To the Reaching Out (Interviews) Table of Contents
Date: Thu, 25 Jan 90 13:23:31 PST
Subject: The VH-1 interview Jan. 1990?
Sorry I took so long to post the interview. I finished transcribing it this weekend, though technical problems at work have prevented me from moving it off a floppy disk and onto to my workstation. The transcription is a very faithful rendition of what she said, with only the "uh's" and a few of the "you know's" edited out. The punctuation is done largely to my own tastes, so flame me if you think it reads badly. I did puncutate the part where she talked about Wilhelm Reich very carefully. It seemed to me that she hesitated, that she didn't want to get into the full story, and gave a shortened version without really saying what she felt about Reich and his work.
For those who have not seen the special, the interviewer and questions are never shown -- we are shown only Kate's responses to the questions. So the whole show has the feel of a monologue, where Kate changes the subject on a regular basis. The show generally denoted each change of subject with an excerpt from one of her videos, or from some footage they shot of Kate walking through the park in the autumn, leaves sweeping at her feet, black cape blowing in the breeze.
The VH-1 Interview
I think this album for me, unlike the last album, say, `Hounds of Love,' where I saw that as two sides -- one side being conceptual --this album is very much like short stories for me. Ten short stories that are just saying something different in each one and it was a bit like trying to paint the pictures accordingly. Each song has a different personality and so they each a need little bit of something here, a little bit of that there -- just like people, you know, some people you can't walk up to because you know they're a bit edgy first thing in the morning. So you have to come up sideways to them, you know, and it's kind of like how the songs are too. They have their own little personalities, and if it doesn't want you to do it, it won't let you.
<"Never be Mine" is played while Kate walks through the park>
I do think it's a very big self-therapy for me now. The more my work coming out, and the more I think it's actually almost a process for me to try and heal myself, have a look at myself.
I feel this is probably my most female album as well, in that I've explored female energies in myself as a writer, producer, that before I've really just done what I've seen all the other guys do, because really everything I've learned in the music industry about making records has been from them. And it occurred to me more in hindsight that at the time that a lot of what I was doing was very male influenced, and I just wanted to try and find a female energy for myself. Not that there's anything negative about male energy in music because it's great you know. I was just looking for a female approach, I guess.
<excerpts from "The Sensual World">
We wanted to make the video for `The Sensual World' as simple as possible in that so many videos now are overloaded with effects, big sets, they look expensive. So what we wanted to do was just keep it in one set, one environment and depict what for me the song `Sensual World' is about, which is the sensuality of this planet, the weather, the elemental changes, being able to reach out and touch, the sound of the wind, all of these wonderful things that we are surrounded by.
<more TSW excerpts>
I think nature is very important to me as an inspiration. It's very important for me to be able to just look at intense pieces of landscape and throughout history people have always gained inspiration from the sea, from mountains, from the sky. It's what we sort of strive for, isn't it? You know, nature is perfect. God made the world in absolute perfection and anything that a human being does can never really be perfect.
<"Reaching Out" played while Kate walks the countryside>
Discovery of music personally for me came when one day my father took me into the <kennel?> and showed me the scale of C on the keyboard. And I couldn't believe that this was how this worked, that it was so logical, that there was actually a plan to the keyboard that was so easy to see, that was like playing one finger on the notes and then singing that tune. And then gradually I got to to understand about chords, and once I hit chords that was really it, you know. This was the most exciting thing in my life, the chord.
My family is very musical, and as long as I can remember there was always music playing in the house.
It surprises me even now when I look back at the amount of time that I was putting in, that as you say I was dedicated. And I would think it was extraordinary looking back on it now if it wasn't for the fact that at the time I just felt so strongly that this was what I had to do. Its like it almost felt like a mission to me, that this was why I was herem this was what I had to do -- I had to make an album. And that was, that was it I didn't want to be famousm I didn't want to make lots of money, I didn't want to successful, but I desperately wanted to make an album that I hoped people would want to hear. So all my energy was going into that. Even the dancing was tied in really with just trying to allow myself to grow a bit, to be able to express myself. And I also think if I hadn't put in those two years of dance training, I don't think I could have coped with anything after that point. Because the discipline and the humility of it taught me was something I think I've so gained a tremendous amount from.
<excerpt from "Running Up That Hill" is played>
Well I actually left school, and I was training as a dancer. I kind of worked out a routine for my day, which would be get up in the morning, I'd practice scales without my piano, go out and dance and in the evening I'd come back and play the piano all night. And I sure remember, well, the summer of 76 which was really hot here. We had such hot weather, I had all the windows open. And I'd just used to write until you know four in the morning, and I got a letter of complaint from a neighbor who was basically saying `Shuuut Uuuup!' cause they had to get up at like five in the morning. They did shift work and my voice had been carried the whole length of the street I think, and they weren't too appreciative.
<excerpt from "Wuthering Heights" is played>
Well, the video we made for `Wuthering Heights' was probably amongst the first ever made, certainly here in this country in terms of a video, and I was very influenced at that time still by Lindsay Kemp. So it was very much the dance influence that I was expressing. So it was really working out choreography that just looked interesting, that would kind of create a persona of Cathy.
Well, I'm not actually a big Emily Bronte fan. A lot of people think I am, they presume I am. It just goes with this whole preconception they have of me as a sort of big Bronte fan, a Tolkien fan, the pre-Raphaelite lady. Which I think is actually a very big misconception. For me, `Wuthering Heights' is the ultimate love story. You just cannot get beyond the passion that they cover there. You know, its a love affair that goes beyond death -- they will not be stopped by nature's boundaries.
