To the Reaching Out (Interviews) Table of Contents
(This interview was taken from Andrew Marvick's The Garden.)
The Tony Myatt interview, fall 1985
[Here is Tony Myatt's 1985 interview with Kate Bush. Please be patient with Mr. Myatt; although he asks a few amazingly lame questions, they somehow manage to elicit some fascinating answers from Kate--perhaps because he seems genuinely interested and respectful, and because he manages to avoid the cynical, patronizing tone of most UK interviewers. The interview (preceded by Homeground's accompanying introduction) was first copied from the Homeground transcription, then checked against an audio-cassette of the convention for accuracy and completeness's sake.]
The taped interview played at the 1985 Kate Bush Convention was specially commissioned by Homeground for the event. It was conducted by Tony Myatt, a former DJ and now Producer at Capital Radio, London's commercial radio station. It is likely that Tony Myatt was in fact the first DJ ever to play Kate's music on the air: Wuthering Heights, way back at the end of 1977. He has since then remained a champion of Kate's music, and his interviews over the years may be said to have charted her progress. This interview was conducted in November 1985, and we [Homeground] believe it is one of the best Kate has given on her new album Hounds of Love.
Let's talk about The Hounds of Love [sic] first of all, ok? A wonderful title for an album, but where does it actually come from?
"The title comes from one of the songs, which is entitled Hounds of Love, and this album for me is like two quite separate pieces of work: the a-side and the b-side. The a-side is very much five individual songs that are in some way all linked by love as a theme, and this seemed to be a title which really did sum up that side. We actually gave a title to the b-side of the album as well, but because you can't have two titles for an album, so we just went for the a-side title to cover it all."
But The Hounds of Love itself, does it come from a book? Or was it something you made up?
"No, the hounds of love are an image, really: someone who's afraid of being captured by love; and the imagery is of love taking the form of hounds that are hunting them, so they run away because they're afraid of being caught by the hounds and ripped to shreds."
Are you afraid of being caught by love?
"Yes, I think so. I think everyone is. I think when you are in love with someone, you do not want to lose that. It is something that affects you in so many areas. And I think it can be frightening, yes."
It's not a feeling of being trapped, though, Kate, is it?
"I think it can be for some people, yes. I think...It doesn't mean that for me, but I think for some people any relationship can be a form of being trapped, which they're afraid of."
Just on the lighter side, it's a wonderful cover, the two hounds. Where did they come from? How long did it take to pose that picture? Because it must have taken a long time.
"Yes, it's a very popular question! The two dogs are friends of our and John, my brother, who took the photograph, had a lot of trouble keeping them under control. I think he had a very strong word with them and got them to behave, and it really was just a matter of patience, because we'd get the whole scene set up, and then the dogs would come in and they'd be walking all over me and everything, and it would be totally ruined in five minutes, so we'd have to start again."
So they behaved themselves in the end, anyway?
"They did eventually, to the point where they just went to sleep!"
And they got a little mention on the album, as well.
"Absolutely, for all that effort."
This is your first album for quite a while. A lot of people would say that being that amount of time away from any kind of business, let alone the pop business, can be quite tricky. I mean, why was it necessary to have that break, as far as you're concerned?
"Whenever I do something, it's...um...really sort of going in at the deep end of a project, and I do find that things take me longer than I thought. It's not something I plan, it's just that the work takes over and in order to make it better you just have to be patient and spend more time with it. After the last album at the end of '82, I'd just spent an intense period in the studio doing an album. I wanted to get a break. I felt that I hadn't really had any time to take things in because I'd been working so constantly, really since 1978--and we'd just moved as well, out of London--so I wanted to spend some time at home, see my friends, take in new stimuli, and try to create a new energy for a new direction that would be different from the album I'd just written. Also, I wanted to get together our own recording studio, which was definitely something which was being pointed at all the way through the other albums--that it was the thing to do. And I found that just during that time that I was taking off to discover things right, get the studio together, I made some of the most important decisions--and very beneficial ones -- that I have done. And I think it's all good, and I understand just what you mean about that time, in that, in a way, you do get scared that you're spending so long away that you won't be able to come back. But the priority--and again, I really did feel that this was what I wanted during this time--was the work, and not necessarily being successful or famous; that what I was working on should be the best it could be, at that time."
