Interviews & Articles


The Sunday London Times
"Beating About The Bush"
by Chrissie Iley
September 12th, 1993

IED version

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Date: Wed, 15 Sep 93 13:58:15 EDT
From: Andrew B Marvick <abm4@columbia.EDU>
Subject: Sunday London Times Interview w/Kate Bush 9/12/93

Here is a restored edition of the Sunday London Times Colour Supplement interview, which was conducted by "Chrissy Iley". IED quotes Kate's responses verbatim, but he has been able to reconstruct Ms. Iley's side of the interview in its entirety. The version printed in the London Sunday Times is drastically edited and revised by both Ms. Iley and other members of the Times's staff. You will now be able to experience the interview as it really transpired, and this should give you, gentle reader, a better understanding of Kate's daily routine.

As always in IED's transcriptions, the interviewer's words are not put in quotes; Kate's responses are; and IED's explanatory comments are framed in brackets [ ].

[The scene is a little preview theatre owned by EMI. Ms. Iley, a clumsy, large-boned woman extruding a strong smell of sour wool and rum, is shown in to meet Kate Bush, who smiles warmly and offers her hand, which Ms. Iley looks at suspiciously but does not take. Kate notices with some surprise a uniformed security guard, who has followed the journalist into the theatre. Ms. Iley pointedly ignores him. Formalities completed, Ms. Iley launches into a rambling, inarticulate diatribe in which could be caught only the words:]

I should begin by telling you I didn't like it when that nasty EMI guard searched my purse out in the hall. I don't appreciate that kind of treatment, I don't!

[The guard points out that he had found several copies of Kate's unreleased album missing from the stack in the hall, and that he would appreciate it if the lady would allow him to search her bag. Ms. Iley blusters incoherently at this request, then with a furtive, evil look around her, changes the subject, while the guard continues to watch her:]

Somebody tol' me you were, like, a "shy megalomaniac." Zat true?

[Kate laughs, replies good-naturedly:] "Oh, yes! Yes, I like that description."

[Smugly, with a nasty leer]: Personally I've always thought shy was just another name for awkward, and megalomaniac just meant spoilt!

[Shocked by this unexpected and gratuitous rudeness from a total stranger, Kate smiles politely, says nothing.]

Someone tol' me you'd actually got (hic!) conceited enough to make a film ["The Line, The Cross, The Curve"]! Tell me it's not true, Katey, eh? Remember what a self-absorbed, worthless piece of garbage "Magical Mystery Tour" was, will you? Heh, heh, heh!

"Well, it is something like Magical Mystery Tour, but it's not like that at all. It's not finished yet, and I hate talking about anything until it's there. It's like talking to you about the album if you haven't heard the tracks. Completely ridiculous."

[Because Ms. Iley had failed to show up for the scheduled listening session to which she, with various other journalists, had been invited, Kate had gone to the trouble of having five of the songs played again for Ms. Iley at her later convenience, and had patiently rescheduled this interview twice to meet Ms. Iley's repeated, unexplained postponements. Kate is now under the misapprehension that Ms. Iley had at last heard the five tracks. In fact, however, Ms. Iley had passed out in an alcoholic fog shortly into the opening song, and consequently now has no memory of hearing any of the new music, which explains her next question:]

So, Kate, what was going on in your pretty little head when you were writing "Minutes to Treasure"?

"'Moments of Pleasure'?

Whatever. Some kind of lovesong, or what? Silly title, though, ain't it? [Here Ms. Iley belches resonantly.]

"Er, it's just a very personal song. It's to show just how precious life is and all those little moments that people give you. And that's how people stay alive, through your memories of them."

All right, all right, all right, let's just get on with it, shall we? [Ms. Iley checks a standard interviewer's question-list, which her paper had given her several years earlier. She depends on this list for inspired questions like the following, which she reads in a slow, uncomprehending voice]: What have the last three years been like for you?

[A staff-member at EMI, who has been sitting nearby, draws Ms. Iley aside for a moment, and asks:] "Don't you know that Kate's mother died earlier this year? And don't you know that 'Moments of Pleasure' was partly prompted by the loss of her mother, as well as the deaths of several intimate and longtime friends of hers during the past three years? We gave you all this background information earlier!"

[Ms. Iley mutters something about having lost the copy of her background-briefing on the Tube to work that morning...]

[Meanwhile Kate is replying politely:] "Well, it hasn't been a very good time at all, really. My mother died. Sometimes things have been so bad that I couldn't even work. Singing is such a deeply personal thing to do, I couldn't manage it."

