To the Reaching Out (Interviews) Table of Contents
(This article was taken from Andrew Marvick's The Garden.)
Unidentified interview, 1985: What Kate Bush Did Next
[The following is a two-year-old interview from an unidentified UK magazine. I recently received it (or more accurately all but the first page of it) from a U.K. fan, but he has no idea who did the interview or which publication it originally appeared in. It's an interesting article, though, so here it is. Edited by Andrew Marvick.]
What Kate Bush Did Next
...and half-baked legend, most of it nonsense no doubt, though inquiries about why she has been off the recording scene for three years--an age, in pop--met with a chilly and defensive response from her record company.
When the Bush phenomenon was at stage one of its ascent to rock legend, an unauthorised biography by the husband-and-wife team of Fred and Judy Vermorel--their other literary exploits include a lurid account of the early Pistols and recently a graphic collection of pop star groupies' fantasies--suggested that Kate was highly eccentric. The Vermorels' so-called scrupulous research uncovered such nuggets as reports that as a schoolgirl Kate had been prone to rolling around in muddy ditches in an effort to commune with nature.
"I've read so many extraordinary things about myself, such preconceptions..." She raises large, limpid eyes to the ceiling and smiles a dimpled smile. "Really, my only concern is to separate home life from business. When people intrude on personal matters it's hard to be creative."
Because she was a child star, a childlike image persists, though she is now 27, with a recording career that spans five albums and a string of 13 hit singles, including the recent smash Running Up That Hill.
Three years' absence and the arrival of raunchier sex popstars like Madonna and Frankie don't seem to have diminished her strange appeal. The allure is as potent as it was ten years ago.
"I never felt too young to be a musician. I'd written since I was fourteen, and my only ambition was to get ten songs on to a piece of plastic. It couldn't have happened fast enough. School inhibited me. I had only one close friend --she still is [this may be Lisa, who is secretary of the Kate Bush Club, among other things]--who I felt able to tell about the record deal. It wasn't until I left school that I found real strength inside. I was lucky that Dave Gilmour liked my demos, but all the rest was karma, it was meant to be..."
Karma. The Kate Bush conversation is peppered with old-fashioned phrases that recall a period when self-awareness was de rigueur. And Kate admits she isn't impressed by pop's ever-changing moods: "I've never even seen a Madonna video and I don't like pop music much. Radio One infuriates me. I'd rather listen to the silly programmes on Radio Four, or to classical music like Delius, Bach and Satie."
Nor is she convinced by the need for publicity. "It's promotion. But people ask questions you'd only answer under psycho-analysis." A friendly, uncertain interviewee, Kate is by no means a lost innocent. She ends replies with an endearing but emphatic squeak and a smile that says, "This is all very nice but let's get it over with." She rarely lets her guard drop.
She seems to have forgotten that in the middle seventies she was one of only a few women to break into the male-dominated domain of pop and get taken seriously. "I was only a symptom of the change, like coming out in spots," she giggles. "There was a tendency to patronise women as though if they were attractive they weren't talented, which I fought against, but my principles weren't entirely feminist. I find it flattering if people like the way I look, but I don't have the sex symbol's sense of style.
"I make an effort to produce beautiful, tasteful videos and album covers, but I'm not into dressing up, and I'm not interested in clothes." Kate motions to her outfit to prove the point. She's wearing what looks like one of boyfriend Del Palmer's jackets, old blue shirt, oversized black tie, jeans and boots, all set off by mane of Pre-Raphaelite hair.
"I'm not a trendy city person at all, in fact I've become a country type since I left London. The stimulus of the countryside is fantastic. I sit at my piano and watch skies moving and trees blowing and that's far more exciting than buildings and roads and millions of people.
"Communing with nature is no bad thing. I use it as an escape, but that doesn't mean I hug trees at three o'clock in the morning." Kate smiles at the thought and gazes out the studio window where Eltham's sedate suburban calm is only broken by the gentle noise of neighbours mowing substantial lawns.
"Maybe bits of me don't want to grow up. Maybe I am an escapist, a romantic, but I think if you've got an artistic --horrible word! bent, that's essential. I dislike cynicism. It's bad energy. Does that make me childlike?"
