Interviews & Articles


Smash Hits
"Things Your Mother Never Told You"
by Mike Stand
September (?) 1979

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"Things Your Mother Never Told You"

NOW HOW can I put this without being rude? When I first heard "Wuthering Heights" Kate Bush's voice reminded me of, well...come on, out with it man!... a female turkey having its neck wrung Sorry!

I have to admit "The Man With The Child In His Eyes" was a much easier pill to swallow, quite sweet in fact, but really I'd given Kate Bush no chance at all to reach me until this interview came up.

And now I love her. No, not just because of the way she lit up an EMI office with those eyes or because of her obvious physical attractions to a male.

What I've realised is that she's an artist, a truly original writer and performer. All the articles I'd read where she said nothing but "wow, incredible" and "amazing" and "situation" were just skating on the surface of one of the most adventurous talents around.

A LITTLE background? After totting up 10 'O'-levels she left school at 16 when EMI Records offered to sponsor her for a couple of years' writing before launching her into the record market. She lives in Lewisham with her boyfriend (and bassist) Del Palmer. She's had two gold albums and four hit singles.

While the image-makers have been pushing the myth of the innocent from the convent school, Kate Bush has been flouting every convention she's been faced wlth.

Her current hit from the "On Stage" EP, "Them Heavy People", is a nice pop song all right but it's also an expression of her attitude to her work. Ms Bush is a keen learner in every area of her life and "Them Heavy People" are her "wonderful teachers" -- such as mime artiste Lindsay Kemp who gave her tuition and other less formal educators who treated her badly and inspired her to stand up for herself.

She sings "They build up my body/ Break me emotionally/ it's nearly killing me/ But what a lovely feeling!" That's the pleasure expressed by a girl who rehearsed 14 hours a day for months, put up all the money she had for the extraordinary live show and turned it into a sell-out success.

But the key line is "I must work on my mind". Kate Bush hates the thought of meandaring along, letting life happen to you.

"There's so much put in our minds from the day dot, the day we come out of that little womb. People telling you (mummy to baby silly voice) 'That's wrong!' or 'there's a good girl!' When you get a bit older you realise a lot of them didn't know what they were talking about but you'd accepted it.

"Then you have to relearn and that's the hardest thing to do "

SHE FEELS this way despite having grown up very happily in Welling, Kent, feeling close to her parents and brothers. At the time there never seemed to be any girls around to play with and so she ganged up with her brothers. (John and Paddy are still with her as accountant and guitarist respectively.) Her independence showed through as soon as she took to music. She detested the old-fashioned lessons she had been given on the violin and loved the piano because she sussed out herself after her doctor dad had showed her where she'd find C.

Later when she studied singing, dancing and mime she was determined never to copy the classical style. Instead she wanted to use those skills to express her own character.

For instance that voice would hardly go down a storm at the Opera House but her teacher gave her the ability to make it last. As she said with some satisfaction, "A lot of singers who are around now will have torn their throats to bits in five years. They'll hardly be able to make a sound."

Mind you, many a set of vocal chords exercised by nothing but booze and fags has still been roaring like a foghorn ten years later!

In the main though, Kate's theories work in practice because she carries them through so thoroughly.

"I saw our show as not just people on stage playing the music, but as a complete experience," she said. "A lot of people would say 'Pooah!' but for me that's what it was. Like a play.

"That's why I didn't speak. 'For our next song...' and all that. I mean a Shakespeare actor doesn't turn to the audience at the end of the act and say 'In the interval there will be orange juice and popcorn on sale in the foyer.'

"You are a performer, you are projecting and exaggerating things and if you break the illusion you break the whole of the concept. If you fall over you've got to make it look like it was meant to happen."

Some rock bands might scorn that idea as dishonest, saying that you should own up and laugh it off. Kate Bush isn't deceiving anyone though, she's playing a different game in which the old rules don't apply .

FOR ALL the creative energy that went into making her show so different from anything else on the concert circuit, Kate will admit that in one sense it was a bit of a defence. She does feel that in the ordinary group set or playing solo with her piano she could be boring.

"I can hide behind a role on stage," she said. "If I'm in costume and make-up I'm OK but I think to an extent I would become lost without them. Like now, in this interview, I have no way of projecting an image to you. I'm just being me, that's what people are expecting and that's cool, but when you're on stage you have to become bigger."

Well, having really listened to her music, it's difficult to imagine Kate Bush hiding.

The supposed pouting cutesy-pie turned out to be one of the most touching writers about sex and love I've encountered. She's only 20 now. She writes about what she knows -- her own experiences and her own fantasies as she passed through adolescence to womanhood.

Result: girls must have a great fellow-feeling with her while boys, who are reckoned to be the majority of her fans, are caught up in the sexy, sensual, romantic way she tells what it's like to be female -- and that doesn't stop them fancying her.

That's very important as most teenage sex education still comes through half-truths from embarrassed parents, cold facts from biology teachers and giggling sessions in some hideaway with a dirty book. It's good to have Kate Bush around to give fuddy-duddy puritanism a kick inside.

PARDON ME if none of this is news to you but have you ever really considered what Kate Bush is singing about?

How about "Strange Phenomena"? You don't think that when she sings, "Every girl knows about the punctual blues," it's because she missed the bus that morning, do you?

The next "Kick Inside" track, "Kite", begins "Beelzebub is aching in my belly-o/ My feet are heavy and I'm rooted in my wellios" -- the same "taboo" topic -- period pains.

Taboos? She makes of principle of breaking them. They offend her independent spirit. The song "The Klck Inside" is about a girl in a medieval village who's in love with her brother, pregnant by him and commits suicide to save her family from pubic scorn.

As usual Ms Bush has her own thoughts on the subject.

"I can see it in a way because I love my brothers although I've never had any sexual attraction to them. But I can understand if someone is so like you -- reflection is what it's all about -- it could be one of the most beautiful relationships in the world."

Then there's "Kashka From Baghdad" which is a funny celebration of a happy homosexual affair, and so on. Unacknowledged, Kate Bush is singing to millions about matters most of us find it difficult to talk about in our family homes That's healthy.

I'm not suggesting you should get into Kate Bush as some kind of hip sex educationalist though. What's great about Kate is that she puts across a feeling of the joys of sex and loving people. Moon In June isn't In it. Ms Bush gives you the real thing.

FORTHRIGHT AS she Is, Ms Bush did say she was very glad that national Press journalists never bother to listen to her lyrics. She has sickening visions of what the seedier Sundays might make of her.

"It's better that it's kept for the people who really know the songs. When the sansationalisn starts they take it on completeiy the wrong level. They wouldn't see it as the intimate expression and sharing with the listener of experiences we all know about "

And this is the lady who has been put down as a manufactured article, some kind of animated gimmick. That's something she resents.

"It worries me that people may think I'm totally manipulated by the company, the dance teacher, the record producer. That I'm not inteIllgent and I don't think for myself. I consider myself very strong. I do control a lot of whet happens around me and I try to control it all.

"It's a shame people often seem to regard me as this rubber doll. It affects the way people treat you... but then it's a challenge to overcome it!"

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

Reaching Out
is a
Marvick - Hill
Willker - Mapes
Grepel - Love-Hounds