[Ms. Iley, beginning to catch on, says:] Aw, poor Miss Hoity-toity had a bad time! I bet your boy-friend left you, too! Eh? Cat gotcher tongue? I'll take that silence as a 'yes'! So lemme ask you this, then, Miss High-and-Mighty Rock Star -- what happened to your mother, then, eh? Run off with the cook?

[Kate, stunned, still manages a polite smile, and replies:]

"She got ill and she died."

[Ms. Iley pores drunkenly over the lyric-sheet for several long minutes, then, as though she has come up with a truly brilliant and original question, asks:]

So I bet your mum was full of sayings like 'Every old sock meets an old shoe', right?

"Isn't that a beautiful little saying?"

I dunno, wudduzit mean? Izzat the same as 'We seek the teeth that made the wounds'? Cuz I know that one. I've heard that one. Yeah.

[Kate, by this time suspicious that Ms. Iley is not just drunk and unprepared, but insane, as well, decides that perhaps the best thing to do is to humor her]:

"Oh, that's so cute, isn't it? So cute."

[But Ms. Iley is already off to the next question on the list]

So what does your father do for a living? How much does he make, anyway?

"My father is a doctor."

So what kind of a doctor is he, your father?

"That's a personal question."

Had many malpractice cases to settle, lately, has he? Heh, heh, heh!

"That's not really about my work."

[Peering at some notes her colleagues had prepared for her earlier, Ms. Iley reads that Dr. Bush had once spoken a few lines on "The Fog", and retorts triumphantly:]

"Well, he features in your work!"

"It's not something that I really want to talk about."

"I bet you're covering for him, eh? I bet you're always crying to get what you want -- you've got an awfully tiny body, I bet you behave jus' like 'daddy's little girl', am I right or am I right?

[Kate does not respond, but still manages to smile politely.]

What about "Running Up That Hill", that whole gender-switching thing, eh? What's the line on that, eh? You a pervert, or something?

"Well, in the song, I wanted to be a man in a woman's body. I thought it would be completely astounding, so that we could completely understand each other. Because in essence we are so different."

I hear you've got some pretty daft notions about men and women having different energies, 'n' that. Dead silly, if you ask me!

"Well, I do believe there is a feminine energy and there is a masculine energy. Some women have very masculine energies, and the creativity of a lot of women is maculine-driven because they are ambitious to speed forward. It's just a way of characterizing different motivations for living and behaving." [Ms. Iley chuckles to herself in anticipation of the clever editing she will do later on to make Kate's words seem less reasonable...]

I bet you love money, though, eh? Heh, heh, heh! Betcha you've got pots and pots! [Drool begins to drip from Ms. Iley's mouth.]

"I'm not really ambitious -- not for money, not for material things. But I suppose I am driven by some creative force to keep working. It is these 'feminine' energies, which are very special, that have been a little neglected."

Yeah, I remember your erect nipples poking through your nice tight leotard, back in the good old days, eh? That was a nice bit o' fun! That was feminine, alright! [More drool.]

[Kate, by now ignoring Ms. Iley's gross attempts at innuendo, decides her best hope is to continue her own point, and wait to see if any of it is able to come through in the finished interview:]

"I can understand why in many situations women have found the need to become masculine. A lot of my friends feel the feminist movement set women back a long way. Man-hating is wrong, but many women are ashamed that they can't just be a woman. I think ideally people can be quite androgynous. That can be exciting."

Oh, exciting, eh? Heh, heh! Right, I gotcha! Like all them bananas and such in this 'Eat the Music' song, eh? It says 'ere, er... wait a minute...Here! 'All is revealed/Not only women bleed.' I get it! That's dirty, that is! Heh! Heh! [Thick ropes of slobbery goo stream from Ms. Iley's maw as she conjures up unprintable images...]

"That's not simply a sexual description, actually. It's about how beautiful men can be on the inside. I think proper opposites are very exciting. How could you possibly experience pain until you knew what laughter was?"

[At this point Kate goes into considerable detail about her ideas, including some fascinating points about the song 'And So Is Love', which she reveals has an underlying positive message, but Ms. Iley, who has succumbed to her drunkenness, slides under her chair and begins to snore. Later she will write about this forty-minute gap in the discussion: "Kate then goes into a discourse about why the song 'Life is Sad' is incredibly positive, and I'm afraid she lost me. I cannot tell whether she is being obtuse on purpose but suspect that she is trying to avoid the questions about men which she senses are coming. There have been so many wincingly intimate songs about relationships, I wonder who has been her muse." What Ms. Iley actually said, upon being revived by Kate and the guard, was:]

I'm alright, lemmego! 'ere, I've got another question for you, Miss Kate-your-royal-Prigginess! All your songs to date have been nothing but a bunch of wet, sentimental lovesongs, 'aven't they? So what's it all about, then, eh? Bet you've done it wivvabunch of 'em, am I right? You dirty whore! Tell me, then, what are the names of your boyfriends, and what are their phone numbers?

