To the Reaching Out (Interviews) Table of Contents
Date: Tue, 17 Aug 93 01:38 MET DST
From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Ulrich Grepel)
Subject: Fachblatt Musikmagazin 11-85 by Andreas Hub
I was sent another old Kate Bush interview, this time from the German magazine "Fachblatt Musikmagazin" Nr. 11 from November 85.
The following is reproduced without permission. Any translation errors from German back to English are mine, as are any typos.
Kate Bush Reappeared
With Kate Bush you have an easy job. Almost three years she withdrew herself into her studio, without a sign of life, let alone a new album. But in March it was said by the usually well informed circles: in April Kate Bush will come to Germany with a new album! Neither she nor the album came. Nevertheless, after years she reappeared in the charts last summer with "Running Up That Hill". After "Babooshka" she could launch the first hit at all and the biggest one since her early days with "Wuthering Heights". This song from the "The Kick Inside"-LP all at once made the lady famous in 1978, when she was rather a girl. Her almost unnatural high voice, lost in reverie, and her typical, powerful ballads, that was something described well by an otherwise sucked out vocable: simply beautiful.
Then came, after the work for the first album needed almost three years, an all to fast follow-up and with "Never For Ever" a third album that unfortunately also did not have the wanted success. But before that Kate Bush drew attention to her as a live nature talent with a spectacular tour. With an almost sensational show consisting of revue, pantomime, dance and singing the gracile beauty enchanted her audience, and this with a discipline and concentration as hard as iron; even the acrobatic exercises she did sing live. Only with "Hammer Horror" her voice came from a tape. Up to now this unfortunately should be a unique experience, captured in the video "Live At Hammersmith Odeon" and on a live LP that did not appear in this country. After this it got quieter around Kate Bush. The singer, once discovered and supported by David Gilmour, was not so much in the limelight as in the beginning, she probably also had a long lasting process of finding her own identity that found its expression in her up to now most difficult accessible album "The Dreaming". In often gloomy sound visions the former fairy undertook excursions into the abyss of the human soul. That was a good three years ago, and now she should reappear again. For August a new interview date was hold out of . A meeting with Kate Bush - a long-standing wish would be fulfilled. I have, this personal marginal note is allowed, like probably every journalist a few dream partners for an interview: Brian Eno, Peter Gabriel, Laurie Anderson, Kate Bush. Laurie Anderson was "due" a year ago, I met Peter Gabriel, but did not interview him, for Brian Eno I am waiting yet, and Kate Bush...
Cancelled again! But a month later the go-ahead was really given -I should come to the radio and television exhibition in Berlin, there a conversation would be possible. Wonderful, I thought, sat myself into the car, put a preview cassette of the new LP "Hounds Of Love" into the recorder, and set off - not knowing that all 25 interviews were cancelled without replacement that very moment, Stern and other high profile publications included. Meeting-place Steigenberger Hotel Berlin, me punctual and still unsuspecting, she of course not there, noone from the record company too. "Kate Bush", the man at the reception talked through his nose a bit condescendenly, "no, Kate Bush does not live here." The very momet a lift door opened next to me - and she stood in front of me. No manager, noone inbetween who would try to get rid of me. I say "Hello, I want to make an interview with you!" She says, very English, very polite, very certain: "I'm sorry, I cancelled all interviews because I don't have time." But at least she stands still for a moment and does not run past me. You have no chance, but use it... Bringing up the most heavy artillery - the journalist as fan, as secret admirer. Will this cut any ice? I try it out: "Listen, for this moment I waited seven years and now I did take a 1000 km car trip on me. Couldn't we nevertheless make the interview?" She again, very English, very polite and a bit moved: "Wait here - I'll see what we can do..." After five minutes she came back, compliments me under a torrent of excuses to a table -and starts off, at first 20 minutes, finally almost one hour. Coincidences happen... "These don't exists, you know that", she laughs.
FACHBLATT: After I read an interview of the American magazine "Keyboard" with you I expected a pure Fairlight-LP. Instead of there are a lot of acoustic parts and even very silent piano pieces, almost as on your first LP.
KATE BUSH: Interesting impression... To me it's completely different. I find it's my least piano influenced album to date, because I more or less completely switched to composing with the Fairlight. All piano you hear now was added later.
