I discovered Kate Bush’s music when I was about six – or rather, I was in the room when my mum put on ‘The Red Shoes’ CD to play. There was no musical epiphany, no obsession (at that point), or deep connection to the music. I just knew that ‘Lily’ and ‘Rubberband Girl’ were two of the best songs in the world to dance to wildly.
Ironically, that is now the album of hers I play least. Perhaps as a result of obsessive listening to the point of over-saturation when I was younger, to hear it now is akin to putting on a well-worn, overly familiar coat. There is a certain comfort to it, but nothing particularly new or exciting. However, the thrilling ‘Hounds of Love’ and the languorous ‘Aerial’ joined it on my iPod early last year – both CDs unearthed from the darkest recesses of my parents' CD drawers, (filled with music ranging from Punk to Jazz). That was when I had the moment of realization – the woman is a genius.
I can now sing along to roughly eighty songs of hers (including 'Strange Phenomena' - this post's title), with '50 Words for Snow' being the latest addition. This new album typifies ‘slow-burn’ – perhaps ironic for a set of distinctly chilly songs. It takes several listens for the meanings and melodies to thaw, at which point the icy beauty hits. Hearing the tracks is like a mixture of sending spirals of breath up into the costume jewellery stars, lying in a snow drift at twilight and sweeping down a steep hill in a red plastic sledge. It almost makes winter desirable, despite my current feeling that the short days and cold should stick around for a maximum of three weeks and no more.
However, a favourite form of procrastination (among the many up my silk shirt sleeves) on these dark nights is obsessive watching of her music videos, from Cloud Busting to Army Dreamers. Each film is like a short narrative in itself. She is perhaps the best example of what it can mean to be an artist: original, intelligent and outrageous.
She is also fascinating in her approach to the creation and publicizing of her music. Her first, and only, tour was in 1979. It is a rare and lucky day when one can read or listen to an interview with her, and she by and large avoids the public eye. Thus we are left to judge her music objectively, without any back-story splashed across tabloid pages to manipulate our opinions. This is especially fascinating in the wake of the ongoing Leveson inquiry, with the questions it has raised about press accountability and the role of the ‘celebrity’. With Kate Bush, one gets the distinct impression that all she cares about is her music – her writing, singing and recording. Long may it continue.
There is a very wild quality to many of Kate Bush’s songs, and this was the basis I used as inspiration for this shoot with my completely stunning friend Evangeline from Storm Models. She and her family typify the words wonderful and welcoming - and I'm sure that she will go far as a professional model. I thought her long hair and extraordinary look called to mind the musical maven herself. When I told her about the thought process behind my suitcase bulging with red lace and seventies nylon, Evangeline laughed and revealed that her party trick when she was younger was to put on ‘Wuthering Heights’ and cajole guests and visitors into watching her perform it. She was obviously born to fling herself dramatically against trees in the autumn light!
The vintage (rather fragile) red lace dress was bought from eBay, and the 60s red velvet one belonged to my mum - as did the orange hat. I pulled out the green velvet skirt from my dressing up box, and all other accessories are vintage. The shoes and coat are Evangeline's. Doesn't she look gorgeous?