[Here are Kate's article and interview from issue number 16.]
As spring arrives, the songs are being finished, and it's lyric time. I'm in Ireland, and it is incredibly beautiful; a very creative environment. It's not until you're somewhere this quiet, this peaceful, that you realise all the distractions there are at home. There is no television, no phone except for a wind-up one that is reluctant to produce an operator at the other end, and the nearest house is made of stone and has no roof and only three walls--it is bliss.
Having written most of the "tunes" for the album, and feeling like I'd done most of the hard work, I remember now how difficult it can be to work on the lyrics! And when that is finished, and I'm feeling smug, I'll suddenly remember all those wonderful problems that start when you begin to record--and I can't wait. It's been quite hard this time to decide which songs to use--not that there's a great choice, but it is still nice to be able to choose. However, there can be a time problem even when you have made your choice. The last link in the chain is definitely the weakest.
Even when you get a beautiful cut, after the record is mass-pressed in the factory the result can be heart-breaking, and the only way to help this situation is to cut down the time on each side, getting a deeper cut. Especially rock music has to heed this, as classical or acoustic music can get away with a slightly shallower cut because they don't usually have the kind of bass frequency that requires a deep cut. [Let's hope Kate doesn't let the limitations of this antiquated vinyl format induce her to shorten tracks on KBVI!]
I find this the ultimately frustrating part of the process. It seems wrong to me to have to cut down on tracks to get a great sound. Surely people pay enough for an album (and wait long enough in some cases) without finding there are only six or seven short tracks on the whole album. Until there is a universal compact disk, or everyone decides to change over to cassettes from records, unfortunately this can't be solved.
But this is the nitty-gritty of the Biz, and not much fun, and it couldn't be more remote from this spot in Ireland. It is like "Old" England--I've never stepped thro' a time-warp before--I definitely recommend it.
While we're here, I'm hoping to get together with Bill Whelan (who did the fantastic arrangements on Night of the Swallow), as I am hoping he will be able to do some arrangements on the coming album.
I am so pleased at the reaction, both to the video and the boxed set of The Single File. It was a buzz for me to get the video released, and to see five years sitting in a little green box, but the feedback to them is stunning. Thanks to all of you for feeding-back.
There were three dates planned for me to go to W.H. Smith and sign anything anyone had, but unfortunately only two of them were executed. The first was Cardiff, and I would like to take this opportunity to explain what happened. Without mentioning any names, a certain person representing EMI who accompanied me "misjudged" the train departure time, and I will never forget the look on their face as we walked thro' the gate and the train pulled away. The next half an hour consisted of running from platform to platform, and eventually ending up on a train which happened to be going the wrong direction! Now, we could say that my profession is renowned for a certain untogether reputation, and so unfortunately a great deal of presumption goes on. What can I say? At the second P.A. I ended up running the last mile to the shop. The clouds had opened and the streets had jammed with traffic, and I arrived somewhat wet and out of breath. And at the third P.A. everything was great--third time lucky, I guess.
Talking about "guessing", at last someone has discovered what's being said at the end of Leave It Open-- well done! But let me tell you about some of the fascinating encounters I've had. There is a Mr. John Reimers from the U.S.A. who has rung up once a week with his new version:
"Well, is it...?"
"Tell me! Tell me!"
John, you're terrific!
But I'm afraid this is just a mild case. One night I woke up to a tapping on the window. It was someone hanging from a nearby tree by their feet. In their hands was a card, and written on it was: "Is it 'We paint the penguins pink?'" I'm afraid I had to laugh, and shook my head. They burst into tears and ran off into the moonlight. But I think the cleverest was a phone call I had the other week.
"It's Jay here, how are you doing?"
He sounded a little squeaky to me. Then he said:
"You know, it's ridiculous. I was sitting here listening to the end of Leave It Open the other day, and I just couldn't remember what you said--I know it's crazy but--"
"'We paint the penguins pink.'"
"Oh, yeah! Of course, how could I forget? See you soon--buy!"
Hmmm...see what I mean?...C-lever!
