Interviews & Articles


Melody Maker
"Fairy Tales & Nursery Rhymes"
by Ted Nico
August 24, 1985

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From: rhill@netlink.cts.com (Ron Hill)
Date: Fri, 17 Jan 1992 22:25:48 -0800
Subject: Melody Maker by Ted Nico Aug. 24, 1985

Fairy Tales & Nursery Rhymes

by Ted Nico

From Melody Maker Aug. 24, 1985

BOXED STATEMENT: After three years in the shadows, the ethereal KATE BUSH is back with a hit single and a - wait for it - concept album. Glassy-eyed Ted Mico switches on the tape recorder and signs a lot. Photography: Tom Sheehan

"Deeper meaning resides in the fairy tales told to me in my childhood than is the truth that is taught by life." - Shiller

Just like the phoenix really. ONce every two years she rise out of the ashes to once more bestow a touch of mysticism, a hint of myth, and a copious supply of inspired vision upon the burned-out landscape we call the chars.

She smiles. We shake hands. She's too polite to be a phoenix. Perhaps a Fairy Queen? Tommy and I introduce ourselves at the doorway of her dance studio:

"Oh yes Tom," she beams, "you're looking better then the last time I saw you."

Young Thomas looks flushed. They're only met once before - three years ago for about five minutes. Perhaps she does remember?

"Oh yes, and I've met you before as well," she smiles.

I try to explain this is not the case. Mistaken identity perhaps? I'm damn sure I'd remember. But she's adamant.

"Perhaps it was in another life," cries a whimsical voice from the room.

"Yes," she stares at me, considering the matter thoroughly. "It must have been in another life."

Oh deary me. She is serious. She is incredibly cordial. She is unbelievably beautiful.

Over the past two years the name Kate Bush has once more receded to the back of the common consciousness, joining the smoldering ember of The Buzzcocks, et al - set for the scrapyard. Yet once more she has confounded the rumour-mongers who had already pronounced her the Lady Lucan of pop, missing presumed dead. Once more she has created an album to besot and bewitch the coldest of hearts. Once more she has come out of her isolated refuge with the charm of a siren, and the innocence of a child. Ms. Bush is incapable of growing old, she has merely grown up.

But what, you ask, has sister Kate been doing during this hiatus, this self-imposed exile? As usual Kate explains much, but reveals precious little, slamming the doors of privacy with a single coy look.

"After the last album, I had to promote it, and that took me to the end of '82, so it hasn't really been that long. My life is quite extreme really; I go from a very isolated working situation, to going out and promoting my work and being very much a public creature. After you've ben through months of that kind of over-exposure, you're left feeling a bit shell-shocked. I need to take some time off and go somewhere quite different to write this new album. I didn't want to produce it in the wake of The Dreaming."

A wise move. Music vogues move with such alacrity, that two years off can finish off a career. In fact, such a time-span is the beginning and the end of most groups lifespan!

"I didn't really bother thinking about that sort of thing. I spent the time seeing films, seeing friends, building my own studio, and doing things I hadn't had a chance to do for ages."

Things? You couldn't elaborate on what these strange and wondrous things would be. Trout fishing? Hang-gliding? Hamster hunting?

"I found an inspirational new dance teacher," Kate replies with growing enthusiasm. "The teacher's energy made me really enthusiastic about writing again."

And once again the conversation turns back to the studio. Kate talks about her beloved studio a great deal - a great deal more than she's willing to chat about herself. She really doesn't have any hobbies, mainly because they wouldn't be beneficial to her work - the subject around which her entire universe evolves. The one exception is an avid interest in archery. And even this she has turned toward work, with the cover shot of the new single, believing it to be symbolic of Cupid's bow - an image which ties the threads of the single together.

And so, naturally, we turn to Kate's new album, Hounds Of Love, and the current success of the new single. Another new departure? Another rebirth? Another quest for new pastures?

"Yes, I wanted something new, and to begin with it was extremely difficult. All the songs I seemed to write sounded too much like the last album. I've never seen any point in repeating things you've already done before. I think it's a dangerous thing not to search for new ways of approaching songs. Too many people sit and think 'it'll just come to me', instead of getting off their arses and going for it."

Kate, of course, is far too polite to name names...

"If you get out and go for things then those things will come to you. I think it's too easy to wait and expect things just to come to you."

A certain Mr. M. Thatcher said similar words, but this time they ring with verity. Must be her smile. Kate's new studio, hidden away in the overgrown wilds of Kent, enable her to exorcise the ghosts of The Dreaming without sending EMI executives into prolonged thromboses over the expense of the operation.

"The pressure of knowing the astronomical amount studio time cost used to make me really nervous about being too creative. You can't experiment forever, and I work very, very slowly. I feel a lot more relaxed emotionally now that I have my own place to work and a home to go to."

Sitting on floor cushions, drinking cups of tea, I can't help thinking if things got any more relaxed they'd be sound asleep. Speak more of the new material Kate. Speak words of love...

"This time I wrote a lot of songs and just chose the best ones to put on the A side of the album. I like to think there's not a song there that's been put there for padding. Sometimes people get the impression that if you take a long time over something that you're literally going over the same piece again and again, and instead of making it better, you're making it worse. I hate to think I've ever done that.

