ARTICLE LIZZI BOUGATSOS
PHOTOGRAPHY ANTON CORBIJN
SINGER KATE BUSH MAY HAVE DISAPPEARED FROM TOP-FORTY RADIO BUT HER SONGS ARE MORE POWERFUL THAN EVER. ARTIST AND MUSICIAN LIZZI BOUGATSOS EXPLAINS WHY BUSH TRANSCENDS ’80S-ICON STATUS TO MAKE ART FOR A DIFFICULT WORLD
Recently in England I was watching the new Gwen Stefani video “What you Waiting For?” when a friend blurted out “Kate Bush.” I stared at Stefani waving her wings as Kate Bush did in her performance videos from the ’80s. Except Stefani’s wings were commercial props while Kate Bush’s movements were a metaphor for transcending into deep emotional content or a vehicle to another world. Stefani, on the flipside, complains about turning over a product for release to these stereotypical groupie Japanese women dressed like a scene from Kill Bill—victim to victim style. She compares the music industry to a set from Alice in Wonderland while whining about being a “pop star.” Over a decade ago, Kate Bush swallowed the industry pill, said fuck it, and fell in love.
No public appearances.
Only her brother was allowed to take her picture—she controlled her image unlike any celebrity today.
Now, we have another Bush who got re-elected in November. I was comatose for two days, unable to be outside or see people. I remembered when a friend showed up at my doorstep and handed me The Whole Story, Bush’s phenomenal 1986 album that includes such songs as “Wuthering Heights” and “Running Up that Hill.” My friend said it reminded her of me. This is how I connected Kate Bush’s anti-war stance to songs like “Army Dreamers” and “Experiment IV,” with lyrics like: “From a distance/so we go ahead/and the meters are over in the red/It’s a mistake in the making” or “We were working secretly for the military/Our experiment in sound was nearly ready to begin/We only know in theory what we are doing.”
The Brits seem to be with it when it comes to Kate Bush. They rated her 63% on a television celebrity poll when I was there. Seems like Americans find it hard to embrace opera, tragedy, pain, or even literature coming together in song at times. But not for long.
Maxwell is thugging out to remixes of “This Woman’s Work” from The Sensual World. DJs are belting Bush out at Sway. Finally influence shows its place. Here is a woman who protested in her art through dance, theater, film and her voice. Kate Bush’s anti-war stance helps me to forget our president and the degradation of all aspects of our country. That’s where I say fuck it and sing. I just pray that someone out there can hit the switch.
From the terrifying cries of mothers to the terrifying scream
We recorded it and I put it into our machine.
But they told us all they wanted was a sound
that could kill someone.
It could feel like falling in love It could feel so bad
But it could feel so good “Experiment IV,” 1986