Interviews & Articles


WFNX Boston
Fall of 1989

To the Reaching Out (Interviews) Table of Contents

Date: Sat, 18 May 91 20:45:37 PDT
From: ed@das.llnl.gov (Edward J. Suranyi)
Subject: WFNX radio interview from the fall of 1989

A lurker on gaffa who shall remain nameless just sent me a tape of the interview Kate did for WFNX Boston in the fall of 1989. I don't think it has been transcribed before, so I'll do it now.

Key: A = nameless Announcer.

B = Bruce McDonald, the interviewer.

B L = Bruce's words added later.

K = Kate, of course!

["The Sensual World" is played]

B L: 101.7 WFNX, the title track from Kate Bush's new LP, The Sensual World. Traditional Irish instruments are featured throughout the album, giving it a more pronounced Celtic flavor -- more so than any previous Kate Bush record. Kate attributes this influence to her family.

K: I guess I've always been very intrigued by Irish music. Since I was a little girl it's always been played in our house. My mother's Irish, and my family are very musical. And, um, I think that's probably been the strongest musical influence on me for a start. I love Irish music, and although I think it was never really obvious until the third, fourth album, it's kind of always been in my blood.

B: It was in the background, but now it seems more in the foreground.

K: Yeah. And we love to actually go to Ireland when we can, to record them there, because obvously, it's just so much fun being in the country with those people. We love the Irish.

B: It has to add to the atmosphere, too.

K: I think so, yes, absolutely.

B L: "Love And Anger", Kate's current US single, is one of two tracks on the record that features Pink Floyd's David Gilmour on guitar. Dave was an early supporter of Kate's, having financed some of her early demo tapes, and helping to secure her a recording contract. "Love And Anger" was also one of the first songs written for The Sensual World, and one of the last songs finished.

K: It's one of the most difficult songs I think I've ever written. It was so elusive, and even today I don't like to talk about it, because I never really felt it let me know what it's about. It's just kind of a song that pulled itself together, and with a tremendous amount of encouragement from people around me. There were so many times I thought it would never get on the album. But I'm really pleased it did now.

B L: Here's "Love And Anger" from Kate Bush at 101.7, WFNX.

[L&A played.]

A: You're listening to the sensual world of Kate Bush on 101.7, WFNX. Now back to your host, Bruce McDonald.

B L: Another song from The Sensual World, "The Fog", appears to be on the surface the story of a father teaching his child to swim. Yet there's much more to it than that.

K: Yeah, it's very much using the parallel of the father teaching the child to swim, with a relationship where -- well, when I was taught to swim, my father would take me out into the water and then he'd say, you know, "Swim to me," and you had to sort of let go of his hands and he'd keep stepping away so it was always like you kept going. And the whole process of kind of letting go that I think we have to do throughout life. I think, really, the older I get the more I feel this is what so much of life is about. It's just letting go of all these things that you get caught up in. The idea in the song that things that you're frightened of, quite often, it's the thought of it that's more frightening than the action. It's the idea of the water seeming so deep that you're going to drown if you put your feet down, but actually, if you do put your feet down, the bottom's really close and you can stand up and it will probably only come up to your waist. Everything's all right, you know.

B: That song also features dialogue by your father, Dr. Bush.

K: That's right.

B: That was just sort of a natural thing, or did you hear that when you were first composing the song?

K: I love using bits of dialogue in music as well. We haven't done too much of that on this album, but I have used my parents and my family and friends before to speak various passages. Obviously in this song, because it was within the context of a father teaching a child to swim, I thought it was -- who else could have done it? Who else?

B: Sure.

K: It had to be him.

B L: This is "The Fog" from Kate Bush, on 101.7, WFNX.

[TF played.]

B L: 101.7, WFNX. That's "The Fog", from the new Kate Bush album The Sensual World. "Heads We're Dancing" is the tale of a woman out for the evening at a nightclub in pre-World War II Germany, who is asked to dance by a charming, handsome man, who she only later realizes is Hitler.

B: What was the inspiration behind that? This, well, once again it's unusual -- in sort of a pop context.

K: Yes, it's a very dark song, and it's certainly a song I don't think I'd write now. But I guess it was inspired a) by the idea of, I mean one of the fairy tale images for a little girl, is to go to a fantastic ball, like Cinderella does, and she meets this handsome, supposedly, prince. It was the reversal of the idea. He was like the worst person you could possibly meet. But that really sprung from a story that a friend of mine told me who had been at a dinner years ago, and had spent the evening sitting next to this incredibly charming man. Very intelligent, very witty, he just loved his company so much. The next day he asked the host "Who was that man I was sitting next to. He was fascinating." They said, "Didn't you realize, that was Oppenheimer." Now, my friend's reaction to that was absolute horror, because for him Oppenheimer represented such evil, because of his work with the bomb.

B: Sure.

K: But in some ways I felt a little sorry for Oppenheimer, because I think he really paid for himself. He was -- he committed suicide, he couldn't handle what he'd done. [Is this true? -- Ed] But the whole idea of the story was so fascinating for me, that he'd been so taken by this man until he knew who he was, and then it was like a complete reversal. I guess that hung around in my head and I was thinking, really, who's the closest embodiment to the devil, who is the most evil person ever, and I think --

B: Especially in modern times.

