Interviews & Articles


Radio France
C’est Lenoir
Interview by
Hugo Cassavetti
November 11, 2005

To the Reaching Out (Interviews) Table of Contents

Host : Bernard Lenoir (BL)
Interviewer : Hugo Cassavetti (HC)
BL and HC in French. Kate in English.

["The Red Shoes" is played]

BL : Remember, that was last century in 1993 ‘The red shoes’, the last record but one of Kate Bush. Since then we were waiting, we were hoping, also doubting I must admit. Hugo Casavetti, sincerely, did you expect her to make another record?

HC : That she would do it yes, but how long we would have to wait…

BL : It used to be 3 or 4 years between each record but now 12 years, we didn’t expect it anymore!

HC : I think she also didn’t, she used to say…mmh…what’s incredible is that time went also fast, maybe because one doesn’t wonder every day when the new one is going to be there, but then it’s one year, 2-3 years then 6…12 years seems incredible, I think it’s practically a record in music history…

BL : Many people, including myself, thought that she quit, that she definitely went away from show-business and music but not at all. You got the opportunity to meet her some time ago in London…

HC : Yeah, somehow at her second home, at Abbey Road where she mixes her records, where she used to record them but now as she records them in her own studio, she mixes them there…she was there on the top floor with that view in that mythical studio…

BL : One had to admit that she was working and that she had never stopped…she had a child…

HC : Well, that she had never stopped, yes and no…she had a child later…she’s going to explain what has happened during these 12 years after The red shoes.

Kate: The first thing was I did really need to take a break. And I think it was great. I think it was a very wise decision, and I thought I'd take a year out... that's what I thought take a year out. And then I can, you know, chill out and do a few things. And then that year sort of became two... and I thought "mmm...I quite like this, actually". I suspect the first song I probably wrote, that ended up on the record, which is probably one of two or three, was "King of The Mountain". So that must be about nine... nine years ago. And I thought, you know, "that's quite good". I think that would be nice is the first single... and "I've got one" and off I went off as into doing life stuff again. And then I sort of... let see... probably the next one would of been something like "Sunset" and "An Architect's Dream". And I...I started playing with the idea that maybe they'd be quite nice somehow to be a part of this piece, rather than just individual songs in a way similar to what I did with "Hounds of Love", where...

HC: Or The Ninth Wave?

Kate: That's right, where you had each side of a record. But at this point I hadn't decided it would be two records, just thought that it would be nice to do a conceptual piece I went off again doing life stuff, had a baby, which was an enormous... I mean, it's just so time-consuming and took me well away from recording process. And then eventually sort of got all that under control and settled down to try start really making a record. And at first that was really difficult, because I suddenly was having to work in very very small snatches of time, which I'd never done before. I know how to do it.

HC : (translation of Kate).

BL : It’s strange to hear her talking about singles, one hardly thinks about her making singles…

HC : Yes, it’s quite an absurd notion, I asked her, it’s kind of surrealistic that 9 years ago she thought she had a single, it’s not really…I asked her about it.

Kate: I'm not a singles artist. Actually, I don't expect to have hit singles. I don't even know what a single is now. (laughs) But I think it is important, I think in a way it's almost like... that's your... that's like your messenger... that you send out... (laughs) in front of the Army... to sort of say (makes a "charge" noise) ... you know here we come. Here is the Army! And so I think it's important it's something that somehow you feel you want to intrigue people, because like I say don't expect to write song that's going to be a smash hit single and everybody's dancing... so with me, I suppose "what do I do?. Maybe have something that's got a story that's intriguing or... and I don't know why I'm not sure I felt that with any of the other records. But as soon as I'd written it I thought "I want this to be the first single".

HC : (translation)

["King of the Mountain" is played]

Kate: The thing, well, that I think of is how horribly famous he was as well. For somebody who... seemed to be such an awfully nice human being seems to be such a... you know...you see bits of film of him, particularly when he was very young, and he seemed so, I don't know, so innocent and sweet. I mean fame is one thing, but to be as famous as he was, I think is probably... I can't think of... the only other person I can think of somebody like Sinatra, who you could compare their level of fame. I just don't think human beings are to build to deal with that kind of fame... it must... it just must be horrible.