Was the business itself getting on top of you? Were you missing-- Did you feel you were missing out on things, you know?
"I don't think I was missing out on things, but I wanted to get away from the exposure--that being consumed--that can start to happen to you if you don't get away. And, um...I think, too, that when I spend so long on projects, I want to get back to that more and more when I'm out doing promotion, because I know that everything takes me such a long time to do!"
So you built the studio, and that was a giant step as well, I would have thought. Did you actually physically get in there and help build the place yourself, or was it just...
"No, I was really involved in the design, and really the inspiration behind the whole project was my father. He was totally encouraging, and really did put a lot of it together himself, and he was in there building it and advising on putting the studio together; and so really the studio is very much a lot to do with his effort and enthusiasm."
You're very close to the family--you're a very close-knit family?
Are your family supportive so far as your music is concerned?
"I think they're supportive of me in every area possible. I think I am most definitely a strongly emotionally-based person, and my family are totally integral, I think, to everything I do. They affect me because I love them."
Do you need that support? Is that essential?
"I think it is essential. I think it's something that has always been there, and that if it wasn't there it would probably be devastating for me, yes."
What about when you write your songs, though, do you try them out on your family? Do they get a chance to hear them?
"Yes; yes, they do. There's a small group that is around the family obviously including Del and a few friends, and they're really the people who hear it straight after I've written it and I suppose their reaction is the initial one. You see if it's going to work or not, by just the way they react."
Take, for example, the songs on the Hounds of Love album. How many songs in total would you say you wrote for the album that perhaps didn't make it in the end...or does it not work that way? "No, it does, initially. I write a batch of songs and try to pick the best. So I suppose there would have been a good say four or five songs--but then calling them songs is misleading, because they weren't complete, and I'd normally find that I'd throw lots of ideas down and then, coming back to them in a few days, would see that they weren't as good as they could be, so I would literally just leave them and not finish off the track. And the second side of the album had one and a half tracks rewritten, really, because the flow of the side needed to be changed because the whole nature of it kept changing as things were being put on top of the basics."
Do you ever go back to the songs that maybe you rejected? Say, for example, for The Hounds of Love? Would you ever go back to them again, or leave them totally aside?
"It's quite interesting going back to them, and I have done, and I'll tend to find little pieces that I think can be re-worked and the rest of it is probably rubbish, so I'll put out the bits that, um...seem re-usable. And though maybe if that isn't used itself, it will then spark off something that can be used again, so they do get recycled sometimes."
Six months you worked on the songs for the album. Now as far as you're concerned is six months a long time?
"I think it is a long time, yes, but it's just the way the work takes you. Some things can be very fast, and then the next part of the process will slow down dramatically...um...and each song has such different nature. It has its own personality, in a way. It can be terribly time-consuming trying to get as many of the right things as you can for each track, and the lyrics can be ultimately frustrating."
Well, I think lyrics are what make your songs, quite honestly.
I love the melodies as well, but I think the lyrics...I mean I have to sit down and read the lyrics as I'm listening to the song, and then the song means that much more as far as I'm concerned. Are the lyrics that important to you? They obviously are.
[Laughter from the convention audience.]
"Very important. I think the music and the lyrics are the two main priorities in song-writing [More laughter from audience], and they should be equally good, hopefully."
But for example, when you're writing a song, does the melody come first, or do you year the lyric line?
"Um...Again, it does really alter from song to song, but generally the music comes first--"
"--and occasionally you just get like a riff musically that would have a line, say, connected to it; and that would be the chorus of the song. And then you can spend, say, up to ten days or whatever, just trying to get the rest of the lyrics around it."
Can you explain not the single that's coming out but but the last single off the album, the Deal With God? Can you explain that song? Because I'm sure there're a lot of people listening to that, and really don't know what it's about.