K: Yes, who else is there, really? But I would really hate anyone to be offended by the song. It's not meant to be a glorification of that whole event. It's just meant to be an exploration of the idea that evil quite often appears in a charming guise, and we should all be careful. He fooled so many people, and I don't think you can blame them for being fooled. But it's terrifying, isn't it?

B: It is rather frightening.

B L: This is "Heads We're Dancing", from Kate Bush's album The Sensual World, on 101.7, WFNX.

[HWD played.]

B L: Among the guest musicians featured on The Sensual World was Mick Karn, former bassist from the group Japan. Kate explains how she came to choose Mick for "Heads We're Dancing":

K: I met Mick years ago at a charity gig that we did in London, and I've always liked his style of playing.

B: It's very distinctive.

K: *Very* distinctive. He has such a strong personality, and I know he's very respected for his work by other musicians, which is always a good sign. But I felt, for some reason, that this track was just right for him. So he came along with a part that he'd worked out -- I'd sent him a cassette. It was fabulous. He understood the whole story line. I hadn't sent any lyrics or anything, and he just kind of played this part. It was so right for the song. I was really knocked out. He's a very nice person as well as a great musician.

B: Would you consider working with him again?

K: I'd love to, but I find more and more with musicians, that there are certain tracks that call out for certain people. It's a bit like casting actors for a film, so this is how we approach things now.

B: Not necessarily would a film director cast the same people for every film, naturally.

K: Yes.

B: It's similar, in the analogy.

A: We'll be back with Kate Bush's sensual world, right after these messages, on 101.7, WFNX.

[Fragment of "Babooshka" played, then ads, then a fragment of "Hounds Of Love".]

A: Welcome back to the sensual world of Kate Bush. Now here's Bruce McDonald.

B L: Some of the more haunting tunes in The Sensual World feature the vocals of the Trio Bulgarka, a critically acclaimed group of women singers from Bulgaria. Their participation reflects Kate's long-standing interest in world music.

K: Well, about three years ago my brother Paddy played me a tape of the Trio, and he's always been very interested in ethnic music and has collected instruments from around the world. When he played me this tape I was devastated, I'd never heard anything like it. It was like hearing angels singing. I listened to this tape for months, and I just started thinking, "Wouldn't it be nice to work with them?" I was so scared, really, about the idea of belittling this great music, that it took me a long time to get up the courage to actually approach them. But once I did, it was the most wonderful experience, working with them as people, as well as musicians. We managed to make contact with them through a friend of ours called Joe Boyd --

B: Sure.

K: -- who got us in touch with people out there. We actually went to Bulgaria and met them there. We spent three days rehearsing. They don't speak any English, we don't speak any Bulgarian, but we had a great time! Although we had translators, a lot of the communication was done on an emotional level, and it was very interesting. They just come up and cuddle you, and then you sing to each other, and it was an absolutely wonderful experience. They're like my sisters now, I now have three sisters!

B: In Bulgaria.

K: Yeah!

B L: "Deeper Understanding", one of three tracks featuring the Trio Bulgarka, is a different take on love in the computer age.

K: I suppose it's looking at society where more and more people are being shut away in their homes with televisions and computers, and in a way being encouraged not to come out. You know, there's so many people who live in London in high-rise flats -- they don't know their neighbors, they don't know anyone else in the building. People are getting very isolated. It was the idea of this person who had less and less human contact, and more and more contact with their computer, where they were working on it all day and all night. They see an advert in a magazine for a program for people who are lonely and lost, so they write off for it. When they get it back in the mail and put it into the computer, it's the idea -- a bit like an old sci-fi film, really -- where it would just come to life and suddenly there's this kind of incredible being there, like a great spiritual visitation. This computer is offering this person love, and the idea that they've had such little human warmth, they're getting this tremendous affection and deep love from their computer. But it's so intense it's too much for them to take, and they actually have to be rescued from just being killed with love, I suppose.

B L: This is "Deeper Understanding", from The Sensual World, on 101.7, WFNX.

[DU played.]

K: Hi, this is Kate Bush, and you're listening to 101.7, WFNX Boston.

B L: That's "Deeper Understanding" from Kate Bush's new album, The Sensual World. "This Woman's Work", the current UK single from the album, is a song we first heard in the soundtrack to the John Hughes film "She's Having A Baby".

K: Really, the subject matter in the film laid down the grounds for what the song was about. It's the man waiting in a waiting room while his wife is in there having a baby, and there are complications. So it's the exploration of someone being left on their own in a big way, very suddenly. In this part of the film, the guy has to grow up, he's suddenly confronted with all these terrible things, that he could be a much better human being. It's moments like that that make you feel these things.

B: And life's not all fun and games.

K: No, and that you should really try and make the most of it when you can, and not when it's too late.

[TWW played.]

A: We'll be back with more of Bruce McDonald, and more of Kate Bush's sensual world on 101.7, WFNX.


