London’s Kate Nash is calling … will America answer?
Don’t blame Kate Nash for getting nervous before an appearance, particularly the one she taped this afternoon in London.
The 20-year-old indie singer/songwriter newcomer sat in a BBC building, chewing on a piece of gum to distract her from the anxiety that came about prior to appearing on the legendary satirical UK game show Nevermind the Buzzcocks. A widely popular television program on channel BBC Two, the show has hosted such musicians as Amy Winehouse and Lily Allen, as well as members of Duran Duran and The Smiths.
Just chalk it up the appearance as another first in what has been a year of impressive firsts for the charming Brit. Nash’s crazy year has seen the Harrow, West London-bred musician record an EP, as well as an LP, Made of Bricks, which went platinum and hit number 1 on the UK charts. In 2007, Nash also performed at music festivals around Europe (Isle of Wight, Glastonbury), had her song, “Merry Happy,” appear on Grey’s Anatomy, released Made of Bricks in August in the UK, and, now, anxiously awaits the disc’s U.S. release (Jan. 8).
“I think it’s going to be like one of those things on New Year’s Eve when you’re with friends and you’re like, ‘Oh my God,’ and you analyze the whole year,” Nash said.
“That will happen to me. It is a whirlwind, but it is crazy. In February, I released ‘Caroline’s a Victim,’ a limited edition 7-inch vinyl single, and 1,000 copies sold out. Then I sold out Shepard’s Bush two nights in a row. The album went platinum. It’s just crazy. It’s fun and a great opportunity I never dreamed of.”
Nash began promoting herself on the popular social networking site MySpace last year. Extremely passionate about her music and carrying a love to perform live, Nash began booking gigs herself, playing venues in and around London. Quickly, people and the press took notice, embracing Nash’s witty lyrics, her thick Mockney accent and vocals that sound just as good live as they do in the studio, as well as her exceptional piano playing.
Endorsed by new friend Lily Allen and the influential UK music mag, NME, Nash’s stock rose, and, with the potential of becoming the next female vocalist to hit it big, Moshi Moshi Records snatched her right up. They, like Allen, found her on MySpace.
“I think that MySpace is the tool of our generation,” Nash said. “It’s a place for people to refer back to when they couldn’t afford to make a Web page. In terms of the world, people actually knew who I was. I didn’t know anything about labels. Moshi Moshi got in touch with me (and her manager) through the Internet. I never knew anything about signing a record deal, so I was scared of it. But I think it was the right time.”
Shortly thereafter, Nash inked a deal with Fiction Records, where she recorded Made of Bricks, an eccentric collection of subtle, brash, and carefree tracks. The album brings out the best in Nash’s voice, particularly on “Nicest Thing” and “Birds.” It also features witty songs about relationships, mainly based on personal experience.
“Sometimes it’s an experience of a friend or someone else,” Nash said. “They’re like stories as well, though. I like just letting my imagination run as well. There’s always that element of truth, even if it’s just how I feel about something.”
Nash’s gaining more and more exposure with her video for “Foundations,” which has seen significant airplay on MTV2. There’s one scene that stands out, one where she sings, “ ‘You said I must eat so many lemons, ’cause I am so bitter.’ I said ‘I’d rather be with your friends mate, ’cause they are much fitter.’ ” Nash bites into two lemon slices during those lines, but the directors didn’t shoot the scene in one take.
“The lemons. You’re asking about the lemons. Ha, ha,” Nash said. “It was, like, seven in the morning. I just had to eat all these lemons – like, 30 lemons or something – and my stomach was going, like, err. Afterwards, there was so much pain I was in. It was so funny. It was really fun to do actually, but it was about seven in morning, so it was a bit intense.”
Many people focus solely on Nash’s strong Mockney accent, which comes through on her record.
“I think you just kind of expect that people will have those reactions,” she said. “I think it’s funny because it would seem to me that it would be much better to be honest about who you are and where you’re from because, like, I think we have been really affected by American popular culture and sounding like American accents. I think it’s quite cool that people are just being themselves. It’s cool, you know.”
Nash heads to the states for a mini North American tour to promote the U.S. release of Made of Bricks. She plays the Mod Club in Toronto Jan. 7, before celebrating the release of her album Jan. 9 at the Bowery Ballroom in New York City. She plays Popscene at 330 Ritch in San Francisco Jan. 12, before concluding her tour in Los Angeles Jan. 14 at Troubador. Nash, who plans on returning to the U.S. for a lengthier tour, said she loves playing live, but admits that her recent and aggressive rise to fame has startled her a bit.
“I was freaked out before,” Nash said. “I’m still nervous; really nervous. That’s all I can say really. It’s hard to grasp. I think I’m going to have to get ready for it. It’s hard to get your head around, but I’m excited. Yeah, it is weird; it is a weird thing to kind of think about. You just have to go along with it because it’s just such a strange thing. But you have to not think about it. “
As Nash prepares to see how America reacts to her music, she said she wants to influence other musicians, ones who had a dream like she did.
“It’s good because, like what Lily Allen did for me, I feel like I have a chance to do that for some other people as well, which is really cool,” Nash said. “It’s what you should do, I think.”
Nash has already started writing songs for her next album.
“I want to be able to get in the studio because I’m writing songs all the time. I’m kind of excited about doing my second album,” she said. “Then it’ll be like festivals over the summer, and then, come September, I’ll be, like, probably having time off and just chilling out and writing. And maybe I’ll go on holiday.”
Ryan Wood is a freelance writer who has contributed to The London Sun, The Weekly Dig, The Noise, and Earlash. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.