Cloudbusting -- Kate
Bush In Her Own Words
The Sensual World Album
- Released 16th October 1989
Made No. 2 Platinum
- 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
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
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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.
- 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,
"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)
- The Sensual World IS, ACCORDING TO KATE, SOMETHING OF A
DEPARTURE OF HER IN THAT BESIDES BEING HER MOST PERSONAL, IT'S ALSO HER MOST
``FEMALE.'' WHAT DOES SHE MEAN BY THAT?
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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
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
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,
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
- 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,
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.
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.
- 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
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
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!
- 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
- 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
- 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)
Cloudbusting / Music /
The Sensual World Album