But seriously, I have enjoyed your guesses tremendously, but I have terrible dreams about your reactions now that the answer has been revealed. Do I hear cries of "You're kidding! But that's stupid!" or "Cor, that's pathetic--all our efforts over that?"
Well, I hope not...And remember to let the weirdness in.
Lots of love,
What is Gaffa? What does Suspended in Gaffa mean?
"'Gaffa" is Gaffa Tape. It is thick industrial tape, mainly used for taping down and tidying up the millions of leads, and particularly useful in concert situations. Suspended in Gaffa is trying to simulate being trapped in a kind of web: everything is in slow motion, and the person feels like they're tied up. They can't move." defeat
Many of your songs contain references to occult and esoteric philosophy. Is this a particular interest of yours, or are you just widely read?
"I don't think I am particularly interested in gthe occult, but I do have an interest in the human mind, and the unusual situations that occur, or are said to occur, to human beings in extreme religious or spiritual states. But surely we all have a curiosity for things that we know little about."
How do you manage to do the guitar, bass and drum arrangements, as you don't play those instruments? Do you hear in your head what you want, and if so, how do you communicate it to the session musicians?
"Mostly I have a strong idea of what I want to hear. The sound aspect I would explain to the engineer, but musically I would suggest the mood, or any piano lines I wanted picked up. But usually I leave the musical content to the musician, and they always understand the atmosphere you want to create. With the drummer, we're now working a lot with drum machines. I originally explain the type of rhythm I want to Del, who then programmes the Linn. I demo the song using the rhythm, and then ask the drummer to replace the feel, adding his own subtle human adornments."
How do you choose which songs to include when you tour? I know some of them are obvious selections, but what about the rest? Have you any idea what songs you will include when you next tour? Any idea when that will be?
"I think the most important thing about choosing the songs is that the whole show will be sustained. Obviously we would try to pick the strongest songs, try to get a variety of moods, but build the show up to a climax. And the songs must adapt well visually: a show is visual as well as audial, so there must hopefully be a good blend of the two. I think we all know about the tour situation by now--It's really a matter of time, but how long? I don't know. [Four more years have passed since Kate wrote this.] This is the truth. So the safest thing to say: once this next album Hounds of Love ] is out, I have to promote and do videos, so time is already being eaten up this year; but once the album "project" is out of the way, I do plan to make another tour the next priority. [Hah!] I think also that because there will have been three albums since the last tour, we will not include any songs from the first two albums. But it's all a long way off at the moment, and who can really say what will happen?"
Any chance of a tour for '84?
"Let's just say 'Unlikely,' to be on the safe side."
Do you choose all the photos of you that appear in magazines?
"No, I don't. It does depend on the magazine, but most like take at least one of their own at the time of the interview, and if they have room for more photos, we supply them with our favourite shots."
Do you decide what records are going to be released in other countries, and what the picture sleeves are going to be?
"Apart from the U.S.A. releases, we normally know up front what's happening, if there's to be a special release. In the cases of the Irish Night of the Swallow, the U.S. mini-L.P., the European Suspended in Gaffa and the French Ne T'enfuis pas, we designed the bags, hoping they would particularly appeal to that market."
Why don't you release any twelve-inch singles?
"I'm afraid to say that EMI don't find them 'commercially viable propositions'. We very much wanted to release the single The Dreaming on a twelve-inch--we could have got a beautiful-sounding cut with that one. I could lend you my twelve-inch if you'd like to hear how good it is!"
As the lyrics to Violin are different on Never For Ever from the Tour version, could you please tell us the bits of the Tour version that are different?
"The lyrics on Violin at the beginning of the Tour were slightly different from those at the end. The odd word would move here and there, and to be honest, I don't remember them; except I know they weren't that great!"
I have just finished reading Shakespeare's Othello. In the scene just before Othello kills Desdamona, he says, "Put out the light/Then put out the light." I was wondering if this means the same thing in Blow Away.
"You're the first person in four years to pick up on this--so, thank you."
A couple of years ago I read that you were writing a book. Did this ever come out--as I've tried everywhere to get it--?
"It was planned at one time, but I just could not find the time amongst my album projects; and perhaps I am not yet ready to write a book about myself."
