The Kate Bush Effect

From the very beginning Kate Bush was the key to unlocking this project. To be honest, I was not familiar with her or her work prior to the “Wuthering Heights” music video moment early on in the developmental process. However, once she appeared, she would remain. My own relationship to her work very quickly extended well beyond just “Wuthering Heights”, and because of the complexity of her music and person, that is a journey I don’t see a nearby conclusion to.

There are many aspects of Kate Bush similar to Emily Bronte, including that they have the same birthday, that they became famous through Wuthering Heights, Kate Bush was called Cathy as a child, they are both highly poetic, both are English with Irish ancestry, both private people reserved in their approach to press and the public. I see these two artists as connected, and one of the ways I think about Kate in relation to Emily is in how Emily could have been if she lived a century later, how she could have been if she hadn’t died at thirty. Obviously they are very different as well, but when Graeme Thomson wrote “the truly tantalizing thing about Kate Bush is that the whole has always been somehow greater, more dazzling, more mysterious, than the sum of her many parts” in his biography Under the Ivy: The Life and Music of Kate Bush, I immediately thought you could describe Emily Bronte in the same way.

My research for Oh Heroine! has included working my way through Kate Bush’s music, music videos, books written on her, and the kinds of tributes the fan network offers. On The Kate Bush Fan Podcast Paul Thomas in an interview said “the thing about Kate is that she brings people together, a lot of my best friends are Kate fans, that I met through liking Kate”. It’s true that Kate Bush brings people together, and my initial introduction with ‘The Most Wuthering Heights Day Ever’ epitomized that, but as one could argue her work is too complex to make superficial sharing common, and in some ways can take singular perseverance to understand, it seems counter-intuitive that it would create such a joining. Yet Wuthering Heights is the same; it is not easily digestible (though that only makes it the more rewarding when you do), and it is not exclusionary either. Both are instances where art is true to itself first.

I had my largest dose of the Kate Bush fandom when I attended the Homeground Party in Vauxhall Taverns, an event described as “all Kate, all night”. Kate isn’t as widely known and listened too in the USA as it is in England, so I didn’t accurately anticipate how many people know her work in such an intimate way. How Kate Bush is on the go-too mid-night party classic, and a significant portion of the room will have the ability to perform a version of the “Wuthering Heights” dance even in a state of intoxication, the cultural knowledge goes deep.

Ultimately Kate Bush is only a very small part of the actual performance however, like so many others before me, the introduction to her and her work has inspired my own, and made it richer as a result.

Callie Nestleroth