Interviews & Articles


The London Times
"The Girl Who Reached Wuthering Heights"
by Mike Nicholls
August 27, 1985

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From: rhill@netlink.cts.com (Ron Hill)
The Times interview by Mike Nicholls August 27, 1985 Date: Thu, 16 Jan 1992 20:35:36 -0800
Subject: The Times interview by Mike Nicholls August 27, 1985

The girl who reached Wuthering Heights

by Mike Nicholls

From The Times August 27, 1985

[Transcribed by Ron Hill.]

It is almost eight years since Kate Bush surprised the pop world with her single Wuthering Heights, which, based on the Bronte classic novel, topped the record charts for a month. Although this unusual singer and songwriter has never rescaled the commercial peak of that teenage debut, a certain visibility has been maintained.

Further hits like Hammer Horror, Babooshka, and Sat In Your Lap sustained her audience throughout the late 1970s and early 1980s while her most recent album, The Dreaming, entered the listings at No. 3 - the same number of years since we last heard from her. A situation which begs the obvious question, whatever has she been doing since then and why has it taken so long.

The later part is self-explanatory. Bush has always been a perfectionist and for her to spend six months writing songs followed by a year recording them is par for the course. Phil Collins, for argument's sake, might be able to bash out an LP every six months and still have time to play with any act taking his fancy, but Kate is made of more sensitive, self-critical stuff. She is also familiar with the punitive cost of studio time and so spent the rest of her absence building one of her own.

"It has always been an ambition of mine to have my own studio so once we found a house, we set about putting one together in the back garden", she says. "Although I can work under a certain amount of pressure, paying &90 an hour at Abbey Road got to be too much. It also meant having to travel into London every day which can be pretty exhausting."

By "we" Kate is referring to her bass player and boyfriend of six years standing, Del Palmer. The daughter of a typically middle-class Home Counties doctor, one might have expected Ms. Bush to be wed by now. But marriage does not feature in her plans.

She does admit to basing many of her songs on their relationship. For example, the new single, Running Up That Hill, is about the inability of a man to see things from a woman's point of view - and vice versa - as a result of fundamental biological differences.

"It seems that the more you get to know a person, the greater the scope there is for misunderstanding. Sometimes you can hurt somebody purely accidentally or be afraid to tell them something because you think they might be hurt when really they'll understand. So what that song is about is making a deal with God to let two people swap place so they'll be able to see things from one another's perspective."

If this seems profound stuff for an anticipated return to the Top Ten, it is lightweight in comparison with some of the material on the forthcoming album. Entitled Hounds Of Love, side two comprises a suite of seven songs concerning "someone drowning, or rather, trying not to drown."

One track in particular, "Watching Me Watching You" [sic! - Watching You Without Me], shows Kate's outrageous imagination at work. A man, with nothing but a lifejacket to keep him afloat, has been in the sea for a while and is becoming quite delirious. He imagines his spirit returning home to tell his loved one of his dilemma but she can't hear him because he's only a ghost. Frustrating, really.

"Let's face it," Kate tries to rationalize, "it's gonna get pretty weird in the water after a couple of hours. But I suppose the specific message of the song is the really horrific thought of being away from the person you love most and there's no way you can communicate. You can't cuddle them or have the comfort of their physical warmth and they can't even see or hear you."

When not singing about love, Kate is preoccupied by alienation. "the song says a lot about that," she continues. "A parallel situation could exist if it was about divorce. You know, the husband coming back to see his children but he's no longer a part of the home. Instead he's just an observer who isn't being seen by the people there because his role has become so different. I guess there must be some feeling of insecurity within me to make me think along these lines," she signs, before adding more brightly, "Love and water and sky. That's what sums this album up, really! It's absolutely drowning in it."

If Kate Bush gives the impression of being in need of some help, then it ought to be pointed out that she has always conversed in this somewhat random, madcap manner. And now she's cut off from the world even more, ensconced in deepest Kent with boyfriend Del.

Last week Del bought Kate an antique pocket watch for her 27th birthday. Enthusiastically she pulls it out, exclaiming: "It gives off really old vibes! I can almost imagine being taken back to the time it was made. It's like our house. One day we suddenly stumbled across it and a back door had been left open so we were able to go inside. I'm sure there's a kind of force, a magnetic energy saying, come in, we're meant for each other."

Eccentricities aside, Kate Bush has her own views on the news coverage of heroin, hijackings and other current issues and confesses to watching "a lot of rubbish on television just to keep in touch with what's going on." For the record, Saturday evening game shows are favourite although she draws the line at Dynasty. And while not entirely approving of breakfast TV - "People are literally hit over the head by the media from the moment they get up" she realizes that in the ages of the promotional video clip it can only help artists like her.

For someone like Kate who takes years to make an album, the video boom has been a godsend. For rather than having to set aside time and energy to promote an LP with a long, strenuous tour, video can do the trick, especially when the record company is prepared to put up however much money is necessary to make the video as spectacular as her live shows have been.

"Ideally we'll be working with budgets comparable to films which means being able to go on location rather than using studio sets. That'll be a great excuse to get carried away!" she almost squeals with delight.

In the case of Kate Bush I'd hardly have thought one was necessary.

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