KT Cloudbusting -- Kate Bush In Her Own Words

The Sensual World Album

Released 16th October 1989
Made No. 2 Platinum


  • The Sensual World
  • Love and Anger
  • The Fog
  • Reaching Out
  • Head'S We'Re Dancing
  • Deeper UnderstandIng
  • Between A Man and A Woman
  • Never Be Mine
  • Rocket'S Tail
  • This Woman'S Work
  • Walk Straight Down The Middle (Cd + Tape Only)
  • I think this album for me, unlike the last album, say, Hounds of Love, where I saw that as two sides - one side being conceptual - this album is very much like short stories for me. Ten short stories that are just saying something different in each one and it was a bit like trying to paint the pictures accordingly. Each song has a different personality and so they each a need little bit of something here, a little bit of that there - just like people, you know, some people you can't walk up to because you know they're a bit edgy first thing in the morning. So you have to come up sideways to them, you know, and it's kind of like how the songs are too. They have their own little personalities, and if it doesn't want you to do it, it won't let you. (1990, VH-1)


    When you start out on a project like this and you've got all these bits of songs and ideas, do you have any idea how it's going to turn out in the end? Do you have something in your mind?

    No, I don't think I do. I think just the thought of finishing the album sometimes feels so far away that I don't know how it's going to sound when it's all put together. I have an idea of how it will be in my head, but it isn't really something I can see from the beginning at all. It's a long journey.

    There's no idea of any big thought you want to get across or feeling that you want it to transmit to people as they listen to it?

    I think if I could be that sure of something like that at the beginning of an album I don't think it would take me so long to make - she says haa haa!!! THe problem for me is when I come to start an album I want it to be different from the album before, so I have to try and start somewhere new, start from scratch. It always feels like it's the first album I'm making and it always feels like I've never sung before and never written a song before, and ``God, how did I do this.'' I suppose gradually, after a tremendous amount of doubt, I end up starting to get a sense of what I do want to say, but I definitely don't have this at the beginning. Maybe the whole process of making an album is, perhaps that for me, actually trying to find out what I want to say now, and it's only at the end of the album I think I discover that.

    So what have you discovered?

    Well, I think if there's anything thematic on this album (because it's not conceptual at all, they're very much separate songs) it's maybe saying to people, ``Look if you're in a really bad situation, if you're feeling really down, if things are really awful, it's O.K., try not to be too unhappy, maybe try talking to someone, try getting out of it, because you should be happy.'' Maybe it's trying to be comforting. Ideally I can't think of anything that would move me more than to think that someone might listen to that album and actually get some kind of comfort from it. That would just be fantastic for me. So hey... I hope you're out there somebody!!

    But as with most of your work, you get a feeling as you listen to these songs; A sort of feeling of something threatening behind it all, a bit of menace, something a little ``things that go bump in the night'' - I don't know. Is that something that you want be in there - that people feel slightly threatened?

    That's a very good question and other people have said to me that they think this album is very dark, although for me I think it's my happiest album really. I find some of the tracks quite funny where other people say they find them scary. Although I have a dark sense of humour, maybe it is a subconscious thing that just goes into my music, because I think when I was writing this album that was perhaps something I was feeling a little - a sense of being a bit scared. Maybe it comes out in the music. I do think it's a very big self- therapy thing now - the more I work on an album the more I think it's almost a process for me to try and heal myself, have a look at myself. Do you know what I mean? Actually a very selfish thing in a way, but I think art is. I do think what artistic people are trying to do is work through their problems through their art - look at themselves, confront all these things. Does that sound O.K to you?

    Oh yes, that sounds very reasonable, so these are all your problems on this record, which you have now got rid of and you've saddled the rest of us with?

    I think it is with every album, yes, and maybe because this album is the most personal one yet for me, maybe it's more obvious.

    The most personal - how did that come about?

    It's not that the album is written about me, not that it is autobiographical, but it is the most direct process I've used for an album. It's in my own studio and I had a lot of time so as not to be under pressure by outside forces. I've recorded the whole album with Del so it's just myself and Del in a very close relationship working together very intensely and it was hard for me to write this album. To actually write the songs was very difficult, and for the first time really, I went through a patch where I just couldn't write - I didn't know what I wanted to say. Maybe a little like we touch on earlier, I just didn't know what I wanted to say, everything seemed like rubbish - you know? It seemed to have no meaning whatsoever. Somehow I managed to get a sense of some meaningfulness, and that's why earlier I said I think, to me now, albums are perhaps a way of helping myself, but maybe helping other people too. To work through my problems maybe will help other people too. To work through my problems maybe will help other people to work through their problems. Maybe the meaningfulness of art is that once you've got over your selfish work within it, you can give it to other people and hopefully it might at least make them smile or something.

