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Kate Bush, reclusive? Actually, she prefers the term 'normal'

Why the 12-year hiatus? 'I like to just get on with my life, really,' says the publicity-weary singer.

October 30, 2005|Richard Cromelin | Times Staff Writer

LIKE a mysterious heroine emerging from the mists of the moors, Kate Bush has returned from self-imposed exile. When her album "Aerial" comes out Nov. 8, the English singer will end a silence of 12 years, an interval that's only burnished her mystique and her reputation as pop's ultimate recluse.

But according to Bush, there was nothing mysterious about it.

"After the last record I thought I would take a year out, and the year became a bit longer than a year," Bush, 48, said last week. "More or less since I was 17 I'd just gone straight from making records into promotion and back into making records again, and I think I just got to a point where I didn't want to do that for a while.

"It was really great, and I think it was really good for me on so many levels.... I kind of hung out with some friends and had time to do things that I hadn't for a long time. I moved a couple of times, moved my studio, had a child," referring to her 7-year-old son with her partner, guitarist Danny MacIntosh.

And she made her eighth album, a two-CD set brimming with Bush signifiers: plush production, a sweeping musical mix of symphonic, electronic, exotic and Renaissance, and always that tremulous, dramatic, soaring voice.

The songs on the first disc include a pulsating ode to Elvis called "King of the Mountain" and an enigmatic meditation on a washing machine. Disc two is a unified song cycle, inspired by the songbirds Bush treasures, that traces a day from afternoon to dawn.

That return to the concept-album ideal is typical of Bush's proudly anachronistic worldview.

"I think there's very much a short attention span that's happening with a lot of people now," the singer said. "With the whole iTunes and fast-forward buttons, it's almost like the art form of an album is starting to become less important.

"Albums were always very important to me. Even when they weren't running as conceptual pieces, you kind of got a certain shape out of listening to an album that I don't think you do get if you just go and select the single tracks that you like and make a compilation. It's a very different thing."

Bush's independent spirit has made her an influential artist ever since she made her mark as a teenage prodigy in the late '70s. A genre unto herself, she's regarded as a primary source for most distinctive female singer-songwriters, and she's also picked up accolades from less likely artists, including R&B singer Maxwell and ex-Sex Pistol John Lydon.

But Bush keeps her distance. She's toured just once -- in 1979 -- and doesn't hobnob in pop music circles, leaving herself subject to myth-weaving and speculation that she's an agoraphobic given to nervous breakdowns.

"A lot of people refer to me as a recluse, which I'm not," she said. "But I do like to try and live as normal a life as possible. I just find that much more interesting than spending my life living in publicity.... I like to just get on with my life, really.

"Sometimes it's very frustrating that I'm portrayed in such a strange way, when people who go on television and eat live insects and spend three weeks up a tree with a camera stuck up their nose are considered normal. I'm sorry, but from where I sit, I'm the normal person."

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