A fascinating documentary about the difficulties of being a female musician in the music industry today has hit BBC iPlayer.
After watching Kate Nash encapsulate a crowd as she performed at Community Festival in Finsbury Park last Sunday, I was fascinated to see the comeback from a singer who was thrown into the spotlight, after her single ‘Foundations’ went viral back in 2007. Despite not being overly familiar with all of her music, I was quickly pulled in by her other songs including the iconic ‘Dickhead’ which she explained (whilst waving her middle finger in the air) was about an ex-manager of hers.
I left wanting to find out more about how this fiery individual seemed to rise to fame so quickly and then disappear somewhat before making a return for the festival season this year. So, I clicked onto BBC iPlayer and sat down to watch her new documentary, ‘Kate Nash: Underestimate the Girl’.
At 80 minutes long, it was slightly lengthier than the usual documentary I would watch but I was gripped from the start. The piece documented her journey from when she was first signed aged just 20 at the beginning of her career. The piece carries on through to the present, including the trials and tribulations of being a young female in the music industry and how her life changed since the days of her first album ‘Made of Bricks’.
Although the pop hit ‘Foundations’ is known and loved by so many, Kate had other ideas of where her music was going and wanted to develop a more punk-style. This led to a disagreement with management, and she was dropped from her original record label. As she states in the film, it is not unusual to see male artists singing or rapping about topics from rape to incest but for Nash to want to scream a little in a song was a no go from her former label.
The documentary follows her as she progresses as an independent artist and highlights just how difficult it is for women to progress in the music industry. What I loved the most was just how passionate Kate is about her music and how her being dropped by her label led to a ‘I do what I want’ style attitude towards her music. Her dedication is made clear throughout the documentary as she self-funds her tours with her girl gang band alongside her as she attempts to conquer the music industry once more.
Many parts of this documentary saddened me greatly from the abuse she received as a young female in the media and how she was controlled heavily by her label, and just when things finally seemed to be getting on track, she was robbed of thousands of pounds by her (now former) manager. Nothing seemed to come easily to Nash as she is forced to move out of her LA home, selling her clothes for a few hundred pounds just to make some money to be able to continue doing what she loves most- making music.
Despite all this she has persevered, and towards the end reveals how her latest album ‘Yesterday was Forever’ was entirely funded by her loyal fanbase through a Kickstarter campaign. Much to her delight she is also following her dreams of being an actress and in 2017 landed a role in the Netflix original ‘GLOW’ playing 80’s wrestler Rhonda “Britannica” Richardson.
Although the documentary was a little slow moving in places, the message stood strong. Don’t let others control your passions and if you believe in it deeply, like Kate Nash clearly does, things do eventually work out, one way or another. I think this documentary is something that will bring about more conversations about how people are treated in both the media and music industry, – women in particular – and will hopefully lead to a change for future musicians out there.