<excerpt of "Wow" from Hammersmith Odeon concert is played>
I only actually toured once ten years ago -- '79 -- and we toured England and Europe. I had never done anything like that before. I'm not a performer, I'm not someone who's grown up playing around clubs or pubs and then becomes a recording artist. I'm someone who from a young age wrote songs, and then gradually learned to sing, and then gradually there I was in the studio and then... It's all sort of an unfolding process for me.
<excerpt of "James and the Cold Gun" from Hammersmith is played>
We wanted to do something special, and I guess really because of my influences from people like Lindsay Kemp we wanted to make it kind of theatrical. And so it would incorporate lots of different things, like dance, and we had a magician, and we had some poetry and just all different elements thrown together and it had a kind of a circus feel.
<excerpt of "Don't Push Your Foot on the Heartbrake" from Hammersmith is played>
In terms of what we were doing then it was very experimental. I mean apart from musicals, or opera production, it was kind of unheard of to involve so many elements.
What I needed was a microphone that I didn't have to hold, because we wanted to do dance that involved two other dancers so I could be lifted and we could run across the stage, and holding a microphone was very inhibiting. So the sound guy that we had for the tour, I said to him `I want you to invent a microphone for me that I don't have to carry'. So he basically invented the radio mikes that you see now, that he made it out of a coat hanger. So he got an old coat hanger and kind of bent it into shape here, and then had this piece that came round here, that the microphone was then put on so it was just in front of the mouth.
<excerpt from "Cloudbusting" is played>
For me, what's important is writing songs and it's just incredible how many things spill out of that. How the lyrics, being a singer, and then really by making videos it becomes an extension again of the song. And I suppose I've always been interested in the visual side of things. I've always loved film, and it just seemed like a natural progression for me to get more and more involved in what I did musically and visually. Because I made the first album, and then I made the videos that went with it. so these are things that I've been doing for years now, and each time I've done them I've become a bit more involved.
I suppose my favorite one is when it's a story, though, because then it's like making a film.
`Cloudbusting' is about Wilhelm Reich, who...was...kind of remembered for work he did on `orgone energy' and he had this thing called a cloudbuster, which was all tied in with orgone energy, but...he could make it rain.
When we were thinking about someone to play the part of the father, we just sort of instantly came up with Donald Sutherland, and everyone laughed, because it's like, you know, he's one of the greatest actors in the world, really, and we jokingly thought `yeah, yeah wouldn't it be great'.
So we did actually approach his agent, who immediately said no, he couldn't because he's just too busy. But a friend of ours knew a friend of his, who asked him, and he gave us three days of his time in between shooting two other films. And I still can't believe he did it. It was a wonderful thing for him to do, give us that time. Made it a very, very special thing for me.
<excerpt from "Big Sky">
Well, it's very difficult making videos. Obviously you want to try and do something different. Everyone is making videos -- there's competition out there like probably nothing else.
<cut to set of "This Woman's Work">
Tim is kind of sitting throughout the song, waiting for his girlfriend or whoever who is in the hospital. So most of the video is very distressed. You know he's in a room, distressed state and he sort of looks up, and then light goes away from the window, this spot comes down. So he's just sitting in this spot and he's like he's suddenly conjuring up these memories. And then I sort step in with a raincoat and put it around his shoulders.
<excerpt from "This Woman's Work" video>
When I'm directing them I would storyboard them, and then get them drawn up professionally so that other people can understand. Cause otherwise it's like `ha ha ha, what's that meant to be,' you know, `that's not meant to be me, that looks like a blob'. And also, just getting camera moves and that across, on a professionally drawn storyboard. Everyone can relate to an image -- its such a good way of getting people to understand what you really mean.
I don't think I ever wanted to become an actress. Acting is something that I've never had a passion for, or an ambition for. Really, everything so far has stemmed from songwriting for me.
One of my favorite people from the movies was Alfred Hitchcock, because for me the guy was a genius. He was completely revolutionary, he was very witty, but witty in a very `out there' sense, and I still think people are learning about the film industry from him every time they watch one of his films. Beautiful -- it's like the guy had a camera for a pair of eyes.
<excerpt from TWW is played>
All right, I wouldn't like to sit here and say that feel like I'm emulating Hitchcock, but definitely he's a tremendous influence on me whenever I'm making a video. You know, he's really the ultimate reference point.
<excerpt from LAA is played>
Well `Love and Anger', of all the songs on the album, is really the one I know the least about. I don't really know what it's about --it's had so many different faces. But it was one of the first songs to be written, and one of the last songs to be finished. And I think all the songs on this album are about relationships.
<more of LAA is played>
I don't think i'm politically minded at all. Politics are something that -- they're just not a part of me. I don't understand what it is, I don't like what I see in politics. I don't see politics doing any good for people, really. It seems a very intellectual preoccupation, you know, it's a kind of action, isn't it, that does things for people. I think I'm an emotionally based person, and when political issues reach me emotionally, which of course is how most of use feel the hollowed end of them, that would then move me to write a song or something. But I wouldn't ever sit and write about politics -- it's not a part of me.
I suppose if I had to name the main things that are very very good triggers for ideas, it would be books, films, and conversation. And that just about covers it really, for me. The odd walk in the park?
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