Socially conscious musicians with mainstream appeal are difficult to find in today’s music scene. Politics and music rarely mesh in the studio, let alone on the pop charts. Yet English singer-songwriter Kate Nash is the exception to the rule. Her latest album, “Girl Talk,” is a foray into punk rock reminiscent of girl bands like The Runaways and the Go-Go’s. The record also challenges sexism while connecting with female fans over experiences that society deems trivial.
Whether she’s cheerily singing about being called names or howling over a broken heart, the message of conflicting ideas in femininity permeates “Girl Talk.” The album confidently declares that women don’t have to fit into a narrow definition of what is considered attractive.
“I’m sort of at the point where I’m confident being how I want to be,” the artist said in a phone interview with WSN. “I use my voice differently [on ‘Girl Talk’], I do what I feel like. If I want to be aggressive, I’ll shout.”
The artist also changed her appearance to match her new aesthetic, she now sporting long, skunked hair and bright red lipstick that differs greatly from her previous uniform of belted dresses and colorful shoes.
“I felt like people didn’t take me very seriously because I was very girly,” Nash said. “But you can be girly, wearing pretty dresses talking about politics, or wearing a leather jacket talking about lipstick.”
Nash also spoke about openly being a feminist despite recent reluctance among popular artists, like Taylor Swift and Katy Perry, to be associated with the word.
“Some people are afraid of it and think it’s being whiny and moany, and [that it’s] not a sellable ideal,” she said, “but we’ve come a long way. If you have any knowledge, you know that sexism is so much worse and feminism is really important.”
Nash expands her feminist stance outside the studio by volunteering at schools in the United Kingdom to encourage girls to write their own songs and traveling to Ghana as the ambassador for women’s rights initiative, “Because I Am A Girl.”
While critics might dismiss Nash’s album as the overemotional result of a bad breakup, the artist wants her female fans to know that it’s important to express themselves by saying whatever they feel, regardless of how that might be received. They shouldn’t be ashamed to pine over an ex, nor should they fear being called names for standing up for themselves.
“I care about empowering girls,” she said. “To me, feminism is not a bad word. It’s really exciting reading about the history of [feminism] and trying to fight for the girls that don’t have the privilege that I do.”