I interviewed Kate Nash and her best friend, the performance poet Laura Dockrill, for thelondonpaper in advance of a joint gig at the Southbank Centre. They were very sweet, and very funny.
So how did you two become friends?
Laura: Kate was the year below at the BRIT School, and she auditioned for a play I wrote. She was so amazing – we bonded from that.
Kate: After we left, we spent every day together.
L: We’d sleep in bed together, even when we had boyfriends. It’s ridiculous.
K: We got married at Glastonbury, to Iggy Pop. I mean, we didn’t marry Iggy Pop. I didn’t marry that guy from the car insurance advert. Then Laura got really excited and fell over in the mud.
How’s the album going, Kate? I’ve heard it’s a bit punk.
K: I’ve started reading a lot about feminism and sexism, and punk is the only genre that actually says something about that. It’s not going to be a ‘punk album,’ but there is an aggression in it born of my own experiences. There’s one thing I’ve written that really addresses girls selling themselves short.
L: [Whispers] Is that the scary one?
K: Yeah, the scary one.
You’ve both been called ‘chavvy’. Does that make you cringe?
K: I’ve been hardened to it. I was so insecure about it and I used to hate it. People have called me fat, ugly – not everyone will like you, and the people who slag you off, you wouldn’t like them either, so who gives a f***?
L: For me, being called “chavvy” makes absolute sense. I’m from south London, I grew up in a tiny flat with loads of rough kids around. I used to hang about on a step outside a newsagent. I wanted to be a chav. It’s not a cuss to me.
K: Anyone who talks in a normal accent gets called a chav. They call Lily Allen a chav and she went to private school.
Are you and Lily friends?
K: We don’t really know each other. I’ve met her about three times.
L: I’d have been too jealous.
K: Yeah, you were at first. She was sending me MySpace messages and calling me and Laura was like: “Look, yeah, you don’t have to be her friend.”
L: Even if it had been Whitney Houston, I’d have
still been like: “No, she’s rubbish!”
Kate, does having a boyfriend in a band [The Cribs’ Ryan Jarman] help you deal with the music snipers?
K: Yeah, it does. We really trust each other’s opinion. Say we have to go to an awards thing, we both really dread it, but we go and then make fun of people afterwards.
L: He couldn’t have come at a better time, could he? I feel like when he came along your nostrils were just out of the water, and then when he came, you were safe.
Laura, you’re clearly not ugly or shy, but was the book based on your own experiences?
L: Yeah, because I have been shy and ugly. From nine to 15, I used to have my hair really short and I was podgy and always wore the tightest Spice Girls T-shirt you can imagine, with no bra. I was always happy to put up with any s***.
The book veers off in a rather violent direction at the end.
L: I saw Watchmen about a week before I was meant to hand it in, and I was like: “Oh God, I need to do something really weird and unexpected.” So I added that in. I don’t want to make out that [violence] is OK though. My boyfriend’s got a younger sister who’s always getting into scraps with girls and I’m like: “Don’t punch back!” She [pointing at Kate] would say punch back.
K: Punch back, punch back!
Do you think poetry and hip hop MC-ing are meeting in the middle, with poetry slams and performances?
L: I’ve never done a slam. I’m way too scared.
K: You’d be rubbish at a slam.
L: I know, I’d be like: “Yo, yo…”
K: “She went down the shop! To get some pop!”
L: Kate and I have this side project called the Cutie Pies.
K: The C-Pies!
L: We’ve got one song which I rap on that’s about a biscuit factory on the way from my house to Kate’s house on the train and you can smell the biscuits through the windows.
Kate, there were rumours a few months ago that you were getting married.
K: That was because I went to America for Ryan’s brother’s wedding, and it was more exciting to say that me and Ryan were getting married. The newspaper said “everyone who was important was at the wedding”, so my mum texted me saying: “Where’s my bloody invitation?” But I’m not married, no.
L: That’s a lie!
K: Oh, I am! I’m married to my wife!