HC : (translation)

BL : She’s not tender when she says in the song ‘why does a multi-millionaire fill up his home with priceless junk ?’, we can imagine Graceland filled with cheap rubbish…She always managed to avoid that…she controlled all that…

HC : Yes, she says he feels lost on the mountain, actually, I asked her, she never met Elvis, and she did her best not to apparently

Kate: What I don't know if I'd controlled it but it's something that I... I think it's something that deeply challenges...where creativity comes from. It threatens it. My desire was never to be famous. If my desire was to famous, I would've approach things very differently. I would be turning records out very quickly. Doing lots of stuff on television, you of course, if I could. That's not what... that's not what I wanted to do. I think what's important to me is to have a base that I work from, as a writer more I feel that I can focus because, you know, you must know as a writer that having that creative focus is actually quite difficult to achieve sometimes and I think, fame is one of those things where... what I see happening to some people, particularly people who get very famous is... I think it's very hard for them to hang onto who they are... and that is so incredibly important to me... that I that I know who I am.

HC : (translation)

BL : …then the title on the first CD ‘How to be invisible’ is not quite innocent.

["How To Be Invisible" is played]

BL : Kate Bush, happily not yet invisible but too long away…

HC : …but this is Kate Bush, what’s funny about this song is that it can be interpreted as we like and this is her art, she plays with this…she says that to her…that’s what is funny, the way she was, maybe less now than before, some kind of a child-woman, she plays with that…there’s always something very mysterious and literary and at the same time something childlike, she always had that from the beginning…she says that to her it’s a mischievous song, it’s like to be in the mind of a child dreaming about that and playing tricks on others… I told her it made me think about seeing oneself in the mirror and being invisible, something very close to the concept of the record, especially the second part, that is to learn at last to see oneself and to look in the mirror, to look at everything except oneself, all that’s around getting more important, which illustrates the concept of the record and she said…oh no I was not thinking about that…she said that some other people think it’s a tough and frightening song… but she says that’s what she likes and that’s why she’ll never really explain it.

BL : ‘How to be invisible’ is on the first CD…

HC : …it’s the famous song…

BL : …it’s not the concept part, the second CD where everything is linked …

HC : …where the story is interlinked, it’s a whole day where she goes from the sky to the earth…

BL : …why hasn’t she made the concept from the beginning ?

HC : Because she wonders a lot…

Kate: It got to a point where the conceptual thing was sort of coming together, and I thought well, when I'm listening to this I get to about the third track, and I start to feel... actually I feel a bit tired, I thought "well, you know, if it's is like that for me, what would it be like for somebody who's not heard it before?" And I thought "Oh God" the time you get to the end of the concept you've got individual songs as well, I thought "this is too long". And this was one of the things I thought I did wrong with "The Red Shoes" that it was too long. I did it for all the best reasons, I wanted it to be something that people got their money's worth, on the CD, but it was too long, and I think actually that there's some of the best songs I've written on that last album, but it kind of lost among too much material. So then I started thinking more maybe what I could do is just make it two records. And then I could have one that would just be the concept so that would be self-contained, which makes sense. And then the other could just be the individual songs. And the more I thought about that, the more I liked it. I like the idea there was a sort of balance. And that, in a way, it was very similar to "Hounds of Love" except, instead of being a side, it was a disc.

HC : (translation)

["Prelude" is played]

Kate: I don't feel that I'm starting off where I left off. I don't want to basically be making one long record. I want them all to be very different, to have a different personality, a different place. Otherwise, it's not interesting for me creatively. Otherwise you're just doing the same, the same song. You're just singing the same song will the time. To me that's not challenging. I can't see the point of doing that, you've done that one, why do that again? I want to do... go somewhere different. And of course I can't go somewhere completely different, because am a human being and am going to have themes they keep recurring, which I like actually I like the idea of having these revisited themes but maybe, in a slightly different way, and I think that's something that a lot of artists do. I mean, painters have done it a lot, you know, Monet used to paint the same scene maybe five or six times. But each one would be slightly different, and I think that's very interesting.

HC : (translation)

["An Architect's Dream" is played]

BL : Kate Bush, double CD ‘Aerial’ out this week .‘An architect’s dream’…architecture, painting, these are things that touch her very much…

HC : It’s the art she identifies the most with and maybe regrets not to master…

BL : …as well as music…

HC : …yes, or literature…

BL : We can feel that she experiences nature and all that surrounds her as a continuous work of art, we can feel that through this record…

HC : I think that’s what she wants to do more and more with her records, to imitate life and nature, to fit in there harmoniously, which is maybe the vocation of an artist.

