Kate Nash – The Collapse Board Interview
Does what people say about you online effect you very much? Do the negative things get to you?
KN: It does sometimes, I’m only human. I think anyone would be lying if they said it didn’t affect them. If you’re feeling kind of shitty or if it’s the first thing that you read that day, someone saying really mean stuff about you will always affect you but, I get over it kind of quickly these days. I find it amusing sometimes.
This guy posted this comment on my new website, I have to approve all the comments, and it was really long and so full of hate. This guy spent all this time and effort sending this really long message to me about how much he hates me. I wondered, why would you do that? I would never write to someone I didn’t like. There are people I don’t like and things that make me angry but I would never write to someone and tell them how much I hate them and everything they did. It’s a really bizarre mentality. I was thinking about doing this performance art piece where I collect the top 10 bits of hate mail I had been written and read them, performing them like a spoken word. It could be kind of funny [laughs].
That’s a great idea. Turning negatives into positives. I really enjoyed the feature that you did for Collapse Board about the After School Club project you’ve been working on.
It’s such an amazing project. I love the Rock N Roll Camp For Girls in Portland etc. too. It broke my heart reading what you said most of the young girls you were working with said like, they felt they couldn’t make music or succeed at it because they weren’t pretty enough.
KN: Yeah it is really sad. The first week I went there, on the car journey home every night, I cried because I was so affected by them. They are so smart, sweet, sensitive and expressing really unique opinions and sharing stuff with each other. I think girls get a reputation for being really bitchy, especially at that age. But if you put them in a safe environment where they are not being judged and for the first time in their lives they are being accepted for who they are, someone is telling them they can do it and that music is expressing yourself, who cares what anyone says let’s just enjoy it – they all applaud each other after hearing the stuff each other writes. It was so amazing. I was crying thinking, I don’t understand sexism, girls are so amazing! [laughs]. I just don’t get it; girls are so cool and clever. I don’t know why it was ever that women were a threat to men if they had an opinion or they were treated the same. It seems like in history that that has always been very threatening to men, if women were standing up for themselves or doing something empowering. Where the fuck did that come from?
I watched a movie Made In Dagenham; I don’t know if you’ve seen that movie?
No I haven’t.
KN: It’s a British film, it’s so great. It’s in the 60s and there’s women fighting for equal pay. It’s based on the true events of this one woman who worked at Ford the car company. All these women worked in the factory and they just got sick of not getting the same pay even though they were doing the same work as the men. They were the women that made it so that women got equal pay. So many men were really threatened. They were like, “We can’t give credence to their cause”. It’s like why? It really surprises me that men have always been threatened and now you get it in different ways. Like in relationships with boyfriends and girlfriends where if a woman starts to change or progress in her life or do something different that empowers her, she gets stronger and works more, then men just cheat on them because they can’t deal with that or they start emotionally abusing them. Men are threatened and I don’t know why. Not all men of course but I don’t know why we bring up young boys and teach them, like we were talking about with women musicians on the cover of magazines, that women have to give us something more than just being a musician.
Do you have many girlfriends you hang out with often?
KN: Yeah all the time, my girlfriends are so important to me. I have lots of female friends.
Is that something you’ve always had?
KN: Yeah I think so. I’m still friends with a girl I’ve been best friends with since I was three years old. She is so cool. She’s actually gone to live in Australia for a while. We live completely different lives. We don’t always understand each other’s jobs but we always talk about it and try to understand. I took it to her first festival and we see each other once or twice a year but our relationship is always really solid and supportive. I have girlfriends in my life I see regularly that I couldn’t survive without. I find it really comforting to have female friends around me.
As I’ve gotten older I’ve started to realise the importance of female friendships. I grew up a tomboy and have had predominately male friends for most of my life. I’ve realise now though that you need that femaleness. It’s a very different energy.
KN: It’s so different, it really is. I have loads of male friends too.
Since you’ve been doing the After School Club have you learned anything significant about yourself?
