22 Jul 2007: Meet this summer’s Lily. Kate Nash is so hot her album is being rushed out, and so excited by fame that she’s overdosing on vol-au-vents.
Breathless and disarmingly giggly, Kate Nash is in a fluster. She holds the phone upside down, apologises for talking with her eyes closed, explains that she’s wearing false eyelashes as she’s about to go into a photo shoot. Life is a blur for 20-year-old Nash just now: if last summer belonged to Lily Allen, this one is Kate’s for the taking. Last week it was announced that her debut album, scheduled for release in mid-September, was being brought forward eight weeks to Monday 6 August due to ‘phenomenal demand by her fans’.
It’s more usual for records to be put back than pulled forward. The most memorable example of a rush release in recent years has been the Arctic Monkeys’ Whatever People Say I Am That’s What I’m Not, which was brought forward by a week due to ‘demand’ and went on to become the fastest-selling UK debut album of all time. Which bodes well for Kate Nash, whose first proper single, ‘Foundations’, sat on top of the iTunes charts for two weeks and is now competing with Rihanna and Timbaland for this week’s number one slot in the official Top 40.
On occasion an album is brought forward due to record company concerns about internet piracy (Beyonce Knowles’s debut album came out a few weeks early for this reason back in 2003), but everyone at Polydor, the label to which Nash signed at the end of March, is denying that this is a factor. ‘It can take two or three singles for an artist to bed-in these days, but Kate struck a chord with her audience immediately,’ says David Joseph, co-president of Polydor Records. ‘We’ve got momentum now: her live shows are exciting, online is exploding and traditional media have come on board post-single release. We’re very confident about releasing her album earlier than planned.’
Like Lily Allen – who helped out at the start by making Kate her number eight MySpace friend last year – Nash has used the internet to make herself accessible to fans. Not only does she write a regular blog but also, until recently, made demos from the new album freely available. Unlike Allen, Nash is the real deal: both may be feisty young women from London who delight in storytelling, but that’s where the comparisons end.
Even before hearing the album – produced by Paul Epworth (Bloc Party; Long Blondes) but still awaiting a title – we know that Nash is a proper post-modern punk pop star, more eccentric, disarming and sassy than her mate. Her girlish vocals are at odds with her charmingly cynical lyrics; on ‘Foundations’ she sweetly snarls: ‘You said I must eat so many lemons/ Cos I am so bitter/ I said I’d rather be with your friends mate/Cos they’re much fitter’.
So what does Nash herself make of all the fuss? Phone the right way up, eyes still closed, a muffin and coffee to hand, she simply laughs: ‘I’m having an amazing time. The summer’s wicked because I love festivals. I even got to see Bjork at Glastonbury.’
She sounds stunned that her first proper single made number two in the charts – its predecessor, ‘Caroline’s a Victim’, was released on the tiny independent label Moshi Moshi in February – and is still getting used to her fans. ‘I get armies of 17-year-old girls who wear dresses and have hair cuts like mine and then … all these old punk men.’
Has she had any time at all to enjoy being a pop star? ‘I don’t really know. I feel normal. But quite cool. I feel like an outsider who’s just sneaked in. I still can’t get over all the free stuff. Free food! I’ll have everything on the menu, please.’