You know, Running Up That Hill?
"Yes. It's a bit of a cliche at the moment, with so many songs called this, but it is very much about the power of love [N.B.: Kate is referring to two then-recent pop singles, The Power of Love by Huey Lewis and the News, and The Power of Love by Jennifer Rush, both of which were big hits in England in 1985], and the strength that is created between two people when they're very much in love, but the strength can also be, um...uh...threatening, violent, dangerous as well as gentle, soothing, loving. And it's saying that if these two people could swap places--if the man could become the woman and the woman the man, that perhaps they could understand the feelings of that other person in a truer way, understanding them from that gender's point of view, and that perhaps there are very subtle differences between the sexes that can cause problems in a relationship, especially when people really do care about each other." [Long pause.]
Every album that you've had out to date, since the first one--since the "Wuthering Heights" album [sic], has been full of contrast, full of very original ideas. Does this create a problem for you, with every album that you put out, trying to create something that's totally original? Does it become a burden to you, is what I'm trying to say...
"I think the whole process is a form of a burden in that it's really quite tortuous, and it does pull you through so many different feelings and problems and worries, that I just think the whole thing creates its own problems and energies that you just have to cope with in order to get what you want at the end."
You see, the thing is, with a lot of the stuff on the new album, would you agree if I said that the first side anyway was probably the most commercial thing you've done to date? [Long silence.] Or don't you like that word "commercial"?
"No, I think especially from your mouth I can accept it! And in some ways I think you're very right: it is, and not necessarily so intentionally as perhaps I thought. I think the development of rhythm in my music is perhaps one of the things that makes it obviously more available to people, and a constancy of rhythm perhaps wasn't always there in previous albums."
That's exactly what I'm talking about. I mean it's the rhythm, rhythm tracks I find on this album are tremendous. Were you totally responsible for that?
"No, I wasn't. I think a very big influence was Del Palmer, who when I was initially coming up with the songs...I would actually get Del to manifest in the rhythm box the pattern that I wanted. As a bass player I think he has a very natural understanding of rhythms and working with drums, and he could also actually get the patterns that I could hear in my head and that I wanted, so it's sort of through him that we started off with the rhythmic basis that was then built upon and was very much what I wanted."
Here again with the new album there are some songs that are fairly simple. [Silence.] Do you know what I mean?
In their construction.
And there are other songs that are very complex, as well. [Laughter from audience.] Can you for example just tell me about The Big Sky-- that particular song...Can you explain that for me? [More laughter.]
"Yes! The Big Sky gave me terrible trouble, really, just as a song. I mean, you definitely do have relationships with some songs, and we had a lot of trouble getting on together and it was just one of those songs that kept changing--at one point every week--and, um...It was just a matter of trying to pin it down. Because it's not often that I've written a song like that: when you come up with something that can literally take you to so many different tangents, so many different forms of the same song, that you just end up not knowing where you are with it. And, um...I just had to pin it down eventually, and that was a very strange beast."
A strange beast...And you were happy with the final outcome?
"Yes, and it was very different from the original song that was written."
In what way?
"In nearly every way possible."
A complete change of song?
"Yes, and that's very rare as well, but it was just one of those songs. Maybe it's all to do with what the song is about, the fact that it's changing all the time--the sky, always...changing!"
Was it your idea to do something that was very complex and something that was very easy on this album?--Or simple?
"Yes. There--There were definite areas of simplicity that I wanted to work with musically, particularly in the traditional areas. And also I wanted to move away from certain chord patterns that I'd definitely become very fond of over the last few albums. And, um...though I did move away from them a bit, I definitely hung onto my old favourites."
That can't be easy to do, because I think most songwriters -- I mean, people who write songs all the time--they do have a certain way of writing a song, if you like. As you say, you wanted to get away from that? That must be quite a difficult thing to do.