    So this is less from your imagination, which you've drawn on before, and more the real you?

    I think it's probably both, because I do think they're a lot of imagination gone into the sounds of the album. It's very layered and imaginative from a sound point of view, perhaps more than before, but then I'm so subjective that I probably don't hear this the way other people do at all. I guess maybe I haven't hidden away so much in the writing of this album, maybe I've been a little more brave and maybe that's why it was harder for me to write. (1989, Roger Scott)


    This is definitely my most personal, honest album. And I think it's my most female album, in that I feel maybe I'm not trying to prove something in terms of a woman in a man's world - God, here we go!

    She seems to be wary of provoking a heavy debate about feminism.

    On The Dreaming and Hounds of Love, particularly from a production standpoint, I wanted to get a lot more weight and power, which I felt was a very male attitude. In some cases it worked very well, but...perhaps this time I felt braver as a woman, not trying to do the things that men do in music. (1989, Q)


    I just felt that I was exploring my feminine energy more - musically. In the past I had wanted to emanate the kind of power that I've heard in male music. And I just felt maybe somewhere there is this female energy that's powerful. It's a subtle difference - male or female energy in art - but I think there is a difference: little things, like using the Trio. And possibly some of the attitudes to my lyric writing on this album. I would say it was more accepting of being a female somehow. (1990, Musician)


    "The sensual world,'' the song, is some sort of statement of a new maturity and confidence. It's unashamedly erotic, but this time she's gone into the subject with her eyes wide open. I think I'm just starting to think of myself as a woman, and to actually feel quite nice about that, I also feel I can express myself as a woman without having this tremendous pressure from the outside world, which I felt - I felt I couldn't move. But I feel really good now. (1989, The Guardian)


    I do think it's a very big self-therapy thing now. The more I work on an album, the more I think it's actually almost a process for me to try and heal myself, have a look at myself.

    I feel this is probably my most female album as well, in that I've explored female energies in myself as a writer, producer, that before I've really just done what I've seen all the guys doing, because really everything I've learned in the music industry about making records has been from men. And it occurred to me more in hindsight then at the time that a lot of what I was doing was very male influenced, and I just wanted to try and find a female energy for myself. Not that there's anything negative about male energy in music because it's great, you know. I was just looking for a female approach, I guess. (1990, VH-1)


    I shouldn't have made the mistake of saying that I felt ... I felt that this album was my most personal and most female so far, and everyone has been saying to me ``What do you mean by female?'' And it's just a feeling really, that... it just feels more an expression of myself as a woman this time. (1989, Rapido)


    You've said the sensual world is your ``most female'' album to date. What do you mean?

    The powerful sound in contemporary music come from males, not females. For instance, in Hounds Of Love the production sounds were very powerful. Like the big drum sound which I put my little ideas and voice on top of. With my new album I didn't feel the need to look to male music for that kind of power. I subconsciously wanted to make the album softer and not keep relating to this dominant male energy. (1989, Network)



    Well, I'm not sure what I mean, except that's how it feels to [??? Me] [Laughs]. I suppose what I'm trying to say is that some of the songs feel like I'm writing them as a female, which is not necessarily something I've felt strongly before. (1989, Music Express)


    *I think this is my most personal album so far, SHE CONFESSES, HESITANTLY. I think the other albums have been... I can't think of the word. Maybe I haven't been prepared to be as honest as I feel I have been on this album.

    It's no that there's autobiographical stuff in there. It's not that the songs are about me, but it feels - this time anyway - more honest, more... I feel I've been braver about what I'm trying to say. Although I'm sure it is still quite hidden.

    Art as self-analysis?

