[Here is Kate's article for issue number 19.]
Since the end of the album so much has been happening. The way the music has been received is so rewarding. It has been very busy: promoting the album is important, and has eaten up a lot of time.
The visits to America and Canada were lots of fun. Everyone seemed so positive about this album. It is nice to think people in different parts of the world are listening to ideas you might have had in the bath!
The difference in the attitudes of the journalists was very apparent: a lot of the interviews were conversational, and their enthusiasm endless. We did one in-store appearance in New York [Tower Records, 4th and Broadway, November 1985] and it was a very moving experience. There were so many people there that they went around the corner of the street. Everyone was so considerate and well behaved that even the New York Police commented on how unusual this was. It was wonderful to meet you all, and we were very taken by your warmth and all the presents you gave--thank you.
The trip to the U.S.A. and Canada was very busy, and coming back to the Convention [November 30] was one of the nicest ways to be welcomed home. It was lovely to see you. I recognised so many smiling faces--I just wish we'd had the time to talk as well as smile at each other. Next time, huh? [Kate actually tried to make the next "convention"-- a "video-party" held in London in October 1986--a more intimate occasion, but so many people showed up that casual conversation became quite impossible.]
It looks like this album is intending to have maximum mileage in terms of four single releases. It is interesting how "singles" now involve much more time and effort--not the a-sides themselves, but the "accessories" that now accompany them. A single is not even released now until the video and the twelve-inch are ready; and with the twelve-inch is needed at least a second b-side. Also, if time and ideas allow, all these things should be presentable. I feel a particular obligation, with the artwork of the seven-inch and twelve-inch, that it should at least be interesting; and the same with the video: visuals are important, and with so many images being thrown at people from every side, it can be difficult to come up with ideas.
John's photographs are so creative that he always seems to add a sparkle to even the dullest moments. Videos, I feel, have moved into a different area--like the recording process gradually pulled me in, so does the visual world. It's impossible not to be, as soon as you become involved.
I still think some of the best videos are where the band/artist perform the song as a singer--just that simple. I share the feelings of many people who dislike a lot of pop videos: they're so...unstructured! But I think I've discovered that while videos are needed to go with a single, I can explore the medium of film-making, of what works and what doesn't. Much of what happens in a video is dictated by the song: the mood, the subject matter; but it's a fascinating area, and from what I can see so far, it's very similar to the recording process. It's working with pictures instead of sound--it's a very different beast, but still the same "piecing together" of a story, images. And I'm so lucky to be in a situation where I can play with sounds and pictures and see if there's anything in there I'm good at.
Cloudbusting was really exciting to make. I really wanted it to be like a short film. The song was inspired by the book A Book of Dreams by Peter Reich, which was such a strong, magical story that the plot was there and the most difficult areas were trying to do the story and the characters justice, and deciding how to "distill" all the information.
I worked with Julian Doyle as director. He was suggested to me by Terry Gillima. Terry is one of my favourite film-makers, and I was so honoured that he got involved; and we worked very hard for about five-six weeks. It seemed to make sense to treat it like a film and cast actors, and I had this initial crazy idea of usisng a very tall actor who would play the father, and myself to appear as the small boy. It continually astounds me that I have the nerve to publicly announce these crazes, and I'm even more surprised when they work. It seems to be connected to a kind of faith?
The first move was to check that I'd be able to look boy-like or tom-boyish, so we pulled "The Team" together. This consists of Tina Earnshaw on make-up--she set about with foundation and stick-on freckles; Anthony Yacomine, who designed and cut a short wig which my hair was bundled up inside of; and Pamela Keats, who had brought a variety of dungarees, cardigans and wellies [rubber rainboots] that completed the character; and Del gave options. I looked a bit like Coco the clown, and someone mentioned Harpo, but we all felt with fine adjustments we could get away with it, especially when we took a polaroid with Anthony standing on the chair to look tall next to me.
We were all trying to think of a tall actor who would be perfect for the part, and who else, really? We thought Donald Sutherland would be superb, and it's still hard to believe that he actually said "Yes."
Cloudbusting is one of the few videos we've made that has the right visual content within the subject matter. It is a story, and could easily be treated as such.
One of the things that needed a lot of work was the Cloudbuster machine. It came out of our heads, based on vague information from the book. It had to look larger than life--elegant, strange, aimed at the sky. And when I went to see it in its early stages I really wondered: four cardboard tubes on wheels--eek!! But by the last stages it looked great, and on screen it looked superb.
Another thing that needed a lot of work was the weather. We needed so much luck to complete the shoot. We had only three days, and we demanded the weather to change for different scenes; and somehow--we still don't know how--it did; even to the moment when it began to rain just as the light and the film in the camera was running out.
Hounds of Love is the third single, and trying to follow the Cloudbusting video was extremely difficult. I still wanted to follow the approach of making "a short film", and this time we wanted to suggest a piece of "Hitchcock": a short thriller.
Paddy inspired me into a 39 Steps theme, and for the two-three weeks over Christmas my life became this third video. It was particularly hard organising meetings over Christmas; everyone was busy partying. At one meeting someone turned up in fancy dress. The advantage was that I got a brilliant crew who were free to do the shoot because it was Christmas-time, generally a very quiet period. If you get to see the video, let us know if you spot Hitchcock's appearance?
Even with the work over Christmas we were still in a situation where the twelve-inch and the b-side had to be rushed. Sometimes things benefit from the pressure, but with only a few hours to do the b-side before the cut (which had been arranged weeks before), we plumped for a totally unaccompanied traditional song.
The twelve-inch of Hounds of Love has been the most demanding so far. It's a short song, with very little tuned instrumentation, so we decided to go for an alternative lead vocal over the existing track, with a few changes here and there--it seemed an interesting solution. Del and I re-did the vocal, the b-side and the mixes in two days (that's some kind of record for me!)
So now, with a remixed seven-inch and twelve-inch of Big Sky, we are armed with time, hopefully, to not rush the video; but somehow other things always come up, and it seems no matter how long you have to get something done, time always speeds up at the end of the process, and there you are rushing again!
Hope you're having a happy '86.
Lots of love,
P.S.: Thank you for the great Christmas presents you sent me. I wish I had time to reply to everyone individually, but things have been so hectic over the last few months that it has been impossible--so I'll do it now, thank you.
KaTe's Newsletter Writings Table of Contents
©1990 Andy Marvick