"I think it's finding the right avenue for the song, and in a way I think you just have to pin down as early as you can exactly what you want to dress the song in--you know, what colour clothes... It's very like that, really, and you have to treat it accordingly--and from the word go the song will then take on an attitude that's maybe completely different from the song next to it on the album. Um...um... The Big Sky is an example of a real freak on the album, in that it consistently changed until we got there in the end, and 'Waking the Witch' on side two was totally written through a guitarist--the electric guitartist. I knew what I wanted, but it wasn't a song that would sound right if it was based around a keyboard. It had to be written through the electric guitar. So the guitarist came in literally working to just a Linn pattern, and, um...I just told him what I wanted, and it was a very different way of writing. I've never done it like that before, but I think it was very successful."
What about the idea behind that song. I'm glad you mentioned that, because to me, it's weird. I mean it's with the "Wake up--whee!"
"[Laughs.] Yes. That's good!"
Do you agree or not? What was the idea behind that song?
"Well, I'm glad you say that, because I would be disappointed in a way if you thought it was ordinary. I definitely wanted to create a weirdness, yes. It's all part of the story off the second side, about the person who's in the water for the night, and they just have to try and keep going until the morning, and at this point they've just woken from a dream and have surfaced on the water, trying not to drown, and I suppose it's the horror of then being faced with something that wants to put you straight under the water again, whether you are innocent or guilty, they're going to put you down--under the water again..."
Can I just ask you something--From a personal point of view, did you ever feel that was happening to you in the music business? "[Laughs.] No, not at all! No, I think that's very much something that..."
People have made up?
"Well, that is an outside personal view of construing subject matter. I think that, very much, this whole thing is tied in with water -- [laughter from audience] -- and if I was thinking of going under water it wouldn't be to do with the business at all, it would be to do with myself as a person, relationships, all that sort of thing. They're what concern me, that's what would make me go under, I think. But no--I haven't...I don't feel that is even relevant to things in my life because at the time when I took that break, and I was writing these songs, it was one of the most content, happy periods of my life for quite a while, in that I actually had time to breathe and work creatively. And I think what's interesting is that I've always felt, in the past--and it's almost a sort of code from certain areas of life--that in order to write something, you know, that has meaning or whatever, that you have to be unhappy, that you should be in some kind of torment. And what was surprising was that for being actually very happy at this point in my life, I felt I wrote some songs that were saying very different things from that."
Would you say that Waking the Witch is one of the most complex songs on the album, one of the most difficult songs to record?
"No, I'd say it was one of the quickest, and it's actually one of the simplest in that it's almost one chord all the way through the song, and the whole movement is to do with moods and the people that you're dealing with, rather than musically. The structure of the song is so simple..."
But there's a lot going on in there, that's what I mean.
"Yes, there is! But I think it's stuff that travels. The whole track is traveling, and if that bit comes up, it will go again, and then maybe come back later."
So what was the most difficult song on the album to get done, you think?
"I think...[long pause]... The Big Sky. That's the only one from a songwriting point of view actually caused the problems. With all of the others it was just a matter of patience and finding the right things; they were all keyed quite instantly."
I've mentioned one song that I--you know, that I thought was weird, and you say you're quite happy about that. The only other one that frightened me little bit was Under Ice. Can you just, uh...What was...What was the thinking behind that song?
"It was totally connected to the track that had come before, and they were written together-- And Dream of Sheep goes straight into Under Ice. They were almost conceived as one. It was very much the idea of going from very cold water--it's getting dark, you're alone, the only way out is to go to sleep, no responsibilities, and forget about everything, but if you go to sleep the chances are you could roll over in the water and drown. So you're trying to fight sleep, but you can't help it, and you hit the dream: the idea of the dream being really cold, and really the visual expectancy of total loneliness, and for me that was a completely frozen river, no-one around, everything completely shattered [?] with snow and icicles. And it's that person, all alone in this absolute cold wilderness of white, and seeing themselves under the ice, drowning, from which they wake up and find themselves under the water."
Where did that idea come from? It's not something one would usually write a song about, if you get what I mean...
