Interviews & Articles

Picture Disk

Interview 2
CBAK 4011
(Australian Interviewer)

To the Reaching Out (Interviews) Table of Contents

Date: Fri, 1 Jun 90 10:12:46 -0500
From: Jeffrey C. Burka <jburka@silver.ucs.indiana.edu>
Subject: Interview 2 CBAK 4011 (Australian Interviewer), HoL

Interview #2; 1985, concerning "Hounds of Love." Transcribed by Jeff Burka from limited edition CD picture interview disc CBAK 4011 on the Baktabak label. Proofread by Stephen Thomas.

Interview takes approx. 20 mins.

The interview was recorded in what sounds like a large room, based upon the echoes. The interviewer appears on the left track with Kate on the right. The interviewer is Australian, but he is never named.

K = Kate.

I = Interviewer.

Comments in [] mady by transcriber

Comments in <<>> made by proofreader

I: When you launched the album, you had a laser show at the London planeterium (giggle)

K: Yes. (laughing) Were you there?

I: Yes, I was. Why did you do that?

K: That was actually an idea of the record company's. They wanted to launch the album, which I was into, and I think it was their idea to use the laserium so that it would be something special. I thought what the guy did was incredibly impressive. I actually didn't realize that lasers could do quite so many different things.

I: So you were in agreement with it.

K: Yeah, it seemed like a good idea (laugh).

I: Is "The Hounds of Love" [sic] your new album, is that an exorcism for you? Or not?

K: An exorcism. In what way?

I: Well, in the way of getting something out of your system.

K: I think every album is. Every song, in a way, is channeling or releasing a form of energy. Yes, so every song is, really.

I: But having done it now, do you feel content, as it were?

K: Yes, I was very pleased when that album was finished. It took a long time and a lot of work, and I think, for what we were trying to do, it's quite pleasing. Yes.

I: Why is it split into two sections, like "The Ninth Wave" and "The Hounds of Love" [sic]?

K: One of the first ideas I had was to try a concept. I've, for some time, wanted to play with a piece of music that was more involved than, say, three to five minutes. And I had the idea a good few years ago, but I never really put it into action, so it was really the concept side that came first. And I was a bit worried that it wouldn't work, so until I'd written, say, four or five songs, I wouldn't really know if it was going to be successful. So, I thought it was wise to just use one side of the album, so there'd be like half an hour to play with rather than going for an hour's worth. And the other side, I thought it would be nice to balance with five or six completely different songs, not linked in anyway, that were perhaps more positive and up-tempo, so there was a nice balance between the two sides.

I: Right. In Australian surfer mythology, it's always the seventh wave that's the big one. Y'know, like waves come in groups of seven. Why the ninth wave?

K: That's very interesting. "The Ninth Wave"--I needed a title for the side. A lot of people think that the whole side was actually inspired by a Tennyson poem, but it was actually finding this quote, um, looking for a title for the whole thing; it was the last piece in the jigsaw. I was just looking through books and quotes, anything I could just to get an idea for a title, and that particular quote from the poem seemed quite appropriate, and his idea was that they worked in nines, rather than sevens. (laughs)

I: When you write, do the words or the lyrics come first--uh the words or the music--come first?

K: It's different with each song. And sometimes you actually get a piece of music in your head that's got words with it--it's like they just sort of go together. But generally I'd say the music comes first, and the lyrics are worked in around that, or with it.

I: "Cloudbusting," the current single, which is--where is it in the UK?

K: Uh, twenty.

I: Right. "Top of the Pops" and things like that--would you go onto that?

K: It's something you consider, I mean, it's really the choice of can you perform it well, and would it really help the record. I mean, you do; it does help to have a successful record, it helps the album and it helps future projects, to finance them, et cetera. I mean, I do depend on the success of each record to be able to do the next one. But I think with some songs it's very difficult to perform them on television and make them look good and to really do justice to, performing. I think it's something there should always be a lot of thought behind. And, when you put such a lot of workin to a video, which a lot of people do nowadays, it's sad that you can't get that shown more, and that you have to go on and perform. There is no choice; it's a shame.

I: "Cloudbusting" has a got a very grand video, I think. How did you come by Donald Sutherland?

K: We were very lucky. We had a friend who made the contact for us. We sent him the script and I talked to him and he was very interested, which was fantastic [kind of giggling-with a hint of awe or "what incredible luck!" (various interpretations of her tone of voice], and just happened to have the four days that we needed to shoot the video in. He was free for that time. It all seemed to come together so well and so quickly.

I: But why Donald Sutherland?

K: He was our first choice. I'm a big fan of him as an actor. And he really was perfect for the part. There couldn't have been anyone better--he looked so right.