KN: The girls were really important in giving me confidence. I’m quite affected by this idea that I’ll never be as good as the male musicians, the male writers in the world. That’s been drummed into me through various people in my life, the media or the way I feel I’m treated by fucking journalists. That’s been a really frightening thing for me, and a really important thing to tell myself every day that — it’s not true! That’s why I can keep going. It’s all just been so important, I don’t want to sound too cheesy but it’s like it’s a calling. I just went through a phase, like I said in my article, crying all the time and hating male musicians because I can’t deal with it because it affects the way I listen to them because I feel like it’s just not fair. I was so frustrated. I was just fragile. This has been a really positive way of dealing with these feelings because I’ve been inspired by a bunch of 14-year-old girls. They say stuff and I’m like, wow! There’s the naivety that hasn’t had the life experience and had those really shitty parts that come with life experience that teaches you stuff – not all young people though of course. There’s a real beautiful naivety to what they say based on what they see and what they pick up, it’s not based on politicised stuff that you feel like you have to feel or that you have to feel PC about … I don’t know, it’s just been really inspiring to me.
I can relate to how you feel, I do workshops with young people educating them in how to make their own zines.
KN: Cool, that’s so fun!
You make your own zines too. How did you first learn about them?
KN: Through Bikini Kill and being a big fan of that band. I’m really into the idea of them [zines] still existing especially since there is so much online. I was on tour and my shows were getting bigger. I’d moved really quickly from playing to 150 people to playing to 3,000 people. I couldn’t really cope with it. I didn’t know how to connect with a massive group of people where I can’t really talk to people anymore like with small shows where you can communicate with the person at the back of the room because you can see them. If you try to do that with 3,000 people it goes wrong and I found it really awkward. I felt because I had a platform, I had to do something to express my opinion, I have to use it, otherwise it’s so wasteful of the opportunity. I started getting my friends to write stuff and I started writing articles and short stories, political opinions, recipes, poems, just a mixture of stuff. After the gig I would throw them out into the crowd and I felt like I’d done something to not waste the opportunity of having that amazing platform to speak on.
I love how zines can be absolutely anything you want it to be, you can write zines about absolutely anything.
KN: Yeah it is really cool.
In a previous interview you were asked about your partner Ryan [Jarman of The Cribs] and you commented that you believe that if you’re going out with someone you should be inspired by them; how does Ryan inspire you?
KN: His music, I’m a big fan of his music. I like his values as well. Someone’s values are really important to me whether it’s a friendship or a relationship. Getting on with someone and connecting with them. I feel like we’re a team and we join forces to fight the stuff that we think is bullshit together. It helps to have someone who is strong and smart. He’s very smart; he’s one of the smartest people I have ever met.
What values are important to you?
KN: Honesty. Respect. Respecting other human beings. Being kind is really important to me, people being kind to each other. I hate bullying. In Britain we have a very bullying culture, on TV, in comedy, in journalism, in everything! It’s really negative. Things like that fucking X Factor competition where you watch people telling kids that if you want to be famous this is what you have to change and do to be more sellable — I find that really disgusting! Someone being unique, creative and expressing their own opinion is so much more important than selling records.
Without a doubt! Have you ever had a really life-changing moment?
KN: I had a lot of those in the first year of my record but it’s like it almost happened too quickly and I was too numb to realise it was life-changing. I got given some of the best advice that I have ever been given last year in New York by a guy that was a masseuse. He had studied Native American, Chinese, African, all these loads of practices of therapies. He was talking about my character and elements of my character based on things that I had said and my birthday. He was saying that I am have ‘Earth’ and ‘Fire’ qualities. Earth is like grounding and Fire is a wild streak. He said because you are grounded and have this stable side, you end up looking after a lot of people. My star sign Cancer is also like, being nurturing and really mothering to loads of people; you help a lot of people with their problems and sometimes that can give you a needy quality. I was going through that at the time actually so I was like, whoa! He said to deal with that ‘to need’ is to be like a toddler, like you need looking after when you are a baby, you need people to take care of you; if you can change that to the teenage version, to ‘I want’ which is a little bit more self-righteous like, I want this and I’m going to get it because I deserve it then you can become a little stronger. From that it’s even better to try and change that to the adult version of ‘I desire’ something. It becomes simpler because if you desire something and you’re not getting it you take another route to get what you desire. It becomes a lot less stressful. I’d never thought in that way before. I thought it was really amazing information. I suffer with anxiety and that anxious, needy feeling is so horrible, if you can change your thinking to see it in a different light like that it can be OK to deal with.
That is great advice. I see you’ve been channelling your ‘wanting to help nature’ into your podcast Agony Aunt project you’ve been working on.
KN: Yeah [laughs] it’s really fun!