"Yes. I think the imagery for the whole piece--a lot of it I think came from moving out of London, in that I was surrounded much more by elements than people and man-made things. The power of things like the wind in the trees, I mean. It sounds corny, but it's very earthy, and I think it does affect you. Also some war films that covered people coming off ships, out of planes, into the sea, in situations where they were alone and frightened, into a huge thing--the sea is just enormous and really so unknown, and very taken for granted. I don't think that many people consider that cruel side of the sea, and how...ultimate it is...And also the whole thing of almost...like sensory deprivation, where you've been in the water a while, you start losing all sense of where you are, who you are, whether you're upside down or whatever. And I just found the whole thing terribly fascinating--[coughs--laughter from audience] Although a very physical event, very much a mental event as well in that you are travelling in your head, even though your body is just floating in water."
I'm being a little unfair because I'm taking the individual songs on side two, The Ninth Wave: as far as you're concerned, would you like people to listen to that entire side just straight through?
"Yes, I would, ideally."
But I think people would, you see, because, I mean, once you start from the top of side two you have to keep listening all the way through. Dou find that yourself or not? You're compelled to listen to the next track as you're going along.
"Good! It's very hard for me to tell. You do try to stay objective--and considering the time we put into projects, the objectivity sustained is incredible--but you can't help but be subjective, and there are lots of things I know I can hear perfectly, but I will never really know if other people who hear it for the first time will hear that stuff, unless they write to me or report to me that it's come through."
Do a lot of your fans actually write and ask you about the meanings of your songs?
"Um...No, I think most of them don't have to. I think they actually understand it, or if they don't, they still feel it and understand it; and that's really what it's all about. But, um...I do get a lot of feedback from them and it's very important to me, and, uh...it's very interesting, as well, just to hear what strikes them, what they like."
But...they must ask you, as I would when I listen to your albums-- particularly the songs on this new one--where do these ideas come from, because they are really the most original...Every album you've done from the first one has this stamp of originality on it, and that is why I asked earlier if it is a burden to keep thinking of totally new ideas for songs. Where do they come from? [Laughter and groans from audience.]
"Well I think that's very kind of you to say that. I think that originality is something that really doesn't exist, that everything has been done before, and it's just that there are so many ways of doing things. People can be sparked off by something that already exists and create something quite different from that, and I think that's what's exciting, in that--in a way--that is what people like myself are doing. We're looking for pieces of gold, and if you see something glitter, then you try to grab it and turn it into something that you hope, you know, glitters, and just...start working on it."
This album is the first you've produced yourself?
"No, it's the second."
Second one. [Pause. More laughter from audience.] Is production exciting for you? As exciting as writing and singing the songs? "Yes, it's totally a part of it for me now, and it's just become a continuation of the writing process and it's through that control that I feel I can afford to spend the time on the stuff. I don't feel that there are that many people who could be as patient as I am with the work, because I can hope that at the end of all these mad ideas something will come of it, and perhaps it would be harder for someone else to have that kind of faith in my ideas; and I feel I can then spend as long as is necessary to make the song better."
How often did you have to go back to a song and do a little extra piece?
"Never. The structures of the songs were as were, except for The Big Sky, but that was just because that was re-written several times."
So you knew exactly what you were going to do with each song before you went into the studio?
"Well, yes. The songs were written in the studio. What we were hoping for as well, with this album, was that the demos as such no longer existed, in that they were the masters."
The demos were the masters?
"Yes. So everything that I wrote went straight onto master tape, and then we built on top of that. So from the word go we had one take, and that was what we worked on and built upon."
That is in itself very unusual.
"I think it is, and I don't think I could have done it a while ago. It's the involvement of working in studios. You just find you can put things down and they either work or they don't, and again that's why I think I can leave songs in an unfinished form, knowing that they're not going to be as good as they could."
Obviously, having your own studio to do everything makes an enormous difference...?
"It's the best decision I think I've ever made, certainly to do my work."
