Kate Nash feminist activism through music and collaboration
IG: What brought you to speak actively about being a feminist within the music industry?
KN: I think it's really important to speak up about sexism in the music industry, and to be vocal on feminist issues. I made a zine called my ignorant youth. And that was like my first way of being like ok I want to say something because I have this giant platform but I don’t really know how to use it so I’m just going to make a zine that I can throw out into the crowd as a way of communicating. I really feel strongly that those of us with a platform of any kind should use it to support, encourage and educate others. It's great that people like Taylor Swift and Beyonce are proudly standing up and saying I’m a feminist and actually trying to back that up in their work, without a doubt it has a massive impact on young people.
IG: you've talked in the past about how importatant the Riot Grrrl movement was in you finding your voice, tell us a bit about that and why it resonated so strongly with you
KN: well, it started with punk. I loved it, it was loud, it was about standing against the tide and it was just a very raw, and immediate. It felt really exciting and just full of energy and made me want to take risks and stuck up for myself. One of the things I always say is girls should be encouraged to fall down! No one gets everything right first time! It's almost like no one wants to see a girl shout or complain or be angry or be a mess, but you should be allowed to do those things and be encouraged to do those things. Our experiences are what shape us and help us find our voices. Growing up with two sisters was really important in terms of my development; all of us pretty much two years apart meant we were going through a lot of the same shit at the same time, like just fought our way through it y'know? we'll always be there for each other. They taught me how to argue and stand up for myself, and not to care what other people thought of me. Riot Grrrl gave me this ethos like, life's too short, do what you have to do and be kind, but don't waste your energy on people if they're judging you for having an opinion, for being loud or whatever.
IG: After your first album came out you started the school clubs with girls and subsequently started Girl Gang TV, how did that come about?
KN: I like to be doing stuff in between records to get inspired and at the time I was very angry, I was very bitter after my first record. I really wasn't happy, and I didn’t know if I even wanted to carry on; I wanted to turn it around to make it something positive. I wanted to help make things better for young people rather than being angry and sad about how things are for my generation. So I started going into schools to help encourage girls to get into music. The girls played bass and drums and guitar for the first time and wrote their own lyrics. We worked together for a year and they all ended up performing with me at a Christmas show at Queen Elizabeth Halls in front of 900 people, it was so inspiring!
IG: wow, that's so brave!
KN: Yeah they were amazing! It was actually quite emotional, i felt incredibly proud of them. It absolutely highlighted for me how vital encouragement on that kind of level can be, and how important it is that we support the younger generation. So that’s sort of where Girl Gang came from. I made sure from then on every single band that came on tour with me was at least female fronted, if not all females. I want the girls in the audience to feel represented, like they can look at these women on stage and think yeah i could be her y'know?
IG: What advice would you give to a girl that wanted to make a difference within feminism? What is an achievable way she could do that?
KN: I think that like starting your own Girl Gang meeting is like a good way to do that. You can just like find a friend, a girl friend, one or two and you can just meet in your bedroom and like use the internet to educate yourselves on things and online there’s so many ways of empowering yourself now and the most powerful thing is to bring some of that stuff to real life so like start a zine or just like write for your school, start a school newspaper or start educating each other. It can be as simple as sitting in your bedroom with each other and talking about like things in the world and how it relates to you and how it relates to women.. There’s a difference from someone wanting to learn and listen is very powerful and very important.
IG: What appeals to you about the format of a zine in terms of spreading messages and ideas?
KN: I feel like zines are usually really creatively put together, artistically put together. I just like the aesthetic of them. I think they look cool and they are a nice souvenir for someone to grab when they are out or just like keep in their bedroom. All the Riot Grrrl zines are just perfect; they really represented what Riot Grrrl was. In your face andraw, you’d see it and just be like what the fuck is that?
IG: Do you think anything has improved since your entry into the industry for women in music?
KN: I really do, I really do. I just did this zine actually for my last show, and I wanted to use the back page and the front page – the inside back and front page with all comments that people have really said about me online, like negative stuff.
I feel like online communities have really evolved in the last few years, and there are girls, especially really sticking up for each other. In the past the media really came out with some horrible stuff about me, personal stuff and I know things like this still happens but I think people are more switched onto it - now a lot more people would say what the fuck are you talking about calling like a 19/ 20 year old girl fat and ugly. It's a trickle down effect for sure and we're starting to see results but there are still loads of problems, we just have to keep chipping away.