Interviews & Articles


"Burning Bush"
by Tom Lanham
March 14, 1994

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Time for a bird in hand with Kate Bush, by Tom Lanham

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What can you say on meeting Kate Bush? When the reclusive 35 year-old Brit recently did an in-store at New York's Tower Records, one swooning acolyte could only stammer, "Your music...good!" Most of the 2500 faithful, however, came bearing gifts, including CDs, books, flowers, even a pair of red dance shoes in the singers size. The footwear, of course, commemorated Bush's new Columbia disc "The Red Shoes", as well as her just completed film, "The Line, The Cross, The Curve", which re-tells Michael Powell's classic motion picture, "The Red Shoes", with Bush in both the starring in directoral role. Given that she never tours, almost never grants interviews and -- because she hates to fly -- rarely sets foot on American soil, this performer continues to generate a mania of monolithic proportions. It is a persona communicated directly from her recordings... now that's charisma.

In person, however, Bush is fairly easy to converse with. She dresses in a no-nonsense blue blazer, stirrup pants and removes her tinted, owlish spectacles, so her interview answers come across with thought-out precision. But she's no novice. On "The Red Shoes" she may soar through waifish acrobatics with, "And So Is Love" and "Moments Of Pleasure", or frolic gaily in the sonic forest of "Rubberband Girl" and "Eat The Music", but, when it comes to music, this lady is pure business. And any queries into her personal life are met with a sidelong glance, a cold, nuff-said smile and a puff of cigarette smoke into the face of Hits' master of the monosyllabic malaprop, Tom Lanham "On Wry".

The story of "The Red Shoes" concerns a girl who dons ballet slippers, only to be cursed to keep dancing afterwards. Is that a metaphor for your decision to enter the music business in 1978 with your first single, "Wuthering Heights"?

It wasn't meant like that, but it's a very interesting idea... the whole thing of being possessed by art. Obviously, I'm under pressure, but I feel incredibly honored to be in a situation where you can do what I like. In many ways, I'm very lucky. I don't think the normal pressures of the business really affect me that strongly. What's important to me is to be able to make records and I'm pleased with. Because in everyone's been so supportive of my work, I've been able to do that.

Doesn't your family handle most of your business and management affairs?

I was very lucky that, early on, I had some really good advice from the people around me. I was advised not to get involved with a manager, so I was actually much more in control of my own situation. I didn't little if a want to end up spending all my time as a kind of TV personality, talking about my work. I wanted to spend the time actually working on my work. By my being in control, I was able to choose how much time spend on this record, which is a very important creative decision. I don't think you can ever be removed from all the bullshit, but you can spend as little time with it as possible. Ultimately, we are all what we are, and it's not so much the situations you go through us how you deal with them, how you react to things, and much of that has to do with a person's nature. Most songwriters tend to be very sensitive people, so generally, they're quite good at being aware of the right priorities. And that's what keeps you down to earth.

"The Red Shoes" sounds like a very sad album, full of loss and longing.

I don't think of it is sorrowful or sad. There are sad images, but in most of the situations I tended to balance them out with things are quite happy or have a sense of humor. Ultimately, the thing is to look for a positive outcome to a sad situation. And what the situations ideally do is make you realize how precious life is. It's an incredibly privileged position to be alive and happy... and it's our duty to enjoy it.

You directed some of your own videos and now an hour long film. How did you catch the movie bug?

It's just a fantastic thing to work with sound and pictures. I find the combination really fascinating -- it's something I'd like to be of the do more of. The director I used to work with would always encourage me to go into the editing room, and I found that the way a film has put together is essentially what it's all about. Eventually, I became more interested in the idea of using videos to tell stories, particularly for the songs were chosen as singles, and particularly if that song had a story. Working with visuals gives you much more opportunity to do interesting things.

It's a wonder more people don't take the cinema seriously.

It's just what turns people on, really. Do have train spotters here? In England, we have these people who spot trains -- they watch trains, look at the numbers and have an absolute passion for it. They live their lives to spot trains. For other people, it's watching movies, reading books, or appreciating art, opera or ballet. Some of these things appeal to a lot of people, and some of them only appeal to small groups. Out of all the arts, I think films probably the most far-reaching. Not everyone likes the same film, but I haven't met anyone who doesn't like watching some kind of film.

As far back as your childhood, it seems like art has taken you away to a parallel dream world.

There's nothing like reading a book -- it's so personal. All other art forms, in a way, are shared, and not something that relies on the imagination in such a personal way. More and more, it seems we're being removed from the whole experience of reading -- by television, radio, new visual formats. Hopefully, he will end up leading back to the written word.

You just turned 33, we are supposed to gain true insight into your own soul. What have you learned?

That happens once a year for me. But it takes me quite a long time to learn things. So what ever it is, I'm still learning. But the way I know I'm progressing is that things are a little less disappointing to me each time, and that means you're getting somewhere. And the positive thing is to let go of what you've done in the past and see everything as a kind of new adventure. So every time I start an album, I feel like I am doing it for the first time.


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

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