On the track Hello Earth, right? right? There's a choir in there. Now that again was an unusual thing to have...Has it? [sic]
"Yes, but it was totally inspired by a movie that I watched, and, um...I'd already been writing the concept--I suppose it had been in my head for a couple of months. And, uh...I watched this film called Nosferatu, directed by, um... Herzog. And it's beautiful! And there was this one piece of music that just haunted me, to the point where I just--I had to use it in the song. It was exactly what I wanted to say at this point in the music. And it was...sort of building the song around that piece. It was a traditional piece that, um...I think, uh...was either Russian or Czechoslovakian...Um...is a Russian piece [laughs] and...uh...It's just so haunting. I mean it's a very holy piece of music, in a very pure sense..."
Do you get a lot of ideas from reading books, and from films?
"I think whenever I have the time to read I'm always inspired by it The problem is that I just shun it, in that I feel that there are more important things to do with my time. It's rubbish really, but I do always feel guilty when I sit down and read a book, because I think I should be doing other things. and it takes me such a long time to read. But in a way there is no other experience like it. An intimate relationship between yourself and a book is...is incredible, and it's very sad that things like television and films--sort of, uh... Although it's great, because they're encouraging books by using their scripts for films-- I think it is taking something away from that whole world of books. But particularly films do inspire me. I've always had a television, I always used to watch lots and lots of television when I was a kid, and I really enjoy watching films."
"Can I just take you back to your beginnings, when you started off in the business? You were very young." [Mild laughter from convention audience.]
"I was eighteen when I made the first album."
You'd been writing before that?
"Yes, I had."
When you first started writing songs, did you ever see yourself becoming as famous as you are now?
Was it something that you wanted?
"No...I don't think so. I mean as a child, the idea of being a star was attractive, as I think it is to every child. They love things that are larger than life, and dreams and fantasies, and most children never grow out of it to the day they die. But I think I didn't ever consider the idea of actually being a famous so-called songwriter-singer. I think that as a very young child, perhaps I aspired to becoming something like a great actress. I think I was very enamoured by people like Judy Garland. I thought she was incredible, so beautiful. But no, I never ever thought this. But I did hope that I would have involvement with music and that one day I might be able to sing and write songs."
I want to ask you more about the acting in just a moment, but first of all, I'd like to ask: When you were writing the songs at that time, did you feel you were writing songs that were different in any way, or did you just feel that they were, you know--they were your songs?
"It's very hard to remember how I felt at the time, but it was something I enjoyed doing so immensely--It was my release from school, and, you know, if I couldn't go out and it was a wet day, or there wasn't anything good on television, that would be my favourite place to go: to the piano."
And start writing songs?
"It was a very important relationship and still is to me. I found something that I don't think I've ever really found since, when I first started writing songs: that I could actually create something out of nothing, and it was a very special discovery--I think if you are lucky enough to make it at a young age, as I was."
Kate, let's talk about Cloudbusting. Here comes the $64,000 question. How in heaven's name did you get Donald Sutherland to be part of your video?
"Well, I think I'm very lucky, really. He was the first choice. He was perfect, he couldn't have been better, really, to play the part; and it was a matter of finding out how to contact him. And through a very nice man called Barry Richardson I managed to make contact with Donald, and then asked him and he said yes, he was interested. And it all went from there, and it all happened very quickly. I must have contacted him ten days to two weeks before we actually started shooting, and it just happened to co-incide perfectly with a few days that he had off in a very busy schedule. And, uh...it was just brilliant!"
You'd never met him before?
"No, it was a complete privilege to work with him."
Why did you want him in particular? Was it because of the way he looked, or because of the fact that, you know, he's a great actor and he would do a good...job?
"Yes, he is a great actor, and having watched actually how he worked in our situation I just have to reiterate that. He's just incredible, so professional, and so patient, and he helped me incredibly, because I'd never really acted as such, and I just had to react to him. He was wonderful."
Kate, I remember the first time I saw that video was on, uh... The Old Grey Whistle Test, and I looked at it and I thought, "Hang on a minute--That's Donald Sutherland!" And then I saw this little girl running around and I thought, "Who's that?" You see, I didn't recognise you at the start, because of the hair being much shorter and everything. Now, you say Donald Sutherland helped you in making the video. You mean acting advice?