I: Why is it about a father and son--why write "Cloudbusting"

K: I found a book, nearly ten years ago now, on a shelf. I didn't know anything about the writer. I just pulled it off the shelf, it looked interesting, and it was an incredible story. It's written by Peter Reich, and it's called A Book of Dreams. It's about himself as a child, through his eyes as a child, looking at his father and their relationship. It's incredibly beautiful, it's very, very emotive, and very innocent because it's through a child's eyes. His father was a very respected psychoanalyst, and besides this, something that features in the book, he made machines called 'cloudbusters' that could make it rain, and him and his father used to go out together and make it rain; they used to go 'cloudbusting.' And, unfortunately, the peak in the book is where his father is arrested, taken away from him; he was considered a threat. So, suddenly, his father is gone, so it's a very sad book as well.

I: The machine that features in the video--what's become of that now?

K: Well, it's at the moment resting in a garage not far from here. (laughs)

I: Do you think that "The Hounds of Love" [sic] is much more controlled than the previous album?

K: Controlled. (pensive) I think it's probably more constant. The last album was dealing with a lot of very different things, and very different places, different atmospheres, in tracks maybe next to each other. I think there's more a sense of a theme on this album. Obviously on the second side, but even on the first side, although they're separate songs, I think they are still, they have a flavor that's consistent.

I: So you'd say it was more consistent than the previous album? (you idiot! She just said that!)

K: Yes, I think there's more sense of flow from track to track. But I was very happy with the last album, it was certainly a mark for us.

I: Are there any things that you've done so far which you look back on and you cringe at?

K: Yes, lots of things. (laughs)

I: Like?

K: Too many to mention, and I think most people do tend to look at themselves very critically <<Oh, well evaded!>>. I think it's quite productive to be like that, though, or perhaps you don't feel nervous enough about what you're doing next!

I: Are you a perfectionist, then?

K: I don't know if that's a word that is a real word, if you know what I mean, because you can never make anything perfect. You can strive for it, but I think if you continue to strive for it you would never get anywhere. I think you have to recognize a point where things are as good as they can be, within the limitations, before they start going off again. It's definitely a peak and then it can go off. So I think you just hopefully have to recognize where more effort will make it better, but when to stop.

I: Who do you use as your person to tell you when to stop, or is it just something you know within yourself?

K: It's almost like the music itself dictates it. When a track is sounding right, when it's ready, it is, you can just feel it. And then you mix it. That's when you sort of play with all the little raw edges, but you just know when everything's finished recording.

I: With "Running Up That Hill," the last single that's here in Britain and is just happening in Australia--you mention the line "I could make a deal with God." What do you mean by that?

K: Well, it's about a relationship between a man and a woman. They love each other very much, and the power of the relationship is something that gets in the way. It creates insecurities. It's saying if the man could be the woman and the woman the man, if they could make a deal with God, to change places, that they'd understand what it's like to be the other person and perhaps it would clear up misunderstandings. You know, all the little problems; there would be no problem.

I: A perfect world, then.

K: Yes. Idealistic. But then I think a lot of art is that. It's not necessarily real always.

I: How do you feel about being, shall we say, marketed like in the pop music world, when it seems like you obviously put a lot more care into things than your average three minute pop song person?

K: I don't know if I feel like I'm marketed. I think you make an album and the outlets for it--there are no other outlets for it, really. A lot of things go into that chart that are very diverse. It's a very versatile chart, and more so than the name suggests, really.

I: With "The Ninth Wave," it's all about a man drowning. Was that, perhaps, inspired by the aircraft that crashed into the, uh, into a frozen river in the States. There was quite a big news story about that a few years ago. Do you remember that? There was the case of the man--they called him "the man in the water"--who kept on going back and dragging people out from underneath the ice.

K: No, I didn't hear about that. It sounds really interesting and horrific.

I: I just thought that might...

K: (interupting) A plane went under the ice?

I: Yeah, no, a plane actually crashed and hit a bridge over the road and all the people were spilled into the water and there was one particular man that they had TV film of; he just kept going backwards and forwards and dragging people out, and eventually he didn't come out. He was like, what they called "the man in the water." I just wondered if that was...

K: (interupting again) Incredible.

I: ...at all inspiring.

K: No.

I: You hadn't known that all before? (laughing, along with Kate) Well, there goes that! Okay, then, why then all the ninth wave and water and ice.

K: I think it was an idea I probably got a few years ago of someone being in the water for the night, and hadn't really tried it until this album. It's hard to say where it came from. I can only pinpoint certain war films as imagery that would suggest it, things like The Cruel Sea, those kind of old war films, where the people were being cast into the water, having really been through kind of a heavy experience already. And the thing of actually launching from that, so that's the basis of the body in the water, but then the head travels off as the night goes on.

I: Would you contemplate turning that into some kind of visual images?

K: Yes, it's something I will seriously be thinking about. But it's the feasibility of it, especially in terms of time and money. So I don't know. When all the promotion is at an end, by the end of this year, I'll be able to sit down and think what's the next thing to do.

I: You don't think that making a video image of it will perhaps spoil people's own idea of what they've got of it?

K: Yes, I think it probably could! (laughing)

I: Have you got people in mind to do that?

K: No, that's really why I need to have space to think about it. All this promotion has to be done; I have to have all the videos made before I can think about it. You really need to direct attention into something like that.

