Plus special guests
Monday 18 October
O2 Shepherds Bush Empire, Shepherds Bush Green, London W12 8TT 020 8354 3300
Tickets £16.50 on sale 9am Tuesday 22nd June from
0870 264 3333
0844 477 1000
After a great response to her recently released second album, Kate Nash announces a show at Shepherds Bush Empire this coming autumn.
Back in July 2007, a month before her debut album, Made of Bricks, was released two months ahead of schedule due to public demand, Kate Nash took a moment to contemplate her new whirlwind life as a pop star: 'I feel normal. But quite cool. I feel like an outsider who's just sneaked in…'
Kate had just turned 20 and her career was on fast forward: in the summer of 2006 she was a MySpace phenomenon before she even had a record deal; 2,000 copies of her debut single, Caroline's a Victim, sold out upon release in February 2007; by April she had signed to Fiction Records; two months later Foundations reached number two in the singles chart; by August she was celebrating a number one album.
Not bad for a girl from Harrow, whose early attempts at writing songs as a kid were on an old tape recorder 'where you had to hold down play and record at the same time'. Now, at the grand old age of 22, Kate looks back at her formative years in the world of pop with a huge grin: 'Everything was so mental and hectic and extreme. By August 2008 I was exhausted. I had to take a year off.'
More than anything, Kate wanted to do 'normal things'. Like sit around at home in her dressing-gown watching daytime television. See her friends, go the cinema, the theatre, read books. Hang out with her first proper boyfriend, Ryan Jarman of The Cribs. The thing is that Kate is incapable of sitting around for long: she not only has a work ethic instilled in her by her mother, who works as a nurse in a hospice, but she is also a life force to be reckoned with.
So, in the end, Kate's year off was spent co-founding the Featured Artists Coalition with Billy Bragg and Blur's Dave Rowntree (to ensure that artists took responsibility for having a voice at a time of dramatic change in the music business). She got involved in V-Day, the global movement aiming to end violence against women, and worked with self-harming young women at the Wish Centre, a shelter for abused women in Harrow.
All, she says modestly, to stop her from watching Jeremy Kyle. 'And to stop me freaking out when I didn't have anything to do.'
It's easy to forget that Kate – a dense talker who can go for ten minutes straight without drawing breath – is still only 22. She may have a child-like enthusiasm for life, but she is also – in a way that belies her years – grounded. 'It's not that hard,' she says with a shrug. 'Just don't be a tosser.'
Kate is, she says, strict with herself. She won't allow her songs to be used in adverts – she doesn't want to sell out and, equally, she wants to work hard for her money. She is 'totally' a feminist. 'I believe in equality so I'm a feminist. It's that simple. I see the girls' faces in the first three rows of my gigs and they're clearly thinking: "She's normal! She doesn't look anorexic! She looks comfortable in her body! This is cool!"'
She is, without a doubt, a girls' girl. Yet some of Kate's sharpest lyrics have been inspired by the paranoid jealously that can eat us all up. On Do Wah Doo, the first single from The Second Album, Kate sings sweetly about an unnamed girl who fools naive boys into liking her. She decides that it's best not to care any more – 'I'll just read a book instead/I'll hang out with myself' – and the coda is a surprise: as the music stops suddenly, Kate snarls 'I think she's a bitch'. It's perfectly-timed and brilliantly self-knowing.
Although Kate took a year off, she never stopped writing. By last summer she had a bunch of demos to play for Bernard Butler, the former Suede guitarist. She is, as usual, disarmingly honest. 'I was initially a little sceptical because I didn't want people to think "Duffy's producer does Kate Nash", but we met and got on. There's no bullshit with Bernard. Like me, he's a grafter."
Kate writes her own songs – she plays piano, guitar, bass, drums – but Butler found a way of bringing the songs to life without losing any of her idiosyncratic personality. The Second Album is eclectic, adventurous, honest. Experimental even.
There's the 60s girl group influence of Kiss That Grrrl (and more self-mocking paranoia: 'She's instantly more pretty and interesting than me') and the gentle beauty of the folksy You Were So Far Away. There are minimalist lyrics on both the raw punk of I've Got A Secret (set to a varied tempo, 'I've got a secret I can't tell you' is repeated over and over) and I Just Love You More. Set against Sonic Youth feedback, Kate sings 'I just love you more than anything' between expressive yelps; by the end, she is breathless.
Made of Bricks was about wanting to be in love; The Second Album is about trust, sexism, homophobia, honesty – and how being in a serious relationship has made her feel less selfish and more grown-up. 'I don't want to be gushy and weird about it, but I am in love! I don't worry about making myself too vulnerable: I always write with my heart on my sleeve. If you don't then you're not living.'
The final track, I Hate Seagulls, is about 'admitting you're in love with someone'. It's a stream-of-consciousness list of what she hates (seagulls; being sick; burning her finger on the toaster; nits) and what she likes (cream teas, reading, 'your hand in mine'). 'It's basically saying that I hate all this crap life throws at you, but it's okay because I love somebody and they love me back.'
With a second album of which she is rightly proud – 'nothing was rushed; I've developed as a writer' – does Kate still feel like an outsider? 'I will probably always feel like an outsider because I don't fit the format of a female artist. But I'm not worried about it. No way. I've always done things my own way and, for that reason alone, I'm happy.'