Kate Nash interview

We share some home truths with dangerously honest songwriter Discuss this article

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Quirky singer-songwriter Kate Nash burst onto the airwaves in 2007 with platinum-selling number-one debut album Made of Bricks, garnering comparisons to Lily Allen and earning a Brit Award for Best Female Artist. Yet fame came with a price and, following a very public ‘breakdown’, the now-24-year-old burst back with follow-up My Best Friend is You last year. Asking Nash a question has been compared to winding up a toy car and letting it go – we set the singer loose on some sensitive subjects.

On why she’s coming to Dubai this week without a tour or band.
‘I haven’t done an acoustic gig in ages – it’s going to be a challenge. The promoters just got in touch and offered me the gig. I’ve never been to Dubai and it’s not going to cost anything, so I thought, why not? I’m intrigued – I’ve heard lots of things about Dubai. People have warned me about swearing and the way you dress. I’ve been to the airport, where you can buy crazy things like a gold bar. No, I wasn’t tempted to pick one up…’

On the tricky issue of censorship.
‘I’ve been asked not to swear during my Dubai gig – that should be difficult! There are certain songs where it’s integral, but I’ll be careful. I do want to respect different cultures.’

On the painful honesty of her lyrics – described by one Time Out critic as ‘diary scribblings’.

‘As you get older you become aware of what you’re sharing. When I was 17 and writing, I didn’t think about it, but now I’m more aware of the vulnerability. But it’s important to be vulnerable with your music – it’s the best way to connect with people. When you confess something to a friend and they say they feel the same way, it’s a huge relief. If you put it in a song, it’s the same thing, and it’s a good way to face up to your fears.’

On being a role model to young fans.
‘I wouldn’t ever claim to be a role model, but I do feel a responsibility to the young girls at the shows. Recently I was asked if it bothered me that it was mainly young girls at my shows and I just lost it at the interviewer – it’s so sexist, why is that less important than a bunch of old men?

I relate to being a teenage girl because I was one – you spend a lot of time hating yourself and it’s important to have people to look up to who aren’t perfect. I’m not saying live your life the way I do – that’s wrong – I’m saying be an individual and have your own personality.’

On criticism that she was ‘too young’ to win the Brit Award for Best Female Artist in 2008 – aged 21 – following her public breakdown a year later.
‘I’m really proud of wining the Brit. Stuff happens and you can’t change it. I wasn’t particularly ready, but it made me an incredibly strong person. People can say, “You’re too young,” but you can’t choose to be young.’

On Lily Allen’s retirement.
‘Everybody has a different path. She seems happy with what she’s doing, and she could have more success if she came back. I think I’ll keep going. I’ll still be writing songs in the nursing home – it’s part of who I am.’

On leading a clean-up team following the London riots in August 2011.
‘I was born in London and have lived there my whole life. I’ve always loved it, and when [the riots] happened I was so upset – I didn’t understand how someone could set fire to a building and not care that there was someone inside. [The next day] I set my alarm, found the meet-up point and met a bunch of strangers, and I became the team leader. It was incredible – it’s the first time I’ve ever felt such a sense of community. The government really needs to think about how unhappy people are and why it’s happening, why they feel they don’t have a future. Yes, I’m angry – maybe I’ll go and write a protest song now.’

Kate Nash plays at Unplugged by Souk Madinat Jumeirah on Thursday, December 2. Advance tickets Dhs150 from www.timeouttickets.com

By Rob Garratt
Time Out Dubai,

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