    It's the most honest you can be in some ways, but it's also your shield, because you're hiding behind it. And yet this itself is something you've put out there. Isn't that wonderfully ironic? (1989, RAW)


    *Some of those experiments just didn't work, so there wasn't any point carrying on with them. Most of them are still lying on pieces of tapes and things. I don't know, I might go back to some of them. (1989, RAW)


    I think people tend to presume that when you are female you write [From a ???] female point of view, but I'm not sure I always have, really. A lot of my songs have been written from a man's point of view, or a child's point of view never necessarily felt like a female writer. In fact, I think in the past I've very much enjoyed not writing as a female. It's kind of like writing stories - you don't really want to be yourself; you want to put yourself into other] situations that are much more interesting. (1989, Music Express)


    There are personal elements in the other albums, but yes, this is definitely personal, on every level, the process and everything. It's a very intimate process I make records in now. We don't have tape operators. I'm producing. So most of the time it's just the two of us, and Del knows the kind of sounds I like. So the communication is very good, and most of the time it's just beating my head against the wall for ideas and things. But all the recording is done very quickly. (1990, Musician)


    I feel in many ways that The Sensual World is my most personal album, and I think a lot of that's directly to do with the way we worked on it. I think that having just the two of us in the studio, being very isolated, has made it much easier for me to get things across, because I'm dealing with someone who knows what I'm trying to say, rather than three or four people who keep changing. The problem with commercial studios is that there are so many distractions and strangers, which makes me nervous. To be at home and be so relaxed, working with someone I know and love so much, gives it a very intimate and special feeling. It's not always easy, but I wouldn't have it any other way. (1989, Music Express)


    Although Hounds Of Love was definitely a female work of art, from a sound point of view I wanted to get the sense of power I associate with male music - strong rhythms, big drum sounds, very sort of male energy sounds. But I just didn't necessarily want to go for that anymore.'

    But if big drums are male energy sounds, what are female energy sounds?

    Well, I think that unfortunately most female sounds in rock music are dissipated by male sounds, because generally it's the males who are producing and playing the instruments. So I'm not sure there is female sound in contemporary music. There is in ethnic music, though. Now the Bulgarian singers, that's very much female music, from a strong female point of view. I think it has a tremendous intensity because of that, and it's very unusual for us to hear that kind of positive female strength, which you don't really find in contemporary music. (1989, Music Express)


    The first time I heard them sing was just after we finished the last album. My brother Paddy, who listens to a lot of ethnic music, heard them on Radio Sofia, and he played me a tape. And I could not believe it. It was just devastating, as it is for everyone the first time they hear it. It's like angels, isn't it? And when I was thinking about making another album, I thought, ``Wouldn't it be great if perhaps we could work try working together!'' It's scary for me, because their music is so good - you don't want to drag them to your level, you know? I mean, funky Bulgarians would be just terrible!'

    In any case, kate eventually made the trip to sofia, bulgaria, to meet the singers, and rehearsed with them for three days. As she says, it was just incredible - some of the purest musical communication I've ever had, and we didn't have any other language in common, because they don't speak english, and I don't speak bulgarian! (1989, Music Express)


    I found the writing very difficult on this, SHE ADMITS, ALMOST EMBARRASSED. I don't know what I wanted to say or how to treat the songs, make them sound differently, to get outside musicians in to do something or just go away and think. A lot of it is jigsawing: I'd get to the point where I couldn't write, where I was sick of the songs. And yet you thought they were OK to begin with. The problem is holding on to that energy level. (1989, NME)


    I wanted to work with the Irish guys again because it gets better each time. But I was never sure it'd come off with Trio Bulgarka. On ``Never Be Mine'' all the Irish stuff was done, and then the girls came in. (THE GIRLS MUST BE 180 YEARS OLD COLLECTIVELY.) Two separate entities put together, but similar energies. And sometimes you can hear little Irish riffs and flavours in the Bulgarian music and vice-versa.

    For Bulgaria, the terrific amount of suffering they've gone through is so apparent in the music, so spiritually powerful and intense that, if you let it, it'd just rip you apart. Maybe it's the same with Ireland. Maybe these are two races that have turned to music in times of hardship: broken hearts singing, in terrible pain, getting help through the music. (1989, NME)


    I'm curious and nervous to know how people will take it, GRINS KATE. They'll either really like it or hate it. Ethnic music for some people is just too far out. They can't relate unless there's a Western influence. They can't understand. (1989, NME)


    They were so important for me, both musically and personally. I got a tremendous amount out of them as people, and a very important musical influence. (1989, Pulse)


    It feels like ten very separate songs, ten short stories, but although I think there's probably a mood that hangs them together, it's not really conceptual at all. (1989, NME)


    Tell me a bit about your art on this album, ``the sensual world'' Especially fascinating is this mixing of the irish/bulgarian sound on it which is the most unlikely thing on paper but is an extraordinary noise. You have those irish musicians and you have these bulgarian singers on some tracks and together somehow it works. It's hard understanding where your was at when you actually decided to go this way. So you tell me.