"No, not even advice, his pure presence. He puts out such an energy of sensitivity to the situation that I just had to re-act to him. He was--As far as I was concerned, whenever we were shooting, he was my dad. He's wonderful."
What about the--because it's almost like a short film, that video. [Laughter from audience.]
"That's exactly what we wanted. I felt that it was based on the song, which was inspired by a book, and it is a genuine sense of magic, emotion, sadness that came initially from that book, that it was so important for us to do justice to it. We all worked very hard to try and create that."
What was the book?
"It's called A Book of Dreams, and it's written by Peter Reich. Unfortunately it's out of print, so I suggest that lots of people write to the publishers and [imitates indignant MP] demand that it be put back into print immediately!"
What about the rain machine? Was it your idea, the way the video actually turned out?
"It was very much my idea, but a lot of ideas came from Terry Gilliam, who--really together we wrote the story board, and the director Julian Doyle put an awful lot of work into it, and it was fantastic to work with them. Everyone was just so inspired by the story really, and everyone was moved by it, which--In a way it was one of the most important things, that, you know, everyone that was involved in it should be... And it was just a fantastic experience."
How long did it take to do it?
"To shoot it took four to five days, to prepare it took about four weeks, and all in all including a lot of editing time that Julian spent, I suppose about eight weeks, which is a very long time for a video."
I'm not going to ask for a figure, but I know that videos cost a hell of a lot of money to make nowadays. This must have been very expensive?
"It was no more expensive than the first one we made."
Which leaves me totally in the dark!
"I think honestly if people knew how much it cost and what we got out of that...It's phenomenal, what we got for the budget."
Is this something you want to get more into, videos?
"Absolutely. Um...I'm starting to get a bit uncomfortable with the word 'video' now, in that I feel that film is actually the medium that really attracts me, and video was something that was great, but was really convenient rather than ideal, and I hope very much to be able only to work in film in the future."
You're a very successful singer-songwriter, someone who has been away from the business for three years. You then come back and have had a number one album. Then again can I ask you how you react to that, with people saying, "Whatever happened to Kate Bush?"? Is that a bonus?
"Yeah, it's really good, isn't it? It is! It's great!"
"Yes, a lovely surprise, and what's really good is that I felt that what really does matter to people is music, good music, music that has thought and care put into it and not neccessarily an image or a fashion -- you know, the so-called 'fickle public'. I would very much like to think that if you want to put a lot of work into something and mean it, that's what people are attracted to, not the image and all that stuff that is superfluous [pronounces the word "super-flu'-ous"] -- Wait...How do you say it?"
What about the acting side? Is it something you'd like to get into?
"Well, funnily enough, it's not, really. Until quite recently it's something I ever really desired. There's no doubt that if I was offered a part by a director who I admired, that I'm sure I would do it, but it doesn't actually interest me in terms of giving up music to take up a career in acting. It doesn't attract me at all, but I would certainly do if it was one of my favourite directors--and, um...certainly if Donald Sutherland was in it!"
What sort of role would you like to play if the offer was made? Something dramatic?
"No idea. I certainly wouldn't want to play the part of a rock singer or a pop singer. It would have to be for the challenge of the acting. If the part was something I thought that I could convey well, um...then I certainly would be up for trying it. It's fascinating, the whole process of making films, of suddenly becoming someone, showing feelings that you hadn't been feeling, say, five minutes before. The whole process is extraordinary, fascinating."
Can I just take you back to the song Cloudbusting? The thing that really impressed me with the song, and the way in which it was tied in with the video was the rhythm track--it always seemed to fit so beautifully. When you were planning the video, obviously that was running through your mind? [Laughter from audience.]
"You mean visuals to music?"
"One thing that was interesting was that we had so much to say in the story visually that we extended the audio track to allow a little more room for things to be said. And I think that the story is very strong. And in a way it's just, um...creating images both visually and audially that say the same thing. And I felt we did. As I said earlier, everyone involved in that video worked very hard, and I think they were fantastic."
