Saturday, 15 September 2012

Everybody Likes To Play It Safe

A couple of months ago now, one of my favourite musicians, Kate Nash, debuted her new song called Under-Estimate The Girl. It’s a glorious, raw punk-fuelled track, showcasing Kate’s talent and ability to completely ignore the “rules” of sticking within the lines of one particular genre.

The track had a mixed response, in the way that anything released by a semi-mainstream female musician, that ISN’T polished beyond belief,  always is. While this is wrong in itself, it seems that a lot of people don’t realise that there’s more to Kate than the piano-pop of her breakthrough single Foundations; her first single Caroline’s a Victim was hardly a sparkly radio-friendly  tune, and had mixed reactions from the MySpace crowd.

Similarly, in 2010, before the release of her second album, Kate uploaded a track online called I Just Love You More (a track I also loved) which received an almost identical reaction across the internet.

The truth is, Under-Estimate the Girl isn’t much of a change in direction at all for Kate. Back in 2008, she released Model Behaviour as a b-side to Merry Happy, a song that was very much in the same vein.

I love that Kate isn’t afraid to mix things up and just make whatever music she feels inspired to make, be it riot-grrrl-inspired grungey punk, 60’s girl group pop or quirky piano pop… To me, it makes her music more genuine, after all it would be easy for her to just churn out another Made of Bricks and ride on that success until people get bored.

A day after the song was released online, Heat magazine (ugh, I know) posted a poll on their website, something along the lines of “Do You Miss The Old Kate Nash?” This is another thing I hate about the way (mainly female) musicians are treated… Why does someone have to stick to making one style of music. Very few people, if you really look through their music collection, listen to just one style of music, and that’s fine, if anything, it’s respected. Why doesn’t that rule apply to MAKING music?

Can you imagine if YouTube had existed in the early 90’s, what kind of comments would an early Bikini Kill song have garnered? Probably a lot of similar criticisms… Have times changed much at all?

Personally, this song has only made me even more excited for the new album… And I was already pretty excited after reading that Kate was partly inspired by the women in Quentin Tarantino’s and Russ Meyer’s films.

It isn’t just her own music that Kate spends her time on; she also produced an album for New York band Supercute! Aside from music, since 2007, she has also co-founded two charity organisations and worked with self-harming girls in Harrow.

After posting a response to the criticisms of her new song on her Tumblr, Kate also announced a new series of posts she’d be making, called Be Yourself, You Fabulous Stain where she encourages fans to send her demo’s of their own music (no matter how lo-fi they may be… and yes, I did send her something!) and posts them for all to see… Or hear.
Kate has also been going around schools in the UK with her Rock and Roll for Girls After-School Music Club, aimed at helping young girls to feel more confident about experimenting with music, an idea she came up with after seeing Kathleen Hanna talking about the Rock and Roll Camp for Girls that takes place in the US. She’s one of the few remotely mainstream musicians in the UK who are openly feminist… The fact that this is even noteworthy is pretty sad in itself, but who knows, maybe she’ll help educate a few people.

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