Kate Bush @ Paradise Place

Kate bush: VOX magazine interview November 1993. Kate Vox Cover

Q and A section of above article. Transcribed to HTML  20th. October 1998.

 

Q. What inspires you? Do you have to achieve a particular mood or
   are songs triggered off  by particular events?
 
A.  "I think it's incredibly elusive. I think I used to write in a more
   formulated way. When I was very young, I would sit there at the piano
   and just write a song -- I actually hadn't done that for a long time."
    "When I'm working, I'm continually hit by how you start off with
   something, and though it doesn't necessarily change in essence, there's
   this whole evolution that happens around it, little ideas that get 
   pulled in. I think that may be one reason why the albums take so long.
   I feel very grateful, really, to have my work."
 
Q. Do you escape from it? 
 
A.  "Ummm... I don't know about escape -- I think it's inseparable, that's
    What it is. It's not that I'm running away into my work, it's more that
    my work moves headlong into my life. There's a lot of my very personal
    experiences that go into my work, and my work gives me a lot of very 
    personal experiences."
 
Q. If something traumatic occurs in your life, do you find it easy to 
   express, or does it come out in some other form.
 
A.  "It depends on the trauma, it depends how heartbroken you are. Usually
    I can pull myself through things like feeling low or having problems by
    working that through. But I have been at points where I just couldn't
    work. I couldn't possibly sing -- it was beyond me, it just hurt too
    much. Sometimes you have to allow a bit of time to come between you
    and the experience in order to even touch it."
     "I think the biggest thing on this album is that I lost my mother.
    I haven't been able to write about any of it -- nevertheless, the
    experience is in there. It's something I couldn't possibly express in
    music, and yet it is being expressed through very subliminal things,
    like the quality of some of the performances."
     "I couldn't work for months, I couldn't go near the whole process.
    I had no desire to start, no desire to work at all."
     "It was a terrible shock for all of us. Really, I'm so grateful we
    had so much time together and we had such a good relationship. I had
    an incredibly good relationship with her, as did all my family. I often
    think how awful it must be for people who don't really get on with
    their parents -- or don't know them -- to lose them and be so bereft
    after having had nothing."
 
Q.  What happens if people want to interfere in your work? I take it you
    don't let them?
 
A.   "I don't think it's so much that I got interference at the start,
    but I was aware that things wouldn't be how I wanted them to be unless
    I was willing to fight. I think you have to fight for everything you want.
    Whether it's work or life, it's just that sort of thing of struggling;
    struggle is very important. It's how you grow and change and it also
    tests your intention -- if you really care about something, you won't
    let go."
     "I was 19 when it [the first album] came out, and my life completely
    changed. The big emphasis was that I was no longer allowed to work.
    My whole day used to be centered around work, in the most pleasurable 
    way: I'd get up and play around on the piano, then I'd go up to London
    and see some friends, go dancing..."
 
Q.  Did you feel that you were manipulated. Were you ever encouraged to be
    bimbo-esque for pictures?
 
A.   "I think, on a couple of occasions, I was very naive and I was very 
    young. It was all very new to me and, in the first year, I learnt so
    many lessons about how people wanted to manipulate me. I was always
    quite strong about what I didn't want to do, but nevertheless it doesn't
    take much."
 
Q.  Do you think of yourself as a feminist?
 
A.   "I think a lot of respect went for the feminist movement. I think its
    really wrong. A lot of women resent women who have pushed their energies,
    because it's kind of made feminine energy look stupid. I believe there is
    a way that feminine energy can stand strong and powerful without having
    to be something its not."
 
Q.  Qualities such as ambition and competitiveness are, are supposedly,
    traditionally male ones, but do you possess either?
 
A.   "I hate both words intensely. I suppose that's because, in a lot of
    ways, they represent to me an incredibly driven male energy that offends
    my feminine energy. But I do think I'm driven, and I don't know about
    this thing of ambition. I don't know because I think my ambition is
    creative. I don't think I'm ambitious to conquer the world, but I am
    ambitious to try out ideas and push things, to see if you can make it
    better. I'm certainly very driven in my work. I do think that for a lot
    of women, their creativity is quite masculinely driven -- it's quite a
    masculine trait to speed forward, I suppose."
 
Q.  How much time have you spent working on 'The Red Shoes'?
 
A.   "Well, I haven't spent that long. It went on over a long period of time
     -- about two years of solid work amongst three-and-a-half to four years."
 
Q.  Each album seems to take you longer to make than the last. Is this 
    because you are a true perfectionist?
 
A.   "I think 'perfect' is... I have used that word in the past, and I used
    it wrongly because, in a way, what you are trying to do is make something
    that is basically imperfect as best as you can in the time you've got
    with the knowledge you have."
 
Q.  You don't normally release material unless you're totally satisfied...
 
A.   "That's right. That doesn't necessarily mean 'perfect', but it's to
    the best of my ability. I've tried to say what needed to be said through
    the songs, the right structure, the shape, the sounds, the vocal performance
    -- that is, the best I could do at the time."
 
Q.  When you've worked hard for something, you obviously don't want somebody
    interfering with it. In your cuttings, you've been described as the shyest
    megalomaniac on the planet, so how do you work out the balance between that
    and being an incredibly quiet, private person?
 
