Cloudbusting -- Kate
Bush In Her Own Words
- 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
- 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
- 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,
- 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
- 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
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)
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
- 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)
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
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
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
"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
- 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
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
(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
Down under in the antipodes [A british slang term refering to
australia and new zealand.] (1982, kate's
[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)
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...
... 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,
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
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.
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
'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
- 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
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
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)
Cloudbusting / Music /