Book looks at Irish heritage of the eclectic Kate Bush

Two Dubliners pay homage to Kate Bush in a new book, says GRAINNE McGUINNESS
Book looks at Irish heritage of the eclectic Kate Bush

Finding Kate Cover. Picture: Michael Byrne & Marius Herbert.

THE Irish authors of a book about Kate Bush couldn’t have chosen a better time to focus on the music icon.

Bush’s 1985 ballad Running Up That Hill recently returned to the charts thanks to its inclusion in the soundtrack of Netflix’s hit show, Stranger Things. It has introduced the singer to a whole new generation of fans who, if they want to learn more about her, will find a wealth of detail in this beautiful coffee table book - Finding Kate.

The team behind this project are Dubliners Michael Byrne and Marius Herbert, who have years of experience in graphic design and publishing and have helped many people to successfully self-publish their work.

“In early 2021, mid-pandemic, and with my small graphic design business shut because of Covid, I found myself practically unemployed and at an all time low, and so in order to keep my mental health positive I decided to fulfil a long held ambition of mine and self-publish my own book,” Michael explains. 

“That book, Finding Kate, is a deep dive into 26 individual songs and also a mini biography.

“I have loved Kate’s music ever since she emerged in 1978, right up to the present day. There’s something very, very special about her, especially how she approaches creativity, which is something I can totally relate to.”

A page from Finding Kate. Picture: Michael Byrne & Marius Herbert.
A page from Finding Kate. Picture: Michael Byrne & Marius Herbert.

What is not widely known is that Kate’s mother Hannah was born in Ballyvoile, just outside Dungarvan. She left Ireland in her early twenties and moved to London to be a nurse. There she met Kate’s father Robert, a doctor.

They married and had three children, John, Paddy and Kate. The authors suggest quite a number of her songs have a deep connection with Irish music, literature and culture, and explore this in the book.

The book has an unusual back-story. Michael and Marius were delighted when an online crowdfund appeal in March, 2021, to get the project off the ground attracted 385 backers from 28 countries, thus ensuring the 100-page tome on the iconic singer/songwriter would happen.

“Though we believed 100% in what we were doing, we couldn’t finance the entire book ourselves because we had very little work on and couldn’t afford to take the huge financial risk,” Micheal says.

The book took nine months to create and was intensive work, with both authors putting in 14-hour shifts writing and illustrating.

It explores a selection of Michael’s favourite Kate songs which he has chosen from her extensive career, each conceptually visualised as double page spreads with accompanying text detailing song facts, together with his own personal insights into the music – all digitally illustrated by Marius.

“I totally believed in the project from the start,” Michael says. 

“We started with an idea of creating a high end book with the bar set high, but once we got the funding and started to develop it, we ended up putting ourselves under more pressure as we reached for even higher levels of creativity.

“After it was finished, I was thinking ‘how did we do all that in such a short period of time?’ It was a labour of love and so creatively rewarding - and I suppose it is my personal homage of sorts to Kate as she is an amazing lady and her music and creativity have been hugely influential in my own life for over 40 years now. Everything fell into place for us, even the problematic stuff, it was as if it was meant to happen.”

The authors have been thrilled by the reception so far and hope many more music fans enjoy this unusual celebration of an icon.

The book is not available in shops, but from a bespoke website - www.findingkatebook.com - retailing at €39.95.

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