Interviews & Articles


Now - Toronto Weekly
"Kate Bush breaks out: Bush's bridges"
by James Marck
Nov. 28, 1985

To the Reaching Out (Interviews) Table of Contents

Date: Fri, 15 Feb 91 14:28:37 EST
From: Andrew B Marvick <abm4@cunixa.cc.columbia.edu>
Subject: "Now: Toronto's Weekly..." Nov. 28 1985 by James Marck

Old Kate Bush Interviews 1:

"Now: Toronto's Weekly News and Entertainment Voice",

November 28-December 4, 1985, p. 11.

"Kate Bush breaks out: Bush's bridges"

By James Marck

Kate Bush is a self-styled mystery woman who reveals all by not revealing anything. Whether she's peeking out from behind her persona as an exquisite sensualist or sketching elaborate allegories with sound and imagery, she presents a figure of formidable artistry.

She is seldom seen, yet pervasive--the gold standard among conceptual musicians--artist, interpreter and executor of her personal vision. In a world sullied by pedestrian struggles, Bush has sought to re-create it into a nicer, more exotic place.

Bush's entry into pop music has Cinderella overtones. In her middle teens, a fledgling composer at the piano, she was discovered by Pink Floyd guitarist David Gilmour, who listened to and liked a demo tape. He propelled her toward the right people and in April of 1978 she released "The Kick Inside", a debut that found a hit in the single "Wuthering Heights". Since then, Bush has made five LPs, including her latest and most lauded for its crossover sensibility, "Hounds of Love". In the interim she has piled up a sizable following of dedicated fans and a larger reputation as an avant-pop imprimatur--you may not have heard her, but you likely have heard of her.

Since her introduction, Bush has toured only once. She made a video of it and released an EP commemorating the event. She will likely not play a string of live engagements in the next year. <Read "next five years"--IED.> She maintains she loves to perform to an audience but can't find the time between albums to properly mount the production to her exacting standards. She prefers the expediency of video and as if to compensate for her reclusiveness as a performer lavishes them with style and attention to detail.

"Parallel entities"

"I love the idea of combining music and visuals. I think they are parallel entities. So far I've only made videos--apart from the tour video--for singles in a promotional-clip format. But 'The Ninth Wave'"--the b-side of "Hounds of Love", featuring seven interrelated songs--"in many ways was conceived to be turned into a film, so that's something I've been thinking about." <This idea was never realized--IED.> "It may be extended to even an hour, but again, that's a huge commitment, but it definitely attracts me."

"Hounds of Love" is perhaps Bush's most cohesive album to date, and one of the most elaborate, with synth, Fairlight and piano crushed into twelve tracks sporting new rhythmic authority. She has woven in voice under bridges and her now-trademark "atmospheric" synth lines to create mini-melodramas that focus on relationships, life and love, this time coming through the fire tempered and stronger from the flames. In a sense, all her songs are some kind of lovesong, but here especially they aren't limited to girl-meets-boy stuff. It's more girl-meets-the-world-and-wins-her-place-in-it, all carrried along and buoyed up by her distinctive, flutey treble.

"Very unhappy"

"On this album I wanted to get away from the energy of the last one--at the time I was very unhappy, I felt that mankind was really screwing things up. Having expressed all that, I wanted this album to be different--a positive album, just a personal but more about the good things. A lot depends on how you feel at any given time--it all comes out in the music."

Bush has wholly produced her last two LPs, gradually taking the reins over the course of her career. She is not unaware of the critical risk she is taking by going it alone.

"Artists say that they are the best equipped to produce themselves, but there's quite a bit of pressure from those who say the artist is exactly the wrong person to produce. I think that makes anyone very wary of taking that on. You get labelled with all kinds of heavy things like 'self-indulgent' and 'egotistic'. I think you have to be quite brave to make that leap.

"At the same time, I don't like the idea of people saying this is the way you write music--this is the way you produce a record. I feel that 'art' is one of those things that should have absolutely no rules at all. In fact, the rules that are already laid down I feel like deliberately breaking, to try what they say you can't do. I think really the approach is something you continually experiment with--you try and find the best way of expressing something well."

