Kate Nash On ‘GLOW’ Cancelation, New Music And The Failure Of The Music Industry To Respond To #MeToo

For singer, songwriter and actress, Kate Nash, 2020 was a crazy year.

Videos by American Songwriter

Like many around the globe during the COVID-19 pandemic, she was out of her job: after three seasons of starring on the Netflix series GLOW, the show was cancelled due to pandemic-induced logistical complications. Understandably disappointed and a bit frightened about what that meant, Nash ended up retreating into full pandemic mode, camping with her boyfriend, spending time with her dogs and doing something that she’s great at: coming up with new ideas. 

For starters, Nash dove back into music. Working on her first new music since “Bad Lieutenant” (2019), she wrote a new batch of songs and—as of the release of “Misery” on May 19—has begun releasing them.

Additionally, she’s putting together an inventive and fun way to “tour” during these socially-distanced times: the Safely Out of the Bedroom tour, a video series which’ll see her share stunning live performances from natural wonders around the country. This was, in part, made possible thanks to the community of support and encouragement that Nash’s built up on Patreon (a platform that she’s a big advocate of). 

On top of all of this, Nash has also been engaged in bigger, more altruistic pursuits. An impassioned feminist, she’s become an exemplary figure for using her platform to try to bring about change. In line with that, she’s begun working on a new endeavor called the Safety Chain, which she hopes to leverage into an industry-wide educational platform tackling the topic of sexual harassment and assault. Still in its early days of development, the program is promising and indicative of Nash’s commitment to rejecting injustice. 

With all of these projects in the works, American Songwriter hopped on a Zoom call with Nash to discuss it all. Hitting everything from the canceling of GLOW, the process of adjusting, the writing of “Misery,” the disgust she has for the corruption of the industry and more, the discussion was an insightful look into an innovative artist. Read our conversation below:

American Songwriter: Your world got turned upside down when GLOW was canceled in the middle of taping its fourth season. When did you first get the impression that the COVID-19 was going to be a world-altering pandemic? What were those early days like?

Kate Nash: Well, it was my guitarist, Linda. She’s Italian and, obviously, Italy was affected first. She called me a couple of weeks before the lockdown, when it hadn’t reached America yet. She was like “This is gonna affect the world.” I was like “Okay, I get what you’re saying, but you’ve got to stay calm.” I didn’t really think, honestly—she was experiencing it firsthand with her family and stuff, you know? But I was just like “I know it’s hard, but we can’t panic.” 

But then, we had to shut down the filming of GLOW. I believe we shut down on a Friday and from Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, the anxiety just got progressively worse. We were in our chairs, on set, all the girls in their insane costumes. Basically, we were getting texts from different people on different shows that were shutting down. We were like “Oh fuck, when are we going to shut down?” Then, they called us into a meeting on the main stages with everyone—it was really kinda one of those scary moments, like, “Oh man, this is so real.” Our creators just told us “Netflix is shutting everything down.”

So, we finished out the day, took our makeup and costumes off and went home. I was like “Okay, I guess I’ll go get a few things from the store.” I went to my supermarket and it was, like, raided. I’ve got a picture actually—on all of these shelves, there was just a single jar of maraschino cherries left. I was like “I need to buy this because this is so random.” Like, what were people making? Who bought all of the other jars of maraschino cherries? Were they all like “Oh my God, I need cherries!”

So yeah, I just picked up a curry and took it home. Me and my boyfriend had this weird, nervous feeling, like “Oh my God, what’s going to happen?” Then, after about a week, we went into serious lockdown. As soon as that happened, my brain just went “We’re not coming out of lockdown all year. This is going to be at least a year.” I just kinda prepared myself, mentally, for that from the get go. I was obviously really disappointed about GLOW. A virus is just so much bigger than all of us. I mean, we can’t really have plans.

AS: Do you feel like that experience gave you a whole new perspective on your career? Your artistry? Your life?

