To the Reaching Out (Interviews) Table of Contents
Date: Mon, 21 Nov 88 16:55 PST
From: Andrew Marvick (IED)
Subject: NME by Danny Baker, Fall 1979
The following interview was conducted by Danny Baker for New Musical Express in the fall of 1979. IED will try to refrain from commenting during the text, but he must say at the outset that this interview must rank as one of the most hostile and unprofessional to date. Mr. Baker is clearly out of his league when discussing with an artist of Kate's intelligence and sensibilty any matters relating to art.
Furthermore, he admits that he is not familiar with most of her work; and although he also makes it clear that he did not see the live performances, he is quite content to repeat his colleague's foolish conclusions about them. He makes an offensive and narrow-minded assumption that is all too common among the English music press: namely, that his readership are in agreement with his essentially Philistine and socialist attitude toward art. He therefore stupidly assumes that those comments by Kate which tend to dispute such an attitude are worthy only of ridicule. Finally, in stating, with typically misplaced pride, that he has "cut about a hundred" of Kate's "wows" and "amazings", he inadvertantly undermines the journalistic legitimacy of his entire text. For if these words (so casually counted) were deemed unworthy of the readers' attention, what else of Kate's speech may have been "cut", as well? It is interviews such as these that explain Kate's great reluctance, these days, to speak to the press--especially the English music press.
Despite these lamentable transgressions on Mr. Baker's part, Kate manages to offer several stunningly brilliant, thoughtful and challenging ideas for the careful and openminded reader to entertain. We can only guess at how many others were overlooked or rejected by Mr. Baker before his article went to press.
In the interest of fairness, IED would like to let |>oug know that he has noted Kate's comments below about fans on the street etc. As far as IED knows, this is the only instance in which Kate has expressed such sentiments, and the reliability of the transcription is certainly not beyond question. Still, it's worth noting her apparent ambivalence about this subject.
" Wow, Wow, Wow, Amazing, Amazing, Ama--"
( and that's only at the supermarket)
Kate Bush puts the problems of western society in perspective.
Danny Baker hears the Pop Goddess tolkein about her favourite hobbits
EMI: Three letters that have come to represent "the enemy" in rock'n'roll's war games. EMI House rambles like a country home with a thousand warrens of ministry--type boring pools and divisions. The guard on the reception listens to my appointment with Kate Bush with all the emotion of a weighing machine being told a hard luck story. Like everyone else, I get told to take a seat while he talks, unheard, into one of the extension phones. About ten minutes later I'm led down and through EMI House and up to a corridor down which the Daily Mirror's Pauline McLeod is striding. She's out--I'm in.
Kate Bush is sipping Perrier water from an elegant glass. I tell her she'll get a royal old bulge if she carries on guzzling the gin like that, and she laughs naturally. She's far more attractive than I'd ever thought--not being the globe's most rabid fan of the woman, y'understand--although quite short.
NME had been after a KB interview for a while but, so I'd learned on leaving the office, her management were less than obliging. Me? Well, the truth is that I had no opinions about Kate at all. I knew the singles, but I really couldn't find it in me to go any deeper, to check out her roots (he said, nicking in this piece's most contrived gag). I still don't...such was our meeting.
Hey Kate. Do you feel obliged to sing like that these days?
"What? You mean..."
Y'know, like you could age the nation's glassblowers.
"Oh, yeah, sure. I mean, I don't feel obliged--that is me. See, like in a recording studio, when it's all dark and there's just you and a couple of guys at the desk, well, you get really so involved that to actually plan it becomes out of the question. It just flows that way. As a writer I just try to express an idea. I can't possibly think of old songs of mine because they're past now, and quite honestly I don't like them anymore."
Doing Wuthering Heights must've been murder then.
"Well, I was still promoting that up until 18 months after I'd had it released. Abroad I was still promoting it on TV, where I was able to do it backwards and (she mimes it whilst picking her nose nonchalantly)...just weird." Have you still got people around you who'll tell you something's rubbish?
"My brother Jay, who's been with me since I was writing stuff that really embarasses me--he'd let me know for sure... Yeah, there's a few I can really trust."
She smiles again and I was warm to her. Mind you, she speaks my language, so I could be sympathetic because she's one of the South London rock mafia. I ask her what it's like to be paraded in the Sun and suchlike as the Sex Goddess of POP!
"Hmmm. You see, you do a very straight interview with these people, without ever mentioning sex, but of course that's the only angle they write it from when you read it. That kind of freaks me out, because the public tend to believe it..."
