To the Reaching Out (Interviews) Table of Contents
Date: Tue, 03 Apr 90 11:44 PDT
Subject: U.S. radio interview from December 1989
<Here is part of a U.S. radio interview from December 1989. I do not know the origin of this interview. It was published in the maiden issue of a new American fanzine called Reaching Out, without specific identification. The interview is prefaced by a brief history of Kate's career. Edited by Andrew Marvick from a transcription by Cynthia Kiley.>
Why was there such a long break between Hounds of Love and The Sensual World ?
"Well, we did a compilation in between: The Whole Story. But, um...really I wanted to take a break. I&csqd spent a long time in the studio consistently, and promoting, and I just wanted some space for myself, so I took time at home and just saw friends and just retreated a bit. I wanted to look for something new to say on the new album. I feel always as if I have to make some distinct break between albums, so that it's just not a continuation of the one before."
Why did you re-do the vocals on Wuthering Heights ?
"Well, to be honest, I think if we'd had more time of other <more time!>, I probably would have done the same with a couple songs. I just felt that Wuthering Heights felt particularly dated. It sounded dated. The other tracks were just kind of holding their heads above water. And so we liked the idea of re-doing the vocal and remixing the track--not re-recording anything else--just so we could bring it up to date, so we could give it a more contemporary sound."
Why was Kevin Killen chosen to mix The Sensual World ?
"It's a very intimate process for us, making albums, now. I spend most of my time with my recording engineer, Del Palmer. So really most of the time it was just the two of us. When I was writing and, um...Obviously we wanted to bring someone in who...we felt good with, but who obviously was a good person, too.
"I met Kevin, and I obviously liked his track record. I love what he's worked on: it's diverse, but it's also artists who put a tremendous amount of personal care into what they do. So I was looking for someone who responded to artists. You know, I wanted someone who knew what I wanted. And he was lovely to work with. He really was a pleasure to work with, and fitted into our very close circle very easily and, um...I think Kevin did a great job. Lovely working with him. He really understood what we were trying to say with the music. It's difficult to bring someone in at a late stage in an album, when it's been such a close thing. But he really became one of the family."
The title track of The Sensual World was inspired by a character in Ulysses, by James Joyce.
"Well, originally the words were taken from Molly Bloom's speech. I tried to get permission, but it was refused. Obviously there wasn't anything I could do about it except either forget the song or rewrite it. So, as such a lot of effort had gone into the musical side of it, and we were quite pleased with it, I really just re-approached the words, keeping the same rhythm and texture. But it turned itself into a story about Molly Bloom's stepping out of the book into the sensual world...In some ways, the lack of co-operation made us work harder to turn the song into something else. So that's quite nice."
What's the song The Fog all about?
"It's very much using a parallel of a father teaching a child to swim, with a relationship. Well, when I was taught to swim my father would take me out into the water. Then he'd say 'Swim!' to me, and you would have 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 letting go: I think we have to do that throughout life. Really, the older I get, the more I feel that 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 is that things that you're frightened of--quite often it's the thought of them that's more important than the reality. It's the idea of water seeming so deep that you're going to drown if you put your feet down, but actually when you do put your feet down the bottom is quite close and you can stand up--it's probably up to your waist--and everything is all right."
Why did you pick Mick Karn <former bass player with the defunct group Japan, more recently a solo artist> to do a guest spot on Heads We're Dancing ?
"I met Mick at a charity gig in London <The Prince's Trust Gala concert of 1981, during which Kate performed The Wedding List, with Karn on bass>. And I've always liked his style of playing. It's very distinctive. He has such a strong personality, and I know his work is very respected by the musicians, which is always a good sign. But I thought that for some reason 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 storyline. I hadn't sent any lyrics or anything, and he just kind of played this part, and it was so right for the song, and I was so knocked out. He was a nice person as well as a great musician. I find more and more with musicians 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."
What was it like working with the Trio Bulgarka?