A.   "I think its quite true that most people are extreme contradictions. It's
    like this paradox that exists, and I think that on a lot of levels, I'm
    quite and shy, and a quite soul."
     "I like simple things in my life... I like gardening and things like that,
    but when it comes to my work, I am a creative megalomaniac again. I'm not
    after money or power but creative power. I just love playing with ideas
    and watching them come together, or what you learn from something not
    coming together."
     "I'm fascinated by the whole creative process -- I think you could probably
    say I was obsessed by it. I'm not as bad as I used to be, I'm a little more
    balanced now."
 
Q.  What's calmed you down?
 
A.   "Just Life, I think... Life gets to you, doesn't it? I also think there's
    a part of me that's got fed up with working. I've worked so much that I'm
    starting to feel...  I felt I needed to re-balance, which I think I did a
    bit, just to get a little bit more emphasis on me and my life."
 
Q.  Where did you get the idea of 'Rubberband Girl'?
 
A.   "Well, it's playing with the idea of how putting up resistance... um...
    doesn't do any good, really. The whole thing is to sort of go with the flow."
 
Q.  What about the sexual content -- "He can be a woman at heart, and not only
    women bleed"?
 
A.   "It's not really sexual, it's more to do with the whole idea of opening
    people up -- not sexually, just revealing themselves. It's taking a man who
    is, on the outside, very macho, and you open him up and he has this beautiful
    feminine heart."
 
Q.  Have you found many of those?
 
A.   "I think I've seen a lot of them, yeah. I think there are a lot of men who
    are fantastically sensitive and gentle, and I think they are really scared
    to show it."
 
Q.  A father image often comes out in your work. Is that because you're
    particularly close to your father or does it merely represent somebody or
    something you respect?"
 
A.   "I think they're very archetypal images: the parents, the mother and the
    father... it's immediately symbolic of so many things. I'm very lucky to have
    had an extremely positive, loving and encouraging relationship with both my
    parents. And you know I feel very grateful... I feel very honoured, actually."
 
Q.  Who is the Douglas Fairbanks character in 'Moments Of Pleasure'?
 
A.   "Ah... I a lot of ways that song, er... well, it's going back to that thing
    of paying homage to people who aren't with us any more. I was very lucky to
    get to meet Michael (Powell, the film-maker who directed the original The Red
    shoes) in New York before he died, and he and his wife were extremely kind.
    I'd had a few conversations with him and I'd been dying to meet him. As we
    came out of the lift, he was standing outside with his walking stick and he
    was pretending to be someone like Douglas Fairbanks. He was completely 
    adorable and just the most beautiful spirit, and it was a very profound 
    experience for me. It had quite an inspirational effect on a couple of the
    songs."
     "There's a song called 'The Red Shoes'. It's not really to do with his film
    but rather the story from which he took his film. You have these red shoes
    that just want to dance and don't want to stop, and story that I'm aware of
    is that there's this girl who goes to sleep in the fairy story and they can't
    work out why she's so tired. Every morning, she's more pale and tired, so
    they follow her one night and what's happening is theses shoes... she's 
    putting these shoes on at night before she goes to bed and they whisk her off
    to dance with the fairies."
 
Q.  Are you still as involved in the dancing as you were?
 
A.   "I've had a lot of periods off, unfortunately, because my music is so
    demanding and I went through a phase where I just had no desire to dance. The
    last couple of years, it really came back, and it's been very interesting
    working in an older body. your brain seems better at dealing with certain
    kinds of information. And I think there's something about trying too hard
    which takes the dynamics out of everything."
     "I think I've become less conscious through dancing, because it's very
    confrontational in a positive way -- standing in front of a mirror and
    looking at something that basically looks like a piece of you, and you've
    got to do something with it."
 
Q.  Does that mean looking like a piece of shit?
 
A.   "It does at nine in the morning. When I started dancing again, a couple
    of years ago, I hadn't done anything for about three or four years and 
    although I had the desire to dance again, I really didn't know if I had the
    energy, or whether I could be bothered to go through all that and my body
    being so sore. But I was aware that, although it was difficult for me, I
    always felt better after the classes than I did before. I'd get up grumpy,
    then after I'd feel really good."
 
Q.  Is it true you once planned to be a psychologist or psychiatrist?
 
A.   "Yes I did. I really wanted to be a psychiatrist, I really did, but I knew
    I'd reached the point where I would never be able to do all the training.
    You have to train as a doctor, I think, and be good at chemistry, physics,
    etc. I was never any good at maths, I just knew I'd never make it."
 
Q.  Are there any parallels with what you do now?
 
A.   "I've never really thought of it, but I suppose I really like the idea of
    helping people and that I was really fascinated by people's minds and the
    way they work -- I still am. I don't think I've ever got into people's minds,
    but I've always been interested in how people think."
     "People think so differently from each other, people come to completely
    different conclusions from seeing or hearing the same thing... Now, how do
    they do that, other than there's all these internal processes going on?
     I think it's like anything in life -- you can never be sure. Sometimes I
    think you have to put complete trust in your feelings: this doesn't feel
    right, so I won't do it; logic says I should bury my feeling and say no,
    so I won't."
     "Also, in my position, you can't be naive. The chances are, there will be
    people who will approach me whose intentions are not pure, they're after
    something which is not necessarily kindly. Again, I think the whole process
    of allowing people to misrepresent you puts you in an extremely dodgy 
    situation."
     "If you show someone something that's very honest and revealing, what are
    they going to do? Are they going to show themselves or are they going to hit
    you in the face?"