KT Cloudbusting -- Kate Bush In Her Own Words

The Dreaming

Well, years ago my brother bought ``Sun Arise'' and I loved it, it was such a beautiful song. [An early single by australian musician rolf harris.] And ever since then I've wanted to create something which had that feel of Australia within it. I loved the sound of the traditional aboriginal instruments, and as I grew older, I became much more aware of the actual situation which existed in Australia between the white Australian and the aborigines, who were being wiped out by man's greed for uranium. Digging up their sacred grounds, just to get plutonium, and eventually make weapons out of it. And I just feel that it's so wrong: this beautiful culture being destroyed just so that we can build weapons which maybe one day will destroy everything, including us. We should be learning from the aborigines, they're such a fascinating race. And Australia - there's something very beautiful about that country. (1982, Poppix)


The title actually came last. It always does. It's the most difficult thing to do. I tried to get a title that would somehow say what was in there. It was really bad. Then I found this book [Hands me huge tome on australian lore]. I'd written a song and hadn't really given it a proper name. I knew all about this time they call Dreamtime, when animals and humans take the same form. It's this big religious time when all these incredible things happen. The other word for it is The Dreaming. I looked at that written down and thought, ``Yeah!'' (1982, ZigZag)


The title ``the dreaming'' is a haunting name for a song, but what does it mean?

The song was originally going to be called ``Dreamtime,'' which is the name the Aborigines gave to a magic time before man was man as he is today - when man was an animal and could change shape. This magical time was also known as the Dreaming to the Aborigines, so I thought it would be an ideal title for the song. `` The Dreaming'' is such a strong title, too: ``dreaming'' on its own means little, but with ``the'' in front of it it takes on a whole new meaning. (1982, Poppix)


The title track concerns the abuse of aborigines by so-called civilised man. Where did that interest come from?

That's something that's been growing for years. It started when I was tiny, and my brother bought ``Sun Arise'' We thought it was brilliant - to me, that's a classic record. I started to become aware of the whole thing - that it's almost an instinctive thing in white man to wipe out a race that actually owns the land. It's happening all around the world.

Do you hope to change people's opinions by what you write?

No. Because I don't think a song can ever do that. If people have strong opinions, then they're so deep-rooted that you'll never be able to do much. Even if you can change the way a few people think, you'll never be able to change the situation anyway.

I don't ever write politically, because I know nothing about politics. To me they seem more destructive than helpful. I think I write from an emotional point of view, because even though a situation may be political, there's always some emotional element, and that's what gets to me. (1982, Kerrang!)


What does the dreaming mean?

It's an aboriginal term that was also called Dreamtime. The Dreaming and Dreamtime are the same thing: the time of creation that the aborigines believe in. It's a very ancient religious thing for them. (1983, Voc'l)


What gave you the idea of doing a song with an australian background?

The stimulus started years ago, when Paddy bought ``Sun Arise'' by Rolf Harris; a unique and wonderful song. And for many years it has greatly disturbed me, the way ``civilised'' man has treated ancient tribes such as the Aborigines, Red Indians, Tasmanians...and because of the beauty of the Aborigines' music and the way it seems to exude space, and the feeling of having great contact with the earth, I felt it was the perfect way to portray this feeling of invasion by white man.

Is there any reason why you used a real dijeridu on the dreaming as opposed to a synthetic one created by the fairlight? Is it because there is the ability for greater tonal change with a real dijeridu?

A Fairlight dijeridu was used to demo the song, but there is no comparison with the real thing, especially with an instrument like that when it is played by someone as brilliant as Rolf Harris. He was an absolute dream to work with, and so much more fun than a machine. (1984, KBC 16)


We started with the drums, working to a basic Linn drum machine pattern, making them sound as tribal and deep as possible. This song had to try and convey the wide open bush, the Aborigines - it had to roll around in mud and dirt, try to become a part of the earth. ``Earthy'' was the word used most to explain the sounds. There was a flood of imagery sitting waiting to be painted into the song. The Aborigines move away as the digging machines move in, mining for ore and plutonium. Their sacred grounds are destroyed and their beliefs in Dreamtime grow blurred through the influence of civilization and alcohol. Beautiful people from a most ancient race are found lying in the roads and gutters. Thank God the young Australians can see what's happening.

