At numerous points in the past few years, Kate Nash, by her own admission, did not think she would release another album.
When the singer-songwriter smashed her way onto the British music scene in 2008, she became an instant favourite of fans and critics alike. ‘Made Of Bricks’, her debut album, reached number one and was certified platinum. She was nominated for three Brit Awards, winning the Best British Female Solo Act prize and graced the cover of NME twice.
But fast-forward around eight years, and the industry was not so kind. Fast-forward another two, and Kate is now the star of a hit Netflix show, about to tour the States and preparing for the release of a new album, ‘Yesterday Was Forever’.
Ahead of the record’s debut, Kate explained everything to HuffPost UK…
You’ve finished filming ‘Glow’ and are currently in LA. Do you call California home now?
I’m trying to figure that out at the moment, I have a bit of a split life.
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I’m here so much for ‘Glow’ and… I accidentally rescued a dog. This guy came into a coffee shop with a dog and was like, ‘I need 20 bucks to get off drugs’, and I saved her and then completely fell in love. She’s definitely made LA a more permanent thing and has kept me here at times when I probably would have gone home.
But I love London and have family and friends [there]. I’m back and forth a lot at the moment and figuring things out. I’m a bit of a nomad really. I’m all over the place.
Your latest video, for ‘Drink About You’, showcases the landscape surrounding LA. Tell us the story behind the video.
A lot of the songs were recorded at totally different times. I featured on a Holychild EP and we went to Mexico and I stayed with Liz Nistico and Louis [Diller, from Holychlid] and Liz was directing the video shoot. I saw that side of her that I hadn’t before.
I wanted to collaborate with a woman and I loved the idea of collaborating with Liz, another woman in music. She’s a bit of a jack of all trades, she can do so much, outside of music.
Liz has a great eye and visuals, [I was] collaborating with her on some of the ideas and letting her take the reins on other stuff. It’s exciting.
Why did you specifically want to collaborate with a woman?
I’m just really inspired by women and, for me, it’s really important to work with someone who can relate to the female experience, especially in music. Me and Liz can relate on so many issues that we face and that does always run through my work.
A woman’s body and a woman’s image is a very political thing, so I trust another woman to understand what that’s like and how to portray it in a way people can relate to.
A lot of men just don’t understand what it’s like to be a woman and how much our bodies mean and what they can be and how much power they can yield, and how much we’re shamed for them.
Putting together imagery for a record is a fucking political decision for a woman. That’s just how it is. It’s a political decision to walk home alone at night by yourself, as a woman. These are things, I think, men don’t realise and think about. I think they’re becoming more aware now which is amazing, but I just wanted to work with a woman because she is already on that level and thinking in the same way I am, I don’t have to explain certain things.
Let’s talk about your live shows. Last year, on the ‘Made Of Bricks’ anniversary tour, songs were punctuated by empowering messages and self-care reminders. What made you decide to do this?
I wanted people to come to my shows and leave feeling like they could do fucking anything. I wanted to create this party atmosphere where you can have the best time and feel really free and un-judged for who you are.
I feel like I get at the forefront of a lot of that stuff because like, the media and when you’re put in the public eye, you’re judged in a certain way. But like, every single person is going through that on some level. And I think it’s just so… When I was young, I was looking for people who would speak honestly or had gone through something that i had gone through.
I think there’s a lot of fear of being honest about our flaws, we put on a front and say everything’s fine and it’s really hard to be fine. Being a person is really hard, obviously depending on your background for some people it can be much harder, but mental health and how we feel about ourselves is so key to changing the world in a positive way. I find it really important to talk about these things, it’s such a platform, I am standing in front of these people.
You’ve been pretty candid about your own struggles on social media, writing about “navigating industry sharks”. What happened?
I was doing all these radio sessions and writing for other artists, in this pop machine environment and it made me think i couldn’t sing anymore. I was like, I can’t sing. But just because I can’t sing like a diva doesn’t mean I can’t sing. I lost so much confidence, I got really beat up and felt like I couldn’t do music anymore and didn’t know how I was useful otherwise.
It felt crazy to have this huge fanbase online, but seemingly no way to put out music because I didn’t have financial backing. It’s so expensive to make a record, it’s a lot of investment, usually from a label.
There have been times where I’ve been so desperate to get this record out and I struggled with that. I struggled financially, I struggled to finish it, working with shitty, dodgy managers and not having support from the industry and thinking, “why can’t I do this?”. It felt so fucking hard and I thought, “Ok I can’t do music anymore, I can’t keep doing it”.
Going through that and testing my strength and learning what really matters and where i am really privileged. If you can’t in through the front door, there’s always a window you can climb through.
You have to become a ‘yes’ person and tell yourself you can do what you want to do, and there’s always a fucking way. It’s just hard but I am grateful for the experience, it’s given me a lot of strength and perspective.
How did you get your confidence back?
I think there were a few things. One is that I got rid of a lot of toxic people from my life and toxic relationships. I tended to have toxic relationships in a partner, boyfriends and stuff, and that’s bad for you in the long term. You should only be with someone who treats you well and values you, that was a really important lesson to learn.
Also, becoming a fucking wrestler for ‘Glow’. It makes you feel so amazing to use your body, and be so physical and aggressive. There were things I thought I’d never be able to do and now I’m like “yeah, I’ll fucking try it”. I’ve jumped off the top rope, I can do a suplex. I never thought I’d be able to do those things, ever, and that’s amazing.
It’s life-changing and so empowering. Learning to do it with all of these women, it’s fucking amazing.
Is it true that ’Yesterday Was Forever’ is inspired by your teenage diaries?
The record in general, ‘Yesterday Was Forever’, felt like something I wrote in my teenage diary. I’ve been archiving a lot of stuff recently, at my parents’ house, finding diaries and going through storage. You know, when you’ve built up loads of shit and think, “well, i need to clear this away or store it”? And I found all these diaries. I’d completely forgotten how intense I felt about stuff.
One page would be really positive, I was 13 or 14, and the next page would be, “I hate life, I wish I was dead, why am I even alive”?. Really intense dramatic, crazy diary entries that I’d forgotten about.
As an adult you think, “Oh that sounds so stupid”, but it’s so actually true. I feel like I’ve gone back to my teen self and I relate more to my teenage self now than ever.
I just turned 30 [and] I had all this chaos in my twenties. The end of your twenties is almost like being a teenager again. You’re really hormonal and feel insane, the pressure from society creeps back in, about what you’re supposed to be and achieve and all that shit.
So I think i just really related to my teenage self and I wanted to make an album that feels like my teenage self again, because I think she was right.
What advice would you give your teenage self?
Just that you’re really cool, much cooler than you think. You need to give yourself a break and breathe. Be less intimidated by things. I was really nervous and insecure as a teenager and if I could get myself more confident that would be nice.
‘Yesterday Was Forever’ is out on Friday 30 March. Kate’s US tour begins on Wednesday 4 April.