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Thursday, July 24, 2014

50 Words For Kate: #34 - Knowledge

"...I think I've discovered that while videos are needed to go with a single, I can explore the medium of film-making, of what works and what doesn't. Much of what happens in a video is dictated by the song: the mood, the subject matter; but it's a fascinating area, and from what I can see so far, it's very similar to the recording process. It's working with pictures instead of sound..."

Despite Kate Bush's career beginning in the pre-MTV era of pop, she has always been a very visual artist. She described herself as "one of the television generation" and she loves cinema. Visual imagery has often been a source of inspiration for her songs, and she ranks directors like Hitchcock, Gilliam and Powell among her inspirations. It is this visual acuity that makes Kate such a magnetic performer, it is hard to tear your eyes away when she is in front of you. Even simply sat at a piano, Kate will use her face to full effect to convey the emotions in her music.


Kate is rightly regarded as one of the pioneers of music video, which was becoming a prime promotional tactic by the early 1980s. While she disliked the necessity of producing a video for every single, she decided that she could at least use that medium to explore visual ideas.  It also reduced the need to promote her music in distant territories, and compensated in a small way for the lack of a further tour. The videos from Kate's first three albums were directed by Keith "Keef" Macmillan, though the visual ideas were all Kate's. Each video would become more elaborate as Kate's knowledge and confidence in working in this new medium grew.

In 1981, Kate was hard at work on her fourth album. Strengthened by the success of Never For Ever and entranced by the possibilities for experimentation presented by the Fairlight synthesiser, Kate was determined to take her time. EMI was concerned that going a year without releasing a new song could risk Kate slipping from the public's consciousness (oh, how we laugh - a whole year, you say?). To appease them Kate agreed to release a single.


Sat In Your Lap was a very different sound for Kate. She says that seeing Stevie Wonder play live inspired her to create the rhythm track, which helped transform her piano demo into a fevered search for knowledge. The video plays out like a dream, with Kate hearing voices warning her against hubris and fierce bull-headed creatures running rampant. Kate appeared on the children's show Razzmatazz to talk about her new video.


And in case you've never seen a man-bull rollerskate, or if you don't know how to properly wear an armwarmer, here's the video in its full glory.


The single was a solid hit and gave Kate the space to beaver away on her new opus. If Sat In Your Lap was any indication, it was clear we were heading in another new and exciting direction.



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