    I know. It's worrying isn't it...! Well, the whole process of this album is so ridiculous. It's extraordinary even when I think about it, let alone try to explain to people the bizarre chain of associations and events that have happened to actually create this album. On this first track it's Irish musicians playing a Greek tune. Again because of the Joyc'ian influence in the song, I wanted to use Irish musicians and we had this straight melody that went through the choruses and it was very Irish. When we had all this trouble with lyrics, I had to change them and we took a new approach. I remember this piece of music from about three years ago that my brother Paddy had played me - a fan had sent it in, and it was this beautiful piece of music from Macedonia. It was just gorgeous, and I thought, well I don't know if it will work, but let's try it and it worked and that's how it's in there. But there's a lot of that - things that I heard maybe three years ago or a person's name that I thought I should look up from three years ago. It's sort of all been jigsawed together into this album and it is a very bizarre process.

    But it works.

    Yes, I think it does. There was a lot of experimentation went on. One of my biggest problems was just trying to convince myself that it was O.K. to go ahead and do what I felt I should do and not to doubt it, just to go for it. I actually thought about using the Bulgarians a good six months before I actually got up the guts to then try approaching them, and go to Bulgaria, meet them, work with them. It was a very scary thing for me to do because of the responsibility if it hadn't worked. For a start, they are such incredible musicians - their music is so good. If we worked together and it was awful I would have had to ditch it, because their reputation goes higher than mine and I would be carrying their on the record, so it really was a bit daunting for me. If I had just been brave enough to go ahead with it in the first place I could have saved six months of agony.

    I hear you're fairly famous in bulgaria. Is this true?

    Well this is what they told me. I didn't know if they were just being very nice to me or wanted to make me feel wanted but, yes, they said I was. I found that surprising.

    So who is this trio, because they are not a bunch of ``spring chickens'' are they?

    No, they are not. They are three of the greatest female singers in Bulgaria and they have been singing together for twenty to thirty years. They all come from different parts of Bulgaria, they all come from little villages and they're very earthy people. They've all lived very full lives, and they work so hard. I've never worked with such hard-working professional people, and I've never worked with women before on that level either which I found fabulous. It was very exciting for me working with women creatively.

    That whole process was incredible because I was really scared, I didn't know if it was going to work. We arrived in Bulgaria, and they didn't speak a word of English, and we didn't speak a word of Bulgarian, and the communication was really stunted to start with. Within 10 minutes they welcomed us into their house, so affectionate, and they sat down and sang one of their songs for us. It was a beautiful song, just the three of them sitting opposite this kitchen table. The eldest one Eva picked up this telephone and listened to the dialling tone and went [Tone], and they all took their note off the dialling tone [Laughs]. And then they just burst into song and it was the most beautiful thing. It's very rarely that I'm moved by music enough to want to cry, and within minutes I was sitting there with tears running down my cheeks. I think in some ways this was how we communicated, not that it was that extreme all the time but it was very much emotional communication between us, no words could be used really, and they loved the fact that we were so moved, and working in the studio consisted of cuddles mainly rather than long conversations [Laughs] and it was wonderful. A really special experience, I wouldn't have missed it for the world, it definitely affected me in a big way. I'm so honoured to have worked with them, really just so honoured with them as people as well as musicians, because the music speaks for itself. It's just so incredible to be with people like that.

    What would be your choice for the song that would best demonstrate these voices?

    Most definitely ``_Rocket'sTail'' It shows the trio off the most, and sometimes when they're singing, if you're in the same room as them when they're singing, you can hear the air cracking, it's like there's so much harmonic information in their voices [Laughs]. (1989, Roger Scott)


    I think about telling kate how surprised I am she's so small, or how shocked I am she smokes, but time is not on my side so I decide, instead, to tell her how delighted I am that she's come to the conclusion that the past and the future aren't beyond changing. The album sounds so optimistic in an era when absolutely everything appears to be falling apart.

    Oh, thank you! Thank you so much! That's really how I wanted it to be but, talking to a lot of friends and that, they feel it's a dark album.

    I didn't think that at all...

    Oh, great.

    ...I thought some of the situations were dark, but the way they're resolved is optimistic. [What about the way ``heads,we'redancing'' is ``resolved'' what about the way `` deeper understanding'' is ``resolved'' what about the way ``never be mine'' is ``resolved'' - ied]

    Oh, that's great. Thank you. Yes. That's really great. I'm so pleased you heard it like that. You see, for a lot of people it's so complicated to listen to, and that worries me, because I like the idea of people being able to listen to it easily and...uh...I don't want to confuse people but, for some people, it's very hard for them to even take it in, let alone sort of get anything out of it.

