[Here are Kate's contributions to issue number 5, April 1980]
Hello. Can you feel spring beginning to happen? Every day on the way to the studio I go past a winter tree, surrounded by lots of yellow and purple crocuses, and it makes my eyes spin with the colours.
Things are going well with the album. Although we've still got lots to do, we can feel the tracks speaking to us more and more--telling us what we want to hear. It's very exciting being so involved in something you love. Doing the production with Jon Kelly is a fabulous combination and the room is always full of Jons, as our assistant engineer is called Jon, too, and often our visitors are donned the name Jon!
The next visual event is a Dr. Hook special. I hope to depict two new songs from the album, with the help of Paddy for one. It should be lovely to meet Dr. Hook as I've heard nothing but praise of them as people. One of the things I've enjoyed this last year was to work with other artists on their projects. Isn't Peter Gabriel's single Games Without Frontiers ] fantastic? I can't wait to hear his new album [ Peter Gabriel number 3]. Peter is an extremely talented and lovely man, and to work with him was really fun and a great experience--as it was to do some vocals on Roy Harper's new album [ The Unknown Soldier ]. I've been a fan of Roy's music for years, as have all my family, and to work with him on his music was very special.
I really hope you enjoy being in the Club. As long as you are all happy, that's all that matters. Thank you to all of you who voted for me in the various awards. Each vote means, "Yeah, go on, do it!", and that gives me the courage to go on.
If vegetarians are against the killing of animals for food, why don't they object to them being killed for leather?
"I think there are a lot of vegetarians who are against animals being killed to make leather, and they do go out of their way to wear rubber and plastic shoes and belts, but I think that there is a practical side to it, as well. Leather is very warm, and it's nice to look at, but it does require a lot of effort for most of us to make a different choice from the normal, and I find myself that I do wear quite a few leather shoes. Not that I consciously buy them because they're made of leather, but I do have a few, and I think it's something to do with the tradition of leather being used in clothing. But there's no excuse for the mass production of leather, and I think it comes down to effort and how far you really want to go. It's up to you in the long run."
You are a vegetarian and yet you wear fur coats. Why?
"I don't wear fur coats. I haven't got one. I don't own one and I don't believe in wearing them--I may have occasionally been in photos with one, but it wouldn't have been mine. It would have been one that I'd borrowed because it was very cold; for instance in Switzerland, when I did the Abba special. [In fact, as far as I know, that was the only time Kate has ever been seen in a fur.] But I don't believe in people wearing fur coats, I think it's very extravagant and again, I think people don't tend to associate the clothes with the animals they come from, especially the rare animals that some of the coats are made of. You can get incredibly good imitation ones now--I've seen ones that I thought were real fur and they weren't. they're really fantastic, and they cost less, too."
Do you follow vegetarian recipes from books, or do you make up your own?
"I do follow recipes from books, but I find that normally I don't stick to them, especially if I haven't got all the ingredients, and I tend to substitute different vegetables. If I'm feeling really brave, occasionally I base a meal on a recipe and make the rest up. Cooking is quite a logical thing, really, and you soon learn the things that go together--what works and what doesn't."
You say in interviews that you don't eat meat because you don't believe in eating life. But you eat plants, and they are living things. Why?
"I do eat plants, and I know they're living, and I'm fond of them, but I think you have to find your own level. I could live on pills, but I don't think it's very human to do that--that is something we dream of in the space age: food without texture or mass. I don't think plants mind being eaten, actually. I think they'd be really sad if no-one paid that much attention to them. I appreciate them very much for the things they give me. I'd be very sad if there weren't any vegetables, and normally it isn't the actual plant that's killed--it's the fruit or vegetable that's taken off. I think this is the purpose of plants, that they grow to be eaten. The only problem is that it has become a very mass-produced market, again, and that the really natural, unchemicalised environment doesn't really exist. Too many chemicals are used on plants, but while there is a demand for brightly coloured food in pretty packets, that's how it will carry on. But you can get fresh, organically grown vegetables. You can grow them yourselves, and if you look around and ask, you'll find that there are a few shops and some local farms that sell vegetables that have not been grown in chemically fertilised ground."