When asked if she ever thinks about having children Kate looks genuinely perplexed. "What an odd question. I've never given it much thought. My career takes up so much time that children don't figure yet. I don't see myself as maternal. It's nice if you think I am. I like maternal people."
Ms. Bush's natural reticence stems in part from the fact that her songs are intensely emotional exercises, often dealing with personal traumas, terrors and nightmares. She sees no need to elaborate. "If they are personal that's because they reflect influences digested from, say, films, books or painting. My personal experiences aren't anywhere near interesting enough to justify autobiographical writing. I just use them as guides.
"I've had a calm life but I am fascinated by the negative aspects of terror. Isn't everyone? Horrible things fire my imagination. Without them there'd be no film industry. And tragic and scary things are disturbing and powerful. I do have a special fascination for films like Don't Look Now and The Cruel Sea -- watery films. I hope I'm not writing from a morbid point of view. I like positive endings. Humour is just as important as a means for relaxing."
Monty Python man Terry Gilliam and comedian Robbie Coltrane are credited on her latest album Hounds of Love and she speaks of their work with affection. "Childish things amuse me, noises and silly faces. I adore Faulty Towers and The Young Ones, the psychology behind them is intriguing."
Kate goes off to make tea and find a light for her roll-up. I survey the studio. It is a sparsely decorated room with a wall of mirrors for choreography, a TV, a video she can't work yet, some records. The few personal objects include two guitars, a box of ultra-violet make-up and a stuffed toy Alsatian that escaped from next door where the rooms are full of her old childhood possessions.
At one end of the studio is a huge painting of a drowned, cracked doll floating face up past a sewer. For some reason this painting, which might be described as macabre-kitsch, seems to say a lot about its owner. Kate returns and sees me examining it. "That's called The Hogsmill Ophelia. A lot of people find it disturbing but I don't I've lived with it for ages. Looked at it every day. That picture cost me all the money I had once. Paintings are a great inspiration. One of my favourites is by Millais [British Pre-Raphaelite painter John Everett Millais, 1829-1896], The Huguenot [technically, A Huguenot, on St. Bartholomew's Day, Refusing to Shield Himself from Danger by Wearing the Roman Catholic Badge, 1851-52]. It's of a man going off to the wars being hugged to the breast of his lover. She's holding him to her by a scarf around his arm. It's very beautiful."
Kate's reveries are broken by the phone ringing. Good news and bad news. The good news is that her record has jumped straight into the Top Ten--"Another number one would be terrific, fantastic, amazing." The bad news is that the album artwork must be changed immediately. Side Two of the disk, a concept piece called The Ninth Wave, has been wrongly coupled with a verse from Alfred Lord Tennyson's The Holy Grail. The quotation turns out to be from another poem altogether [The Coming of Arthur]. The connotations of this faux pas are immensely embarassing to Kate.
Not surprisingly, she is rather ruffled, and so the conversation ends with a few pleasantries about future plans. She has no great desire to act, she says, though a long-form video, perhaps shot by Terry Gilliam, illustrating the concept music, is in the pipeline. Live performances--another Kate Bush multi-media singing, dancing, miming extravaganza--are mooted but not promised.
"People ask what I really did in the three years between The Dreaming and Hounds of Love. I spent it with my family, living a normal home life. Recently I've been getting fit and healthy again and dancing with my teacher Diana Gray. That's why all the mirrors are here. I hate looking at myself all the time, but for practice they're essential."
Meanwhile, back in the Manchester Square offices of Kate's record company her beleaguered press office were frantically fending off inquiries from the gossip columns, all desperate for some novel Bush scam. Was Kate into the occult now? they wanted to know. Was she into mysticism? Did she practice astrology? The Bush aides sighed and squashed all the rumours.
"The thing about Kate," one told me later, "is that she really is a simple soul. You could never call her quote-a-minute Kate. People take a perverse interest in her. She comes here once in a blue moon, and even then she won't reveal much. Kate's much too smart for that."
After two hours in the company of this charming woman, I knew exactly what he meant.
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