Kate Nash rose to the heights of fame in 2007, dominating the UK charts with her debut album Made of Bricks before hitting 20 years old. More than 10 years later, the musician and actress is back with fervour and busier than ever with her first studio album for five years, Yesterday was Forever, and her dazzling role in Netflix favorite, Glow.
New Wave Nash
Nash tells me that Yesterday was Forever was recorded over four years. “I started recording it in 2014, but it’s been really challenging… I went through this period of kind of writing pop songs again and trying to write songs for other people… There’s a massive scene of writers and producers and song-writing camps and rooms that are really draining and confusing. But I also did find some really cool people that i worked with individually from those sessions and so I worked primarily with two producers.” She tells me that while some of the tracks on the record were written as little as two months ago, some were recorded at the very beginning, four years ago. “I was worried when we were recording it that it wasn’t going to sound like a record,” she remembers. “But when we were mastering it, I was like, ‘Wow. This is a record, this sounds like an album.’” Recording a record this time round wasn’t the stressed out, time-strained process it once was. “Putting together the album was really chilled because I’m not attached to everything in the same way [as in the past] because I have changed a lot since I started writing it… There’s this journey throughout the album from where I was when I started and where I am now and that’s really cool as well. It wasn’t the way I chose to do it, but I do believe everything happens for a reason and I think, you know, that this is that album that’s supposed to exist and I’m really excited about it.”
Nash shot to pop stardom rapidly, having recorded and distributed Made of Bricks before even turning 20. Was fame a difficult thing to cope with? “Yeah, definitely. How can it not be?” The artist replies. “You’re trying to figure out who you are and everyone is telling you all these things… and you’re like, ‘I literally don’t know who I am yet, leave me alone!’ Just being so young, managing all of these people and being a boss and being in control of something that feels really big but also felt like it was controlling me for a while.” Nash credits her close-knit network of family and friends for keeping her stable and grounded during such a crazy time in her career. “Fame is it’s own beast, so you really have to manage it carefully and know what it is. It comes with the job and there’s benefits but it’s not something I’m ever desiring. Fame itself is just very rapid and empty and it doesn’t really do anything, you know? It’s sort of confusing and it sort of creates weird social environments. But I think it’s just changing your idea of how you measure success, which I think is really important in this industry.”
The dark side
When Nash’s second album didn’t hit the same dizzying heights of success of Made of Bricks, she was dropped by her record label. “It felt really fucked up because I found out by text message and no one was there to talk to me about it—and no one really ever talked to me properly about it. I still feel like I don’t really know what happened, but I also don’t mind.” Even after such a crushing time, Nash remained admirably positive. “I feel very lucky to be an independent artist… Being on a label is really great, but there’s also a lot of stuff that comes with being on a label that’s controlling and there’s so much pressure and so many people involved in your vision. I’m in a different place now, but at the time it felt really, like, ‘What the fuck just happened?’ It felt like no one really cared. All these people came and found me when I was really young and wanted to get in on the hype of my MySpace and the shows I was doing in London, but really, they didn’t care about me as a person or as an artist.” Nash tells me how important she thinks it is that artists in the industry have an open dialogue about the negative side to the industry. “It’s important to talk about so that it’s normalised, because I think everyone in the music industry is having a fairly hard time at the moment… We can [artists] all learn from each other’s experiences.”
The topic of conversation progresses to the star’s upcoming North American tour in April. Contrary to usual tour-type questions, I want to know about the dark side of being on the road. “The dark side of touring is how many people on tour are addicts and have ended up in dark situations because of how you party every night and how you’re expected to drink and do drugs and have this adrenaline boost that not everyone can do naturally. There’s a lot of mental health issues on the road; it’s a lifestyle that isn’t suited to everybody. I’m really lucky to have found such great people to go on the road with.” Her advice for budding musicians? “Build your family on the road, build people that make you feel fucking joy and excited to play music because it is such a privilege. It’s just the best job ever; it’s such a cool thing to be able to do. I’ve had times when I’ve been on tour with people who didn’t make me feel good and that’s horrible. But now I have this amazing girl band and all my lighting girls on tour with me. Just making sure you’re curating the environment and bringing only positive vibes—anyone with any negativity just gets, like, fired immediately from now on,” she laughs. “Because it poisons an environment really fast; everyone’s tired and run down, if there’s any negativity then it’s east to become negative. Whereas if everyone’s positive, then even when you’re tired and stressed out and confused about which time zone you’re in, you are still having an amazing ride with people who are filling you with excitement.”
“Fame is it’s own beast, so you really have to manage it carefully and know what it is”—Kate Nash
The pop star has always been vocal when it comes to talking about being a woman constantly in the eye of the media. The new shift in the entertainment landscape makes it feel like women are having their moment; they’re finally being taken seriously. Does she agree? “I don’t know yet,” she says. “I’m not sure the effects are happening yet but I think people are really inspired to see that we can really change things. Ten years ago, it was not a great environment to be female… [But] I think there has been growth and we should always be striving for growth. Because 10 years ago, it was definitely a different scene for me. I’m seeing changes that are positive; teenage girls have reclaimed their voice and they’ve demanded that they’re taken seriously and they rule the internet and that’s the most powerful thing ever. I think young people are really doing something completely iconic.” I agree, vehemently. “The pendulum is swinging,” she muses, “but it’s also transitional. It’s going to be a painful shift, but there’s definitely been a positive change.”
Way to Glow
In the summer of 2017, Netflix’s smash comedy, Glow, streamed for the first time. Nash landed the role of spunky Rhonda after a pilot she shot with director Jenji Kohen starring Eddy Izzard failed to get picked up. “Because I’d done that, Jenji wanted me to read for the part of Rhonda in Glow, so I auditioned.” Glow is set in the 80s and sees a group of misfit women reinvent themselves in the form of the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling. “We trained to be wrestlers, we trained to be stunt women and wrestlers. The two best things about the show have been learning how to wrestle and doing it with the most amazing group of women and having this insane bond over our physicality and having a bunch of new female friends who I feel I can really lean on and trust. It’s such a fucking dream job.” She speaks with such verve that I wish I was a part the empowering group of women, too. “Honestly, I can’t believe it sometimes, because I have so much fun with a bunch of ridiculously funny and talented women who I love and are actually my friends. We’ve learned to do really amazing things with our bodies and we feel really strong and powerful. I have such a connection with my physicality that I’ve just never had before; I never thought I’d have it.” I make a mental note to learn to wrestle before asking if TV will take precedence in her career now, or whether it’ll run side-by-side with her first passion, music. “I’m think I’m going to have to find a way to be parallel. I guess that it’s going to be depending on my commitments. Sometimes I have to take a dip out of each one. You know, when I’m shooting Glow, that’s extensive, like five months of physical wrestling and long hours. My time is really taken up by that. I was actually doing stuff for the record on the weekends which was intense. I want to do both, but I’m just going to have to learn how to balance them. I think that it’s key to carve out personal time and healing time, so that I can give my energy to both in a fresh way each time I come back to them.”
Is there anything on the horizon for the artist that we should keep an eye out for in the coming year? She tells me that season two of Glow will be released this year (“that’s gonna be fucking epic,” she says) and her tour is coming up in April. “At the moment, it’s sort of unknown to be honest with you.” But here’s something you didn’t know: Nash is about to study mycology, the scientific study of mushrooms and fungi. “I’m obsessed with nature and just learning about it. I think being in nature is so fucking important, like, it keeps me sane. But yeah, I’m really fascinated with mushrooms.”
> Yesterday was Forever is to be released March 30 and will be available to buy online and in stores nationwide.