ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, DEC. 6, 1985
By Steve Newton
When Kate Bush was 15 years old, she thought it would be nice if she could get some of her songs published. There was a friend of her family who knew someone that was looking for talent to encourage and produce. That someone came and heard Kate’s songs, and was intrigued enough to put up the money needed to master a few demo tapes. Those masters were what got the career of Kate Bush rolling…right up to her highly acclaimed new album, Hounds of Love.
“He was really responsible for me getting my recording contract with EMI in the first place,” says Kate, who called the Straight from Toronto recently. That contract has resulted in the release of five full-length LPs–The Kick Inside (1977), Lionheart (’78), Never For Ever (’80), The Dreaming (’82), and Hounds (’85)–as well as two mini-albums, the live On Stage and Kate Bush (both ’83).
Strangely enough, upon first meeting Gilmour in ’75, Bush had never even heard any Pink Floyd music.
“I was not really aware of much contemporary rock music at that age. I had heard of them, but hadn’t actually heard their music. It wasn’t until later that I got to hear stuff like Dark Side of the Moon. And I just thought that was superb–I mean they really did do some pretty profound stuff.”
Gilmour was executive producer of The Kick Inside. He also sang on “Pull Out the Pin” from The Dreaming. In fact, Kate Bush has been fortunate enough to have fine musicians sitting in on all her records. Aside from the basic core of players that includes drummer Stuart Elliot, bassist Del Palmer, and guitarist Alan Murphy, she had help from synth whiz Larry Fast (Never For Ever), bassist Eberhard Weber (The Dreaming), and guitarist John Williams (Hounds of Love). Max Middleton, former Jeff Beck keyboardist, played extensively on Never For Ever. So where does she find such top-notch talent?
“Well if I’m not a particular fan of them, then I’m either introduced to them through fellow musicians, or people I know. But quite often you hear a piece of music, and you really like what’s happening there…so you just get them in!”
One piece of music that had a strong effect on Bush was Pink Floyd’s “The Wall”. She liked it so much that she borrowed the helicopter effect from that song to use on “Waking the Witch”, one of the more startling songs on Hounds of Love. It begins with a curious vocal track that resembles a jumbled-up morse code.
“That’s an effect that we managed to muck around with. It was a very experimental idea, a sort of trick really, that took us a long time to do. I wanted to give the impression of a very desperate attempt to communicate.”
Another peculiar effect on the new record occurs at the start of the title track. A frightened, male voice cries “It’s in the trees! It’s coming!”
“It’s really the idea of someone being chased by something–which in this case is love–but something that they’re really scared of. It’s being treated in an incredibly melodramatic way, you know, as if some great monster is coming to get you.”
The line comes from a 1956 black and white English horror movie, Night of the Demon (also released as Curse of the Demon). As it turns out, Kate is quite a fan of scary flicks. On the liner notes of Hounds of Love there’s a special thanks to Werner Herzog.
“There’s a piece of music in ‘Hello Earth’ that a choir sings. I heard that originally in a film of his called Nosferatu [a vampire movie]. It’s such a beautiful piece of traditional music, that I just had to use it, so we rearranged it for voices.”
On “Hello Earth” an instrument called the bouzouki is used, and throughout Hounds instruments such as the balalaika and didjeridu are put into play. Kate seems to thrive on sounds that are found far off the beaten path of ordinary pop.
“I think you’re always looking for little pieces of gold amongst the rubbish–on every level. Lyrically, musically, and soundwise.
“The didjeridu I first used on the last album. There’s a man called Rolf Harris, who’s an incredible didjeridu player. And I’d written a track on the last album about aborigines [‘The Dreaming’], and asked him to come in and play it.”
On her new album, the didjeridu is played by Kate’s brother Paddy Bush. He uses it on “The Big Sky”, and also plays violin and fujare on “The Morning Fog”.
“Paddy has always been quite involved in all my albums. and Jon [Bush, another brother] hasn’t really played as much, but he’s been involved in vocal things, particularly on this album. He’s a novel writer as well, and a photographer.”
Brother Jon is actually the one responsible for the striking photography on the cover and inside sleeve of Hounds of Love. The cover shot depicts a seductive Kate cuddling in a purple bed with two German hunting dogs. On the back cover Kate is shown partially submerged in a weedy pond. There is a method to her madness.
“Since the album is like two completely different albums, and we gave each side a title, we thought it would be nice if it almost had two front covers. Each picture is sort of depicting a side, you know.”
Side One is titled “Hounds of Love”, and Side Two “The Ninth Wave”. The first side kicks off with the hit single “Running Up That Hill”, and carries on with four more individual tunes, while “The Ninth Wave” is a concept side, its seven songs combining to tell one story.
“Even though the first side isn’t conceptual, all the songs are linked by the fact that they’re about relationships of some kind. They’re all love songs, really.”
Bush says that she has a fascination with the psychology of people. “Everyone does really.” “Running Up That Hill” resulted from that keen interest in the way people think about one another.
“It’s the idea of people actually making a deal with God, you know, to just swap places with each other, and understand what it is like from the other person’s point of view.
“It’s about trying to bring people together even more. You always understand something better once you’ve experienced it.”
Kate Bush isn’t too certain about where her musical career will take her next. Obviously, her many fans would love the chance to see her live. Is touring a possibility?
“I think that’s the question that everyone is asking. I really would like to tour again, but it’s an incredibly big commitment–financially as well as timewise.
“I’m not quite sure what I want to do as a next project. It could perhaps be this film, or a tour, or perhaps I’ll go straight into another album. I don’t really want to go from one intense project to another….that just seems to be the way it is for me!”