KN: Definitely. What’s been hard about it is: I haven’t been able to do my job. I lost GLOW and touring and I worried a lot about certain things—I’m not worried about TV and film, but I’m worried about the music industry. Venues are closing and I’m worried about what it’s going to be like for artists who aren’t very stable. I think a lot of artists have had to pack it in, like, there’s a lot of people that can’t afford it. 

So, it highlighted things to me in terms of perspective. I have a garden, I’ve got two dogs, I’m in a happy relationship—I’m so lucky for everything that I have. But it also gave me perspective on my own career and the voice that I have in music, considering how many musicians were quitting music because they couldn’t afford it. Musicians don’t get paid fairly for our music. Musicians earn 70% of their income through touring and with that being off the table, it makes a really big difference in someone’s life. So, a lot of people are like the loads of musician friends I know, saying “I’ve had, like, eight jobs during this time,” or they’re really thinking about quitting because music’s too unstable. Or, it’s just been really depressing for them to see that they’ve got millions of listens on Spotify, but they’re not getting paid very well. All the while, their manager lives in a huge house. The pandemic has shown a lot of musicians—especially if you’re mid to low level, like working class musicians—where you stand: low on the pole. So, I think that artists who do have a bit of stability have a responsibility to fight to make the industry fairer. 

AS: Something you’ve done in the wake of the pandemic is get a presence on Patreon. What can you tell us about that decision? What has that platform—or others, like Kickstarter—done for your career? 

KN: I absolutely adore Patreon. I love it so much. I think every artist should have a Patreon because you never know what’s going to happen in your career, so you should have something that’s yours. Patreon is like direct communication with your fans, you can grow it slowly. You can make it really affordable. And then, you can work on specific projects that they can help fund—it’s incredible. For me personally, it’s built this amazing relationship with my fans. I feel like we’re so close. I’m getting to know them and we’re, like, going through the pandemic together.

Particularly during this time—I’m releasing music and it’s weirdly anticlimactic. You’re like “Well, I guess I’ve done as much as I can to make something out of it. I’ll just keep self-promoting on Instagram.” But, especially because I don’t have a label, no one’s ‘working’ my record. It’s just kinda existing. So, it can be anticlimactic. But that led me to realize the importance of the connection with fans. You’re getting a response, you know? You’re having some kind of response from your music directly, which is just amazing. And they’re on the journey with you. I love it. 

I don’t imagine myself signed to a major label ever again, just because I think they’re really corrupt. I don’t think it’s worth it for me to give them my masters. I’m in a unique position where I do have a bit of a platform, so when I put music out, it can do okay. But it’s not being ‘worked’ as a record, so it’s probably not doing the best that it could. But it’s a compromise to give that over to a major label. There’s just so much stress that comes from that world. I’m not sure. I just don’t think they care about the individual there, unless they’re making money from you. And that can change as well, depending on if you’re hot right now or not. So yeah, I think there’s a lot of work to be done. And I’m happy to do some work to try and change the industry where I can. I’m also quite happy with my life the way it is. I love playing music, I love playing out and I’m getting to do that and have this direct communication with fans. So, Patreon has really filled a bit of a void for me, to be honest.

AS: Tell us about your new single, “Misery.” When did you write this song? What’s the story behind it? 

KN: I wrote “Misery” in 2020 and I feel like it’s exactly how I felt throughout 2020. I had decided to lean into the lethargic, lackluster, “Can’t be bothered” feelings. It was hard to get it together and make music because I was depressed. Like, I found 2020 to be really hard. I was depressed because of everything that was happening to everyone. And there was no routine and no social life. So, I just thought “I’m not going to fight these feelings. I’m just going to lean into them, write and see what happens.” So yeah, I just sorta did that and wrote a series of songs that I’m going to release. “Misery” was actually written for my friend, Ricky, who’s a dancer. We were texting about how we were both struggling with the pandemic. I was like “I’m gonna write a song for Ricky because it’s something that I can do.” One thing that feels good about releasing music is that I know music makes people happy or comforts people. So, it feels like I can be kinda useful in some weird way.