What sort of music do you like to listen to, if, or when, you have free time? Do you like heavy rock such as Led Zeppelin?
"The sort of music I like to listen to when I've got the time is Pink Floyd's album The Wall; Stevie Wonder's The Secret Life of Plants; and I really like classical music like John Williams's. I don't like that much heavy rock, and I must admit that I've never really listened to Led Zeppelin, but I like any music if it's good. The Who are the best group I ever saw live, and I thought they were fantastic. I think they probably turned me onto it, and the Beatles were really good when they were heavy."
Which is your favourite song out of those you have written and why? Which of your albums is the more important to you personally and why? There seems to be more emphasis on Lionheart in your letters and in the Club merchandise.
"I haven't really got a favourite song, because I have a very love/hate relationship with them all, and sometimes get bored with them. I tend to associate things with a song, instead of just seeing it for itself. I think the album which is most important for me is the one I'm working on, and I think it's obvious why: I'm much more involved, and it's something I want and I haven't done it for a long time. Probably the reason there's been more emphasis on Lionheart in all the merchandising and from myself, is just because that was my last album. And it's quite catchy: we were calling the people around us during the Tour "Lionhearts" and that was a very significant part of last year for all of us. But soon it won't be so much "Lionheart" any more. It'll be something else."
Do you believe in UFOs and life on other planets?
"I really believe in UFOs, and I don't see why there shouldn't be life on other planets. We haven't got off this planet yet, really, so how can we say if there is or isn't. It seems unlikely that we would be the only ones. There have been so many reported that I'm sure they exist, and I really hope I see one--and a whale and a giraffe up close."
When you go on stage, do you ever feel nervous?
"When I go on stage, yes, I do feel nervous. I feel much more nervous when I have to go up and collect awards and speak to people than I do when I actually perform, and I think that's because when you perform, you have a part like an actor, and you fall back on that if you know it well enough and can carry it through. I enjoy it so much. I think when you have to be yourself, you're so conscious of being yourself that you wonder what people think, but it soon goes once you're up there."
Do you know anything about the messages scratched on the smooth circle just before the centre of the records? Why are they there?
"Yes, I don know something about these messages because I wrote them, and they are messages to go with the record. It's something that has been practised by several people. In fact, have a look through your albums, you'll probably find quite a few that you didn't even know were there."
In your TV special, who wrote the song sung by you and Peter Gabriel, and will it ever appear on vinyl? Also, what were the names of the new songs you did on that show?
"In the TV special the song that I sang with Peter Gabriel, Another Day, was written by Roy Harper--a very beautiful song from his album Flat Baroque and Berserk, which you can buy from your record shops along with his most recent one, which is brilliant. It's a really good song, and it will be on vinyl one day, hopefully soon, but not with this album. [Kate has still not released this recording.] The names of the new songs that were done on the show were The Wedding List, The Ran Tan, Egypt and Violin."
When will the new album be released? Will it include Egypt and Violin?
"Hopefully the new album will be released quite soon, and it will include Egypt, Violin and lots of others."
When you sit down to write a song, do you fit the words to the music or the music to the words? Also, when you write a song, do you imagine the sort of dance routine you might do?
"When I write songs I normally get the music first. They used to come together, but now the music seems to be sparked off by an idea before the lyrics, and the lyrics usually fit in just behind the music. It's not very often that I actually see the dance routine when I'm writing the song. When it's written, there are basic things there already, and in fact I find that the more I write--especially recently for this album--the more I see things when I'm writing. This is unusual, and I tend to shut them out because I can't concentrate so well on the song itself."
When you start recording a song, do you have an overall idea of how it will end up? Also, at what stage do you start to think about the album cover? The last two really seemed to fit into the albums themselves. [True of the first cover, but I have yet to figure out the narrative behind the cover of Lionheart. Kate has never explained it.]