"About three years ago my brother Paddy played me a tape of the Trio. He's always been very interested in ethnic music, and has collected instruments from around the world. And 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 started thinking, God, wouldn't it be nice working with them. I was so scared about the idea of listening to this great music, that it took me a long time to work 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, Joe Boyd, who got us in touch with people out there. I actually went to Bulgaria and met them there, and we spent three days rehearsing. They didn't speak any English, we didn't speak any Bulgarian--we had a great time! Although we had translators, a lot of communication was done on an emotional level. It was very interesting. They just come up and cuddle you, and you sing to each other. It's an absolutely wonderful experience. They're like my sisters now: I now have three sisters."
And Deeper Understanding ?
"I suppose it's looking at society, where more and more people are shut away in their homes with televisions and computers--in a way, being encouraged not to come out. There are so many people who live in London in high-rise flats, they don't know their neighbours. They don't know anyone in the building. People are getting isolated. It was the idea that this person had less and less human contact, and more and more contact with a computer. They were working with it all day and all night, and they saw an 'alpha' in a magazine for a programme for people who are lonely and lost. So they right off for it, and put it into the computer. The idea of it's 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 the person love. The idea that they have such little human warmth, and are getting this tremendous affection and deep love from their computer. But it's kind of so intense it's too much for them to take. They actually have to be rescued from it. It's about being killed by love, I suppose."
And This Woman's Work ?
"Really the subject matter in the film <John Hughes's She's Having a Baby, for the climactic scene of which Kate wrote this song> lay down the grounds for what the song was about. It's about a man waiting and waiting while his wife is having a baby, and there are complications. It is the exploration of someone being left on their own, in a big way, suddenly. In the film this guy has to grow up. He's suddenly confronted with these terrible things: he could be a much better human being. It's moments like that that make you feel things. You should try to make the most of life that you can, and not when it's too late."
Does having complete control over your career become overwhelming sometimes?
"Yes, it does, but I think in a way what I'm moving towards--and I don't know if it will work or not, but I feel it's leading me there--is the combination of music and film. I hope that someday--in a few years--I could experiment with making a film. Maybe not a full-length feature, but I would like to work with visuals and music at the same time, because at the moment I'm restricted to visuals--in the context of the videos--to music that already exists, and I'd really like to play with this a lot more."
Curious about your family's contribution to The Sensual World. Could you tell us about their role?
"I suppose what's really great is that I'm surrounded by very talented people who are related to me, 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, and because we know each other so well, it's such a relaxed atmosphere."
Why have you not toured in so long?
"The problem is that since the last tour I've been wrapped up in making albums, and trying to keep control of what I do. I get so involved in what I do, it's an exhausting, long process for me, and really with the albums taking so long over the last few years, I don't think I've had space in myself to tour. I really enjoyed the last tour--people think I didn't and that's why I haven't toured--but it't really more that I get so wrapped up in all the projects I do. I don't feel I've wanted to do it enough...I don't think I would have done it well and maybe that's what I can say. I'm sorry...I don't want to starve people with contact. It's just doing what I do well is so important to me. I've got to try and do the best I can with everything."
Do you think not touring has held your career back in the U.S.?
"Well, I think it's very possible, plus I think there have been so many other inaccessible areas to me here as an artist. I guess my last record company found it difficult to express me as an artist to the public, and my second and third albums were received here at a later date <1983-1984>. I think people must have quite a confusing image of me. In a way this is something I have to not worry about too much, um...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 let people know it's out there. But all those areas kind of are out of my control."
Could you say a few words about the first tour?
"Terribly overly ambitious--that's a trait of mine. I am terribly over-ambitious with things I try to do. It's quite scary trying to deal with such big things.
"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 exude joy and happiness. It's difficult for me, obviously. I hate the thought of a lot of people wanting me to tour and I not. It's frustrating for them not to have contact with me as an artist, but there are records and videos. This <radio interview> is great, because this is direct contact. They can hear I'm being asked questions and me replying. It's great, but in a way doing interviews for the press 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 thought I could do something special. I just think everyone would be unhappy."
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