In a city where ‘gang’ tends to have a negative connotation, pop star-turned-punk-rocker Kate Nash is giving the term a whole new meaning. Becoming something of a feminist icon, Nash started Girl Gang just a couple years ago with the intention of creating a safe space for anyone— not just girls—to express themselves and collaborate on making a change.
The name came from misunderstanding the lyrics to FIDLAR’s “Cocaine,” thinking they were saying “Girl Gang.”
“The name just stuck,” she says, and Nash took to her own cover of the song, putting together an all-girl band and releasing a music video. Now that her movement is starting to make waves with an upcoming radio show and collaborations with companies like Skullcandy and Sunday Los Angeles, we caught a few words with Nash about the true meaning of Girl Gang.
Have your meetings grown since the beginning?
Not really, we still hold them in my garage. I like to make sure I know who’s coming and there’s the case of having too many cooks in the kitchen so I like to keep it to about 15 girls in the room to talk about issues and sort out ideas. We’ve been thinking of integrating periscope, it’s such a cool app and interactive. We’re going to be launching a website in a couple weeks, too.
How do you choose the girls that make it into the meetings? Do you allow new members?
Yeah, we allow new members. There’s a group of girls that were in the initial group and they still come, some of them might be on tour sometimes or something so I like meeting new girls. Like, I reached out to Sunday Los Angeles because Refinery 29 did a write up about their art show that was about all women. So I just emailed them and was like, “I’d love to meet and talk with you because you have the similar vibe and I’m looking for girls to meet in the community,” so now we’re looking to collaborate on cool events. I try not to get it too big and crazy and want to have a core group. Also, I just met Emily who drums for Ty Segall. She’s awesome and she’s looking to do something next year, like workshops so we’ll collaborate with her as well.
I think it just takes time being in a community, meeting people. A few weeks ago I was feeling overwhelmed and like we didn’t know where we were going and then all of a sudden a few things came together.
What has been the greatest struggle thus far?
I think just me feeling like a lead and wanting to make sure everyone feels included. Keeping up momentum because everyone has lives and tours and a lot of work to do. Things take time and I really don’t want to rush things. Like the fact that we meet and inspire each other and talk about things is really important even if that’s all we do for a month or something, that’s what its all about – just having a community of girls, that’s what it takes. It’s not just political, it’s social, making girls in the area feel connected to each other. I think it becomes more comfortable now and once you start doing that things start to come together more natural rather than trying to jump in too deeply.
How does this work elsewhere, not in LA?
I think it’s about spearheading your own movement. There are girls in Manchester and Liverpool, Brazil and New York that have formed their own girl gang clubs. I can’t be in more than one place at the same time so it’s more about like, when I’m in New York I can do a girl gang or when I was in London I did a Girl gang event. When I’m in those places I can do something to make people feel more a part of it. I’m all about girls taking action themselves and being in charge.
So Girl Gang isn’t just for girls, right?
It’s for all, for everyone. The name that has kind of stuck from a bit of jokes really like a song called cocaine that I changed to girl gang and I thought ‘oh that’s cooler.’ It’s really about a feeling and anyone is welcome, animals, aliens, no limitations to who can be involved. It’s more like a spirit really, the sort of motto is ‘make cool shit.’ Do what you want to do, be who you want to be. There’s something about getting good people together and creating.
How has being a feminist empowered your writing?
One thing I’m always trying to do as a writer and the cool thing about pop music is that it’s relatable to everyone, on all levels—not just political.
Have you experienced any blowback?
I think what we’re about is really clear.
Have you seen any progress in the group or the world as a whole since Girl Gang started?
In general, since I started being a pop star I think it’s different, I think it’s awesome, I think it’s a lot better. When I first started, people didn’t want to be associated with feminism, like I was one of the only people saying I was one. Now people like Taylor Swift and Beyonce and mainstream pop stars are okay with being that and are proud of being that. I think it’s becoming a cool thing, it’s not just about being one particular way now.
What about collaborating with groups on a larger scale?
We’ve been trying to figure that out. We’ve been meeting with this group in LA that’s working a lot towards trying to stop police brutality and what we’re learning along the way is that it’s really about us trying to help where we can. I don’t want Girl Gang to be about one political party or one thing, it’s more about ‘let’s raise awareness about this is happening or learn about this.’ I don’t want to take on the way another organization thinks or how it does things, I really want to be able to bring certain things to new crowds. We’re so different in the way we communicate and get our message across, which I think is important because then you reach more people. It’s not like ‘here you should have this opinion,’ it’s like you should have an opinion and maybe these are some things you want to know about or care about or things you should want to do because it might affect you. Like if Planned Parenthood goes down, here’s how it would affect you and here’s how to stay informed. Let’s learn by talking to each other and meetings other girls and having a discussion and opening a forum.
We open a safe space where no one is judging you about this. We can say, “I thought hard about what has happened but I’m not really informed,” and someone else might know or we’ll figure it out together. We’re all ignorant to a certain extent.
Have you recognized a common struggle amongst women?
I think confidence is a huge one. There is so much energy wasted with girls feeling bad about themselves and I think there is so much we can do. We spend so much time criticizing ourselves and that’s really bad because the way you put your energy really affects what happens to you so you’re wasting time even having those negative thoughts. I think there is so much more we could be doing if we’re not worrying about the way we look or how someone sees us or what someone is going to say about us. That would be really freeing for so many girls if they weren’t worried about that.
What does the current future hold for Girl Gang?
It feels like a couple things are coming together at the moment, just got our own radio show which will be at Bedrock LA. That’s really exciting. We’re trying to organize a fundraiser right now to get families to New York for a protest against police brutality. We want to organize a big event next year, something like a panel with people like Sunday Los Angeles. I’m also doing a cool girl gang collaboration with Skullcandy so there’s a couple things in the works at the moment that I’m really looking forward to. Ultimately this is how I like it, I like to be dealing with a bunch of things and meeting more girls and expanding the community.
Follow Kate Nash and stay up to date on Girl Gang by following her on social media and her website:
Instagram – @KateNash
Instagram – @GirlGangYeah
Twitter – @KateNash
Twitter – @GirlGangYeah
Facebook – facebook.com/katenash
Website – katenash.com
Website – girlgang.tv
Photo by Kelesy Hart