FACHBLATT: You did, as with "The Dreaming", produce yourself...
KATE: Yes, I did build my own studio after the last album, and because of that the borders between composing, recording and producing became even more floating. The whole thing is a very organic process, because everything can happen next to each other and simultaneously. There are no demos in the usual sense any longer. I record something on the 24 track machine and work on that, so that the demo in principle is the later master.
FACHBLATT: But that cannot always work smoothly. How many versions of one idea are there until a complete piece will emerge from it?
KATE: Astonishingly there were only two or three pieces that experienced a dramatic change. I usually have the base for a piece very quickly, the ideas often come like an explosion, a few pieces of melody, a few fragments of text. But until the piece is completely finished it can need a very long time and that of course depends on the complexity of the song. In other cases I have the complete composition ready and then I am suddenly stuck with the text.
FACHBLATT: Let's pick out an example, the track "Hello Earth". At first there's a very soft melody, sung by you, while the chorus, sung by a choir, stands in a very strong and abrupt harmonic contrast. That sounds very assembled, as if it was not created in one piece.
KATE: Here the "initial ignition" came together with the idea of the contents of the song that determined the structure. I recorded the verse at first and recorded only a pilot track with piano for the refrain. Then the musicians from the Irish band Planxty were added and then the choir.
FACHBLATT: Did you always intend real voices to be used or did you use voices from the Fairlight at first?
KATE: It was clear from the beginning that a real choir was needed there. Only the choice of singers was very difficult. This chorus is based on a traditional that I picked up at some time. What I imagined was not so much classical choir voices but voices that somehow had to sound eerie and also a bit ceremonial. On the other hand there was the problem not to imply pressure and to let the people sing as natural as possible, since especially with choir singing a posing artificiality arises quickly. Fortunately from a gig I had with the London Symphony Orchestra I knew a man called Richard Hickox who had an incredible experience with choir voices. I let him chose the singers. For me it was an incredibly thrilling experience, because I never before worked with a choir.
FACHBLATT: Almost sounds as monks singing sacred songs.
KATE: Sounds quite religious, doesn't it?
FACHBLATT: For me the song seems to have a transfered spiritual meaning. In the fade out you speak the German words "Irgendwo in der Tiefe gibt es ein Licht." [Somewhere in the deep there is a light]
KATE: Yes, the piece is the highlight of the second side that has a continuous string of action (more on this later). It's something like a fever dream, the delirium, before the last song comes, that is completely different, that is about hope, light and the break of the morning. "Hello Earth" is about the point where you cannot go further, where you are very weak. And then you perhaps are ready to accept the things, now, where you have arrived at the end of your journey. You can chose to change yourself or to continue and to die. That of course also has a religious component. But I find it difficult to talk about it, or rather to explain it. During the work on the pieces I know it much more exactly, probably because I am much more bound to what emerges from me while it is being created. When the pieces are ready they want to speak for themselves. They are not any longer a piece from me, but rather develop their own life.
FACHBLATT: How do you manage again and again to create such a strong union of music and lyrics? I don't understand everything you sing (my tape did not have any further givings or lyrics), but I feel what it's all about. It couldn't be the words. Do you get the music and lyric ideas for a piece simultaneously?
KATE: Yes, it's often so that I have the idea of what a song is all about first and then the words and music come to me in parallel.
With "Hello Earth" for example I knew that this piece would be the dramatical highlight of the story. Therefore the verse had to be very slow and the chorus had to be very heavy. Well, I'll explain what it's all about. We are talking about a storm. There's a person that went overboard in the storm and fights a whole night against the waves, the tiredness and the danger to give up. I wrote all pieces of the second side of the LP about this plot. A concept album, or at least half an album, that was a huge challenge for me and a long-cherished wishful dream. I wanted to do something where I didn't have to be ready with the story after just three minutes.
FACHBLATT: Even if it's difficult for you, can you tell me a bit more about the plot?
KATE: I wish I could show you a film about it. The pictures would explain much more easily what I had in mind. There's someone going overboard, at night. He gets insanely tired, wants to resign. Then his past, his present and his future travel past him and try to keep him awake and to bring him through this night. These are of course metaphers for a very deep inner experience after which you reenter the light at the other end as a purified human being.
