Baby Bushka returns to the stage after immense loss and grief
Speaker 1: (00:00)
San Diego's live music scene has been slowly returning to life in this past several months, though. The pandemic's long shadow still lingers for the first time. Since early 2020, the San Diego band baby Bush got will return to the stage playing a show at the Casbah this Saturday night centered on the music of art pop music, pioneer Kate Bush, baby Bush. Guh is a vibrant and eclectic musical experience featuring many of San Diego's most talented female musicians. Here's baby Bush, go with cloud busting.
Speaker 2: (00:35)
Speaker 1: (00:58)
Here to tell us about what they've been up to since they last performed and how the band has been changed by the pandemic is founder and lead vocalist of baby Bush, Natasha [inaudible] and Natasha. Welcome.
Speaker 3: (01:11)
Hi, thank you for having me.
Speaker 1: (01:13)
I wonder, are you feeling nervous about performing live after such a long time?
Speaker 3: (01:18)
Maybe a little bit. I'm feeling very excited and the anticipation is, is what's getting me and just making sure that everything goes well. It's just a lot of work and preparation. So just keeping my eye on the ball
Speaker 1: (01:32)
Now, baby Bush kit is based on interpreting the music of British singer songwriter, Kate bushes. I said, and your performances are described as half theater, half rock band
Speaker 2: (01:44)
Speaker 1: (01:58)
That was baby Bush, go with running up the hill. Now, how would you describe the baby Bush ska band?
Speaker 3: (02:04)
Describe baby Bush as a beautiful, the witching power house of a show with eight women. There is choreographed dancing, four part vocal harmonies, um, lots of humor and sincerity and magic.
Speaker 1: (02:22)
And you don't like the term cover band. Why not?
Speaker 3: (02:27)
Well, I think when people think of tributes or cover bands, they think of imitation. And, uh, I know that that's not what baby Bush is about for us. And our audience is say that as well. You know, it's more of an experience and this beautiful interpretation of her music. And so there is no imitating Kate Bush, you know, we all sing her and it's amazing because I really think it does take eight women to do Kate Bush. And that's, what's really fun about the show. You know,
Speaker 1: (02:54)
Although baby Bush got his back, it's not the same band as, before the pandemic tragically, a member of the band passed away over the last year. Can you tell us about that?
Speaker 3: (03:05)
Yeah. Um, Nina Laelani daring. She was our dark Bush. We all have Bush names and she was our keyboardist and an amazing vocalist and a dear friend. And she was part of many, many projects here. She co-founded voices of our city choir. So when she passed away, it just sent ripples through the entire music community of San Diego. And especially for us, it was really hard. Um, just kind of finding the strength and to continue this project after she died and, uh, finding that way through, through all the grief and, and wanting to honor her and just not wanting our story to end, you know, with her death and the pandemic. So bringing in these two members has helped us find that spirit to continue on and honor her through, um, the music of Kate Bush and connect with the audiences against what we're really excited about. Here's a little
Speaker 1: (03:59)
Clip of this women's work featuring Nina Laelani Dearing.
Speaker 4: (04:04)
Speaker 1: (04:45)
Tell us a little bit more about that decision to move on after this terrible rupture in your band. Was it a group decision?
Speaker 3: (04:53)
Yeah, I think that we all collectively felt this urge to play again together. So, you know, I asked everyone at the new year, do you, do you all want to continue? And if so, like, um, you know, this is my vision of how we can do that. And, and everyone sort of made their re recommitment, so it was like we got married again or something. And, and so, yeah, that was really beautiful. And Marie came on board and Heather and, and we've been working the last year to try to make that possible.
Speaker 1: (05:22)
No, besides that great loss, how else has the pandemic change the band and your own personal approach to making music?
Speaker 3: (05:30)
Well, I think it's just put everything into perspective. You know, I, I don't think any of us will take for granted the privilege it is to play live and, and to connect with audiences and to have to perform, you know, um, and I think that's, what's going to be the most exciting to get on stage. I personally, haven't been on stage since the pandemic. I know some of the other girls have, but I think it's just that, you know, just making sure to treasure those moments together and the time we have in this band and, and to never take it for granted again.