You obviously believe in keeping yourself as healthy as you can through exercise and eating the correct foods, etc. But it puzzles me and others as to why you continue to smoke.
"I can understand why it should surprise you, but unfortunately I am only human." [Bravo, Kate! Maybe that'll silence these obnoxious anti-smoking pests for a while, though it's unlikely.]
Have you ever considered doing a version of Number Nine Dream by John Lennon (which I know is your favourite single)?
"I think what would be nice is if they re-released it. It was well ahead of its time, and didn't really get the attention it deserved."
What was your favourite record of 1983?
"101 Damnations, by Scarlet Party."
About a year ago I purchased a U.S. promo record containing four tracks from The Dreaming. On the front was a sticker stating "Not for sale--For promotional purposes only." Is it illegal to possess such a record? How come I was able to buy it if it's not for sale?
"I shouldn't worry, you're not in any trouble for buying it, but unfortunately whoever sold it to you was making an illegal sale. Thanks for bringing it to our attention."
I understand you like Steely Dan. What is your favourite album of theirs?
"Gaucho. For me, each album got better, and I wish they hadn't split up."
Has anything ever happened while recording--say, a strange sound by mistake which you have decided is worth keeping in the track?
"A lot of accidents happen, but usually they're re-done for the master recordings. They seem to happen mostly at the demo stage: tracks leaking through, odd voice phrases, a synth that wasn't rubbed oof when it should have been. That sort of thing."
Is the single version of Sat In Your Lap mixed differently from the album version? The vocals on the album seem a lot louder than the instruments. Any special reason for this?
"Yes. The single mix is different from the album. We very much wanted to do another mix. The album has a definite flavour that was confirmed by the mixes, so we wanted Sat In Your Lap to be a part of that. The voice was also deliberately lifted, because we had quite a lot of feedback about the lead voice being a little quiet on the single version."
Do you actually read any of the letters sent to the Club? And how many staff work there?
"Yes, I do. Lisa runs the Club, but with the help of 'family' hands and friends."
What is your response to the poor airplay of your recent single releases?
"Disappointing. But it just shows how reliant you are on the people at the radio stations liking the singles, to get the airplay."
Is Paddy married, and if not would he marry my friend?
"No, he's not married, but I'll add your friend's name to the list (number 759)."
Is the man featured on The Dreaming's cover in the Houdini pose Del Palmer?
"That's for me to know and you to find out."
What gave you the idea of doing a song with an Australian background?
"The stimulus started years ago, when Paddy bought Sun Arise by Rolf Harris; a unique and wonderful song. And for many years it has greatly disturbed me, the way 'civilised' man has treated ancient tribes such as the Aborigines, Red Indians, Tasmanians...and because of the beauty of the Aborigines' music and the way it seems to exude space, and the feeling of having great contact with the earth, I felt it was the perfect way to portray this feeling of invasion by white man."
Is there any reason why you used a real dijeridu on The Dreaming as opposed to a synthetic one created by the Fairlight? Is it because there is the ability for greater tonal change with a real dijeridu?
"A Fairlight dijeridu was used to demo the song, but there is no comparison with the real thing, especially with an instrument like that when it is played by someone as brilliant as Rolf Harris. He was an absolute dream to work with, and so much more fun than a machine."
I was told recently that you appeared on Zaine Griff's album Figures. Is this true? And what did you do, B.V.s or keyboards?
"Yes, I did. Zaine had written a song for Lindsay Kemp called Flowers, and he asked me to sing B.V.s. It is a really lovely song. Zaine and I met years ago at Lindsay's classes, and as Lindsay was such a powerful influence on us both--as he is on anyone who is captured by his strong magic--it was a real pleasure to be a part of something dedicated to him."
Why do you always move your eyes right and left in your videos? It is very pleasant to watch, but it intrigues me. What is the idea behind it?
"I have to watch out for any demons that might be creeping up on me, and video shoots attract so many of them that I have to keep an extra eye out in case they trip me up while we're going for a take. You've seen what happens to Faith Brown because she doesn't look out for them." [Kate's referring to Brown's parody of her Wuthering Heights video, in which Brown trips and falls.]
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©1990 Andy Marvick