Asking a few more questions, I begin to realise that this isn't the kind of stuff that weekloads of Gasbags <The NME letters page> are made of. I'm searching for a key probe, but with Kate Bush--well, there's not likely to be anything that will cause the twelve-inch banner-headline stuff, is there now? I recall Charlie Murray's less than enthusiastic review of her Palladium shows, which were apparently crammed with lame attempts to "widen" the audience's artistic horizons--y'know, lots of people dressed as violins and carrots an' that. CSM reckons it was one of the most condescending gigs in the history of music. Kate had read the review, but she didn't break down.
"Just tell me one thing," she said in normal tones. "I mean, was he actually at the show that night?"
Yeah, sure. I remember he told me he'd spent a week there one Tuesday.
"Oh, well, in that case that's just his opinion and he's entitled to it."
We all smiled again, and Kate asked me if I'd seen Alien. I wondered if she got out much herself.
"Well, I don't get out to parties often. I have this thing about wasting time..."
Oh really? Which thing is that?
"You know, I nag at myself all the time for being a waster. I think, 'Gosh, you could be creating the world or something.'"
Well, that certainly seems a worthwhile thing to do, all right, although it has in fact been done before. Y'see, occasionally Kate allows the poet and all-round Tyrannosaurus Rex dreamer to slip out, a sucker for Lord of the Rings. For a start I have cut about a hundred "wows" and "amazings" from her speech. She talks at length about how important she feels it is to be "creating" all the time, and when I asked her if she looked to the news for any song inspiration I got this curious answer:
"Well, whenever I see the news, it's always the same depressing things. War's hostages and people's arms hanging off with all the tendons hanging out, you know. So I tend not to watch it much. I prefer to go and see a movie or something, where it's all put much more poetically. People getting their heads blown off in slow motion, very beautifully."
She grins broadly again. Kate is an artist through and through, seeing the world as a crazy canvas on which to skip. Her outrageous charm covers the fact that we are in the midst of a hippy uprising of the most devious sorts. I approach her on the question of being a woman in pop music once more. How do her workmates treat her?
"Well, when I started, I felt really conscious of being female amongst all these fellows. But these days I feel like one of the lads."
That doesn't sound very healthy.
"Oh, yeah, it is. When I'm working, it's really important for me to get on with it in that way. But at the same time, I sense that they're very respectful, because they make me aware of being a woman, and will lay off the dirty jokes and that..."
Incredible. Do you find men in awe of you?
"Socially? Well, I find that--with people that I haven't seen for a couple of years, because they won't treat me as a human being. And people in the street will ask for autographs and also won't treat you as human, but...ah...sometimes I get really scared. Sometimes when I'm going to the supermarket to get the coffee and cat litter, I get freaked out and see all these people staring, and you turn around and there's like forty people all looking at you...and when you go around the corner, they're all following you! You start freaking out like a trapped animal.
"However, I don't notice guys doing it on a personal level. Maybe some will keep their distance, but that may be because they don't get off on me.
"You see, when I first got started, I thought that I'd better watch out for these rip-off artists and stick with old friends. But it's amazing that since I've been in the business, I've made many more real friends, especially on a working basis. I find that I can get so involved with a guy working with me--and usually on a platonic level, which is great! That's so special, like these two minds linked on this one project. And that is a very beautiful thing that I'd never have experienced if I had not been in this business.
"And what's more, I'll keep these friends for life, because not only do they care for you, but they give me information and their teachings. What more could I ask for?"
Do you think there's a danger of becoming detached inside music?
"Probably. I don't read newspapers, and I've said I don't watch the news. I love books, but I don't read much.
"What I do is I get people to read to me, and I put the stories in my head."
A bit like a hat, I suppose.
"And films. I watch an awful lot of TV films."
Do you think you might be avoiding real life?
"Well, no, because I think that all these heavy issues--equality among blacks and whites, etc.--have all been done before, and if you do it now, it has to be very cleverly handled. It all gets too negative and cliched. So I find that, working with fantasy, I can handle the same issues, perhaps, but in a more positive way."
Don't you think that albums can make you feel and think sometimes without er...pussyfooting? I remember the first time I heard The Clash, and...
"Oh, yeah, some of these new bands are amazing. They're just springing up. The Police are just amazing..."
Here, listen, I think you've got the picture. Kate Bush, to meet, is a happy, charming woman that can totally win your heart. But afterwards on tape, when she's not there and you actually listen to all this, well...golly gosh. Don't lose sleep, old mates, it's just pop music-folk and the games they spin. Wow.
This was Chicken Licken, Cosmic News, Atlantis, goodnight, man...
To the Reaching Out (Interviews) Table of Contents
"The pull and the push of it all..." - Kate Bush
Marvick - Hill
Willker - Mapes
Grepel - Love-Hounds