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Kate Nash's youth is hardly ignorant -- just listen

January 10, 2008|Jeff Weiss

LOOKING out the window on the 23rd floor of a hotel in Canada, Kate Nash is a little overwhelmed. No, it's not acrophobia, but rather her amazement at the velocity with which she's gone from being just another 20-year-old singer-songwriter on MySpace to topping the English charts, winning the cover of the NME and scoring an international record deal. Now, only 11 months after the release of her first single, Nash is excitedly staring out at the dazzling Toronto skyline, in a plush hotel room at sunset, on the eve of her first North American tour.

"I'm really excited to have the opportunity to tour America. This is the longest I've been away and it's a little daunting," Nash says. "Luckily, I've got my band with me and we've been together a long time. But sometimes, I'll stop and say, 'Wow, I'm on the 23rd floor of a hotel room in Toronto.' "

Don't get the wrong idea. Unlike certain British pop stars of recent vintage, success hasn't yet gone to Nash's head, nor has she given the Fleet Street photogs any compromising shots. Instead, the precocious Nash still lives in the tiny room that she grew up in, a space that she describes as a "dusty mess, full of clutter, with a record player lying on the floor, continually getting stepped on by the dog."

Of course, it's hard to imagine that she'll remain in her childhood digs considering that her debut LP, "Made of Bricks" has moved nearly half a million units worldwide since its release last August. Stateside, her Geffen Records debut was released Tuesday, and it's a relatively safe bet that Nash's Regina Spektor-esque piano ballads, sensitive acoustic guitar strums and acidic wit will resonate with indie-skewing females.

With their thick, cockney-inflected accents and shared penchant for taking shots at arrogant males, Nash draws frequent comparisons to Lily Allen. But though both young women would seem to be standard-bearers of a new British breed of post-millennial feminism, Nash has carved out a singular identity, drawing her inspirations from Billy Bragg and the punk-DIY aesthetic. She even publishes her own little fanzine, cheekily titled "My Ignorant Youth."

"I'm really into DIY stuff and having opinions. It's never about only music, you're always on some kind of mission, even if you don't exactly know what it is. I really love punk music and the punk ethic," she says. "I started 'My Ignorant Youth' when I was in a mental place where I was down about things and it brought me back to how I used to be. It's a scrapbook of sorts, with short stories, comics, rants, opinions and speeches. Our third issue will come out in March."

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KATE NASH

WHERE: Troubadour, 9081 Santa Monica Blvd., West Hollywood

WHEN: 8 p.m. Monday

PRICE: $15 (sold out)

INFO: (310) 276-6168; www.troubadour.com

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theguide@latimes.com

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