Kate Nash absolutely refuses to talk about her personal life.
At least, she wont discuss it in interviews, saying politely but tersely when asked: “I just rather not be quoted on anything to do with that really. I just don’t want to say anything about it.”
She is talking about the hellish year she went through as she created her recently released album, Girl Talk, during which she faced both the death of a close friend and the breakdown of her longterm relationship with The Cribs Ryan Jarman.
But although she declines to talk about it in the cold light of day, the emotion of it bleeds through into Girl Talk.
She says hesitantly: “I think it is fuelled by this raw anger but I do think it also does feel like a positive album really to me still. It’s still upbeat and it’s still a lot of fun.
“But I think that any situation that you’re in can inspire good work.”
The result is a raw and beautiful album which is lightyears away from the cheeky tunes on her smash hit debut, Made Of Bricks.
The lyrics however are still as incisive as her greatest hit, Foundations, the tale of the final bitter throes of a longterm relationship which took her to Number Two, held off the top only by the mighty Rihanna.
This progression is something she is proud of. She says: “I think it’s just something that happens to me naturally. I think that, if you listen to the records, one two and three in a row, I think they really make sense as progressions of the same artist but, yeah, they are really different.
“I think that’s a good thing. I’ve looked at artists like Madonna and Bowie who change as they grow and develop. I don’t believe in recreating the same thing.
“I was listening to a lot of Hole and a lot of T-Rex and I went through a really rough time. And I think that that just all..... I mean, music is my therapy so it all just went into that really.
As we speak, Nash is spending a rare day off at her mum’s house in Harrow. Fresh back from New York and still clearly exhausted, she is already packing to set off again, this time on the UK leg which brings her to Preston’s 53 Degrees on Tuesday.
She says: “I literally just got back from New York so it’s kind of a bit crazy. I got back the night before yesterday and yesterday, I just collapsed and didn’t move from bed the whole day.”
The American trip, without major label support, was gruelling with Nash driving herself and her manager hundred of miles between shows. She says: “It can be really exhausting, especially when it’s freezing. Driving around America, it’s kinda hardcore because you do like six hour drives and then you arrive at the venue and do the show that night.
“So I’m just exhausted from tour.... but I’m going out again tomorrow so I’ve got to get over it basically!”
Despite not playing in the US for some time, the tough odyssey was worth it, with all shows sold out and Nash playing iconic venues like Bowery Ballroom and Webster Hall. Nash says exultantly: “It was really good!”
A hardened performer, playing iconic venues like the Bowery no longer raises starstruck thoughts of those who have trod the boards before. She laughs: “I dunno, maybe like the first time I played there, I probably was more like that because I’ve played Bowery quite a few times now.
“So it was more nice to get to New York and be settled there for a while and obviously New York’s always crazy, there’s always a million bits of press to do and lots of people to meet. It’s always a whirlwind.”
Without label backing, she raised cash to make Girl Talk by getting fans to back it via a Pledge Music campaign. But she says: “I actually paid for the record myself before I signed up to Pledge. But I do think it’s really great for artists because it means you don’t have to rely on a record label.”
As a child, one of Nash’s earliest memories is listening Puff The Magic Dragon over and over again on her parents tape player with her head engulfed by enormous old fashioned headphones.
As she got older, more grown up records became her favourites. She says: “There was a Nilsen record as well that my parents used to play all the time. I remember The Puppy Song and I Can’t Live If Living Is Without You. It is so emotional.”
Beginning by banging childishly on the piano that her parents always had in the house, she soon progressed to piano lessons.
As a teenager, she went to the famous Brit School and says the institution gave her a unique grounding. She says: “I think that it’s easy for people to attack a performing arts school and I think that will just be something that always happens.
“But it is really good for children, for kids and teenagers, to succeed at something that isn’t just about being academic - because you can feel really stupid if you don’t succeed at that.
“You learn how to be a team member, how to be an individual, how to be professional, how to be comfortable and creative with yourself and how to be successful at something other than maths and English - which not all of us are good at.”
Focussed on acting, her direction changed after she broke her foot and found herself housebound as she recovered. Her mother bought her a guitar to pass the time. She says: “It did start me back on to music because I was really focused on acting and that didn’t work out and then that was a moment to stop and think.
“I was working in a fast food restaurant - I was working at Nandos - and I didn’t get into university and yeah, it just made me think about what I wanted to do. And that’s when I decided to start writing songs again and to book my first gig.
She found herself composing her first tune for some time. Called Caroline’s a Victim, it caused a sensation when Nash uploaded it to MySpace, generating thousands of views and sparking a label feeding frenzy.
Her debut, Made of Bricks, only increased the hysteria, especially after she was named Best Female Artist at the Brit Awards.
She says: “It was just a whirlwind really. I mean, I was really young and it was just a complete whirlwind, you know? But it did make me learn a lot quickly.”
Her second album, My Best Friend is You, although it generated her second biggest hit, Doo Wah Doo, was a radical departure from her first and was not such a commercial success.
Nash says she dealt with this: “Just by working through it, you know. Just by making music and just believing in myself and just writing and trying to ignore those pressures. I think it just has been a growth period and a really good one and I’ve got to quite a positive place, I feel.”
When she accepted her Brit, Nash told her audience she wanted the music industry to realise that “female is not a genre.” She still feels that it is intensely male oriented and her answer is both to involve herself deeply in campaigns to educate schoolgirls and encourage a new generation of female musicians.
And for this tour and album, she has purposely assembled an all-female band. She says: “I was looking for a new band - and it absolutely was deliberate. I think that is is really important for there to be females onstage for young girls to see and be inspired by and it’s possible, you just have to work hard at finding people.
“I would just like to see more females and it be less of a big deal. And more confidence in women and less pressure on women to look a certain way as well.”
She feels the industry is slowly bowing to pressure and says: “I think there have been lots of changes. But I think every generation of women has to break through different boundaries and different cliches and stereotypes and there are always battles.
“I just did a project in schools with teenage girls and the majority didn’t have the confidence to even think they could be a musician because they were so insecure about how they looked. They were too scared of how they’d be judged.
“So I think the problem we’re facing now is that there could actually be a decrease in the level of female songwriters and musicians coming out unless we really grab hold of this.
“Women are ripped apart in the media and we’ve become obsessed with celebrity culture, with women being introduced by their weight and their age first and foremost and it really does have a bad effect on our youth.
“if they want to write about ME being too fat or too ugly to be a popstar, then fair enough, I can handle it, I’m used to it. But how do you think it will make young girls feel? It’s just wrong.”
Kate Nash plays 53 Degrees on Tuesday April 9. Tickets are £12.50 on 01772 893000.