The piano plays sparse chords, just to mark every few bars and the chord changes. With the help of one of Nick Launay's magic sounds, the piano became wide and deep, effected to the point of becoming voices in a choir. The wide open space is painted on the tape, and it's time to paint the sound that connects the humans to the earth, the dijeridu.

The dijeridu took the place of the bass guitar and formed a constant drone, a hypnotic sound that seems to travel in circles.

None of us had met Rolf (Harris) before and we were very excited at the idea of working with him. He arrived with his daughter, a friend and an armful of dijeridus. He is a very warm man, full of smiles and interesting stories. I explained the subject matter of the song and we sat down and listened to the basic track a couple of times to get the feel. He picked up a dijeridu, placing one end of it right next to my ear and the other at his lips, and began to play.

I've never experienced a sound quite like it before. It was like a swarm of tiny velvet bees circling down the shaft of the dijeridu and dancing around in my ear. It made me laugh, but there was something very strange about it, something of an age a long, long time ago.

Women are never supposed to play a dijeridu, according to Aboriginal laws; in fact there is a dijeridu used for special ceremonies, and if this was ever looked upon by a woman before the ceremony could take place, she was taken away and killed, so it's not surprising that the laws were rarely disobeyed. After the ceremony, the instrument became worthless, its purpose over. (1982, KBC 12)


Dear Rolfie knows such a lot about traditional and ethnic music. He's a comedian, but there's a more serious side to him.

Rolf supplied a dijeridu - a long, hollow, tubular instrument you breathe down, to produce a low, continuous droning noise.

It's very difficult to play. You have to use a circular breathing technique. Snake charmers use them as well, and if the notes stop they run a risk of getting bitten.

I think there's about two thousand aborigines left. Unfortunately their lands are where you find plutonium, a very rare metal which is used in bombs.

They're a beautiful people, and some people would try to produce a holocaust out of such beauty. One day I want to go and see the outback for myself. I'm sure it's everything that I've dreamed about. (1982, Robin Smith)


You actually used a dijeridu player instead of the fairlight sample on the track.

I think it would be insulting to the instrument to suggest that the Fairlight could do it better - I don't know if you realize the sort of circular breathing technique that's involved in playing it. The dijeridu is one of those incredible instruments with the circular sound that's incredibly...sort of rooted in the earth. And we got Rolf Harris in to play it, and he is a brilliant dijeridu player. He could just keep it going for half an hour. (1985, Keyboard)


Were you familiar with the extraordinary records he made with george martin during the 1960s?

Yes, it was really because of his ``Sun Arise'' that I brought him in. I'd heard it through Paddy when it came out, as it was one of his favourite records. And I couldn't believe it and thought it was fabulous!

Paddy: Yes, I think it's one of the most important records ever made; For me it was, at any rate. And since I met rolf harris I've gotten into playing the dijeridu myself, like on kate's new album. I think rolf harris was on to something very special; Aboriginal music is something very special... (1985, Musician)


Whenever I hear this I can't help seeing Rolf Harris in the recording studio playing the dijeridu and creating the Australian outback all around him. No one else could have been so good. (C.1986, AVD)

It's interesting how some songs attract lots of ideas - this was definitely one of them, and because of the amount of ideas in this song, it made me concentrate on others, so they would not be neglected or left behind. Percy Edwards was among the ideas for this song, and he too was a real pleasure to work with. He really is the only man who imitates the voices of animals to the extent that he does, and is greatly respected for his talents. It is so beautiful to watch him burst into birdsong in a studio in the middle of London. I had images of him waking with the dawn chorus, taking part with blackbirds, the sparrows, the thrushes... but we were in the studio with Percy, and there was work to do, so he became sheep, dingoes and Australian magpies. The light grew dim and we were out in the bush on a warm windy night by the light of Percy, our fire.

Percy is a true professional, and he kept us all in awe with his wonderful ways. He was, however, a little upset by the treatment of the kangaroos, but after Paddy and I explained it was the only way to get the sound we wanted, he completely understood the situation and tried to communicate to the kangas what they had to do. The only problem was he couldn't remember the kanga word for ``Dang'' so he worked on ``Boing'' with a ``D'' (1982, KBC 12)


Would you like to hear my impression of an emu? They go ``mmm mmm,'' like that. Actually, I never knew they made a noise at all. Percy Edwards taught me.