    I do think art should be simple, you see. It shouldn't be complicated, and I think, in some ways, this has come across a bit complicated.

    Maybe that's because, for me, the album's about relationships - the relationship between language and emotion, the relationship between language and music, the relationship between emotion and music and how all this expresses, or more crucially fails to express, the relationship between people. And relationships, as we all know, are never ever easy.

    How interesting. Could you give me an example?

    Well, in ``love and anger,'' you say, ``it's so deep I don't think that I can speak about it,'' as if language betrays your aims, and then you go on to say, ``we could be like two strings beating/speaking in sympathy,'' which suggests that music, rather than language, comes closest to expressing our emotions.

    Yeah! Actually, `` Love and Anger'' was an incredibly difficult song for me to write and, when people ask me what it's about, I have to say I don't know because it's not really a thought-out thing. It was so difficult for me to write that: in some ways, I think, about the process of writing the song: I can't find the words; I don't know what to say. This thing of a big, blank page, you know: it's so big...It's like it doesn't have edges around it, you could just start anywhere.

    She studies her socks for a moment.

    Yes... um... I don't think I was consious of it, but it's something I'm aware of when writing songs. [Has ied missed something here, or did kate just contradict the first half of this sentence in the second half? - ied] There's such a lot you need to say through words. And it's a beautiful thing, language: actually being able to put words together and say something... maybe say two things in one line. But, like you say, it misses the mark so often.

    You created your own language, too, don't you? It seems when you're at your most sexual, your most emotional, you emit...the only word I can find for it is noises, but that sounds too crude. Your ``mmh yes'' on ``the sensual world'' (the most heavenly sound ever on top of the pops) and your ``do-do-do-do-do'' in ``headswe'redancing'' are like cries that language has deserted you or, more positively, an attempt on your behalf to merge words and music, to create a new emotional language from a combination of meaning and sound. [I] remembr you used to go ``wow!'' when words failed you. It shivers me. It's thrilling.

    Well, I think that's a lovely thing to say... Yes, often words are sounds for me. I get a sound and I throw it in a song and I can't turn it into a word later because it's actually stated itself too strongly as a sound. Like, in `` Love and Anger,'' the bit that goes "Mmh, mmh, mmh" was there instantly and, in itself, it's really about not being able to express it differently. Do you know what I mean?

    Indeed I do. Liz of the cocteau twins does it all the time. She never sings a lyric as such, it's all noises. [Actually this is not true. Fraser has admitted that she picks real words and names from dictionaries, but simply throws them together without a narrative foundation. -ied] but somehow, the way you burst language, the tension that leads to the victory of sound over sense whips your music into another dimension. It's the frustration that gives your songs dynamic, and the way you remedy it that makes them attractive. Most of the sensual world lp seems to be saying, ``this can be worked out.'' [Ied does not agree. Fully half the songs on the album simply do not bear this claim out.] (1989, Melody Maker)


    After months of experimentation, kate bush decided the trio bulgarka were the closest thing she'd ever heard to the voice of god. She first heard yanka rupkhina, eva georgieva and stoyanka boneva - bulgaria's foremost vocal trio - just after she'd finished hounds of love, when her brother, paddy, played her one of their few recordings available in the western world. [This was before any of the now-popular compilation albums had been released in the west. - ied]

    I was devastated. Everyone I know who hears it is. At the time I didn't really think in terms of us working together but, the more I listened to it, the more I thought how wonderful it would be, and it seemed to gradually make more and more sense to try and get them involved in the album. Still, I needed a lot of time to gather the courage to do it. I was scared about it not working.

    Did you think you might cheapen their gift?

    Oh God, absolutely. It was a big responsibility. And what was so nice is that they really enjoyed the experience. I mean, when we first met them, they asked us into their house, and they'd made a big meal for us: it was a big social event, and yet we'd never met. And within minutes, someone said, ``Oh, why not sing them a song?'' So Eva, the eldest one, picked up the phone, listened to the dialing tone, went ``Mmmmmmh,'' and they all tuned to that, and just burst into song!

    They were sitting over the kitchen table and, within minutes, I was just completely taken by them and the tears just...And they loved this, because it meant that the'd got through. Everyone who was with me was really moved - you could see people just trying to wipe the tears away.

    When I was working on `` Deeper Understanding,'' the idea was that the verses were the person and the choruses were the computer talking to the person. I wanted this sound that would almost be like the voice of angels: something very ethereal, something deeply religious, rather than a mechanical thing. And we went through so many different processes, trying vocoders, lots of ways of affecting the voice, and eventually it led to the Trio Bulgarka.

