Dublin graphic designer bounces back from pandemic with Kate Bush book

Michael Byrne, who saw his business collapse in the pandemic, has produced a coffee table photo book of the famous singer.
Dublin graphic designer bounces back from pandemic with Kate Bush book

By James Ward, PA

A graphic designer whose business collapsed during the pandemic is producing a stunning picture book about superstar Kate Bush – from his garden office.

Dubliner Michael Byrne has been a diehard fan of the English singer-songwriter since her rise to fame in 1978.

He fell into the project by accident after work dried up due to the pandemic, and now it has sparked interest across the world.

Music – Kate Bush – 1979
British singer and songwriter Kate Bush pops up from the daffodils at the Inn-on-the-Park, London, in 1979. Photo: PA

“When the business fell off a cliff because of Covid, I went from not having enough hours in the day to waiting for the phone to ring,” said father-of-three Mr Byrne.

“I started to listen to music again, especially to Kate. I’d go out to my garden office, pull up the lyrics and got a deep interest in what she has done and how she created music, and an idea started to form in my head.

“Because work had gone so quiet, I just kept ploughing away with the concept and, eventually, I thought, ‘I might have something really good here’.”

Mr Byrne has been collaborating on the book with Marius Herbert, with whom he founded his design agency Zest Creative.

By last month, the pair, working remotely, had the foundations of a large, coffee table book, Finding Kate, about the reclusive star.

They are hoping an ambitious crowdfunding drive to complete it will be a worldwide hit with fans of the Wuthering Heights singer.

One of the picture spreads from Finding Kate, which Michael Byrne and Marius Herbert hope fans will continue to support. Photo: PA

The friends have signed up to Kickstarter, a platform designed to support creative projects,

They have already pre-sold copies to fans in Ireland, the UK, US, Australia and Japan. Others have handed over cash and asked for nothing in return.

With 125 supporters, Mr Byrne (58) needs 250 to ensure the hardback sees the light of day – with plans for further book projects if this one takes off.

“There is nothing out there like this book, it is ambitious and it is costly as well, buying the image rights from [photographic agency] Getty,” said Mr Byrne, from Knocklyon in Dublin.

“This is a real labour of love and it would be brilliant if more like-minded people who are passionate about music and creativity get behind this project.

“I’ve picked 35 of her songs across five decades and we’re illustrating the story behind them.

“Different people get different meanings about the songs and I give my own personal interpretation, as well as factual information such as where it was recorded and how it charted.”

English singer Bush has plenty of Irish connections, not least her late mother Hannah hailing from Waterford.

Riverdance’s Bill Whelan wrote and arranged all the Irish arrangements on her hit albums Hounds Of Love and The Sensual World and the tracks were recorded in Dublin’s Windmill Lane studios.

I have loved her music since she emerged in 1978. There’s something about her, especially how she approaches creativity, which is something I can really relate to

The songs feature uilleann pipes, tin whistle and other Irish instruments and were played by musicians including Donal Lunny of Planxty and John Sheahan of the Dubliners.

“I have loved her music since she emerged in 1978. There’s something about her, especially how she approaches creativity, which is something I can really relate to,” Mr Byrne said.

“She didn’t go chasing commercial success, everything was about the creative process and getting the record right.”

People who buy the 100-page book, priced at €58 including delivery, will be named as supporters inside it and with €10,500 raised so far, another €12,000 is needed to complete it over the next five weeks.

There are different price pledges, the more expensive offering extras including posters, specialised covers and the chance to feature in a photo spread alongside Kate Bush.

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