Interviews & Articles


by Brian Berry
September 1983

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From: rhill@netlink.cts.com (Ron Hill)
Date: Wed, 12 Feb 1992 18:50:06 -0800
Subject: Wireless interview, by Brian Berry September 1983


by Brian Berry

September 1983

[Transcribed by Ron Hill, from a transcription in BREAKTHROUGH 7. Thanks to Jackie Zucconi for providing me with the interview]

Capital/EMI America's latest attempt to bring Kate Bush's music to a wider audience is in the form of a "mini-album" simply titled, "Kate Bush". Kate hails from England and has been an international sensation since her first album, The Kick Inside, was released in 1978. However, in America her music has only been enjoyed by a small, but devoted cult following. The "mini-album" contains no new material, but rather it includes five songs previous [sic previously] available on three of her previous recordings. The album had been timed to coincide with a visit by Kate to the States last June. A massive promotion via the press had been planned. However, the visit was postponed due to transportation problems that arose. I asked Kate about the five songs and if she felt that they were fully representative of her work. "Quite honestly, I don't think I would have chosen those five. It has very much to do with the record company and what they see a market for. I did want "Sat In Your Lap" to be on there. It's also quite nice to get the French song on there 'cause I quite like that." The French song is a new version of "The Infant Kiss", which originally appeared in English on her third album Never For Ever. The French version, as it turned out, was targeted for the Canadian record market.

"I think there's so much aimed at the Canadian market where there's a French population and the song was especially done for the French people, so it made sense to put in on the Canadian version." The "mini" concept is something that Capital/EMI has had substantial success with in breaking new or unknown artists. Thomas Dolby, Missing Persons, and Duran Duran are but some of the acts that have been established through this approach. The record is lower priced and is appealing to a customer that may want to sample an artist's work. This is a welcome idea if it will help sell Kate's music to the masses.

Kate originally singed with EMI/U.K. at the age of 16. Following the advice of her record company she tells of the period of development until EMI thought she was ready for her debut. "I had finished taking my 'O' levels at school and was coming up to the stage where you start thinking about 'A' levels at the University. And I wasn't really into the idea of going to University, so I thought I should leave school and concentrate on my career, already having signed a contract with the record company. And I wanted to do something that would show my name creatively, that it would hopefully complement the music, so I decide to take dancing. I saw a performance by a mine artist called Lindsay Kemp and I thought that's really what I wanted to do, that kind of movement and combine it with music. So, I spent the next two years writing songs and just dancing. After about 18 months, I went on to be a singer in a band. We started doing gigs around local pubs, doing other people's songs. After we had been doing that for just a couple of months, the record company decided it was time for me to do my own."

The Kick Inside was then recorded and "Wuthering Heights" was the album's first single, released in England in January of 1978. The single was a smash and steadily climbed the U.K. charts to the number one position in March. The single was accompanied by a video featuring Kate's dancing talents. Her reaction to the tremendous success was of course, amazement. "No, I don't think anyone could ever by ready for anything like that. I mean, you don't really expect things like that to happen, and as far as I'm concerned that's the only time that will ever happen. I think it was very strange, very wonderful though. It was incredibly unreal and I still find it hard to believe." Kate's reflection on The Kick Inside today; "That was such a long time ago. Some of the those songs were written eight years ago. They feel a long way away and I haven't heard it in years, so I don't really know how I would react to it if I heart it. But the last time I heard it I was quite shocked by how young I sounded." Some of the songs date back to about 11, true? "No, the earliest would be about 15, the latest about 17 or 18." She cites her favorite songs as "Moving" and "... I suppose I have to like "Wuthering Heights"."

Kate's second album, Lionheart was released in December of 1978. The album continued with the same high and mesmerizing vocals that had become her trademark. Kate explains, "I thought that was very much a part of where I was with the first album and alot of the songs were songs around the same time. I think in a way not much happened, it was really more of the same person."

In April of '79, the British public was treated to the first in a series of Kate's stunning live shows. The performances combined the total persona of Kate and the results were visual marvels. She prepared for the live appearances with strenuous exercising. "I have to work very hard. It's something you can't just up and go out and od, you have got to build up for it. If I had tried to do it before all the training, I wouldn't have gotten through the first song. It's something you have to work into gradually. I don't know how I did it really. I think back now and I know I would pass out." As for plans of a tour in the near future, Kate replied that "I have really wanted to tour since the last tour we did. But, I'm in a situation that if I don't do an album this year there will be too long of a gap between albums." So you do have an album planed for release at the end of the year?