"That's for me to know and you to find out. I don't really see what that question has to do with my work."

Hey! You're the one that said your life is your work. Come on, then, spill the beans!

"I think that's personal, and I'm here to talk about my work. My private life I don't want to let go of. I need to keep it close and tender so that it is still my own." [Even Ms. Iley will later report that Kate, though unfailingly polite, is "smiling an assassin's smile;" but evidently it never dawns on her why.]

Well, your songs are all autobiographical, so why shouldn't I ask? How can anyone tell where the boundaries are?

"Well, I'm telling you." [Ms. Iley later writes: "She is unsettlingly polite. If she had been angry with me there would have been at least a confrontation." Apparently this is intended as a criticism.]

I betcha you got it on with Prince, eh? Heh! Heh!

"Actually, we never actually talked to each other; we simply exchanged tapes."

Oh. Well, I bet they were dirty tapes, then, eh? How much did you have to pay him, huh? Heh! Heh!

[Kate changes the subject:]

"I think creative control is incredibly important. If you don't have that control your work will be interfered with until it's gone out of your hands. I was always aware that things wouldn't be how I wanted them unless I was willing to fight. You have to fight for everything you want. Struggle is important. It's how you grow and how you change."

[Ms. Iley has fallen into another boozy doze, and Kate's words here make it into print only through an error by the tape transcriber at the Sunday Times:]

"I've always been tenacious when it comes to my work, and I became quickly aware of the outside pressures of being famous affecting my work. It seemed ironic that I was expected to do interviews and television, which took me away from the thing that had put me into that situation. It was no longer relevant that I wrote songs. I could see my work becoming something that had no thought in it, of me becoming a personality, which is never what I wanted. All I wanted was the creative process."

[Ms. Iley jerks awake here, and shouts:]

You're getting old, Kate! You must be in your mid-thirties by now. So tell us, luvvie, when are you going to 'ave kids? Better hurry it up, you know, you're old!

[Kate does not reply, but smiles politely.]

Oh, I get it! [Ms. Iley sneers:] Your albums are your children!

"No. Can you imagine a child which took three-and-a-half years to come out?"

Yeah, well, I've got a friend who printed an interview with you where you yourself said "I'm tough as nails." Hah! Gotcha there!

"Ah, yes. [Kate squints, the brows knitting together under the short fringe.] The journalist -- your friend, you say? -- made that up. I'm strong, but I'm not 'as tough as nails.' The two are very different. Quite often people project their life onto you. Also in the same piece [four years ago] she said I said I was as fragile as a butterfly! People impose their own personalities on me. I'm surprised you don't know that. [This pointedly ironic remark actually gets through to Ms. Iley, who later reports: "She is so full of contempt that communication is almost impossible. Is it just me that she doesn't like to reveal things to?]

"It's quite dangerous to go through life extremely open. In a way you need an element of trust, of course; for some people it's just very hard. Fear is such an enormous thing in all of us, and I think it stops a lot of rather nice processes."

Come on, Kate, give me something juicy about your family. A childhood recollection. You know, like maybe you caught your father doing the jig-o'-life with your brother or something, eh? Heh! heh! [Ms. Iley here emits a foul stench from the depths of her throat, coughs messily and lapses back into a sullen silence.]

"As a child, I was always impressed by the sea. I think it's completely stunning. I'd love to be part of the sea. Wonderful."

I can't even swim! Makes me feel like I'm drowning. Hate the sea! Bollocks the sea! Tell me about your private life, dammit!

"It's been a difficult three years for everybody. The recession has affected everybody so badly..."

[Kate stands up to show Ms. Iley out. Ms. Iley will later write, in conclusion: "Kate's emotional range is intense, stunted, trapped. Although she insists she is more happy than sad, I have not found her sense of humour to justify this. I have not found her."

In the corridor the security guard insists on looking in Ms. Iley's bag; he discovers fifteen pilfered copies of "The Red Shoes" CD ("I wanted something to remember my visit by, thassall!") For the Times she will write: "A dilemma: she doesn't really want to talk about anything but her music and I am not allowed to have the album to listen to..."]

-- Andrew Marvick (IED)

P.S.: IED's editor informs him that he has misidentified a Ms. Ivy, who works for the Sunday Times of New London, Connecticut, as 'Ms. Iley,' of the Sunday London Times. Should there be any legal inquiries, he hopes this explanation of an unfortunate editorial oversight is sufficient. He sincerely regrets any harm that this error might have caused...

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

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Marvick - Hill
Willker - Mapes
Grepel - Love-Hounds