If you’re looking for the radio-friendly Kate Nash who sang her debut smash “Foundations” — the aggrieved heroine whose boyfriend vomited on her trainers, amongst other indignities — you will only find hints on her on Nash’s third album, the rip-roaring, Bikini Kill-influenced Girl Talk.
When she splashed on the scene at 19 in 2007 with Made of Bricks, Nash was shoehorned into a broad group of British female singer-songwriters who included Lily Allen and Amy Winehouse. She wore vintage clothes and tickled the ivories in pop tunes that had a conversational candor. Three years later, her follow-up My Best Friend is You took on a less pop and more rock vibe, yielding an absolute gem of a single in “Do Wah Doo.”
But the following years saw Nash dropped from her label and enduring personal challenges — including the death of a close friend. That strife is vividly felt on the new Girl Talk: on “Sister,” she screams and growls like her riot grrl icon Kathleen Hanna. Backed by an all-female band, Nash wrote the album on bass guitar, and most of the songs thrash and drive like the early grrrl-punk of X-Ray Spex. If you enjoyed the torrents of words and storytelling of “Foundations,” the lyrics here are blunter and simpler, and she has overtly embraced Girl Power, declaring, “I’m a feminist/And if that offends you, then f— you” on “All Talk.” Still, she hasn’t completely abandoned her pop proclivities: the “I really really miss you!” chorus of “OMYGOD!” is as light and airy as anything on Made of Bricks. (Watch Nash describe Girl Talk below:)
In person, Nash is an easygoing, self-deprecating presence. She is a proud fan of Doctor Who and remarked, probably only half-jokingly, that she’d be up for becoming the first woman Doctor on the long-running sci-fi series. “There should be a female Doctor, right?” she laughed. “Why not?” In our interview, she chatted at length about her definition of feminism and how sexism in celebrity culture impacts her personally as well as her high-profile peers. She defended regular media target Kim Kardashian against the criticism the reality TV star faced before the birth of her daughter. “If you think about … the fact that Kim Kardashian is defending herself, constantly saying ‘Stop calling me fat. I’m not fat.’ That hit me recently because it became this big joke. She’s a pregnant woman, and she has to say ‘Stop calling me fat.’ We’ve taken it so extreme now that when you have a human baby inside you, you’re expected to look perfect all the time.” Watch below:
Shocked by the low proportion of composition royalties that go to women, Nash has launched her own program to develop young female songwriters in the U.K. In the process, she realized that her version of “School of Rock” was having quite an impact on her students’ lives: