To the Reaching Out (Interviews) Table of Contents
From: Steve Wallis <stevew%mushroom.computer-science.manchester.ac.uk
Date: Tue, 17 Oct 89 14:10:14 BST
Subject: Radio One Interview by Roger Scott 14th October 1989
Kate Bush was interviewed by Roger Scott on Radio One on Saturday 14th October. I unfortunately missed the start of the interview, I just tuned in by accident, and only realised it was KT when I heard a reference to Bulgaria.
What impressed me most about this interview was how excited KT sounded. She obviously really enjoyed this interview, quite a contrast to the NME interview IED posted recently. She was very open and revealing, really expressing her feelings. The interview was rather long and I will post it as a series of several episodes.
Here is a transcription of the first part of the interview I heard, at approximately 5.50pm. KT talks about the Trio Bulgarika and explains Rocket's Tail.
KT: They all come from different parts of Bulgaria, they all come from little villages and they're very earthy people. They've all lived very full lives, and they work so hard. I've never worked with such hard-working professional people, and I've never worked with women before on that level either which I found fabulous. It was very exciting for me working with women creatively.
<Never Be Mine is played>
KT: That whole process was incredible because I was really scared, I didn't know if it was going to work. We arrived in Bulgaria, and they didn't speak a word of English, and we didn't speak a word of Bulgarian, and the communication was really stunted to start with. Within 10 minutes they welcomed us into their house, so affectionate, and they sat down and sang one of their songs for us. It was a beautiful song, just the three of them sitting opposite this kitchen table. The eldest one Eva picked up this telephone and listened to the dialling tone and went <tone>, and they all took their note off the dialling tone <laughs>. And then they just burst into song and it was the most beautiful thing. It's very rarely that I'm moved by music enough to want to cry, and within minutes I was sitting there with tears running down my cheeks. I think in some ways this was how we communicated, not that it was that extreme all the time but it was very much emotional communication between us, no words could be used really, and they loved the fact that we were so moved, and working in the studio consisted of cuddles mainly rather than long conversations <laughs> and it was wonderful. A really special experience, I wouldn't have missed it for the world, it definitely affected me in a big way. I'm so honoured to have worked with them, really just so honoured with them as people as well as musicians, because the music speaks for itself. It's just so incredible to be with people like that.
RS: What would be your choice for the song that would best demonstrate these voices?
KT: Most definitely Rocket's Tail. It shows the trio off the most, and sometimes when they're singing, if you're in the same room as them when they're singing, you can hear the air cracking, it's like there's so much harmonic information in their voices <laughs>.
RS: Tell me about that song then.
KT: About Rocket's Tail? Oh God, you would ask me about that one <laughs>. I wrote this for the trio, really, musically, in that I wanted a song that could really show them off. The other two songs that they appear on were already structured and in a way they had to very much fit around the song's structure to become a part of it, but this song they were there en masse, really, the whole song was based around them. And I wrote it on a synthesiser with a choir sound and just sang along. We put John's on and I had no idea if their voices were going to work on it at all, really, so the whole thing hung on the fact of whether when we went out to Bulgaria, whether it worked or not. And the arranger we worked with out there was such a brilliant man. In some ways, I think that the fact that we didn't speak the same language made our communication much easier because he seemed to know exactly what I wanted, and, really, just after a few hours he was coming up with the most incredible tunes, and I just had to say "Oh yes, I like that one," "Er, no, not too kean on that one," "Umm, that's lovely!" and just go away and write it out. It was incredible, I've never worked like that before, so quickly with someone I've never met before. It was really exciting to find that kind of chemistry.
RS: Rocket is one of your cats.
KT: Rocket *is* one of my cats, and he was the inspiration for the subject matter for the song, because he's dead cute <both laugh>. And it's very strange subject matter because the song isn't exactly about Rocket, it's kind of inspired by him and for him, but the song, it's about anything. I guess it's saying there's nothing wrong with being right here at this moment, and just enjoying this moment to its absolute <something>, and if that's it, that's OK, you know. And it's kind of using the idea of a rocket that's so exciting for maybe 3 seconds and then it's gone <phutt!>, you know that's it, but so what, it had 3 seconds of absolutely wonderful... <both laugh>
<Rocket's Tail is played>
RS: Is Rocket's Tail by Kate Bush, from her new album The Sensual World.
Are you concious of time going by as you're making these records, because the gap between records seems to get a year longer every time? If we go right back to your first and second albums there seems to be an extra year go in there every time. Are you concious of it, or do you just put that out of your mind?
KT: <laughs> Yes, I am very concious of it. I think it would be totally impossible for me not to be aware of it, because, you know, it just gets worse and worse as time goes on. My God, I'm never going to finish this! And I think my tapes wouldn't know what to do if they didn't have to sit there fermenting - it's getting like wine now, where I just leave the tapes as I go off and do something else, and the music kind of ferments by itself, you know. <laughs> It's terrifying, I'd love to be able to make an album in eight weeks, I'm so envious of people who can make an album that quickly, but I know I wouldn't and if I did, I just don't think I'd be happy with it unless I drastically changed and then I might be able to. But this is me, it just takes me a tremendous amount of agony, I mean, the agony I go through -it's pathetic, you know, it's just a record, it just ten songs on a record...
RS: This song, _The_Fog_ on here, featuring your father as himself...
KT: <laughs> ...My first feature film. <laughs>
RS: A family affair, this album. Tell me about that song. I haven't quite go the hang of it, it's something to do with childhood, it's something to do with childhood memories and growing up and having to stand on your own two feet. I think so anyway, but can you tell me what you were thinking?
KT: Yes, well that's jolly good.
RS: Totally wrong, but...
KT: No, it's not. Again, it's quite a complex song, where it's very watery. It's meant to be the idea of a big expanse of water, and being in a relationship now and flashing back to being a child being taught how to swim, and using these two situations as the idea of learning to let go. When I was a child, my father used to take me out into the water, and he'd hold me by my hands and then let go and say "OK, now come on, you swim to me." As he'd say this, he'd be walking backwards so the gap would be getting bigger and bigger, and then I'd go <splutters>. I thought that was such an interesting situation where you're scared because you think you're going to drown, but you know you won't because your father won't let you drown, and the same for him, he's kind of letting go, he's letting the child be alone in this situation. Everyone's learning and hopefully growing and the idea that the relationship is to be in this again, back there swimming and being taught to swim, but not by your father but by your partner, and the idea that it's OK because you are grown up now so you don't have to be frightened, because all you have to do is put your feet down and the bottom's there, the water isn't so deep that you'll drown. You put your feet down, you can stand up and it's only waist height. Look! What's the problem, what are you worried about?
[question missing here?]
KT: Again, I think it's such a human condition, where we actually, a lot of the time, have such fear of things actually there's no need to be frightened of at all. It's all in our heads, this big kind of trap --- you know, that actually it's not always as terrifying as we think. Again, you know, it's meant to be saying "OK, so it can be rough but there must be a way out --- it's all right!" <laughs>
< The Fog is played>
RS: Kate Bush and The Fog from The Sensual World . I got to stick this question in at some point, because everyone's saying "When is he going to ask her?" I ask you this every time and it's, "Are you going to tour this?" --- are you going to take it out on the road and 'do it'?
KT: It's a very good question... <pause -- laughs>. Umm... <pause>... I really enjoyed touring and this is so ironic. Everyone presumed I hated touring and this is why we haven't since. I wanted to spend time being a songwriter and writing songs, not re-creating songs that were already written, in front of an audience. They're two very different experiences. Touring is very much about contact. Real contact with an audience; with people. It's really having a good time, and it's also quite exhausting. It's a big commitment and exhausting.
Now, music is completely different. It's very microscopic --- that thing of taking lots of little bits of time and putting them together: it's just not running in real time. It's very introverted and it is the actual process of creation from scratch, and that meant so much more to me over the last few years than that contact. And I think I've learnt a tremendous amount by being in the studio for such intense periods doing this. Not only have I learnt a lot about the process of writing and and working with music but I've learnt a lot about myself, I think. But I do miss the human contact of touring and it really scares me --- the idea of performing live --- because I haven't done it for so long and the odd times I have, I felt very uncomfortable.
I'd really like to tour again but I'm terrified of committing myself at this point, but I guess this is one of the first points for a long time I'm actually starting to think "...it could be fun!". So the answer, in a short way...
RS: ...is "maybe"
KT: ...is "I dunno"! <laughs>
RS: Only do it if it's going to be fun.
RS: Don't do it if it's going to be a nightmare.
KT: Yes, and I think another reason why I haven't is I haven't been sure about that. You're absolutely right.
RS: I must ask you this --- you must know what this one's about. It's called "Heads We're Dancing" and... I read the lyrics here --- well, no, I'm not going to read them out but you just tell me what gave you the idea for this song.
KT: This is the darkest song on the album and I think, in some ways, it's not a song I would write now. But I had a friend who went to this dinner, years ago. He was sitting next to this guy all evening and they were chatting --- they had some of the most incredible conversations: he was so impressed with this guy. He was so intellectual and charming; so well-read, you know. He just thought this guy was perfect --- the chemistry between them... wonderful! They talked all night. And the next day, he went up to his friend who had arranged the evening and he said, "Who was that guy I was sitting next to last night? He was fascinating!" And the guy said to him, "Oh, didn't you know? That was Oppenheimer!" And my friend's reaction was absolute horror, because he had no idea.
And if he had known, he said he would never have behaved like that. He's not even sure he would have spoken to the guy because he had such strong feelings of hatred for everything that man represented. I thought that was really a bizarre and interesting situation, that he should really have liked this guy. He was sitting there with this person and he really liked him. But as soon as he knew the guy's name, he almost wanted to throw up in absolute disgust, he was so turned off by what this guy represented. And I thought, in some ways it must have been a wonderful relief for Oppenheimer that night.
I think he himself perhaps paid the price --- you know what I mean? He did not have an easy conscience, that man. And I was thinking this was very interesting: the idea of someone you found so charming, and later you find out they're the most horrific thing you can imagine. And I thought, well, this is kind of like the devil, isn't it? Where the devil is meant to be very sweet-spoken, very charming, very good looking! Everything that's kind of attractive in order to tempt --- temptation is an attractive thing. And I thought, what about the idea of someone who dances with the devil? And then I thought, you can't, you know --- it has to be a human.
Who is the nearest thing to the embodiment of the devil? It's Hitler: he is the personification of evil, as far as you can think of a single being out of history. It's a very dark idea, but it's the idea of this girl who goes to a big ball; very expensive, romantic, exciting, and it's 1939, before the war starts. And this guy, very charming, very sweet-spoken, comes up and asks her to dance but he does it by throwing a coin and he says, "If the coin lands with heads facing up, then we dance!" Even that's a very attractive "come on", isn't it? And the idea is that she enjoys his company and dances with him and, days later, she sees in the paper who it is, and she is hit with this absolute horror --- absolute horror. What could be worse? To have been so close to the man... she could have tried to kill him... she could have tried to change history, had she known at that point what was actually happening.
And I think Hitler is a person who fooled so many people. He fooled nations of people. And I don't think you can blame those people for being fooled, and maybe it's these very charming people... maybe evil is not always in the guise you expect it to be.
< Heads We're Dancing is played>
RS: As Kate was saying, a very dark song: Heads We're Dancing , from her new album, The Sensual World . Well, from that, let's move to this truly beautiful song right at the end here, called This Woman's Work , which you've done with the orchestra. This one I can't get to grips with, either. What it is she's just done; whether she's expecting; or exactly what's going on in this. All I know is: I hear it; it's a beautiful song; but I can't quite get to grips with it.