Kate: I love paintings... I love paintings. I really get a buzz out of seeing a beautiful painting, and it's something I can't do. But I suppose in a way, I think of it being more of a kind of moving image...what I do, because it's connected with the unfolding of time. It's much more like a movie where, in a lot of ways it is visual for me. I don't see colors or anything like that. I know some people dot. It's more like... I remember saying this to somebody once... and it sounds so pretentious... but I do think there are comparisons. It's almost like to lead voice is...the leading actor. And then you got all these other things, that actually sort of become the scenery, do you know what I mean? And actually somebody said that, when they heard the second disc on this record, and it was just about the biggest compliment I've ever had... they said "it wasn't like listening to record, it was like watching a movie or something" and I thought that was so great.

HC : (translation)

BL : Such a demand is far from simple little song…

When I was writing at that age, all I was doing was just writing at the piano, and literally just turned churning them out. Whereas, what I do now is... I'm making a record. I'm not writing songs, I'm making a record. So actually, in a way, what I've done is expanded the creative process has expanded in a way sort of... expanded to other areas as well. Like... in some ways, I suppose it's a bit silly, like the artwork with this record... was so important to me so, much more than previous artwork, which has always been important as well. Because I always see the bit like the cover of a book, do you know what I mean? I had this real, what I wanted to do was... I used to the love buying vinyl records. It was such a delight, because he had a big piece of artwork, a very physical object. Wasn't it delightful? We all loved buying records. I think in a way we've all been slightly robbed... when we go and buy a CD. Because you have this piece of plastic, it's much smaller. It's not a tactile object in the same way. I remember friends mine, their vinyl records were scarred with their love, do you know what I mean? They played it so many times, there were tracks that would just skip through, because they were just scratched so much. But in a way, that showed how much they loved it, do you know what I mean? And there was a real... I don't know... there is just something about vinyl records somehow has been lost. I think what I'm trying to say is I just wanted artwork for this to be really nice, to feel tactile again. So we took it out of a plastic box. And I try to make it a bit like a sort of like a book... almost like with nice pictures and a little story in the lyrics. So people feel they're getting something... that is almost an extension to the music.

BL : I agree, hurray for the vinyl!

HC : (translation)

["Sunset" is played]

BL : The first time I heard this song, I thought Peter Gabriel was singing with Kate Bush it’s actually Lol Crčme, an old hand…

HC : Former singer of 10cc.

BL : Which just shows that your name may be BUSH but still be talented’, as say Samuel [message from a listener].We never doubted this but listening to this record : it shows a great balance for someone sometimes considered a recluse…well she’s not Salinger!

HC : She says it’s a happy record, anything has been written about her, even some people who admire her say she’s crazy, she lives in a castle…it’s funny how she reacts to that, she says she’s not mad, not a recluse, she’s just trying to live in a simple way, the life of an ordinary person, not like a show-business person…she says that if she was a weirdo she would react badly, she feels it’s very unfair to…

BL : To what ?

HC : Sorry, I’m translating before she says it !

BL : It doesn’t matter !

HC : Doesn’t it ?

BL : We’re going to listen to her, we can’t get enough of this ‘demoiselle’

Kate: I don't think I'm a weirdo at all, I'm not reclusive, but just try to live a normal life. And I try to just try to be... a normal person, rather than live the life of someone in the industry. If I was weird, than I suppose... maybe... I don't know... maybe it would upset me more. I don't think I am weird. I just have a great sense of injustice about that because... I just work. I fight, really, to live what I consider to be an extremely normal life. And I think... that that has... to me that's something that has integrity and value. You know, I don't want to start sounding pompous. But you know, It would be easier for me to live a life of making money... and... playing the game of being famous, because, you know, it is quite hard to just keep working for years and years on something that...you don't even know if it's going to be any good at the end of it, you know what I mean? And so... sometimes I just think that, you know... and also because I don't want to be self promotional. There's no way I can go out after something's said and say "I'm not weird!. I'm not weird". Because then I'm being forced to be somebody who's playing the playing the part of being a famous person.

HC : (translation)

HC: …She says it would be easier to try to make a lot more money…

BL : To be Madonna…

HC : No, she respects Madonna a lot, if that’s what she wants…

["Aerial" is played]

BL : Hugo, I’m sure you can’t talk to blackbirds as well as Kate Bush.

HC : That’s for sure…

BL : ‘Aerial’, Kate Bush ‘s new record, it’s absolutely sumptuous, we recommend it once again. Listen to Kate Bush again next week in Laurent Lavige show at 11 pm every night.

[English transcription by Chris Williams. French transcription and translation by Olivier.]

To the Reaching Out (Interviews) Table of Contents

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

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