The wonderful thing about Percy is that he can look like the animal he's trying to impersonate. You should see him when he does a gorilla.

He's been impersonating animals for years, and he told me that when he started there were no records with animal sounds, so he went to the zoo. I've always wanted to meet him - he's such a fascinating man. (1982, Robin Smith)


We got Rolf Harris on that. He's great. I think he's really underestimated because he's a children's entertainer, but he's probably one of the greatest mines of information on ethnic music. He was involved in the soundtrack of the film Zulu and he just stood and sang this whole song in African. He's so uninhibited, he just does it.

I knew the beat from ``Sun Arise'' and Aborigine music, so we just ripped that off, used what was already there ethnically. Rolf just came in and did dijeridu.

We started delving deeper into the album. And as usual, kate's been delving already. A subject grabs her, so she'll research it until there's enough soaked in to be spewed out as a song.

Yeah, delving, definitely. A few of the ideas for the songs have been in my head for a couple of years, but I didn't feel I could do them. I wanted to do the Australian one on the last album but I hadn't written it. I just knew I wanted the sound. It's probably as well it didn't manifest till this album, because it never would have sounded the same. (1982, ZigZag)


*I noticed with her recent single, `` the dreaming", it's got a type of an aborigine sound and I just want to know whether there was anything that inspired you to change your style of music?

Yes, well I think that, ah, well, especially for that song, it was inspired years ago by Rolf Harris's Sun Arise. And, although when I heard it then - I was probably about six - it never occurred to me that I would write a song inspired by it, that is in fact what happened 'cause it's been in my head ever since.

Cause he plays on it, doesn't he?

Yes he does, that's right. (1982, Dreaming debut)


*Her interest in aborigines started when she came to australia on a promotional visit in 1978. I've always been interested in them, she said. Especially their music. I love music that has a sense of power. (1983, australian women's weekly)


*Have you ever been to australia?

Yes, but not recently. I have contact with a few Australians and it seems that at the moment Aboriginal art is becoming very fashionable so the young Australians are starting to take a lot more serious notice of what's happening to them. Also, happily, the Aborigines seem to be growing in number again. (1982, Melody Maker)


*The Dreaming, which is also known as Dreamtime, was the time for the Aborigines more or less at the beginning of creation when animals and humans took the same form. It was very magical and it's of incredible religious significance to them. And thats what it's about. (1982, Unknown BBC interview)


*"The dreaming'' is an excellent single and deserved to do far better then number forty-eight in the charts. How does kate feel about this fact?'' lets find out.

I mean obviously I was a bit disappointed, but it's just the way it goes, really. I think what was more disappointing was the fact that we'd made a video for it and we weren't able to get it shown, and we'd put a lot of work into it. But really what concerns me is the album, much more than the singles. So it's not a problem really.

Something else that didn't help, apart from the virtual absence of airplay [Kate laughs] was the lack of suitable publicity. Did kate want `` the dreaming'' to succeed on the strength of song alone, rather than on an immense publicity campaign?

Well, I think the problem is that often there aren't publicity campaigns for singles, because they don't actually seem to do much good, and that's the problem. Often a single is kept under it's own weight, the fact ... if it's good ... and the airplay is a big thing as well. And there's not really that much you can do.

Do you regret having the record or the single out then?

No, not at all. I mean if I was to make the same choice, I would. I would go for that same record, you know what I mean? If I had to put the first single out again I would go for that one, I'm very happy...

I remember somebody saying that the song originally had a different title, ``the dreaming", is that right?

No, no it didn't. We always have working titles for things, but that doesn't mean it has a different title. It's always really been called ``The Dreaming.'' (1982, Unknown BBC interview)


*Well really it's a song about the Australian Aborigines who've been treated incredibly badly by the white man...


...but It doesn't just apply to Aborigines, I think we've done our fair share of being cruel to people. And certainly to the red Indians in America, all this sort of thing.

So it's a bit of a social statement.

It is, but thank God the Aborigines are getting themselves together again. There all starting to grow, there are much more of them now then there were even a few years ago.

Found yourself a wonderful, isn't it, the aborigines getting themselves together.