    Iit made absolute sense - you know, this loving voice - because they have a certain quality: their music feels so old and deep. It's really powerful; such intense, deep music that, in some ways, I think it is like the voice of angels.

    It's as if they're possessed of it, rather than it's theirs.

    Yeah! Absolutely! Beautiful music! Old music like that is magical, and it can be preserved and kept. We must have lost so much of it all over the world. It must have just gone! (1989, Melody Maker)


    If we take it as read that the album is concerned with relationships and the problems of communication and how these problems aren't insurmountable, I imagine working with the trio bulgarka must have put this to the test and enriched the lp through the experience of recording. I mean, I assume you couldn't talk to each other. I assume you had no mutual language, and yet you created together through music.

    Yeah, and it was extraordinary. They didn't speak a word of English and we didn't speak any Bulgarian, but we could communicate through music, so that absolutely transcended barriers. There were things we needed to translate but, generally, we communicated emotionally, and I just loved that. They'll come up and give you a big cuddle. They'll just come up and touch you and cuddle you, and you can go up and give them a big cuddle, and I really enjoyed that kind of communication, it felt very real and direct to me. I'd never experienced that kind of communication before. It's something we could do with more of. It's a lovely thing.

    They were over not long ago, and we hadn't seen each other for a while and, when the translator went out of the room, we all started chatting. I don't think any of us knew what the other one was talking about but everyone was talking at the same time, and we were all chatting away, about six of us in a room. Then the translator walked back in and suddenly everyone felt really self-conscious and shut up. It all went quiet and we all sat and looked at the floor. It was a really great moment, really great! (1989, Melody Maker)


    As for the Bulgarians, I experienced an amazing musical contact with them. I discovered their music, and I had hoped to include them in my album. So I went to Bulgaria to meet them. These women have been singing together for twenty years - thirty years - and they worked so hard. I didn't speak a word of their language and in ten minutes they opened their house to me. After the dinner, we were sitting in their kitchen and one of them picked up the telephone to listen for the dial tone. Eva then gave the tone to the others, and they began to sing. I was so moved that I broke into tears. (1989, Best)


    The results are quite dark and dissatisfied.

    Many of my friends have said things similar to that but what I'm trying to say is that if you're having a hard time, if things look really rough, then don't worry, everything's all right, someone will come and help you out. From darkness and dissatisfaction something really good can come. To get something worthwhile often you have to go through something difficult.

    It sounds personal, too.

    Yes, it's my most personal album, although that doesn't necessarily mean autobiographical. For some reason I had a tremendous need to talk about relationships, and it's my most female album too.'

    Hence the idea of a sensual world.

    That's right. The earth is a very sensual thing, it supplies us with a tremendous amount of sensual information, although most of us don't see it like that. We should be able to reach out and touch things, feel grass under our feet and look at the fantastic world. It's not a ``hippy'' image - it's what we're all meant to do. More and more people appreciate this planet and maybe that's because of some of the negative things that have been done to it. (1989, Tracks)


    One is naturally tempted to peer into the sensual world and inquire whether or not a song such as `` between a man and a woman'' is a personal account of romantic difficulties? ("_it'sso hard for love to stay together/with the modern westernpres- sures_").

    But anything you write, people tend to think it's about you, SHE SAYS, NERVOUSLY. Like Woody Allen: his films are obviously very personal. There's obviously an awful lot of him in his work. But you see him being interviewed, and as soon as he's asked if it's personal he gets really defensive. It's a very awkward area...

    On this album there's more of me in there, in a more honest way than before, and yet, although some of it's me, the songs _aren'tabout me. It's this kind of vague mish-mash of other people and yourself; bits of films; things you've heard - all put together in a mood that says a lot about me at this time.

    A lot of people will think these songs are about me. I've always had that. And like, with `` Deeper Understanding,'' people react immediately, saying, ``Is this autobiographical? So you're into computers now? So you spend all night on computers?'' People immediately switch on to the mechanicalness: It's a song about computers, so she must be into computers! [Note that she doesn't actually say whether she is using computers or not! Classic kate! Nor, of course, does brown have the presence of mind to ask her.] (1989, NME)


    Bush wrote many of the songs on her bechstein acoustic upright piano, and it remains in the final songs like ``thiswoman'swork.'' that might also explain why the sensual world is a song cycle, rather than a concept piece like the ninth wave side of the hounds of love.