Speaker 1: (06:01)
Now, maybe Bush has a band that thrives on audience participation, dancing, partying, the audiences, part of this magic experience. How did your music go on without that, during the pandemic,
Speaker 3: (06:15)
That was hard, but we actually started a Patrion. And, um, that was a really beautiful way to stay connected to the fans. And to also continue to dive into the world of Kate Bush, we called it our school of magic. And so we all, I started a podcast and we dove into the different songs and we made videos and we even cooked recipes that Kate better made. And so that sort of community that patron provides was a wonderful way to continue living in the music and connect with fans.
Speaker 1: (06:45)
Will you be performing this Saturday at the Casbah? Are they going to be, oh, your standards or new music?
Speaker 3: (06:51)
So we have added a couple songs and we've also added a Memorial arch and towards the end of the show for Nina, um, where we sing a few songs and we hand out programs and we sing her song that she, um, used to sing with us, which would bring audiences to their knees every time that it was, this woman's work that you played earlier. And, um, so yeah, we have this whole moment plan so that we can recognize and acknowledge her passing without actually talking about it. Instead, we can say it all through the lyrics and the music of Kate Bush.
Speaker 1: (07:25)
It sounds like Nina's passing is still pretty raw for you.
Speaker 3: (07:29)
Uh, yeah, I mean, she, she was one of my closest friends and baby Bush could really is a sisterhood. So I think about her every day. And I think, you know, bringing baby Bush get back to the stage, you know, it's actually four years exactly that we even first played her for show the Casbah. So there's just a lot of cosmic poetry involved in this return. And, um, and so her memory is very much burning alive in us, for sure.
Speaker 1: (07:56)
What is it about Cape bushes music that continues to inspire so much of your work
Speaker 3: (08:02)
As an artist? I, she has pulled so much inspiration for her songs, you know, books, movies. So she's like this very interested person in the world, you know, and she's, she's been, so it's almost like this child, who's just like fascinated by everything. So when you listened to her discography and you hear these songs, you know, that so much of them are stories and, and, and she is a performer, you know, using her use of mime and theater and dance and, uh, cinema it's, it's just so rich. It's like this bottomless inspiration. And, um, her story is just fascinating. She's unlike any other artists I think, and she has a serious cult following, and it's kind of remarkable that we are the only CAPAs tribute in America. And, um, and I think that that just adds to the mystery. She's a woman and just so talented.
Speaker 1: (08:59)
Does she know about baby books?
Speaker 3: (09:02)
I think she does because when we went to the UK, after 10 months of being a band, we, we crowdfunded to go on this pilgrimage tour. We called it to the UK and, um, her ex partner and bass player Del Palmer, uh, actually found out about us. And he wrote to us before we went. So we knew that he knew of us. And he came to our very first show in London. It was absolutely terrifying. We were like, they're going to hate us, but they loved us. And so did he, and, and we asked him if he would pass on a letter to her from us and he did. And so I know she knows about us, but she's probably busy making another album, hopefully.
Speaker 1: (09:40)
So after the Casbah water, the plans for baby Bush guy,
Speaker 3: (09:43)
We hope that, uh, we'll do another set of shows in the spring, right before we go back to the UK. So we are planning to return and do Ireland and Wales and England and Scotland in May, 2022.
Speaker 1: (09:58)
Okay. Then I've been speaking with Natasha [inaudible] lead vocalist and founder of baby Bush. Guh. Thank you so much for speaking with us. Thank
Speaker 3: (10:07)
You for having me,
Speaker 1: (10:09)
Baby Bush got at the Casbah is this Saturday doors open at eight 30.
A year and a half after the death of bandmate Nina Leilani Deering, "the Kate Bush experience of your dreams" re-forms and returns to live audiences at The Casbah and in Los Angeles this weekend.
For Baby Bushka, San Diego's world-famous Kate Bush ensemble, the last 19 months have been overwhelmed by disappointment, loss and grief.
The band self-identifies as "the Kate Bush experience of your dreams," and eschews simpler titles like tribute or cover band. Of course, Kate Bush fans will hear their favorites at a Baby Bushka show, but the performances are something else entirely.
The band was formed in December 2017 with vocalists Natasha Kozaily, Lexi Pulido and Nancy Elizabeth Ross, the late Nina Leilani Deering on piano, guitarist Shelbi Bennett, bassist Dani Bell, violinist Batya MacAdam-Somer and drummer Leah Bowden.
With enchanting multi-part harmonies, a full rock band, choreographed dancing, and theatrical props and costumes, there's a strong current of drama, emotion, humor, weirdness and an undeniable magic — not unlike Kate Bush herself.