FACHBLATT: As a kind of spiritual transformation...
KATE: Yes, like a rebirth. There is the external, physical moment, and then there's a process that happens in the head, thoughts, voyages to inner spaces.
FACHBLATT: Water is a diversely interpretable symbol.
KATE: Yes, it also includes the feeling of floating. In addition here there's the night, the darkness, the complete loss of sense for space and time, the shield from all outer impressions. And when something like this happens very remarkable things start happening in your head.
FACHBLATT: Like in an isolation tank...
KATE: Yes, even if I didn't make any personal experiences with that by myself.
FACHBLATT: Did you by chance read "In The Center Of The Cyclon" by John C. Lilly who experienced first with the tank?
KATE: Unfortunately I didn't read it, but I have heard a lot of things about his work that I found very interesting.
FACHBLATT: I fear we come into areas that do not neccessarily belong into a music magazine... Let's talk about your music again. The difference between your last album "The Dreaming" and the new "Hounds Of Love" is astonishing. I always had difficulties to listen to "The Dreaming" in one piece, because in places it teared a lot on the nerves. Did your musical and/or personal attitude change that much in the last three years that you now can deliver a quite accessible, at times poppish album?
KATE: The music always subordinates to the contents of the songs. "The Dreaming" was an emotionally very intense and often conciously aggressively sounding album, because it was about how terribly cruel people could be, what we do to ourselves, what amount of loneliness we expose ourselves. It was a searching, questioning album and with the music did tear you from one point to the next. It provoked extreme reactions, and there were many who were not able to or did not want to get involved with the mood of the album. I was and am very content with it, because for me I have definitively achieved what I wanted to. I had to experience myself what I wanted to explore there, and now I have made the experience and could turn to other destinations. Suddenly I could go dancing again, I spent a summer out of the house, something I did not do for several years. Thereby I felt so positively that I also wanted to write songs that give a positive prevailing mood. That was a completely new challenge, because until then I got my inspirations more from melancholic and gloomy moods. But suddenly I could get enthusiastic about things that were light and lively. I wanted to write about the positive power of love and not any longer about people who destroy each other. The whole energy that developed itself that way also transfered itself to the album. Thereby I did not only want to describe love as a happy, lightful matter, but I rather wanted to show it in all of her aspects, also the dark ones. The LP has got two very different sides this way. The first shows an overview over different forms of love and without exception deals with relations, and the second side goes deeper, therefore the concept spanning all tracks.
FACHBLATT: Both sides are very different musically too. The first contains a couple of very danceable, rhythmic titles. Did you expect to have a hit with "Running Up That Hill" or was this just a nice side-effect?
KATE: At one point I stopped to have any expectations with respect to the music business. But of course it is nice if what you could expect happens... I always had the feeling that hopefully there are other people too who like my albums, if I only put a maximum of personal engagement into the work. And it works! Great, isn't it?
FACHBLATT: And why is the album called "Hounds Of Love"? These seem to be two contradicting terms.
KATE: No, these are the hounds who chase - symbolically of course - those who fear love, who is frightened to be "trapped" by it. But they aren't really bad hounds, you can see on the cover how gently and nice the "Hounds Of Love" are.
FACHBLATT: Do you rather think of it as an advantage or a disadvantage that there's so much time between your albums?
KATE: I cannot answer this question this way, since it simply is as it is. I never said: I need two or three years to make an album. I just began. Whereever this leads - as long as it's positive and productive I continue to do it. If you do your work honestly and with your whole heart It will tell you what to do...
FACHBLATT: But outside there's nobody who tells you if you are on the right way. Someone who brings out a single every second month experiences very fast how the course is at the moment.
KATE: That is a frustrating aspect of my method of working. Besides I also like to busy myself with other ideas and projects. But I cannot run away from the things I have to do at the moment. That takes my complete energy. I just have to bring such sacrifies, and with me it lasts longer as with others.
FACHBLATT: When did you start with "Hounds Of Love"?
KATE: 1983 the studio was built and set up, and in the beginning of 1984 I started with the album, all in all 18 months of work.
FACHBLATT: In such a long time many things can change. Wherefrom do you take the safety that in the end you find those things you recorded in the beginning as good and important?
