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TAS Interviews: Kate Nash On Her New Album, The "...

Kate Nash

Kate Nash

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Kate Nash's still-untitled sophomore album drops on April 20 and the affable, outspoken singer/songwriter is anxious but proud of her new record, telling The Alternate Side that it's a more "grown-up" effort with "room for experimentation and exploration."

Riding on the momentum of witty, razor-sharp songs like "Mouthwash" and "Foundations" from her 2007 debut album Wall of Bricks, the London-raised Nash has become a patron pop saint of brainy young women armed with a piano, a guitar and an irascible facade, masking an aching vulnerability. Like her early champion Lily Allen, Nash flung herself headlong into the awkward passage from gangly teenager to brave, blossoming woman on her first record, placing every embarrassing gaffe or disappointing boyfriend under frank and funny lyrical scrutiny. Her debut album Wall of Bricks is notable not only for its very deft, female sense of humor, but also its candor; there is sadness lurking behind Nash's sass.

A graduate of the Brit School in London, a free arts program whose precocious alumni includes Adele, Amy Winehouse and Luke Pritchard of The Kooks, Nash actually studied to be an actress. But while recovering from a broken leg and a hurtful rejection from a drama school, she began to focus on her music. A supportive mention by Allen of Nash's MySpace site and demos like "Merry Happy" led to a tsunami of attention and Nash eventually found herself with a Moshi Moshi record deal. Her debut landed on Interscope in the States.

Nash's new 12-track album, produced by ex-Suede guitarist Bernard Butler, whose production credits include Tricky, Duffy and The Cribs, can be previewed now; a track from her new record, "I Just Love You More" is available as of last night on Nash's website.

Despite those playful, boyfriend-bashing tracks from her first album, Nash has actually been in a happy, long-term relationship with The Cribs' Ryan Jarman for a couple of years; as he told The Alternate Side in January, Nash's song "I Hate Seagulls" on the new album was actually her Christmas gift to him. As for Nash's entire album, expect a little punk, some sweet girl group-style harmonies, and as Nash told us, a more "grown-up" sound:

When last we spoke over a year ago, you'd said that you'd said you felt a certain punkish aesthetic creeping into your new songs. Was that attitude sustained in the new album?

I think that there definitely has been more of a punk aesthetic creeping into my work. Punk is something that has always meant a lot to me, from growing up as a kid and getting into music; hating my job at River Island and working at a fast food restaurant, looking for inspiration and something important in life. Punk is important as it fuels passion and anger, and stands against the flow, it rebels against the mainstream and allows you to feel part of something even if society doesn't let you. I think that being over here in London and watching the music scene grow more and more distasteful has once again turned me on to and made me realize the importance of a punk aesthetic in this day and age.

In terms of surprises on the album, I think in general the album is more grown up, there was room for more experimentation and exploration as a writer and musician. I'm confident that it's better than the last one and I think every record you make should be better than the last.

Of the new tracks, are there a couple that feel as if they open a door to another dimension of either your songwriting or your piano playing and why? What fueled your lyrics?

The same thing that always fuels lyrics for me. It's like a recipe, you need love, hate, anger, passion, experience, and to hear about other peoples lives. You have to soak up what's going on around you, watch the news, get a driving license, hang out with a bunny rabbit, watch films, DVD boxsets, read a ton of books, see art, listen to music, go on Wikipedia, see friends, do the washing up, move into a flat. Normal things, life things, stuff like that. I feel like my songwriting has changed, I feel like it's still very recognisable as being me, but it has steps in other directions and i've obviously aged by four, even five years on some of the songs i wrote for Made of Bricks. I think it would be pointless if I wasn't a bit different, if i didn't have a different viewpoint and perspective on life. I've lived a little more and grown as a person and therefore as a songwriter. I would hate to recreate something that I've already done.

You'd covered The Supremes in the past: is there a girl group vibe to this new album? What is it that you love about music from the early 60s?