    Yes, that's very true. It's not conceptual at all. For me they are like short stories, where each song is conjuring up a different mood, hopefully. Although there are definitely feelings that go throughout this album, with this album I really wanted to write ten songs. I didn't want it to be a big elaborate thing. I just wanted to explore what I felt was my technique of songwriting. And that's what i always try to do. (1990, Musician)


    You see, the thing is, I always want to do something different from the last record, and in some ways it's a question of putting space before the last project before you can even start. After the last album I just wanted to spend some time and just come down to earth again. I suppose this record took about two years in total to make; we took lots of breaks in between so the project actually felt like it had been going on longer, even though it's not been intense work. I found it very difficult to write some of the songs on the album - some were very quick, but others were long and painful. I always find lyrics very hard, anyway, and the whole thing was very much a layering process, just sort of putting in all the different elements, putting the jigsaw together. It's not by choice it took so long; it's never fun being involved in a project that long, but I just couldn't do it any quicker. It's something that happens in phases, where you get times when nothing's happening - and that's a good time to take a break, or else you're continually working on lyrics and stuff and you get a breakthrough. You might write a song and it comes very quickly, and you've maybe got lyrics and melodies for, say, another two, so you get musicians in and build on those tracks. Then you let them sit for a bit and go off and do something else. I think it's useful that you do 10 or 11 tracks on an album, so you can keep dotting round, so, even though you always end up getting sick of hearing them, you can at least keep diverting. (1989, Pulse)


    Having the sort of creative freedom that I've now got, having my own studio, taking the time to make albums, not putting something out 'cause there's pressure to, working very closely with Del as engineer, I just felt incredibly lucky to be in this kind of situation. It's a real privilege and I'd hate to abuse that. I think the problem with writing songs is that you want to care about what you're doing, and sometimes the stuff you come up with is just so banal, you just have to really wipe through it. Get rid of all the shit, do you know what I mean? [Laughs] Hounds Of Love was very much the main step, 'cause that was the first time we had our own studio, and I suppose the progression from that one to this is that we've upgraded the equipment. Also, on the last album, I was working with lots of different engineers who could only give me a certain amount of time, because they'd block-booked to someone else, and because I work so experimentally, I didn't want to block-book too far ahead or I wouldn't be ready for them. Working with Del, I've managed to get a bit closer again to the whole process. You know, if it's not working, then we can just go home. If I have an engineer in, it would be difficult to have that freedom and also to feel relaxed; there's a lot of time spent getting to know each other. (1989, Pulse)


    I think in real terms it's been about two and a half years, and it's been done in bits. We started and then took quite a few months off to do a few things at home, and also it was the only way I could cope with this album - to keep taking breaks. It's quite an intense process - especially Del and I working together so isolated. We had to take a lot of breaks to think about stuff. A lot of time with this album was spent thinking. Not actually doing, but just thinking. (1989, International Musician)


    I'd like to think that some of the songs could be of some comfort if anyone's having a hard time. Each song is a scenario in a way, a short story. (1989, Rolling Stone)


    Some of them are really bizarre - I worry about my sanity sometimes, really. All of the tracks have taken such completely different processes. (1989, International Musician)


    A very emotional album, as relationships can be I suppose.

    Well let's hope so.

    It seems to have that common thread throughout it - relationships.

    Yes, I think so. I think really most of my songs are about relationships, and always have been. It's just what I find very fascinating. (1990, KDGE)


    All my music has been influenced mainly by male music and by the people I work with, which have almost always been men.

    I love working with men, but with the new album I began to explore my own ways of expressing music even more, to look for female energies. Working with the Trio Bulgarka provided that for me.

    The trio bulgarka is made up of three singers from the bulgarian folk-music world, which has recently intrigued english and american musicians and audiences because of its unusual modalities and powerful female vocals.

    As reserved during an interview as she is unreserved on record and video, kate bush came closest to real enthusiasm when speaking of the three songs on the new album where she is backed by the trio. She has always integrated ethnic music in her work, but this was something special for her.

    Suddenly, there I was working with these three ladies from a completely different culture. I've never worked with women on such an intense creative level, and it was something strange to feel this very strong female energy in the studio. It was interesting to see the way the men in the studio reacted to this. Instead of just one female, there was a very strong female presence. It made me think of the words to ``The Sensual World''

    That's quite a female expression for me, really, a more... open female expression. I'm not a feminist... but I think I'm finally coming to terms with being a woman in this business. (1990, Los Angeles Times)


    There's other elements on the album, that you know, when you put it on just kinda swirls around your head and you just gotta kinda wonder about this. You've got...

