MIKE PESCA, host:
Singer-songwriter Kate Nash is a 20-year-old from England whose music is melodic, fun, and not more introspective than you'd want from a 20-year-old, but let's hear.
(Soundbite of song "Mouthwash")
Ms. KATE NASH: (Singing) This is my face covered in freckles With the occasional spot and sun-stains. This is my body covered in skin...
PESCA: Hey, Kate, how are you?
Ms. NASH: Hi, good. How are you?
PESCA: Are you 20? Did I get that right?
Ms. NASH: Yes.
PESCA: All right. So, I don't want to offend you, but here's what I was getting at. Sometimes you hear 20-year-olds talk about the state of the world, or let's impeach parliament. You talk about things that I think you're very intuitive about, like the gestures of someone that you're going out with, and how it might lead to a breakup. So, you're writing about - it seems to me like you're writing about things that you know and that you get.
Ms. NASH: OK, yet.
PESCA: You'll buy it?
Ms. NASH: Yeah.
PESCA: So let me ask you, how old were you when you started songwriting?
Ms. NASH: About 14, probably.
PESCA: And when we say "started," was it just, like, more than humming songs to yourself? I mean, writing it down, and saying, now here's the first song I wrote.
Ms. NASH: Yeah. I had like a little tape player, and I used to record onto tapes and stuff. It was like, hold down record and play. But I'd never write anything good. I was always writing rubbish songs back then.
PESCA: What was the first good song you wrote?
Ms. NASH: I think it was "The Nicest Thing."
PESCA: And what's that about? What's the theme of that one?
Ms. NASH: The theme is like basically wanting to be loved by someone.
PESCA: It's a universal theme.
Ms. NASH: It's kind of universal.
PESCA: It works.
Ms. NASH: Everybody wants to be loved.
PESCA: Content-wise or theme-wise, do you take advice from anyone?
Ms. NASH: Well, as in, like, what someone asks me to - telling me to write about something?
PESCA: No. I'm saying, after you write it, do you say, well, what do you think of this lyric? What do you think of turn of phrase?
Ms. NASH: No. Not really. I'm not really like - I don't really do like first-drafts sorts of things. I kind of just write. It just kind of spits out.
PESCA: Do you puzzle over the songs a lot, and change them a lot? Or what we hear on the record, take away the production and engineering, but the soul of the song, is that pretty much the first thing that comes out of you that we're hearing?
Ms. NASH: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. I think so. The thing is for me, it's like, I think the editing process comes through the live show, because I'm sure that the songs are much different to what they are on the record.
I don't really, you know, I don't really listen to that, so if you keep playing live, you get better, and the songs change. Just to keep yourself interested you want to try out new things. So, I think that's kind of how the editing process goes for me, like, through the live shows.
PESCA: A lot of bands, a lot of musicians, say how it works out is while you're touring, you're having a lot of ideas. As you're in a hotel room - I think, you know, Keith Richards wrote "Satisfaction" while just sitting by the pool in Florida one day. He came up with that riff.
Ms. NASH: Yeah. Especially because we have - with the band, like, you're all inspiring each other, you know, and just if you've got support bands and stuff you'll be being inspired by them, and there's a lot of time to listen to things, and I'm always like oh, I want to do a song like that, I want to do a song like that.
Because you're playing the same songs every night as well, it's like, I'm not like - I'm not like sick of them. I'm not like - I don't hate the songs and stuff, but you do want to do new stuff all the time because you've done them so many times. So, I think that's probably something to do with it.
PESCA: I know that you played South by Southwest with Billy Bragg, so did you...
Ms. NASH: Yeah. Oh. That was so good.
PESCA: Did you want to write songs about International Workers of the World unite?
Ms. NASH: Yeah. I loved being able to work with Billy Bragg. Like he's - I think we're going to record a song together, actually, because we did it - just, we're doing a cover of "Great Big Kiss" by Shangri-Las, and I think we're going record that.
PESCA: Did you know him? Was he - I mean, he's in his 50s.