"Yes, I'm not sure if it will make the end of the year, but hopefully the beginning of the next year. So that's the next thing. But I do very much want to do a show but as soon as I decide that there's an awful lot of problems, like where do we get the money for it?" I was anxious to discover if she would ever bring her show to the States. "Well, you see again that depends so much on finance. We wanted to bring the last show to America but it really did cost too much money and at that time we were basically paying for it. As it was we were really losing money. We can't really afford to do more than one of that type of show. We were very careful about that."

The tour was documented with the release of a four-song EP. The songs were live versions of previously released material and they showcased Kate's unique vocal range. Her lyrical, shimmering voice showed its agility and the ease to which it adapted to the dynamic demands of different songs.

Kate's third studio album, Never For Ever was greeted with great response, and it made it's initial appearance at the top of the British charts. Her musical visions soared to new heights with songs that defined a rethinking in musical approach. Topics included nuclear holocaust in the emotionally stirring "Breathing", a mother's grief in "Army Dreamers", and fantasies about afterlife in "Blow Away". A change had taken place in Kate's musical horizons, Kate explains. "I think the tour did quite a lot from the start. I learned an incredible lot about myself as well as the whole thing of performing. Singing songs that maybe i had written five years ago, over and over again, I find completely exhausting. I think it did change me quite a lot and I think in a way that was one of the brave things I did along with the tour. I decided to go through co-production with the engineer I had worked with before instead of having produced it, it was quite a big thing for me to learn and I think it was quite positive." Where do you get the inspiration for your songs?

"It's very difficult to say. I usually get them from film but I think the general thing is probably people. They do such strange things, such wonderful things." Do you design your videos from your songs? "Yes, it tells you what to do to a certain extent." Do yo rehearse your videos with professional choreographers or do you choreograph them yourself? "I choreograph and come up with the basic ideas. They always get changed when new ideas come along, but I suppose again ideas come from what the songs say."

The Dreaming is the latest studio album from Kate and is the only other full recording besides The Kick Inside to be released in the States. [This is not quite true, Lionheart was released in the U.S. in 1979, on a very small scale. It wasn't fully released until 1984.] Released her in October of '82, The Dreaming continued the musical evolution of Kate that began on Never For Ever. New sound experiences were evident within the initial U.K. single release, the title track of "The Dreaming". Kate had been working with the Fairlight, a rather complex combination keyboard computer which has the capability of reproducing or creating an almost indefinite variety of sounds. Unusual sounds accompany the already innovative song structures and the album is a pure delight to hear. Kate describes the role of the Fairlight in her music.

"Since the last album, I've been very much writing on it. I think I would have earlier except before I started the last album I went back to the old one. I used to hire one in and it was so expensive, and eventually I realized it would be alot cheaper to buy one. So, it's only really since I finished that last album that I've had time to play with one at home and it's great." The Dreaming was her first completely self-produced album and I enquired as to how if effected the outcome. "Well, I think when I was writing for it, I wasn't thinking of myself as being the producer. The way that the actual demo tapes turned out, I just felt I could handle it. It was very demanding and I enjoyed it." Was it your most difficult album? "Yes." Would you say it was your favorite? "Yes, I would. Although, I think in a way, some of my favorite bits are a couple of tracks from Never For Ever, but I would say that The Dreaming, I'm pleased with that altogether." Are any of the songs from The Dreaming about you? "No, I only put little pieces of myself in them. And I think what exactly you find in a story or a situation, that I find I've been moved or in case I should like something, I then apply my own limited experience of that situation. Besides I occasionally try to imagine what it would be like. I think that's where I come into the song, but no more than that."

What do you think it would take for Kate Bush to break here in America? Kate replied, "I think probably like in every other country, you need a song that's a hit single. There are other ways but they are very much unpredictable courses." One of the courses could be M.T.V., but their rotation of her videos in next to nil. "Maybe they don't like them," was kate's only explanation for the problem. It seems such a waste, it's been several years since her American television debut on "Saturday Night Live," but I still hear people vividly remember the lady "... rolling the ball."

Kate Bush does not follow trends and nobody can equal hers. It's hard to find a more entertaining and original artist. Her ability to knock down musical dimensions, puts her in the league of David Bowie and Peter Gabriel. It's great to find someone that will be an original regardless of the going fashion. The rest of the world has found her, I only hope America will someday make the same needed discovery.

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