You say that you would like to get more into video--film--mini-films. I n what role? Would you like to direct them, or do you want--you know--to take part in them?
"No, I've absolutely no idea, and there are--I really do have to sometimes sit and listen to all those voices in me that, um...seem to want to do too many different things sometimes. I mean I really do like the idea of directing, but I don't think it's practical for me to direct and be in something. When I'm performing visually I very much would like to work with a director, because I think it's too difficult to do it all; but the idea of directing is actually a little too far in the future, but is perhaps more attractive than actually performing in front of the camera." [When Kate says that she has "absolutely no idea" what role she would take in the production of future promotional films, she is not being candid with Mr. Myatt. This interview took place in November, 1985. Within another twelve months she had directed and performed in three more promotional films of her own (Hounds of Love, The Big Sky and Experiment IV). It's interesting to see Kate describe this next step towards total artistic control as though it would be too difficult to try, when in fact she must already have been seriously planning to do just that.]
I've heard that one of your songs, Running Up That Hill, is doing really well in the States at the moment. Does this mean that Kate Bush is going off to America and help push it along?
"Yes, it could mean that. Yes...If it's doing well, it's a strong possibility." [Again, this seems to be a deliberately cautious answer. Kate left for America within one week after making this interview.]
What about the album. Is that doing well there as well?
"It is, yes. Yes, it seems to be doing very well."
That's not bad, you know!
"It's jolly good!"
Jolly good! Listen, the other thing I must ask you about is touring. Because the last tour was tremendous. There again, all your own ideas, and the stage presentation was fantastic, and I'm sure one other thing all your fans must be asking is when are you going to do another one? In this country?
"This point in time is really a decision as to what do do next, whether it's a tour, or what I'd like to do next, if I could, which is to put the whole of The Ninth Wave, which is the second side of the album, onto film, but I just don't know how feasible or practical that is, with timing and whatever. [This project was eventually abandoned.] So I suppose really it's, um...at the beginning of next year, I first have to decide what comes next, but I don't think there's time for both."
How far have you got in putting The Ninth Wave into film form, would you say? How far have you got with that?
"Not very far, because since the album was finished there's just been so much work surrounding the singles that come out, the videos and the promotion, that I've really had no serious time to approach people and start seriously thinking about it."
But a tour is on the cards?
"Well, I wouldn't say that it was on the cards, no. I would just say that it is a possibility, and something I would still very much like to do, but, um...at this point in time, I couldn't say, because up until the end of the year I'll be promoting this record."
One final thing. Um...I notice on the album there's a gentleman called John Cader--uh...
Carder Bush--your brother?--on Jig of Life, which has a very Irish feel about it. Now that, to me is inter--it really stands out, for me, from the rest of the album, if you know what I mean, because of the rhythm track and the feel. Take me through that song.
"That was very much inspired by Paddy Bush, my other brother, who had found this piece of music and said, 'You've just got to listen to this, it's brilliant, I know you'll love it!' He played it to me, and instantly I knew I wanted to use it. It was fantastic. So it was just a matter of working out a song based around the format of this piece of music he'd found. There's no doubt Paddy was the, um...initial inspiration. The song's about the future person visiting the person who's in the water at the moment, and saying 'Look, don't drown, don't die, because if you do I'm not going to be able to live my part of your life. I'm not going to have the kids you're going to have in ten years' time. I'm not going to be able to move to that nice little place by the sea. So don't die. Live, you've got to stay alive. If not for me, then at least for yourself or your children that are to come.' And, um...I suppose the suggestion of the fiddle as the Devil's music is not unintentional: the idea of a spirit being conjured from the future; that uncanny, uncomfortable feeling of two times meeting. And it's very much meant to be the first delivery of hope on that side of the album. There have been some very sad, disturbing experiences for the person up to this point, and although it's hardly not disturbing, it's mean to be a comfort: it's the future coming to the rescue of the present."
On that note, Kate, thank you very much indeed.
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