On tracks like 'Kiss that Girl' and 'Do Wah Doo' there's certainly a nod to the era. I got a bit obsessed with the girl groups and this amazing box set called One Kiss Can Lead To Another. It comes in a hatbox and all the CD cases are like compact mirrors. I think the songs are so easy to fall in love [with]; we all know all of the classics and they sound so uplifting and beautiful and obviously there's the whole wall-of-sound thing. The music was just so classic and so cool.

But it's when you actually listen to what those women were singing about that it breaks your heart. You realise that even though they sound uplifting, they're usually the saddest of stories. 'Stop in the Name of Love," for example. I only realised about two years ago what the story was and how she's begging her man to stop cheating on her because she loves him so much and he means so much to her. It's really quite horrible. I always see The Shirelles' 'Please Go Away' as the other side to 'Stop.' She's the other girl that he's seeing, but she has respect for the woman that is being cheated on and asks the man to leave because it's wrong even though she's in love with him. Relationships were very different back then; divorce wasn't accpetable and marriage was expected so a lot of people didn't end up with the person they loved because of society and because of what the neighbours might say. It makes for some very interesting song writing.

I've taken a modern stab at it, I guess, lyrically, keeping up with the cool and classic backing track and a story about jealousy, insecurity and being in love. How it would make you feel if someone you loved did cheat on you. Then it's interspersed with a bit of fun and the reality of the situation one evening, which is: you've been a pain in the arse and the person you're with isn't playing up to you so you're sulking. I guess that's the modern twist.

What makes you most excited - or nervous - about the upcoming release of this album?

It's the build up to release, that makes me anxious, all the anticipation of what could or couldn't happen. When it's out I'll sleep better at night again. It goes back to what you know, touring and writing songs.

Your boyfriend, The Cribs' Ryan Jarman, told us recently that you both inspire one another constantly. You gave him a song on the new album, "I Hate Seagulls," as a Christmas gift. In that song and others, how do you think you've become more confident as a songwriter and a singer?

I'm not even sure I'm more confident as a writer and singer. I still get scared of letting people hear my new work, especially the people closest to me. I think when it's new, it's always scary. I'll always be insecure. It's when you've committed to something and finished it that you feel confident. I guess because I think I've written better songs, then I can feel confident in the fact that I managed to do that. I made a second album, that means it wasn't a fluke the first time round. Maybe I'm actually meant to do this.

I'm intrigued by the song "Paris." I assume you mean the city and not the blonde heiress. What is it about Paris that makes you happy? Where do you like to go when you're there?

Paris is a stunning city. When I walk around there I feel like I'm in a film. It gets my creative juices flowing and it's a perfect holiday destination when travelling alone. You just wonder the streets and find something interesting on every corner. There seems to be a different pace of life there, even though it's so busy people seem to walk slower. I like going to the botanical gardens, going up the Eiffel Tower at night, [and] going to the 'bones' museum. My favorite hotel is L'Hotel. it's where Oscar Wilde and all the writers used to hang out and meet and write and take heroin, I guess. He died there and now it's just a gorgeous, tiny but beautiful boutique hotel with a tiny blue suede lift, a spiral staircase and humungous bath. There's a swimming pool at the bottom of the staircase too that you can book out by the hour. It's very romantic.

Given your theatre background, are you entertaining any thoughts of stepping back into acting?

I would love to work on a British independent film, or an independent film in general, with gritty parts, an important story and brilliant art direction. I'd love to act again, but it would have to be the right part and the right film.

Do you have plans for a tour in the States this year? No Coachella or SXSW?

I'll be over in America for touring pretty soon, probably in a few months. Not playing Coachella this year, as far as I'm aware, but maybe next. I've got friends playing both Coachella and SXSW this year so maybe i'll get a chance to pop over and just hang out, but in terms of playing them, probably next year. I'd love to do them if I get the chance. Mind you I'm vegetarian now which sucks cause I'll miss out on all the BBQ food in South-by.

The tracklisting for Kate Nash's new album is:

You'll Never Listen

Kiss That Girl

Don't You Want To Share The Guilt?

I Just Love You More

Do Wah Doo

Higher Plane

I've Got A Secret

Oh Jay

Later On

Pickpocket

You Were So Far Away

I Hate Seagulls