Ms. NASH: Yeah. I knew who he was. I didn't know him. When I met him, I was really excited to meet him, and he asked me to sing on "New England" and I was like, oh, my God.
PESCA: Yeah. That's an important - that's a responsibility is what that is.
Ms. NASH: Yeah. I know. I was so nervous.
PESCA: But the Shangri-Las always have, like, that talking part, right, where they're like, is she really going out with him?
Ms. NASH: Yeah. Yeah. I know. That's so cool. Sometimes, as well, it's really rambly. I love it.
PESCA: Yeah. Yeah. So, you're going to do a song for us?
Ms. NASH: Yes.
PESCA: All right. And we should say that this is Jay, who plays - you guys, when you go on tour, is it just the two of you? Do you have a whole backup band?
Ms. NASH: Yeah. We've got - there are several guys as well. There's Brett, and Elliot, and John, who aren't here.
PESCA: What are you going to do?
Ms. NASH: I'm going to do "Skeleton Song."
PESCA: OK. Cool. Play it, and then I'll ask you a question about the song afterwards.
Ms. NASH: OK.
(Soundbite of song "Skeleton Song")
Ms. NASH: (Singing) Skeleton, you are my friend, But you are made of bone. And you have got no flesh and blood Running through you to help protect the bone.
Skeleton, we have been friends for years, And you have seen me through some trials, And tribulations, and some tears. Everybody thinks I'm weird. And I should have known That it wouldn't be long
Until you, you've got me standing in an awkward position With unwanted attention, and a need for explanation. And it's not that I'm letting go of you, But I don't know what to do.
Skeleton, we are so close, But you have got no body! So, why do you insist on wearing clothes?
Skeleton, when we were young, It was easy, Even though the other kids, They would tease me. I was only seven. I had you, But now I'm 22. It's different when I take you out
And you, you've got me standing in an awkward position With unwanted attention, and a need for explanation, And it's not that I'm letting go of you, But I don't know what to do.
And sometimes at night I dream of the most terrible things I take a hammer, and creep out of bed, And I raise it high, And I smash your head.
Fibular and tubular, And ribs, and cages too. In fact, while I'm here, I'll smash the whole of you!
Oh oh oh. Oh oh oh!
But, Skeleton, you are my friend, And I could never bring your life to an end. Yes, Skeleton, you are, you are my friend. And I will be there for you until the end, And even though when I take you out
You've got me, you've got me standing in an awkward position With unwanted attention, and a need for explanation. I could, I could never let you go. And that is all I know. And that is all I know.
And that is all I, That is all I know. And that is all I know.
PESCA: Kate and Jay, thanks a lot. That was awesome. Kate, you really had a skeleton, is that the deal?
Ms. NASH: Yeah. Yeah. I've got one. It's called Stanley.
PESCA: Stanley? What, your parents got it for you as a teaching tool, that sort of thing?
Ms. NASH: No. My mom just bought him.
PESCA: Just to have around the house?
Ms. NASH: Yeah. He's in the living room.
PESCA: OK. And so this song's dedicated to him? PESCA: And I wanted to ask you one last question. The vocal stylings of many of your fellow English singers, from your Amy Winehouse, to Joss Stone, to even Mick Jagger, these people sound like they grew up in Memphis, Tennessee, or someplace...
Ms. NASH: Yeah.
PESCA: But, I know where you're from by the way you sing. Do you have any idea why that is?
Ms. NASH: Because I - I guess because I sing how I speak.
PESCA: Yes! And what? They don't? Are they putting on an act? Or is it, you know...?
Ms. NASH: I think it's just different ways of singing, isn't it? Everyone's got like a different way of doing it, which is fine, you know?
PESCA: I think so. All right. Kate Nash, the new album "Made of Bricks."
Ms. NASH: Yeah.
PESCA: It's available everywhere records are sold, and some places where they aren't. Thanks a lot, Kate.
Ms. NASH: Thanks.
NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by a contractor for NPR, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio.