
All of the above! When you are out on tour, you tend to forget how exciting it is to travel. Having time off, it reminded me how fucking great it is to do what I do and get to sing songs in these amazing places.
You should play New Jersey.
[laughs] Actually, I wanna play places that don't normally have bands come through like Chile, Brazil and India. I think it would be interesting to see the reaction.
Is it weird for you to have a fanbase? You have people screaming your name at shows and you have girls dressing like you.
It's totally weird, believe me. I think of myself as a normal person. I didn't grow up in show business. I steer clear of that. I hate the idea of celebrity. I try to keep my life as private as possible. But, it's nice for girls to look at somebody who looks just like them. It gives them confidence that they don't have to look a certain way to achieve something.
I've always noticed how you engage the audience. You look at people when you sing and try to keep up a rapport.
That's the only way I know how to do a gig. It's all about communication with the audience. I just love playing small gigs so you can look people in the eye and have a relationship with them. It's a weird, cool idea because for an hour, you are in a room with these people and you'll probably never see them again. I like that about playing live.
So now that you've got album No. 2 ready come out, that means more dollars. You made any extravagant purchases like a fancy car or like a big crown?
[Laughs] I wish. I bought a used car. I'm not a fancy person, but bought a lot dresses. I am going to buy my first proper flat.