Kate Nash knows a thing or two about fighting to find her place. After two successful, mainstream albums in the late noughties (2007’s ‘Made of Bricks’ and 2010’s ‘My Best Friend Is You’), she was dropped by her record label via – via text, no less – and struck out on her own, self-releasing 2013’s riot grrrl-influenced ‘Girl Talk’ and last year’s eclectic ‘Yesterday Was Forever’. It’s that survivor spirit, perhaps, that makes her a perfect fit for GLOW, the eccentric Netflix drama about a group of female wrestler in 1980s Los Angeles.
Nash plays the Rhonda, the self-possessed Brit whose wrestling alter-ego, Britannica, is blessed with brains and braun. Based on a documentary about the real-life, so-called ‘Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling’, this beloved drama, also starring Mad Men‘s Alison Brie and comedian Marc Maron, recently returned for season two, charting the wrestlers’ bid to keep their nascent TV show on air. NME sat down with Kate to chat about the appeal of the outsider, 10 years of ‘Made Of Bricks’ and why, in her opinion, music’s #MeToo moment is just around the corner.
Your last two albums were self-released, and GLOW is about a group of people who work in entertainment, but are not part of the mainstream. I wondered if that was part of the appeal for you?
“Definitely. And I feel like the show is so meta like that, too – even the fact it’s on Netflix. That’s a whole new world, because it’s creating its own thing and, yes, it’s completely the hugest thing ever now, but it’s still outside of the norm. Netflix has given female creators the freedom to make this kind of show. We’re all a group of misfits – everyone on there is sort of a misfit in their own way.”
Your first two albums, released around a decade ago, talked a lot about feminism and mental health. We’re used to seeing those issues discussed in mainstream culture now, but back then it was much less common for a prominent artist to talk about that kind of stuff.
“It’s so amazing to see – in a 10 year gap – how far we have come. When I did interviews in 2007 to, say, 2011, when I talked about feminism, people would be like, ‘Oh my God – you’re willing to talk about this’. People were really shocked. I remember a woman telling me that she asked a pop star if she was a feminist and her publicist intervened said, ‘She’s not going to answer that’. That was in 2009 or 2010. Then Taylor Swift became a feminist and Beyoncé had ‘FEMINIST’ [written] behind her [onstage], and that’s the mainstream now. It’s positive to me that we can even have a conversation like this and it’s considered pretty normal. which it wouldn’t have been in the past – which is crazy, because 2007 wasn’t the 1980s, but it was still really rare.”
NME interviewed Lily Allen recently and she said that the music industry hasn’t really had its #MeToo moment…
“It’s coming, though. It’s on the breeze.”
She was arguing that the hedonistic nature of the music industry helps to mask or obscure inappropriate behaviour.
“Yeah, that’s true. I agree with that. I think the music industry is the most unprofessional business in the world. It’s a night-time lifestyle – people are fucked and doing drugs and drinking. Labels are buying drugs. Men in their 30s and 40s are buying drugs for 18 year olds. That’s fucked up. I haven’t personally experienced anybody like that. I haven’t had a #MeToo moment of people in the music industry. I’ve had inappropriate shit, though. I’ve had unprofessionalism. I’ve had them treat me like shit, like a piece of meat, and not care about me really at all. I’ve had my own sexual assault experiences in my personal life. Most women have. So, it’s probably confusing for the musicians that have experienced that on tour, for instance, because maybe you were drunk [when an incident occurred]. There’s a whole aspect of this that’s us learning what consent is, learning what rape is.”
Last year, you toured songs from your debut album, ‘Made of Bricks’, for its 10-year anniversary. How was that?
“Oh, it was so fun. I was singing songs that I hadn’t sung for so and just really loving my teenage self. Like, ‘This is who I was’. These songs connected with all these people and it was just a really celebratory, joyous and emotional. People sang every word. That tour was like Christmas. I felt like their hearts were so open I was almost scared for them to go out into the world afterwards. I was like, ‘You should cover up your bleeding hearts! They’re exposed right now.’”
You’ve written songs for other people, too. Did you consider exploring that further, rather than focusing on your own career as a performer?
“I tried that – I wrote for Rita Ora, I did her song ‘Poison’. I did a couple of things like that and I hate it so much. It made me feel so bad about myself. I just hated it.”
What did you hate about it?
“It’s just, like, a weird world of insecurity and people kissing arse. Again, I’m unconventional; I don’t like ticking boxes. And people are fighting for their percentage, so they’re like, ‘I don’t want to use that line – let’s use this word’. And I’m like, “I don’t care, fine, whatever. I don’t care about the percentage. What am I doing here?’ I had an existential crisis every single time.”
Has wrestling altered your physicality onstage?
“Yeah, definitely. I just have so much more physical confidence. Over the years, that has changed anyway. I’ve done different types of music and experimented with guitar and bass and different genres, so that has given me more confidence. I mean, I can jump off the top rope, like, ‘Slam!’. I can be thrown face-down into a ring and take falls. I’m not afraid of that space any more. It’s been so empowering. We were taught by the iconic, legendary wrestler Chavo Guerrero and he was like, ‘Take up as much space as possible! Be loud! Be crazy!’ That’s the opposite of what we’re taught as women. We’re taught not take up space, you know?
“Chavo has no idea much he has done for us. He’s such a dude. It’s like, ‘Use this arm, get over here’, and nothing is sexualised, ever. It’s amazing to have your body treated like that, because as a woman because there’s never a situation where your body isn’t some kind of political thing. And now you’re with a man who’s just teaching you these moves that make you feel strong. That’s such a cool, liberating experience.”
‘Glow’ season 2 is streaming on Netflix now