KT: All right. John Hughes, the American film director, had just made this film called "She's Having a Baby", and he had a scene in the film that he wanted a song to go with. And the film's very light: it's a lovely comedy. His films are very human, and it's just about this young guy --- falls in love with a girl, marries her. He's still very much a kid. She gets pregnant, and it's all still very light and child-like until she's just about to have the baby and the nurse comes up to him and says it's a in a breech position and they don't know what the situation will be.
So, while she's in the operating room, he has so sit and wait in the waiting room and it's a very powerful piece of film where he's just sitting, thinking; and this is actually the moment in the film where he has to grow up. He has no choice. There he is, he's not a kid any more; you can see he's in a very grown-up situation. And he starts, in his head, going back to the times they were together. There are clips of film of them laughing together and doing up their flat and all this kind of thing. And it was such a powerful visual: it's one of the quickest songs I've ever written. It was so easy to write. We had the piece of footage on video, so we plugged it up so that I could actually watch the monitor while I was sitting at the piano and I just wrote the song to these visuals.
It was almost a matter of telling the story, and it was a lovely thing to do: I really enjoyed doing it.
RS: Has the film been out yet?
KT: Yes. I don't think it was released here. It was released in America and did OK, but not really as well as his other films, which have been very successful. But it was a lovely thing to be asked to write for, because it was such a moving piece of film and I really like writing to visuals as well --- I find that very exciting.
< This Woman's Work is played>
RS: Just to conclude, you said earlier that the making of this album and the years of work that have gone into this, that one thing that came out of it, you did learn a lot about yourself. What sort of things have you learnt about yourself over the past three or four years?
KT: Um, well that's a very "up front" question there, Roger! And I suppose, I don't think I would have said after the last album "this is just an album". That's a very important thing for me to have learnt: I am very obsessive about my work. I spend most of my time working, and I think this is something that I've really looked at in the last few years: there's a lot more to life than just working and just making an album. It is just an album, it's just a part of my life. It's not my Life. And I think it was, you know... making albums was my life and it doesn't feel like that is any more. And that's tremendous, the sense of freedom that that gives me. It's so good and I think it's really healthy and much better for me, to try and put these things into perspective, you know.
RS: Right. Let us conclude with Deeper Understanding here... just fill me in on that one.
KT: This is about people... well, about the modern situation, where more and more people are having less contact with human beings. We spend all day with machines; all night with machines. You know, all day, you're on the phone, all night you're watching telly. Press a button, this happens. You can get your shopping from the Ceefax! It's like this long chain of machines that actually stop you going out into the world. It's like more and more humans are becoming isolated and contained in their homes. And this is the idea of someone who spends all their time with their computer and, like a lot of people, they spend an obsessive amount of time with their computer. People really build up heavy relationships with their computers!
And this person sees an ad in a magazine for a new program: a special program that's for lonely people, lost people. So this buff sends off for it, gets it, puts it in their computer and then like <pyoong!>, it turns into this big voice that's saying to them, "Look, I know that you're not very happy, and I can offer you love: I'm her to love you. I love you!" And it's the idea of a divine energy coming through the least expected thing. For me, when I think of computers, it's such a cold contact and yet, at the same time, I really believe that computers could be a tremendous way for us to look at ourselves in a very spiritual way because
I think computers could teach us more about ourselves than we've been able to look at, so far. I think there's a large part of us that is like a computer. I think in some ways, there's a lot of natural processes that are like programs... do you know what I mean? And I think that, more and more, the more we get into computers and science like that, the more we're going to open up our spirituality. And it was the idea of this that this... the last place you would expect to find love, you know, real love, is from a computer and, you know, this is almost like the voice of angels speaking to this person, saying they've come to save them: "Look, we're here, we love you, we're here to love you!" And it's just too much, really, because this is just a mere human being and they're being sucked into the machine and they have to be rescued from it. And all they want is that, because this is 'real' contact.
RS: Let's hear the song: Deeper Understanding , Kate Bush, from her Sensual World album. Kate, thank you very much.
KT: Thank you.
< Deeper Understanding is played>
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