An imaginary interview with Kate Bush
This week, art-pop legend Kate Bush released a new album called Director’s Cut. Essentially a collection of largely re-recorded songs from her 1989 and 1993 albums The Sensual World and The Red Shoes, this album finds Bush reinventing her past through a modern lens, changing lyrics in the case of “The Sensual World,” leaving out choruses in “Moments of Pleasure,” and completely altering arrangements in “This Woman’s Work” and “Rubberband Girl”. We at WXYC wanted to find out what prompted Bush to retread her past, but we had not the funds to send one of our own to England to be a part of her press tour. This is the next best thing:
Nel: First, I’d like to thank you immensely for granting me and WXYC this interview.
Kate: Oh no, thank you. It’s nice to get out of the house occasionally. It’s been a while since I’ve done these promotional rounds.
Nel: Alright, so your new album Director's Cut is a collection of songs you have remade from previous albums. Why are you on a mission to destroy my good memories of your classic songs?
Kate: Well, I don’t think I’d –
Nel: I had bonded with those songs as they were. They seemed perfect and already complete to me. I can understand rerecording songs to flesh out skeletal renditions caused by budget restraints, but that’s not the problem here. When you hear a static work of art like a recording, you inevitably take it as it is whether it’s enjoyable and fully realized or not. It leaves an imprint anyway, almost like a first impression. To try and alter a first impression is a bit of a strain, Could the original “And So Is Love” have used the more haunting choral arrangements you’ve provided here? Sure, but we still got the point at first. With that said, once we derive a meaning from songs, they are cemented, even though there may still be a sort of versatility in meaning, wouldn’t you say?
Kate: Um, I’m not sure. Memories are very fragile but also very rigid, you know? That’s why in Moments of Pleasure, which deals very intimately with memories, I had to make it more of a –
Nel: I mean, I remember the chilling mysticism prevalent throughout The Sensual World album, and now you give us a “Deeper Understanding” with less prominent Bulgarian singers and more prominent out-of-tune Autotune provided by your teenage son. I think it’s fair to say that this song in particular was very effective as if it came straight from a crystal ball. It had a way of leaving an impression on the listener already whether it was through its alluring beauty or its astonishing truth. The message of the gradual dominance of the computer was well understood even in its subtlety, so what did you think the Autotune would add? And seriously, out-of-tune Autotune?
Kate: Well first, it’s a pleasure to have my dear Bertie on songs of mine. It seems somewhat proper that the past, the present, and my future were involved in this project. Bertie really completed it. As for the Autotune decision, I just thought –
Nel: I read elsewhere that you thought The Red Shoes was far too big, overproduced, and too long which inspired you to strip these songs down. That’s understandable, but part of your appeal always was in your magnanimity – your soaring, expressive voice, your studio trickery.
Kate: Well, I don’t know about all of that, but
Nel: And it’s not just me. You were a big success, an inspiration to countless songwriters today. You would think you must have gotten something right the first time.
Kate: And I’m very grateful that people have seemed to take a liking to me. Let me just say
Nel: Oh, I forgot to mention while we were discussing “And So is Love” that you flipped that particular song on its head, changing the “sad” in the key lyric “We used to say, ‘Ah Hell, we’re young,’ but now we see that life is sad, and so is love” in the original version to “sweet” in this new version, completely eschewing the mournful tension of the song in favor of creating a simple ode to life and love. What has sparked this change in your approach to life?
Kate: It’s been some twenty years now since I wrote that song, and I suppose I have a bit more experience now with life and love. I’m just in a bit of a happier place these days. It just didn’t seem fitting to say anymore that love is sad. I wanted to reflect that.
Nel: Will this new outlook be making an appearance in the new material you’ve hinted at to be released in the near future?
Kate: Well, sure it’s hard to avoid writing from one’s own perspective. It’s tricky to write in character, you know? A perspective different than yourself. Let me just say –
Nel: What’s your favorite fictional character?
Kate: Oh, um, I’m quite fond of the complexity of Molly Bloom from Ulysses, which is why I changed the lyrics to –
Nel: Yeah, Heathcliff Earnshaw is pretty complex. “Wuthering Heights” is a great song. I hear that many songwriters look back on some of their songs with some regret and bitterness, particularly if they were popular or breakthrough hits as “Wuthering Heights” was. Look at Radiohead’s “Creep” or Depeche Mode’s “People Are People” for example. Do you have any similar opinions on “Wuthering Heights”
Kate: Well, I didn’t really intend to discuss Wuthering Heights, but
Nel: Exactly, you can’t. It’s so engrained in our collective memories and has remained a personal and cultural staple for such a long time that there is nothing to discuss, nothing to argue, and nothing to change about it. The world and all of its Brontë-philes took it in, embraced it, and digested it. AS it stands, this song is a part of us. It simply is what it is, and it serves its function among appreciative listeners and among culture at large, wouldn’t you agree?
Nel: I rest my case.
Kate: Hold on.
Nel: Good day, ma’am.