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(Scan of original German
Interview with Kate Bush about her first album in twelve years, about birdsong, motherhood and washing-machines.
There are strict rules in the pop business. And then there is Kate Bush. Everything
that the English musician has produced, always with determination, in the last 28 years is as unconventional as it is unique. At the age of 15 she had already composed more than 100 songs. At the age of 17 she released “Wuthering Heights” as the first single, against the wishes of her record company. And with her interpretation of Emily Brontë's novel, she reluctantly became a star. This resulted in a career that couldn't have been more uneven. More than a decade has passed since her 1993 album “The Red Shoes”; without new music, without any noteworthy signs of life, and of course, without any interviews. The 47 year old hates interviews as much as she disregards and despises the rules of the show-business. Nevertheless, she spoke with us about her new double album “Aerial”.
The same amount of time which you need to complete one album, some other musicians bring out up to six albums. Does that not scare you?
You could turn the question around. Why do the others bring out so many albums? From my perspective, it is impossible to bring out six or seven albums in twelve years, all of which contain the same high standard and quality. I needed 16 years for my first seven albums. Those I have practically spent entirely in the studio. I desperately needed a break after my last album, because looking back at it, I'm not too happy with it.
Even though you control everything, from the compositions to the cover art?
“The Red Shoes” contains some of my best songs, but in retrospect I'm not too happy with the finished record. A big part of this is because of the CD format, that sort of forces us musicians to put on 80 minutes of continually good music. But that isn't easy. In hindsight I don't think my last album is exciting enough, because of its length.
So is it not risky to release a double album like “Aerial”?
Not really, because “Aerial” is split into “A Sea of Honey”, the more song based first album, and then the concept album “A Sky of Honey”. Together they hold about 80 minutes long. I could have made one CD with that. But I didn't want the listener to feel overwhelmed.
Don't you constantly stumble across boundaries in the music business, with your idealism?
Very early in my career I established my own production company that licenses my music and everything that goes with it. So I have complete control over the creative process. I don't need an entity that lies between me and my listeners. Who ever said that creating music was easy? Possibly the many cynics in the music business. I have nothing cynical about me.
Does your long break have anything to do with the absurdity of the show-business?
No, because I have never seen myself as part of it. Originally I had planned to take a year out, to become distant from my music for a while. Well, and that year turned into twelve (laughs). The 16 years I had constantly spent in the studio resulted in a standstill of my own personal development. We all need some sort of detachment from what we love to do now and again. Among other things I have spent the last 12 years being a mother. Every mother of a little boy knows how simply being a mother moves you further.
The title “Aerial” has many meanings. What does it mean to you?
I associate height with the title. “Aerial” marks a level on which you can find yourself above things, and from which you can look down.
Would that not be the perfect description of your new place in the musical landscape?
It would be arrogant of me to agree. I don't think about my importance in pop history. For me, the titles of books and records have always been more important. They have always, when chosen well, made me curious about their content.
What relevance do you still see in music as an art form? Especially your epic work, in a time of quick availability of entertainment?
A great deal. I mean, the world is almost screaming for emotional, high quality feeding. My music takes time to be understood. That's risky of course. But why would you want to take on a medium like music, if you weren't going to be brave and work ahead and take risks. The great value that art has always had for me was the emotional expression of the author or painter. Because of the flatness and the throw-away character of modern pop-culture, all the emotional quality is slowly being sucked out of our lives. I almost feel it's my duty to hold something against this situation.
What is the biggest misconception of Kate Bush the person?
It frustrates me that I am continually presented to the public as some kind of hermit. I am actually leading a completely normal life. I have simply chosen against the lifestyle of the music industry or the world of show-business. Excessive egos, greed for power, greed for money, neuroses, psychoses, sarcasm, cynicism – I don't need any of that. I find it frightening that some of my colleagues don't even know how to work a washing-machine.
Apropos washing-machine. Why did you choose a washing machine to be the protagonist in your new song “Mrs. Bartolozzi”?
Now that is difficult to answer. I don't like to explain the content of my songs. There is already too much music out there that comes with the instruction manual. I want the listeners to create their own interpretations, so that the songs sort of become their own.
Please reveal something about the birds on your second CD “A Sky of Honey”, as they're playing a central part. Do you really sing with the birds in the title song “Aerial”?
Yes, well at least I tried to find a human equivalent to birdsong. I love birds' singing. It's beautiful. Perhaps I like it so much because it sounds very emotional, without it taking away all our imagination with thousands of obvious words.
Have you met journalists with inquisitive intentions, or why don't you like to give interviews?
It doesn't make sense to give interviews when I don't have an album out to promote. To sell myself as a person is completely pointless too. Because everything I have to say to the world is in my music. Direct and without blockades. Those who have heard my records, and have wondered how I am really like, know the answer already.
[German translation by maluslokus]
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