I: There's lots of credits on the album to comic characters and people involved in comedy. Why them?

K: Because in some way they've been involved or helped, either with the album or something connected to it, and it was a way of saying thank you. <<deliberately uninformative?>>

I: They didn't all come and give you handclaps and all that. (laughs)

K: (laughing) No, I'm afraid not. I wish they had!

I: You had success at an early age. Do you feel you've missed out on anything?

K: No I don't, really, I'm glad that it happened so early, because it's enabled me to be able to do what I'm doing now. For instance, being able to build our own studio, and having had that much more experience behind me because I started younger. No, I think I'm very lucky.

I: Having built your own studio, are you like a gadget freak? Do you like all the latest toys, electronic toys, or not?

K: Yes, I think everyone likes new toys. And it's really getting the time to look around, and also the money, of course, is the big thing, to get new equipment.

I: "Mother Stands for Comfort"--have you got a protective family?

K: I think it's quite a natural instinct for families to be protective.

I: Yeah, but what about you?

K: I think they're of the norm. I think they're as all protective of each other.

I: Was that song written for your mother?

K: No, not at all. I mean, she's a wonderful mother, but the song's dealing with a different energy, really. I mean it's about a mother and her strong maternal, protective instincts, but it's dealing with some--a son who's committed a bad crime. And to her, her instincts overrule what's right or wrong. I think that's what's interesting--it's how some mothers will actually overrule their sense of morality because they love their son or their child so much.

I: Have you ever been in a similar kind of situation, where a reason goes out the window?

K: No, certainly not on that level! But I have read reports, heard of things--through news, etc.-- in the past, where that has happened.

I: Do songs come easily to you, or not?

K: No. Some do, but the majority is something I have to work for very hard. It's extremely frustrating, but it's worth it to get something in the end. Something I got hooked on really quite young. Just playing with the piano and the whole excitement of actually creating something out of nothing.

I: Reading the press that's come out recently, it's mentioned again your love of people like Roxy Music and David Bowie. Are there any more contemporary people that you like?

K: I don't listen to very much contemporary music at the moment, and I think my love of people like David Bowie and Bryan Ferry --I was normally making the point of what a big influence those two have been. They're true originals, and there are so many people mimicking their style of voice, they're style of song structures, etcetera, and I think they should be credited for their influences. I think Peter Gabriel's had a very big influence, too, on a lot of people. His third album was very influential, I think.

I: He's got a new one coming out.

K: Yes!

I: Have you heard any of it?

K: No, I haven't.

I: I've heard a couple of tracks; very good.

K: Great.

[I find this exchange interesting for the fact that since this interview was in '85, the album in question is So, which, of course, contains "Don't Give Up," a duet with Kate herself!]

I: Yes, it's excellent. When you're not presenting a public eye, you're like a very private person. Nobody can seem to get through to you, as it were. Do you feel the need to have a certain amount of isolation?

K: Yes.

I: Is that essential to your creative feelings?

K: Yes, absolutely. They're two very separate things, two completely different energies, and I can only really concentrate if that's all I have to do. If there's other things to do besides make an album, they just become distractions.

I: You talk about energies quite a lot. Do you subscribe to a particular theory or religion or anything like that.

K: (laughing) Subscribe to a monthly manual.

I: You know what I mean.

K: No, I don't, really. But I do think certain things help, like I think trying to be positive about things is a very helpful thing. It can just stop you getting down, and to try and enjoy things if you can. But I don't have any kind of religious beliefs, really.

I: Do you have a favorite song that you've recorded?

K: It's very much a love/hate relationship I think any author has with the thing. But there are ones that you're always quite glad you managed to achieve, especially when they were difficult. I was quite pleased with "Houdini" and "Breathing" and "Running Up That Hill."

I: Do you ever feel that you're going to run out of creative energy?

K: I think if you feel that you have to take a break and I think quite often it's like a battery that needs charging up. As long as you keep the energy topped up, you should be able to keep going.

I: If somebody asks you to do a benefit concert, or if you'd been asked to do Live Aid, would you have done that?

K: Yes, I would. I don't think there's anyone that would have said no, unless they had to. A really important reason.

I: Even though you hadn't actually performed live for a long, long time, you would have still done it?

K: It's hard to say. I wasn't asked, but I would have said yes, I'm sure.

I: Okay. I think that's about it. Oh! One more thing. Do you follow world affairs, with what's going on?

K: I don't follow it very--I can't think of the word! What's the word? Ooooooh! Ohhh! <<doesn't transcribe well, does it? It sounds more like a strained "uhhhhhh!" to me!>>

I: Avidly?

K: Avidly is quite good. Yeah, I don't really have that much time. I watch the television; I catch the news. That's really all I get--I don't read newspapers--watch current affair programs.

I: OK, good, thank you.

[a day later:]

A correction of my own.

In the interview I transcribed ("Hounds of Love" from the Baktabak CD 4011), I wrote that the interviewer is unknown, but is australian.

I've since learned that it is a man named Robert Brown...


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