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(This article was taken from Andrew Marvick's The Garden.)
[The following interview originally appeared anonymously in Poppix magazine in the summer of 1982. Edited by Andrew Marvick.]
The multi-talented skills of one of Britain's finest female performers, Kate Bush, are to be found on her new album. Entitled The Dreaming, the album is a departure in style from Kate's three previous albums, but in quality it remains at its usual high standard.
The album pulls no punches. It's as mysterious as its name, as striking as its cover picture and as powerful as its first track, Sat In Your Lap.
However, probably the most interesting song on the album is its title track and first single, The Dreaming. [Actually, Sat In Your Lap, though preceding the album by nearly a year, was really the first single from The Dreaming. ] Unfortunately, it wasn't a great commercial success, as it wasn't really picked up on by the radio stations, but it certainly warranted genuine critical acclaim for being one of the more original singles of 1982. [Most English reviews were in fact quite hostile.] I asked Kate what the single was about and why she decided to record it.
"Well, years ago my brother bought Sun Arise and I loved it, it was such a beautiful song. [An early single by Australian musician Rolf Harris.] And ever since then I've wanted to create something which had that feel of Australia within it. I loved the sound of the traditional aboriginal instruments, and as I grew older, I became much more aware of the actual situation which existed in Australia between the white Australian and the aborigines, who were being wiped out by man's greed for uranium. Digging up their sacred grounds, just to get plutonium, and eventually make weapons out of it. And I just feel that it's so wrong: this beautiful culture being destroyed just so that we can build weapons which maybe one day will destroy everything, including us. We should be learning from the aborigines, they're such a fascinating race. And Australian--there's something very beautiful about that country."
Kate recorded the single with the aid of antipodean ace Rolf Harris, and Percy Edwards. Kate invited Rolf down to help and he accepted, putting down his track in about an hour. Percy on the other hand was brought in to mimic the sound of sheep and other Australian wildlife, and ended up recording a whole selection of things, from aborigines to emus.
The title The Dreaming is a haunting name for a song, but what does it mean?
"The song was originally going to be called Dreamtime, which is the name the Aborigines gave to a magic time before man was man as he is today--when man was an animal and could change shape. This magical time was also known as the Dreaming to the Aborigines, so I thought it would be an ideal title for the song. The Dreaming is such a strong title, too: 'dreaming' on its own means little, but with 'the' in front of it it takes on a whole new meaning."
The album is entirely produced by Kate Bush, something she has never done before, her previous albums being co-produced by her and Jon Kelly. [Actually the first album was produced by Andrew Powell, and the second by Powell with the assistance of Kate.] So why did she decide to do the production of the album herself?
"After the last album, Never For Ever, I started writing some new songs. They were very different from anything I'd ever written before--they were much more rhythmic, and in a way, a completely new side to my music. I was using different instruments, and everything was changing; and I felt that really the best thing to do would be to make this album a real departure--make it completely different. And the only way to achieve this was to sever all the links I had had with the older stuff. The main link was engineer Jon Kelly. Everytime I was in the studio Jon was there to helping me, so I felt that in order to make the stuff different enough I would have to stop working with Jon. He really wanted to keep working with me, but we discussed it and realised that it was for the best." [Phrased with typical Bush delicacy.]
Sat In Your Lap, Kate's last major hit in the British charts, is also included on the album.
"We weren't going to put it on initially, because we thought it had been a single such a long time ago, but a lot of people used to ask me if we were putting Sat In Your Lap on the album and I'd say no, and they would say 'Oh why not?' and they'd be quite disappointed. So, as the album's completion date got nearer and nearer, I eventually relented. I re-mixed the track and we put it on. I'm so glad I did now, because it says so much about side one, with its up-tempo beat and heavy drum rhythms--it's perfect for the opening track."
You mentioned earlier that you wanted the album to be different, to be a change. Is that aspect of change particularly refreshing to you? Is it important for you to keep changing?
"Yes, it's very important for me to change. In fact, as soon as the songs began to be written, I knew that the album was going to be quite different. I'd hate it, especially now, if my albums became similar, because so much happens to me between each album--my views change quite drastically. What's nice about this album is that it's what I've always wanted to do. For instance, the Australian thing: well, I wanted to do that on the last album, but there was no time. There are quite a few ideas and things that I've had whizzing around in my head that just haven't been put down. I've always wanted to use more traditional influences and instruments, especially the Irish ones. I suppose subconsciously I've wanted to do all this for quite some time, but I've never really had the time until now."
Your songs are nearly always based around a story of sorts. Is it important for you to have a meaning behind your songs?
"Oh yes, I think it gets more and more so, because although on the first two albums the songs were always based on something, they weren't all that strong; but now I get more involved with the ideas behind a song, and I do my best to make the concept as vivid and as solid as I can. On the new album, for instance, there is a track about the legendary ecapologist Houdini. During his incredible lifetime Houdini took it upon himself to expose the whole spiritualist thing--you know, seances and mediums. And he found a lot them to be phoney, but before he died Houdini and his wife worked out a code, so that if he came back after his death his wife would know it was him by the code. So after his death his wife made several attempts to contact her dead husband, and on one occasion he did come through to her. I thought that was so beautiful--the idea that this man who had spent his life escaping from chains and ropes had actually managed to contact his wife. The image was so beautiful that I just had to write a song about it." [The full story is quite complicated, but Mrs. Houdini later stated that no such contact was ever made. Kate has indicated in other interviews--conducted presumably a bit later than this one--that she was aware of the dubious aspects of the story, but that the beauty of the concept and imagery were no less true for that.]
"Now that the album is completed, it doesn't mean that my work has ended. There are so many things that I want to do connected with music, and I want to do them as soon as possible. In fact, I see myself being pretty well committed for the next couple of years. I'd like to do a show with both this and the last album, and there are a few videos as well, but I just don't know if or when I'll get the time.
"As for tours, well, I haven't got any planned, but I'm beginning to think about it. THe last tour was so much effort, and it cost so much money, and we actually spent about four months rehearsing for it, so the thought of another one is a little bit daunting. It's such a big thing to commit yourself to--it's like a whole year taken out of your life. It scares me a bit." [Seven years after this interview, no concerts have yet materialised.]
"Since 1978, when everything really started happening to me, with Wuthering Heights reaching number one and the British Rock and Pop Awards, I've been very lucky in the sense that people have really helped me out. It made me feel that people were really interested in my music, and it was great. It gave me an incredible amount of courage to go for things, never to be scared of a challenge. I'm sure that if people hadn't accepted me so warmly, I would have become a more conventional performer."
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