The pandemic struck just as the band awaited the release of their album and the start of their tour — including a return to Kate Bush's homeland in the UK. They released the album in April 2020 anyway, and canceled and rescheduled the tour, twice. Then, they waited.
RELATED: Baby Bushka Has A Lot Of Strength Left
Unfortunately, a deeper loss would soon strike the group. On June 11, 2020, pianist and singer Nina Leilani Deering died tragically in a car accident at the age of 34.
"It's very hard to talk about Nina in a straight ahead way because she just wasn't straight ahead. She was very layered and complex," Kozaily told me shortly after Deering's death. "She was this angel or something that was put on the wrong planet. She lived in music."
The group came together at Deering's memorial service to sing "This Woman's Work" — a song Deering would famously, devastatingly perform to rapt audiences at Baby Bushka shows, and that still remains the only single from their 2020 album available to stream online — but resuming Baby Bushka again wasn't really at the top of anyone's to-do list.
"After Nina died, I didn't really think about what happens to Baby Bushka," Kozaily said this week. "It was just, we were in this whirlwind of her death and the grief of that."
RELATED: KPBS/Arts newsletter, June 18, 2020: Remembering Musician Nina Leilani Deering
Right away, Kozaily and several of the other members dove into several major projects to memorialize and honor Deering, including transcribing all of the music Deering composed, and publishing a book of Deering's poetry and lyrics.
Despite their grief — and the gaping hole left by Deering in both the band and in San Diego's music scene as a whole — they knew they would continue, though it would be almost a year before the group could reunite to play music together, in the same room again.
"I just felt this urge, like we needed to continue, and I think everyone else felt like that even more so," Kozaily said. "To finish the story of Baby Bushka on that note just didn't seem right."
When Baby Bushka finally returns to the Casbah this Saturday, Dec. 4, almost exactly four years after their first performance, things will seem a little different. Without Deering, they've reworked her beloved solo, "This Woman's Work," and will perform it in honor of Deering with Kozaily singing the lead. They'll also add a ritual-like memorial arc to their traditional two-act performance.
Kozaily also said it'll feel a bit Christmas-y, with a gift market as a merch table.
"So it's almost to the day, that first Saturday in December again, we're playing and starting this new chapter. It's very poetic, and I didn't plan that," Kozaily said. "It's like all the stars coming together: yes, you're doing everything right. You're exactly where you're supposed to be."
Of note are two brand-new members. Along with the loss of Deering, guitarist Shelbi Bennett has stepped aside to focus on her (many) other projects. Marie Haddad joined the band earlier this spring as the piano player, and shortly thereafter Heather Nation came on as the new guitarist.
"I think it probably is a little bit of a weight off of Marie," Kozaily said. "But I imagine that it's nice to not be the only new person in this band with so much history."
Nation is part of synth pop band Belladon. "She's a ripping guitarist," Kozaily said. "So she's added this other kind of new element."
Haddad brings an impressive and award-winning history in bands and solo work to Baby Bushka, and a thoughtful sensitivity to the circumstance of her joining the band.
"Being a part of the band is very special to me, and I'm honored that they chose to include me after all that they've been through," Haddad said.
Haddad is a longtime fan of Kate Bush (she is the only member to have actually seen Bush perform live) and has been a big fan of Baby Bushka since their first show.
"To step into the band and take over the Kate Bush piano parts — that in itself is an honor. And I think in the show we pay tribute to Nina and her memory and try to help heal a little bit" Haddad said. "Her passing just really affected the entire San Diego music community."
Each member of Baby Bushka — aka "the Bushes" — takes the lead on a song in the show. Haddad's will be "Moments of Pleasure." A recent Instagram post encouraged their fans to learn the chorus and be prepared to sing along.
Baby Bushka will play more San Diego and LA shows next spring, followed by a tour in England, Ireland and Scotland beginning in mid-May — hopefully. Hope, like the magic, is something entirely palpable in a Baby Bushka show, as well as in the way they talk about their future.
The new members mark a new era of Baby Bushka — one swirled with complicated memories and loss, but with heads held high towards new possibilities.
"I told both of them, especially Marie: You're not replacing Nina. We don't want you to sound like her. We know that we're not going to sound the same ever again. It's going to be a new band and a new chapter, and we should embrace that."
Details: Baby Bushka performs Saturday, Dec. 4, 2021 at 8:30 p.m. doors, 9:30 p.m. show. The Casbah, 2501 Kettner Blvd, Midtown. $15.