By Laura Cooper
Not many artists can owe a great deal of their songwriting success to a broken foot. However, 20 year-old, London- born singer, Kate Nash, owes at least some of her success to the accident that left her housebound with an electric guitar and an empty notebook.
After writing and recording, along with playing small gigs around her hometown, Nash did what many aspiring artists do to gain exposure; she created a myspace account and uploaded her music. It was not long after this seemingly minimal step that Nash had a manager and was signed to her first record label.
Kate Nash came to New York in late April for a two-night stay at Webster Hall, in New York, N.Y. The pop artist sold out both nights at the historic venue, and came as a part of the NME music tour. Though her music is solely guitar or piano-based, Nash had a backup band of four musicians, one of which repeatedly banged on a lone drum on the side of Nash’s piano.
Nash’s first full-length album, Made of Bricks, was released last July on Polydar Records, based in the U.K. In the United Kingdom, Nash has a reputation of having a strong attitude and fashion sense that has impacted many young women in the country. However, here in the United States, according to Ron Fair, President of Geffen records, in an interview with The Boston Globe, “Kate is just a girl with a song.”
Nash took the stage at Webster Hall wearing a plaid dress, without the signature headband she is often pictured and performed with at the SXSW festival this past year. Her music is seen in quite a different light when experienced live. She is loud, energetic, and almost angst-ridden in her performances. At one point, when she played one of her early singles, she stopped the song saying, “Will you all shut up, this is a quiet song.”
Though Nash isn’t noticeably arrogant or anguished in her albums, perhaps she has reason to be so. Made of Bricks is full of songs centered on lost love, failed relationships, and general feelings of low self-worth. Foundations, her second single released through Fiction records, tells the story of a relationship in which Nash feels trapped singing, “Oh god, I hope I’m not stuck with this one.” The single reached number two on the U.K. charts, and propelled Made of Bricks into a number one album in her home country.
Nash has received a BRIT award for best solo artist, as well as the award for Best International Indie/Alternative Solo Artist from the NME Awards USA before the age of twenty. Though Nash has been compared to other contemporaries of her time, such as Amy Winehouse and Lily Allen, she has been quoted as saying that the Supremes are one of her greatest influences, writing “Cat Song” in their honor. This was evident at the Webster Hall performance, as before Nash took to the stage, it was embellished with a huge neon pink sign reading “Kate Nash,” as 1950’s style love songs such as “Be My Baby,” and “It’s my Party and I’ll Cry if I Want to,” filled the hall.
Nash has a lot of competition in the alternative genre today. With her comparisons to such high-grossing and recognizable artists, she is in a constant struggle to remain noticed. Featured as a MTV “Buzz Artist” late last year, Nash is starting to make waves in the mainstream music community, with the listeners who would pay ridiculous prices to see her perform at Madison Square Garden.
Songs such as “Pumpkin Soup,” that describe a relationship of loveless sex are catchy, and have the ability to capture the audience’s attention in the chorus “I just want your kiss, boy!” However, it is unclear as to whether Nash would rather sell out or remain true to her indie roots.
One thing is for certain though, Nash is definitely a force to be reckoned with in the musical community, in the U.K. and abroad for years to come.