Conversing with Bush (she is here for a day to promote "Hounds", a job she has been doing internationally since July) you can't avoid the impression that extemporaneous remarks are not her favourite way to make her statement. Not that she is ill-at-ease or closed-mouthed about her views or activities, quite the contrary. She's mannerly, friendly and attentive, with a disarming smile nand poised, confident bearing. If you've ever wondered what sort of person might be called winsome, you could look it up in the dictionary--or look up Kate Bush.

But in spite of her easygoing and cooperative manner, or more accurately, behind it, there resides a sense of insecurity, something of a desire to get out of the limelight and back to her newly constructed home studio where she can polish off the rough edges before they can be detected.

"Talk touring"

Bush prefers to be seen as a fully-formed, unflawed artist, with none of the lingering self-doubt of someone who has come up in the world without having been too sorely tried by it. In that sense, she is still very much the debutante she was seven years and five albums ago. Talking about the tour still leaves her excited by her encounter with the sometimes unpredictable nature of live performing.

"It was a fantastic experience," she says, "and so totally different from everything else for me. There's a wonderful sense of freedom because there's no way you could go back and do a bit over because it wasn't as good as it should be the first time. You have to learn how to cope if something goes wrong, and I found that really exciting. I really started to get into that--there's so many things that can go wrong on stage, especially if it's a show that you've choreographed to get the best total effect. But what is particularly exhilarating is after having worked so hard to get it all together, you have the audience out there really reacting to what you're doing.

"You can't help but be a little bitten by the performance bug because of what it does to you. All those people out there are so into what you're doing they just charge you up--there's no buzz like it. I totally understand why people would tour forever. It's very tiring, but it feels so good."

While Bush may have been tittilated by the excitement of that experience, she still isn't ready to repeat it.

"It's a matter of priorities. A tour can only realistically be done if you've put pieces of music on a record with as much care as possible and then do a show of that. It all comes from the songwriting, so the problem there is commitment and time. It's not that I don't want to do it, and I love the idea that people want me to tour, but it's highly unlikely at this point--it's something I can't even check out until sometime next year when I've got all this stuff out of the way."

"This stuff" refers to her promotional tour, which will likely go into the new year, and further video work. Her latest video, "Cloudbusting", is a carefully scripted work that among other treats has Donald Sutherland in a principal role.

"Dance piece"

"When the song also really works with the video that's great. That's only happened to me a couple of times--I think the last two videos are good"--"Hounds of Love" and "Cloudbusting", respectively <this is incorrect: the two videos to which Kate refers are "Running Up That Hill" and "Cloudbusting"; "Hounds of Love" was not shot until December of 1985--IED>--"especially the last one. That was so appropriate, and the one before was really a piece of dance, so we got away easy with that one. There have been a couple in the past as well, but I don't really like to have to make videos for a specific single unless it's a very visual song or tells a strong story. I think my ideal way of working would be to treat the whole thing as a complete entity--not to just stick pictures to a song whether they go together or not. I would like to eplore the combination of the two more in the future."

Bush says that as a composer she has benefited greatly by such musical tools as the Fairlight and Emulator, both computerized musical instruments. She can work out arrangements more accurately with more realistic sounds and test her theories before commiting them to other musicians. She says it's the best thing to happen to her since the drum machine.

"You have a whole barrage of different sounds that can spark off ideas and really develop the final arrangements. I consider myself very lucky because I'm a keyboard player, and it seems like the best advances in musical instruments have been keyboard instruments. I can't write music out <Kate is being modest here--she did indeed notate the six-line string parts for the Medici Quartet while recording "Cloudbusting"--IED>, so I've always had to use the spoken word to communicate my ideas. Now I can compose parts I never could before at the keyboard--it lets you get so much closer to the whole song.

"The whole process of writing anyway is a very insular one, whether you write books or poetry or songs. It's an intimate form of expression--a private thing, a solitary occupation.

"For me, it all started with tinkering around with the piano at the age of ten or eleven. That sort of grew into songs, and my voice got better as I worked it through the songs. Then I went through the studio environment, and by the time I had got that far I realized that the studio had such a big effect on a song that if I wanted to be in control totally, I would have to produce it too. Then came the visual side, which for me in many ways is the performance aspect. All of these elements are extensions of being a songwriter, and that is what I consider myself to be."

To the Reaching Out (Interviews) Table of Contents

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

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