Interviews & Articles


New Zealand Listener
"Haunting Kate Bush"
by David Young
December 2, 1978

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Date: Sat, 8 Aug 1992 19:14:28 -0700
From: hobbs a@kosmos.wcc.govt.nz
Subject: "NZ Listener", 2 Dec 78 interview with David Young

A few preliminary remarks:

I've been a lurker on .gaffa for 2 years now (hardly ever had email in all that time) and sometime in late last year I noticed Ron Hill's list of interviews with her Immortal Wutheringness that he didn't have yet - and on it was one from my personal favourite magazine, the NZ "Listener". Well, since I had no posting rights I couldn't help Ron, but I resolved to chase up this famous interview for myself. I wended my way up to the National Library and looked through their periodical subject index. Sure enough, there it was under "BUSH, KATE" - NZ Listener, 2 Dec 1978. So I requested said issue, photocopied the relevant page and took it home to treasure forever.

Well, this year I finally got posting access back, and I went to read my beloved .gaffa. Imagine my excitement when I saw that Ron still didn't have my interview! So... here it is. I hope you like it. If you do, do I get a place in the Love-Hounds Hall o' Fame or something? :-)

Anthony "the Bard" Hobbs (hi Vickie!)


NZ Listener, 2 Dec '78

interview with David Young

Kate Bush had measles on her other visit to New Zealand; as a voyaging six-year-old with her parents. She saw little of this place.

This time, as writer and performer of the song "Wuthering Heights" the lady is even more feverish and house-bound; the prime hostage of a multinational record company.

It is after 10pm at a party in a large, Hollywood-style ranch house on Wellington's wavering heights, Korokoro. She has been working all day, with some heavy-handed DJ's and a television special that will keep her spritely dancing, roller coaster vocals and haunting features before us until her second album is released shortly.

But pop music is the smile on the face of a savage tiger and Kate Bush, EMI's waif-like Topsy, is riding it with all the grace and energy her 20 years can muster. At this hour there is still no rest. In the mad dance of merchandising she must move at the party with those who will make her records sell and keep them spinning across the airwaves.

Click. Our turn. She extends red hysterical fingernails but the narrow eyes are calm and friendly. "You've got five minutes," says EMI as she settles on the vinyl couch. Ah, well...

" Wuthering Heights is really the only book in that era I've read; they tend to be extremely over-romantic in that period, especially the women." The voice is Kentish with a strong overlay of Cockney. "I like a really extensive story with levels; I enjoy science fiction, especially Kurt Vonnegut. He's a mixture of humour and tragedy... I really like him."

She's sisterish and chatty. Relaxed. But there are no exclusive interviews or fantasies. Through the wall come all the beautiful people, women in boots and high dudgeon, men with shirt colars pasted over their jacket lapels. Eyeballs and flashlights popping.

Her manner is open to the point of vulnerability. Suggest that some songs seem to spring from folk and she is excited. "Really? That's great. Folk was my first introduction when I was just a baby. My brothers were into folk music, the traditional English and Irish - it couldn't help but have an influence on you when you're so young.

"In Ireland it's so strong, my mother's Irish and sometimes all day there would be fiddlers and everyone would dance in the garden. My brothers and myself owe a lot to her, she's got the musical gift and we're all into music."

She has a bewitching way of fixing you with her conversational eye; it seems you have her undivided attention. Maybe her impeccable middle-class manners? Her father is a doctor and she grew up in pleasantly rural Plumstead, Kent.

Family is strong. A brother plays in her K.T. Bush Band. "He's great, he plays all kinds of instruments, none brilliantly, but all well and he has lost of musical ideas." Her older brother, nearly 33, is a writer. "Poetry originally and now books and some of it is really great." But little published.

The faces press in on us as through a fish-eye lens, shimmering autograph hunters through a haze of cigarrette fumes. She tries to rally her ebbing adrenalin with a mug of tea. But... "Yes, I would like a ciggy."

From an early age she was playing piano and by 14 had fused her interest in poetry, music and song-writing. Through contact with David Gilmour of Pink Floyd (whom she holds in awe) she won a contract with EMI by the time she was 16 and for three years remained unheard of, virtually in corporate captivity.

During this time she studied dance and mime, for a while under Lindsay Kemp. She did not know it but Kemp also tutored David Bowie who, together with Bille Holiday, her greatest inspiration. "The first time I heard a song by Billie Holiday I just wanted to cry, she's so emotional."

A promotions manager comes across, "You'll have to stop now." Just a few more minutes please?

She says wistfully, "Sometimes I'd like a bit more time to myself. I'm really happy and I love to work, I think I need to and I feel good doing something really productive. I start feeling guilty if I'm wasting time." Too many commitments is the reason she gives for not having done a concert yet. Until she does, suspicions will linger that her music is as air-brushed as her posters. But misgivings melt beneath her candour.

There are frequent references to her occult in her music; to Beelzebub, to her love of the "whirling of the dervishes", and even the invitation in "Wuthering Heights" to "let me grab your soul away".

"That's really interesting, that's an amazing thing about interviews, they really make you think. I am interested in the occult but not the negative side of it. I really don't know much about it.

"I believe we are controlled by forces... the moon and the stars." And, as she describes in "Strange Phenomena", seemingly purposeful coincidence.

It is the witching hour. She must drill for her Christchurch performance tomorrow before sleep. At the ranchslider her female manager kisses her goodnight. "I'll ring you in the morning." The blow-waved youth with the monogrammed R who has spooked her all night becomes the footman who shuts her in a big Ford emblazoned with Kate Bush and The Kick Inside. She waves and the car disappears into the hilltop rain and night.

If anything possesses her, it's EMI.

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"The pull and the push of it all..." - Kate Bush

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