In terms of musical hierarchy, it would probably be possible to trace back my history of love of female fronted pop to some sort of birth point, but this series is not in any linear order – like rummaging through a pile of clothes at a jumble sale memories are best all muddle and mixed.
So let’s zoom in on the summer of 2006 to the now defunct Electric Gardens Festival in Kent and pick out something from the mountain of memories. It starts with a gang of vibrant, colourful excited teenagers crossing my path as I wait for the days music to begin. One of them in particular bounds chock-full of energy at the head of the pack - a pale skinned flame haired girl in a green dress with a unique flower design. There’s something distinctive and exciting about her but it’s not quite quantifiable.
Twenty minutes later I happened by chance to be at the smallest stage on the site – the Myspace stage – a muddied white canvas marquee that could hold no more than a hundred or so people, to take a punt on whoever was playing there. It was a girl called Kate Nash and as she took to the stage I saw that it was the same girl I’d spotted bouncing across the site just a few minutes before.
Her set was awkward, full of technical difficulties, had a lo-fi d-i-y aesthetic to it and seemed to be mainly watched by a small handful of family and friends. However, underlying it all there was charm, pop melody and a girlish kookiness that hinted at the makings of a British Regina Spektor. I absolutely loved it and it was, despite being what you may expect to be the early afternoon lunch time lull, the highlight of my festival.
After her performance I spoke to Kate to find out if she had any recorded material available, but at the time she was unsigned and told me to listen to her GarageBand demos on Myspace. This was a time when Myspace was at its peak – it was a simple and direct way to communicate with new artists. Alongside another new act that I was enjoying (Adele) I’d occasionally send a message to Kate and she would usually respond. It led me to go and see her at a songwriters showcase in Brighton a few months after Electric Gardens. By this time she’d been signed and was about to release her debut single through Moshi Moshi records. She only played 4 or 5 songs that night but I had fallen in musical love.
The last time I heard from Kate via Myspace was the week her first major label single – Foundations - was released. I messaged her via Myspace to say I thought it was brilliant and that it should get in the UK Top 40 singles. A week later she wrote back “OMG, Foundations is no.2 in the mid-week charts!” Suddenly Kate Nash became a pop star – something to this day I’m not convinced she ever really intended or wanted.
Kate Nash, like quite a proportion of much of the music I like, was derided by the music snobs, yet I maintain that “You said I must eat so many lemons ‘cause I am so bitter, I said I’d rather be with your friends mate ‘cause they are much fitter,” is one of the funniest, cleverest, cockiest and most memorable lyrics in a pop song of the last few years. Kate’s My Fair Lady gawd blimey LDN accent may have irritated the pants off many, but Foundations was an edgy, poignant and brilliantly constructed tune that stood out like a sore thumb in a chart full of R‘n’B footballers wives tosh.
There may have been nothing of Kate Nash’s that that has grabbed me in the same way since and her second album and subsequent live shows have left me feeling exasperated and disappointed, but Foundations will always be my bargain find at the jumble sale.