KATE: Well, if something does not work at all, because you did get off course, you just have to have the courage to stop there, even when you already did invest a lot of time and work. But this happens very seldom with me, and except those two or three pieces with heavy changes that I did mention earlier the founding structures did not change. Changes did mostly occur only in the fine parts, when we for example exchanged Fairlight violins by real strings. I wanted to replace many Fairlight passages by real instruments from the beginning.
FACHBLATT: Who played with you?
KATE: Mainly the people from the last LP, like for example Eberhard Weber, Danny Thompson, Dave Lawson, Stuart Elliott, the musicians from Planxty, my brother, but also others, like John Williams.
FACHBLATT: In which phase do you include the musicians into the work?
KATE: Different. Sometimes in the beginning I only have a program in the Linn machine, to which I bring in a few real drum tracks. Normally the musicians record to a "demo" that's consisting of Fairlight, voices and the Linn machine. But I also use a lot of Fairlight percussion. The most improtant thing with the work with other musicians are the additional stimulations, especially when I sat alone at the Fairlight before. Then the influences from outside are very helpful. I need the feedback, else in the long run it'll get too boring for me. It's nice just to see some other faces sometimes.
FACHBLATT: Do you get other feedback besides by your musicians? Normally there's also a producer next to you who knows and says where it's going.
KATE: That's exactly the reason why I produce myself. It is more exhausting this way, but in the end I get exactly what I want instead of explaining what I want to someone else who tries to explain to the sound engineer what I could have meant. And then the sound engineer has to create sounds out of words. I tell him directly what I want, that is faster, more easy and more effective. But there are, I say this with caution, people with whom I could imagine to produce together, but only as long as I have the influence possibilities on my productions that I have today. As I said before: With me the composing and producing almost build a unit in the working process.
FACHBLATT: Are there direct connections to your "discovery" of the Fairlight as the key element of your studio work? You did, if I recall right, work without a producer from the moment where you started with the Fairlight.
KATE: No direct connection. Besides it's not completely correct this way. I did work with the Fairlight, not with my own, on my third album, but I only have been co-producer then. I couldn't take the last and decisive step then, because I missed courage and specialised knowledge. You need an enormous amount of strength to control you own musical work.
FACHBLATT: What general meaning does music take up in your life?
KATE: Music takes up all my live. That is always a huge pile of work that last exactly as long until the next one starts. But music also means the pleasure to listen to pieces from others. Music is everything for me.
FACHBLATT: I have heard that you are especially into ECM and Windham Hill...
KATE: Yes, and I find it good to give some more attention to something as beautiful as the music of these labels. Windham Hill is almost completely unknown in England, while ECM has a slightly bigger popularity through Pat Metheny or Eberhard Weber.
FACHBLATT: I think that artists who are very intent on harmonic sounds like the most from Windham Hill find it especially difficult in such a trend ruled music marked like the English one. If you review your albums, the first one perhaps excluded, there never are pieces that are just nice. Somewhere there's always a break. Don't you dare to write a piece that's "just" nice?
KATE: Difficult to tell. If I write I try to get to something that pleases me more than the idea of the moment before. And if it sounds good to me to break out of the gentle character, then I do this naturally without following certain rules.
FACHBLATT: What about gigs? Is there hope?
KATE: That is quite wierd, because I always want to, but somehow it never works out all right. Until the last LP I did not have enough material to appear with a completely new program. After I completed the promotion work for "The Dreaming" I had to think about whether to go on tour or to build my studio and to look at a new album. Well, now I am again at the end of the work for the album, make promotion, shoot videos and actually I would really want to realise the said film about the second side of the LP. If this somehow happens not to work then I'll think about a tour again...
FACHBLATT: Do you find everything that goes with it as a disruption to the concentrated work in the studio?
KATE: Not as disrupting, but as a burden, yes. I try to put as much time as possible into creative processes. When I am ready with an album there are enough creative processes left, be it b-sides or videos that get into the way of public relations work. I am of course dependent on a certain amount of success to be able to afford the next album. And then I unfortunately have to make timely compromises with the things that are more important to me. To limit this as far as possible I don't give many interviews. I find it completely justified, since I find my actual work more important. The only reason why I do sit here at all is that I worked on an album for a long time and want to announce this. But when I used up three years to meet journalists and to make promotion, then there won't be a reason to sit here...
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