[Fragment of "Experiment IV"]

A: Welcome back to the conclusion of the sensual world of Kate Bush. Now here's your host, Bruce McDonald:

B L: Independence has always been characteristic of Kate Bush in her work. Since the early days, she's been managed by herself, with help from her family, through a company she set up called Novercia. [Note -- he pronounces this noh-VER-shah. Assuming he heard Kate say it, I guess this is the corrrect pronunciation. I had always thought it was noh-ver-SEE-ah. -- Ed] It was a move designed to allow Kate the artistic freedom she needs.

B: Does having such complete control seem overwhelming at times?

K: Yes, it does. But I think in a way, what I'm moving towards, and I don't know if it'll work or not, but I feel like it's all leading me to the combination of music and film. I hope that someday maybe in a few years, I could experiment with making a film.

B: Really?

K: Yeah. I'm really --

B: You mean, like a full length feature?

K: Maybe not a full length feature, but yes I'd love to, I really would like to work with visuals and music at the same time, because at the moment I'm restricted to making visuals in the context of videos to music that already exists. I'd really like to play with this a lot more.

B: Your brother Paddy Bush plays numerous instruments in The Sensual World. We talked about his interest in many different kinds of instruments. Your other brother John Carder Bush did the cover photos and that's just like more of a natural extension of the family?

K: I suppose what's really great is I'm surrounded by very talented people who also --

B: Are related to you.

K: Yeah! And they're really close friends. Obviously, John's photographs are really good, and that's why I work with him -- he's a great photographer. Because we know each other so well it's such a relaxed atmosphere.

B L: Kate Bush has not toured in over ten years. While Kate has always been a pioneer in the field of music video, she does realize the limited nature of that medium.

K: Yes, it's not an adequate substitute, and it is, unfortunately, that -- a substitute, when that can't be. You know, there is nothing that can substitute live work, like nothing can substitute an album.

B: Sure.

K: And it can do it. And I suppose the problem is that since the last tour, I've been so wrapped up in making albums, in trying to sort of keep control of what I do. I get so involved in what I do, it's an exhausting, long process for me. Really, with the albums taking so long, over the last few years I don't think I've had the space in myself to tour. I really enjoyed the last tour. A lot of people think I didn't, and that's why I haven't toured since. But it's really more that I've just got so wrapped up in all the projects I do that I don't feel I've wanted to do it enough, and I don't think I would have done it well.

B: Plus, when you did tour it was this huge multi-media ambitious, sort of provocative production that took months and months just to get that together. Not to mention the actual playing the live gigs.

K: Yes. Terribly over-ambitious, and I think probably that's a trait of mine. I am terribly over-ambitious with things I try to do, so it's quite scary as well, you know, trying to deal with such big things.

B: Well, I get the impression that you feel as though -- if you can't do a tour or a production up to your standards you're just not going to do it.

K: Yes, I think it would be unfair on everyone if I did a tour and didn't really want to. I'm not really going to be exuding joy and happiness, am I?

B: At the same time, every time you release new music and we play it on the radio, we get listeners calling up saying, "Please tell us Kate's going to tour this time around!" Is that like --

K: That's great.

B: -- a strain, or extra pressure, or --

K: It's difficult for me, because, you know, obvously I hate the thought of a lot of people wanting me to tour and I don't. It's frustrating for them not to have any contact with me as an artist -- that there are only records and videos. I mean, this is great, because this is direct contact. You know, they can hear you asking me questions and me replying. That's great, but in a way doing interviews for the press and that is all such a removed process. But all I can say is that I think it would be wrong for me to tour, if I wasn't 100% happy about doing it, and that I felt I could do something special. I just think everyone would be unhappy. So maybe that's all I can say. I'm sorry, I don't want to starve people of contact. It's just -- doing what I do well is so important to me, I've got to try and to the best I can with everything.

B: Do you think that not touring has held you back from mainstream success, particularly here in America?

K: Well I think it's very possible, but I also think there's been so many other inaccessible areas, to me here as an artist. Where, I guess my last record company found it difficult to know how to express me as an artist to the public. My second and third albums weren't released here -- they were released at a later date. I think people must have quite a confusing image of me.

B: Sure.

K: But, in a way, I think that that's something I have to not worry about too much, because that's not really my responsibility. My responsibilities are the artistic, where I have to make the best record I can at the time, and I have to try and let people know it's out there. But all those areas, they're kind of out of my control, really.

B: Plus, a lot of that's in the past.

K: Yeah.

B: And you like to look towards the future.

K: Absolutely!

B: Well, you've always been very popular in Boston. Do you have anything else to say to our listeners, your fans?

K: I'd love to say, to everyone in Boston, have a very happy Christmas and I hope 1990 is a good year for all of you, and thank you so much for all your support. It's nice to know that you like my music out there, thank you.

B: Well, thank *you*. As a long-time fan of your music it's been a real thrill, and a pleasure to talk to you today.

K: Thanks very much.

B: And I hope to see you again.

K: All the best, Bruce!

["December Will Magic Again" played.]

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

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