"When you do start recording a song, you normally have an idea of how it will end up, hopefully, because that's why you are going in to record it in the first place, and a song can take so many different forms--they can take ten minutes to do, or they can take two months. Normally, the stage at which the album cover is conceived is by the time recording has actually begun. I think that's quite important, because it's not until a certain stage after you've started that a vibe emanates about how the songs are going to fit together, what the sounds are going to be, and what the general feel of the music is. We've always had the artwork started by about a third of the way through, and you try to make the picture say what the album is about, to create some kind of vibe that the music does, and hopefully they should fit together."
Is Anthony Van Laast Dutch? Van Laast sounds like a Dutch name. [Van Laast was Kate's choreographic associate and part-time dance instructor during the early years of her commercial career.]
"Anthony isn't actually Dutch, himself, I don't think. But I think his mother was, and that is her maiden name he uses."
An interview in Record Mirror mentions "Jay". Who is this?
"Jay is my brother--John Carder Bush."
Was the concert with the London Symphony Orchestra televised? [Kate sang sary Blow Away during a concert celebrating the 75th anniversary of the LSO.]
"No, it wasn't."
In Strange Phenomena you sing "G arrives" Who or what is "G"?
"'G' is in fact someone we know called Mr. G."
Someone once said that Coffee Homeground was about a crazy taxi driver. Is this true?
"Coffee Homeground was sort of based on a taxi driver that I met once, yes, but I wouldn't like to say that he was crazy because a lot of people say that I am!"
How tall are you?
"I'm 5' 3 1/2", I think!"
What was your job before you became a singer?
"I didn't have a job before I became a singer. I left school and started dancing, and then got a recording contract."
A K.B.C. member who is also a member of the Prisoner Appreciation Society asks, Do you like The Prisoner?
"Yes, I really like The Prisoner, I think it was fantastic and I used to watch it when it was first on TV on Sunday nights. Patrick McGoohan was amazing. They should show it again."
What school did you go to?
"I went to a school in Abbey Wood called St. Joseph's."
How did you meet Julie Covington? [An English pop singer who once recorded a cover version of Kate's song The Kick Inside.]
"I met Julie Covington through Jay. He is a friend of hers, and I've known her for a long time."
Where was the photo that appears on the front cover of Lionheart taken?
"This photo was taken in a photographic studio by Gered Mankowitz somewhere in London."
In a film magazine it said that you turned down the offer of singing the title song to the James Bond film Moonraker. Is this so, and if so, why?
"Yes, this is true. I thought it was a very lovely song, but I just didn't think it was for me. I think Shirley Bassey did it a lot better than I would have, anyway."
Who are the two girls on Page 3 of the Christmas Newsletter? "They are Lisa and my Ma. Lisa is the lady who deals with all your letters that come through to the Club, and she's starting to take a lot of the workload off Nicholas's shoulders. You'll be hearing a lot more from her in the future." [Lisa Bradley is now the chief editor of the Newsletter. Nicholas Wade was apparently in charge only for the first five issues.]
On the TV special, what were the trousers that you wore for Foot on the Heartbrake made of, as they appeared to be stretchy? Also on the subject of Heartbrake, you seem to like motorbikes. Do you?
"Those trousers were made by a guy who deals in stretch fabrics, so they are stretchy, and it's very good material. I do like motorbikes. I think they're very beautiful machines, but they often seem to be abused. Shame!"
In two of your songs you refer to Peter Pan. Is he a particular favourite of yours?
"I refer to Peter Pan because he stands for a lot of things. He always has and he always will. People just don't want to grow up, so I think he's everyone's favourite whether they like it or not."
What breed are Zoodle and Pyewacket, and what colour are they?
"Zoodle and Pye are--I think you call them 'moggies'. One is black with one little white toe and the other one is black and white."
Has Ben Barson got a brother called Mike who plays keyboards for Madness?
"Yes, it is Ben's brother."
What has happened to the band since the Tour of Life? Will any of them be working with you again?
