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Breaking Out: Kate Nash

British bird turns romantic tragedy into pop ecstasy

ONLINE EXCLUSIVE! Watch exclusive video of Kate performing her single, “Birds,” plus a quick chat on her recent stop in NYC. MORE>>

WHO: The 20-year-old Londoner began working on her self-described “teenage angst songs” while bedridden with a broken foot. After a few small gigs at local pubs, Nash posted a couple tracks of her beat-driven piano pop on MySpace, getting kudos from Lily Allen and the attention of Universal Music, which signed her in March. Three months later, Nash’s bittersweet single “Foundations” was a surprise U.K. hit, so the label released her debut album, Made of Bricks, five weeks ahead of schedule. (Geffen dropped a digital EP Stateside in September; the entire record follows in January.) Success is so new that Nash still appreciates the perks. “[Sometimes] I just enjoy the free bar and spotting the famous people and having a laugh,” she says of her suddenly busy social life.

SOUNDS LIKE: Nash describes her material as “stories over very simple ditties.” Sure, she’s fond of gushy ballads and girlish sing-alongs, but snarky stanzas like “Why you being a dickhead for? / Stop being a dickhead” (“Dickhead”) and “Darling, don’t give me shit / ‘Cause I know that you’re full of it” (“Shit Song”) are far from typical femme pop. Her neo-feminist spunk, chipper melodic instincts, and colloquial commentary have led to more than one comparison with the similarly inclined Allen. “That was frustrating at first,” Nash says. “I know that music existed before Lily Allen came out! Everyone said that we were best mates, but I’ve only met her once or twice.”

UNLUCKY IN LOVE: Though not entirely autobiographical, Nash’s lyrics do not paint an especially rosy picture of her romantic life. “Foundations,” for example, perfectly sums up dating a complete bozo without knowing why. “I haven’t had a full-on relationship that’s gone well or with somebody who’s really respected me,” she says. “It’s just something that will come later in life.” She suspects that one boyfriend was gay. “He used to pat me on the back. I was like, ‘What are you doing? Be a man! Grab me!’ ” Another guy, she discovered, was an advocate of Neil Strauss’ seduction manual The Game. “That’s fucking shit,” she says of the book. “That’s manipulation!” In other words, what a dickhead.

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