AS: You’re also embarking on an exciting project: the Safely Out Of The Bedroom Tour. What can you tell us about this digital tour? 

KN: The Safely Out of The Bedroom Tour is something I came up with in September or October with my boyfriend. He’s got a tent on top of his car, so we were doing a lot of camping trips. I just feel like livestreaming was overdone. It was almost starting to get depressing, just watching people play in their fucking living rooms. It can be charming, but it can also be depressing. I feel like as a performer, I like to have people have some kind of escapism. I like to create how the stage looks and curate all of that and there’s only so much you can do in your living room. So, a friend was like “You should do a gig when you go on one of these camping trips.” I was like “Oh, that’s really something.” I could actually just go on tour in nature and bring people on the road with me. I even do a mini-documentary series on my Patreon, where I go through the whole thing and how we planned things and how we made things happen. Then, we stream the gigs when I release the singles. So, the idea is that I’ll play a new song in a different location and then shoot a music video there too. They’re kinda like a package. That’s why it’s called the “Safely Out Of The Bedroom Tour” because it’s touring, but in a safe way.

AS: You’ve also begun working on a new project called the Safety Chain, which is aiming to tackle the problem of sexual harassment and assault in the music industry. What can you tell us about this project?

KN: The Safety Chain is a platform that I want to build as a sex education and power dynamics platform aimed at men in the music industry. There is a lot of sexual abuse and assault in our business. I just want to do something to help with that. There was the Burger Records scandal that happened in the summer of 2020 where a record label was dissolved in, like, three days because of stories of abuse that came out. I was close enough to that scene to feel something from it. I just thought “What can I do?”

I realized that we all have a pretty dismal sex education. I did—I had, like, two robots teaching me about a baby that they made. It was just so weird, but then it’s like “Okay, go out and don’t get pregnant and don’t have sex! And if you do have sex, well, just don’t.” Then you’re like “Okay, so now I have to just go and learn on my own.” As women, we also share so many of our experiences with each other. So, if we have weird experiences, we talk it out. I just think men don’t really do that very much. So, then if you apply that to a touring musician, where young girls are going to be in his DMs and there’s drugs and alcohol… the music industry is like Mad Men. It’s still the ‘50s and ‘60s and there’s no HR department that comes in and tells everyone they can’t shag everyone on the office floor. What a lot of musicians don’t understand is that that sexual experience and encounter is so different for them than it is for the fan. The power balance is off. So, I think that we need to educate people about that before they even go on tour. They should be educated about that.

AS: What would that process of education look like specifically?

KN: It’s curriculum built with sex educators and intimacy coordinators. I was inspired by the work that I did on GLOW—the film and TV industry really responded to the #MeToo movement and there’s a new job position called an “intimacy coordinator.” That’s changed the experience for actors on set to make it so much better and so much safer. But music hasn’t responded at all. It hasn’t done anything. That’s just really embarrassing. That’s shit.

So, my dream is that it becomes an industry standard. I think the music industry needs standards. We don’t have any standards. There’s no like “Oh, this happens like this.” It’s everyone just throwing different mud at the wall, and that’s why it’s just a fucking pigsty. So, yeah, I want it to be industry standard that a label works with the Safety Chain. Whenever they sign a band, before a band goes on tour, they have to do their courses with the Safety Chain. I want it to also feel like a social, magazine-style platform where there are connections happening with men in an emotional way, changing that scenery a little bit.

AS: “Misery” is out now and more songs are on the way—how do you feel now? What’s the future look like for you?

KN: I don’t know. I really want to go home, I really want to see my family. So, I’m hoping that I can do that this summer. I’m going to be working on a musical, potentially, later in the year and next year. That’s been in the works for about 10 years, so, hopefully, that stays on track with vaccines and lifting lockdowns and stuff like that. If that all falls in line, then I’ll be working on a musical and going on tour next year in May. So, we’ll see what the world has in store for us. 

Kate Nash’s new single “Misery” is out now and available everywhere. Watch the music video for it below:

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