Down under in the antipodes [A british slang term refering to australia and new zealand.] (1982, kate's birthday interview)


*[Laughs] at the end of `` the dreaming'' a voice says something... Nick says that he cannot make out. Is this aborigine, and, if so, does kate know what it means?

Yes it is Aborigine. And it's a lyric from a song called Airplane!, Airplane! And it's very strange because its one of the first aboriginal songs about airplanes which were coming from the civilized Australians. (1982, Unknown BBC interview)


*...With a true reflection of a typical day in australia [Kate laughs] in your experience. When did you go there, four years ago?

Yeah, four years ago, yeah. It was just a promotional trip but I managed to talk to the young Australian people about aborigines and their knowledge of them, if they ever met them. And they told me all about the kangaroo's and what a nuisance they are, how they have the big crash barriers on the front...

Ru-bars [??? Spelling].

That's it, Ru-bars, yeah! And I picked up a feeling for what it was like from being there so, yes, it was quite inspirational.

Has that track, that particular track, been heard by australians, I wonder what their reaction towards it?

Yes, I wonder. I think it will be alot less unusual for them obviously because the dijeridu is a home instrument and they know if very, it's probably quite boring from. So I don't know how they'll react...

They're one...

... It'll be very interesting.

Sorry. There's one very famous australian featured on this album who you're not used to finding on rock records, rolf harris?


He... He... This is correct, is it...


... He plays the dijeridu on that track?

Yes, he does. I think it's interesting how people sorta go ``ROLF HARRIS!''

Well, it's not the sorta person you're used to seeing in credits. No, that's right.

He's not often mentioned on this program.


No. But he is a very good dijeridu player, which is why we used him. [Everybody laughs]

Well, [You'll go for the gusto ???]


What is a dijeridu, what does it look like?

It's a long piece of wood that's hollowed out. And what they do is they find the bits of wood already hollowed out, because the termites eat the soft wood and literally just hollow the branch out, and they just sit and blow through them. And the blowing technique is very difficult because while you're breathing in through your nose, you have to breath out through your mouth. And it's like a whole circularly technique so you can just keep the drone going continuously.

'Course only people like rolf harris can quite master it, I guess.

He's very good!

I'm sure he is!

Now also, though, on that track you employed, I think, percy edwards to supply the kinda synthesized jungle backings.

This is the bird impressions.

The bird impressions that are on the album.

Yes. Well I knew that in the choruses we wanted to create a feeling of the landscape, and obviously there are a lot of Australian animals and the sounds are very reminiscent of the environment. And of course Percy could come along and give us a selection of at least ten different Australian animals.

He's made a study of australian animals. [Both interviewers laugh]

Well I think he's made a study of nearly any animal that's alive and he's very unique. I means there is no one else really who's doing what he does. (1982, The Old Grey Whistle Test)


*I think a lot of the tracks on your new album are so intense and deep, with a lot of various sources of input, but it's difficult to hear on the radio, catchy, the first time. For example, on `` the dreaming", you had rolf harris with his dijeridu and you had percy edwards doing the animal voices and very complex lyrics and a change of voices on your part and I think that probably was the problem.

Yes, I think it was a very complicated single, in many ways. It was demanding as much from the audience as anything that, you know, they would give the time to listen to it and try to understand it. So many people said to me that by the fifth, sixth time that they'd heard the song, that they were actually starting to really like it. And before then they just hadn't understood it at all. So, yeah. (1982, Pebble Mill At One)


The video ``The Dreaming'' had been made in between press and radio and the trip abroad, and we were very lucky to be able to do all the shooting in one day. It was an extremely ambitious shoot, which included live birds, lasers, flying wires, people being buried completely under sand, not to mention a beautiful set which was built of polystyrene rocks, dead spikey trees and a cardboard moon and sun.

As the hours rolled on, we were sure we would have to leave at least one idea out, but with a crew who were just as eager as us to see the film complete and as it should be, we worked on into the night - past the rope made of laser light and the painted men who walked out of trees to a mouth moving in the sand (all we can see of a man deep under the sand; somehow it looks remarkably like Paddy, and it's the last shot in our video). (1983, KBC 13)


*Was that a laser beam in there?

It was, it was.

Amazing, that looked quite good. It's very clever the way you... Do you actually see it when your holding onto it?

Yes, yes.

Or pretending to hold onto it.

Yes, that's right pretending. (1982, Saturday Superstore)


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