This striving for perfection might well be cause by fears about disappointing her audience or her pet cats. The longer the wait, the greater the expectation.

"There are always so many voices telling me what to do that you can't listen to them. All I ever do is listen to the little voices inside me. I don't want to disappoint the little voices that have been so good to me."

Of course not. The finely-tuned songs that made the final selection on the album differ greatly from the diversions of previous albums. They are all love songs (sigh) using elemental imagery that form a cogent and cohesive panoply of emotion. A search and struggle to secure some sort of meaning. The discovery that although you can strip away everything form a person, there will always be a residue of love awaiting resurrection. Sounds mawkish doesn't it? Jane Austin world have loved it. All those over expressive vocals and delicate orchestrations channelled into such pathos. Sounds risible, doesn't it?

Yet the songs' style and eloquence rise above bathos through their haunting overtones. Phantasmagorical voices tilt the rose-coloured world off its trite axis with jagged eerie phrases. Outside observations are slanted metaphors revealing states of mind. No longer are we presented with the eclectic collage of The Dreaming whose continual shifts and spirals allowed an escape with diversity. No longer is the entire story of Houdini crammed into three minutes, until a new fable takes up the torch. Now the texture is more subtle, the production more adroit, and the mesmerism unrelenting.

"The last album contained a lot of different energies. It did take people to lots of different places very quickly and some people found that difficult to take. I think this album has more of a positive energy. It's a great deal more optimistic.

"I rather think of the album as two separate sides." How astute. "The A side is really called Hounds of Love, and the B side is called The Ninth Wave. The B side is a story, and that took a lot more work - it couldn't be longer than half an hour, and it had to flow. This time when you get to the end of one track, what happens after it is very affect by what's come before. It's really difficult to work out the dynamics within seven tracks. The concept took a long time."

Whoops! There goes that word again. Concept - a word mauled by the memory of Floyd, flares, baked lentils and chronic boredom. It took some time to extract my nails from the ceiling and climb back down to earth. It took even longer to summon up the courage to ask what this concept might entail. Kate looks upset that I'm not jumping up and down with ecstasy.

"It's about someone who comes off a ship and they've been in the water all night by themselves, and it's about that person re-evaluating their life from a point which they've never been before. It's about waking up from things and being reborn - going through something and coming out the other side very different."

Sounds suspiciously like The Ancient Mariner revisited...

"Oh no! It's completely different. It ends really positively - as things always should if you have control."

And Kate certainly has that. From the writing, recording, performing, production of her tunes to the choreography on the accompanying video. As usual the visual imagery is gleaned from a wide variety of sources: from the films of Godard, Herzog and Coppola, to The Book Of Dreams, yet their accretion with Kate's own personal fears and desires is shrouded in mystery.

"There are many films that you don't think much of at the time, but weeks afterwards you get flashbacks of images. Sometimes films like Don't Look Now and Kagemusha have really haunted me. You don't necessarily steal images from films, but they are very potent and take you somewhere else - somewhere impossible to get to without that spark."

At this moment it is difficult to see how such a placid, genteel, and downright normal musician could ever produce songs like "Get Out Of My House" and "Sat In Your Lap". Perhaps some strange transformation takes place over when she is asleep!

"Yes, I have very strange dreams you know. Over the years I've collected the most incredible star cast of them. Very famous people come and visit me."

Curiouser and curiouser...

"Peter O'Toole came round to dinner last week and my mum met him and thought he was wonderful. Keith Moon often comes round for tea as well. I have a lot of vivid dreams, most of which I can't mention. The images I get from them sometimes bleed into my songs."

Most of Kate's heroes like Oscar Wilde, The Pythons, Roxy Music, Billie Holiday and Hitchcock have all visited her, but her mum didn't like Hitchcock - maybe she was just frightened by him?

"Hitchcock was definitely a genius. His dreams must have been extraordinary. He must have plucked his ideas out of the sky, or had a private line to Mars."

Slowly, very slowly we're edging closer to the point were the musician and her music bisect.

"I think some people use music as a means of expressing what they feel about things which they can't express socially. I don't really know why people think my songs are strange. Perhaps because I bathe in goat's milk!! It not something you should really ask me. My mom could probably help you more. It's probably something to do with my childhood."

I met Kate's mum in one of her dreams last Tuesday, but she didn't tell me much either. The door slams shut again. Perhaps a choice of character from the scrolls of history might reveal more.

"I would want to be Breugal, definitely". Things are starting to come into focus. Only a fool would have predicted Florence Nightingale - and Kate is nobody's fool.

"His work is so real, and yet depicted in a fantastic way. It's so beautiful and elemental. And his faces are so haunting."

Things seemed to be going well - very well, until quite suddenly, just as Kate was recounting her favourite fairy tales, she comes over all unnecessary. Lights flash, Kate wilts, and her world starts to spin in the opposite direction as everyone else's.

"I'm terribly sorry about this, but I keep feeling worse and worse, and I don't know whether I can talk properly any more."

Her companion calls it overwork, the doctor calls it a severe migraine. We call it a day.

"I don't know what's come over me," she says - embarrassed. We shake hands. She smiles.

"I'm sure we'll see each other again very soon."

Yes Kate I sure hope we will. Probably in another life.

We exited, floating through the nearest wall.

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

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