    [Laughs] what are you on?

    Well, you've got like the celtic elements in the music, then you've brought in trio bulgarka and who would've thought the two would fit together. But you've pieced them together and it works in a totally new level.

    [Laughs] well I'm so glad you think it works because obviously a lot of what I do is very experimental and its always a bit scary because you are never sure if its gonna work and when I was working with the trio their music is so beautiful, I didn't want to spoil what they did in any way or belittle it by bringing it into contemporary music. So I am really pleased to hear, you know, when people say that they think it works. That's a great reward for me, and for them.

    How did you find them?

    Well, I was very lucky. About three years ago my brother Paddy, who has always been into ethnic music and collected instruments from all around the world had got hold of this tape of The Trio and when I heard it I was devastated and I kind of listened to it for a long time before I thought wouldn't it be nice if I could work with them maybe on the next album and a friend of ours called Joe Boyd who releases their records in London put us in touch with people in Bulgaria. And we actually went to Bulgaria to meet them and we rehearsed for three days. Its one of the most incredible experiences I've had, you know, to meet them as people as well as musicians. They are so warm and affectionate, and they don't speak a word of English and we don't speak Bulgarian, but it just didn't seem to matter. The communication is on a very emotional level and it was great. I really hope I can work with them again. (1990, KDGE)


    Well, about three years ago my brother Paddy played me a tape of the Trio, and he's always been very interested in ethnic music and has collected instruments from around the world. When he played me this tape I was devastated, I'd never heard anything like it. It was like hearing angels singing. I listened to this tape for months, and I just started thinking, ``Wouldn't it be nice to work with them?'' I was so scared, really, about the idea of belittling this great music, that it took me a long time to get up the courage to actually approach them. But once I did, it was the most wonderful experience, working with them as people, as well as musicians. We managed to make contact with them through a friend of ours called Joe Boyd -


    - who got us in touch with people out there. We actually went to Bulgaria and met them there. We spent three days rehearsing. They don't speak any english, we don't speak any bulgarian, but we had a great time! Although we had translators, a lot of the communication was done on an emotional level, and it was very interesting. They just come up and cuddle you, and then you sing to each other, and it was an absolutely wonderful experience. They're like my sisters now, I now have three sisters!

    In bulgaria.

    Yeah! (1989, KFNX)


    The trio bulgarka sing backing vocals on three of the album's songs. This is quite a departure from the traditional irish music you incorporate elsewhere. Why did you choose to use them?

    My brother Paddy introduced me to them. He had hear them on the radio. I went to Bulgaria and met them and worked with them there. The Trio is made up of three of the greatest female singers in Bulgaria. They have been singing together for 30 years. It was exciting but also very scary. I didn't know if it was going to work.

    We arrived in Bulgaria and they didn't speak a work of English and we didn't speak a word of Bulgarian. They sat down and sang one of their songs for us. The three of them sat at this kitchen table and the oldest one, Ava, picked up the telephone. She got their not off the dial tone, went ``Hmmm,'' and they burst into song. It is very rare that I am moved by music enough to want to cry, but within minutes I was sitting there with tears rolling down my cheeks. (1989, Network)


    Why was kevin killen chosen to mix the sensual world?

    It's a very intimate process for us, making albums, now. I spend most of my time with my recording engineer, Del Palmer. So really most of the time it was just the two of us. When I was writing and... Obviously we wanted to bring someone in who...we felt good with, but who obviously was a good person, too.

    I met Kevin, and I obviously liked his track record. I love what he's worked on: it's diverse, but it's always artists who put a tremendous amount of personal care into what they do. So I was looking for someone who responded to artists. You know, I wanted someone who knew what I wanted. And he was lovely to work with. He really was a pleasure to work with, and fitted into our very close circle very easily and I think Kevin did a great job. Lovely working with him. He really understood what we were trying to say with the music. It's difficult to bring someone in at a late stage in an album, when it's been such a close thing. But he really became one of the family. (1989, Reaching Out)


    Do you do a lot of travelling? A lot of the tracks seem to have an eastern influence?

    A lot of people have said this. I think a lot of the drum rhythms have a suggestion of the East. But really most of the influences are obviously Bulgarian - which I guess has an Eastern flavor, really, doesn't it? And in some ways we've used the Irish musicians in a slightly more Eastern way this time. They don't necessarily sound out-and-out Irish, so I guess all this coming together makes it sound Eastern (1989, Greater London)


    ...this album, where each song is a painting of a friend, or of a privileged moment. (1989, Best)


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