"Since the Tour of Life we've worked together and they're also doing lots of work with other people. They're in great demand, being such wonderful musicians, and of course I'll be working with them again, and you will see more of them. They send you their love."
Did you leave school with any qualifications in music?
"Yes, I got an 'O'-level in music." [In fact, Kate earned no fewer than ten "O"-levels.]
When Faith Brown and other impersonators mimick you, what is your reaction?
"I don't really watch much television. I haven't been for quite a while--since I've been doing the album. But the ones I have seen I think are really funny. I think it's incredible that I should be chosen from so many to be imitated."
People probably eat so much pre-packaged food because it's always so easy to get in shops, and they don't connect it with live animals. If they actually had to kill the animal themselves, they would probably have great difficulty in doing it. People who live and work with animals can be aware of what they are doing when they kill an animal. They realise that they're going to be eating it, rather than it being sent off to be sold in supermarkets. On some levels this seems to be all right, because it's on a one-to-one basis: you feed and look after the animal for a certain length of time and then it repays you by becoming your food. But it's the mass-production of living creatures just to be eaten, and the fact that people aren't really aware of what they're eating, that I don't like.
These days it seems more and more probable that fish are likely to contain pollution--which can't do you any good--as they have no choice but to eat all the muck that's in the water. But hopefully people's general awareness is getting much better, even down to buying a pint of milk: the fact that the calves are actually killed so that the milk doesn't go to them but to us can't really be right, and if you've seen a cow in a state of extreme distress because it can't understand why its calf isn't by it, it can make you think a lot.
Working in London, I often have to go past meat markets, and when I see all those people working in there with blood all over them, and dead animals strung up from meat-hooks, just waiting to be devoured, it's like something out of a horror film. When I realised that, I didn't want to eat meat any more. I became more conscious about the things that I did eat. I think this helped me to learn more about food, because I had to start thinking what the nutritional value of something was, and I'm still learning about things I didn't think I could eat, which is really good. Just the discipline of not eating meat is a very good thing. It's like giving up anything you like--it hurts at first, but then you feel much better for it. I don't know whether it was just me, but when I first became a vegetarian I was really hungry a lot of the time, but I'm not now, and I wonder if that's because my stomach has adjusted. When you eat meat, you do ten to eat more than you need, and the body has to work a lot to break it all down.
It's interesting how the traveling that I've done reveals things about people's diets. In many European countries it's very hard to get something that hasn't got meat in it. There was one instance in Germany where I asked for a bowl of tomato soup and, having been assured that it contained just tomatoes, I tucked into it. But about halfway through the soup I could see all these lumps floating around at the bottom, and of course they were all meatballs. They just naturally do things like putting bacon and meatballs into vegetable soup, without even thinking about it. So many shops are meat-oriented: it's all sausages and pies, and the only other things you can really get are just potatoes and salads, when there is such an enormous variety of non-animal foods that can be eaten. Looking forward to a breakfast of toast and marmalade, and then getting a couple of slabs of cold meat and white bread pushed under your nose, isn't the way I like to start my day.
Japan seemed to be more vegetable-oriented. They take great pride in their vegetables, although they're greatly into fish, and this is causing them and the dolphins a lot of problems. I found Australia very meat-oriented, too, and this might have something to do with it being such a young country, and it's true that meat does give you a lot of energy. I suppose there was a time when a slab of bacon fat for breakfast might have been necessary for somebody working in a heavy manual job. But I've found that if I keep an eye on the sort of vegetarian food that I eat, I don't have any problems about dancing and singing on it.
It all comes down to looking more closely at the sort of food you are just used to having and saying to yourself, Do I really need to eat this, or is there something that will be better for me? The more people who get into good vegetarian food, the easier it will be for us. If I go into a restaurant with friends, and they settle down to a feast of meat and sauces and so on, I usually end up with salad and chips--which is OK, but that's about as far as most restaurants can go in the direction of vegetarian food.
KaTe's Newsletter Writings Table of Contents
©1990 Andy Marvick