The break that led to Kate Nash's big break
EMMA LEE In a little under 12 months, sassy singer-songwriter Kate Nash has gone from being an underground internet star to a bona fide pop princess. EMMA LEE spoke to her ahead of two hotly anticipated dates in the region.
I must admit that when I first heard Kate Nash's debut single, Caroline's a Victim, I thought that it was a comedy record by Catherine Tate. Fuelled by the “am I bovvered?” attitude and enunciation of her Tony Blair-baiting character Lauren the teenager, and minimalist beats she could have been written off as just another trendy London scenester.
There was certainly little to suggest that the then 19-year-old had one of the biggest songs of the summer up the sleeve of her vintage cardigan, despite the endorsement of girl-of-the-moment Lily Allen.
But Foundations, an “almost break-up” song demonstrating a kitchen sink lyrical dexterity, which given a few years' more life experience could rival that of Jarvis Cocker, turned out to be just that.
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Although the track was held off the top of the charts by Rihanna's Umbrella, it established Kate as one of the country's brightest musical stars, and the release of her album, Made of Bricks, was rush-released by two whole months.
After a triumphant summer of festival appearances - she was a must-see at Latitude - she's heading out on a headline tour. And, showing how her profile has sky-rocketed, her scheduled November show at the Waterfront in Norwich has been moved to the bigger UEA due to demand for tickets.
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Grabbing a few minutes out of her dizzyingly busy schedule for a chat, chirpy Kate says that she keeps having to pinch herself.
“It's quite weird, I'm still trying to get my head round it. I'm just having a laugh because that's all you can do I think,” she giggles.
Kate's musical education began at an early age. She took up the piano when she was eight - but at that point she dreamed of being an actress.
It was, if you'll excuse the pun, an unlucky break which set her on the path to a musical career instead.
She auditioned for the prestigious Old Vic Theatre School in Bristol. And the very same week she received her rejection letter, she fell down the stairs at home and broke her foot.
To cheer her up and relieve her boredom and frustration, her parents bought her an electric guitar and amplifier and she got to work on some songs. “Regina Spektor changed what I thought about music,” she says.
Fired up and motivated - partly by the burning desire to escape her job working in a restaurant - the next step was to book herself some gigs.
Following the oh-so-modern Lily Allen and Arctic Monkeys career trajectory - in fact she was, for a time, dubbed Mini Allen - she built up a following on MySpace.
And in the blink of an eye she was signed and was performing on Later With Jools Holland.
Her idiosyncratic style isn't everyone's cup of tea. The Independent described her as the “middle class Vicky Pollard” and said that Made of Bricks was in “pole position for worst album of the year”. But for every critic whose teeth are set on edge by the lyrics to the track Mouthwash (“I use mouthwash/ sometimes I floss/ I got a family/ and I drink cups of tea”), there's the teenage girl who's inspired to try writing her own songs or for whom she's a style icon.
Kate says, true to the sentiment behind the album's title, she's staying grounded with a good support network of family and friends around her.
“I loved the Latitude festival. It was chilled out and really relaxed and sunny and I hung out with my friends,” she says.
She adds that she's looking forward to her tour.
“I'm a bit of a klutz, so something will go wrong, though” she laughs.
t Kate plays a two sold-out concerts in the region - The Junction, Cambridge, on Monday October 22 and the UEA in Norwich on Monday November 12.