KT Cloudbusting -- Kate Bush In Her Own Words


* EMI jumped at the chance of signing kate when they heard the tape.

But, I was only 16 then and, though everyone had been telling me for a couple of years that I was going to be a star, I wasn't really capable of handling it. I needed time. (1978, TV Week)


*I had finished taking my 'O' levels at school and was coming up to the stage where you start thinking about 'A' levels at the University. And I wasn't really into the idea of going to University, so I thought I should leave school and concentrate on my career, already having signed a contract with the record company. And I wanted to do something that would show my name creatively, that it would hopefully complement the music, so I decide to take dancing. I saw a performance by a mine artist called Lindsay Kemp and I thought that's really what I wanted to do, that kind of movement and combine it with music. So, I spent the next two years writing songs and just dancing. After about 18 months, I went on to be a singer in a band. We started doing gigs around local pubs, doing other people's songs. After we had been doing that for just a couple of months, the record company decided it was time for me to do my own. (1983, Wireless)


You got lot of ``O'' levels, you got 10. [Kate laughs] seems like a world record to me.

How did you know that?

Oh, I know a lot of things. [Kate laughs] did you always want a musical career in spite of all those qualifications?

Yes, I did. I've always wanted to be involved in music. I never thought I'd actually be able to sing them, sing my songs. But it seems that I've done it.

Well, I don't think anyone else could do them really. You left school at 16, what did you do as soon as you left school?

Well I started training as a dancer, because it seemed very complimentary to the music, and I just didn't want to waste my days doing nothing. (1979, Ask Aspel)


Now you came away from school with ten ``o'' levels, so does that mean you were a very attentative pupil?

I think I've just found the whole system of school something that didn't really appeal to me - I couldn't really express myself in that whole system.

So, presumably, you're favorite lesson was music?

I did enjoy music and english, but, I just didn't really enjoy school as I got older.

Why was that?

It's very hard to say, um, I just...

It's very restrictive, wasn't it?

Yes, I think I did find it restrictive.

Right, so you couldn't get away quick enough?

Well, at that point in my life, I really did want to leave school. (1985, Profile 6)


It was what I wanted to do. I didn't want to go to University so I didn't see any point in staying on. (????,TWS)

The idea of university just loomed like a really sinister thing. I couldn't face it. I was lucky - something came up and took my mind off it. (1987, KBC 21)


Kate quit school at the age of 16 with 10 ``o'' levels, specializing in english and music and showing an unusual interest in latin, although she found it an incredibly difficult language to master.

The reason I left was that I felt I could do something more in tune with my purpose - music. (1978, March, Melody Maker)


I felt the only reason to stay in school was to take and get exams... after ``O'' levels, I felt I just didn't want to go on... (????,TWS)

My parents weren't keen on the giving up of school at the beginning to go into singing and dancing but once they saw I was serious about it they gave support.

I was quite stubborn about my decision and in the end they realized it was for the best. (C.1980, Music is my life)

I definitely *became* a person when I left school and suddenly took control of my life. I felt like that was the first time I'd really been there. Do you. . .? It was the beginning of my life really. (1989, Q)


*I signed a recording contract at 16. The hardest thing was choosing the songs. (1984, Pulse!)


*But then you were signed to your record company at around sixteen and yet you weren't launched until you were about nineteen.

No. [Agrees]

Was it a question of just, you know, keeping you writing there and waiting for the right song?

I don't think so because I was very young. I was sixteen, still at school, and I had no experience in the business at all. And I think in a way all of us wanted to just hang on until I was a bit more prepared to cope with the situation. And as far as I'm concerned I'm very glad that did happen, because in those two years between leaving school and things starting to happen when the album was released, I really built a foundation for myself as a person as well as for the direction I was going in. Since I left school I was going to London every day and to dancing classes and really for the first time becoming an individual. And I think those couple of years were really important. (1982, Dreaming debut)


*As soon as you leave school, you learn things at three times the rate. (1980, Sunday Times)


*When you think about it, you mentioned earlier that finishing your exams and taking that period before you went into the business consolidated a lot of your own thoughts. And as suppose that eduction in terms of reading and, you know, widening your horizons, that must really stand you in good stead anyway.

Yes, I think it helped a bit. I think the thing about ``O'' levels, especially with me, is that I don't remember most of what I learnt to get those ``O'' levels. It was very much a matter of rehearsing for the exams, getting them, then forgetting the information. But I think there are a couple of subjects that certainly helped me. English, especially, the essays and the competitions they were a very big starting ground for me. And also the music, because I learnt the violin at school and in many ways that gave me lot of knowledge about theory and sight reading. So I'm sure they did help quite a lot, yes. (1982, Dreaming debut)


*The company's decision not to release any product was based on the long-term. The freedom was good. I was under no pressure to record or write. (C.1978, Rocket)

*They were frustrating times, but it was worth waiting for. I had so much more confidence and experience when I finally got started properly. (1979, Call Me Sexy)


The money [From an inheritance] did enable me to think that I could do it because I was obviously worried about leaving school and finding myself nowhere. I had strong feelings in not having little securities like a nice little job. I wanted to try and do what I wanted and if it went wrong, okay, but at least try to do it. (1978, March, Melody Maker)


*[The inheritance] wasn't really that much but it allowed me to take the time to develop my writing, finish my schooling, and pay for my mime and dance classes. (1983, music express)


You never had any worries about getting a job, did you?

Yes, I did. I think when you leave school and you don't know what you're going to do, I was very much throwing myself to fate. If it hadn't worked, I would have been in a very difficult situation and I just worked very hard and hoped that I'd be able to make something of it and I was very lucky.

Did you ever consider an alternative career?

I considered it, but it was never anything serious. and that's why I felt I had to leave school and just go for it. Cos if I didn't make an attempt to throw myself into that lifestyle, I didn't feel it was something that was going to come to me. It's something you have to go out and get.

Was that partly influenced by your upbringing, by your parents?

I don't know what it was influenced by. I think it was the very strong desire in me that had started when I first started writing at the piano that this was what I wanted to do. I didn't want to go to university. I didn't want to be in a job where I couldn't be creative.

But how did other people react to that? They must have been a bit taken a back.

You mean my family?

Yeah, your family, in particular.

Yes, I think obviously, my parents were very concerned. I was leaving school going into something that was completely insecure and I think really they had a tremendous amount of faith in me, in that they wanted me to be happy. And they understood that I wasn't just spending my time doing nothing. I was very seriously working on a career that could be insecure, but they had a great deal of faith in me. (1985, Profile 6)


Did you ever consider doing something else, other than being a singer?

When I was at school I wanted to be a vet and a physiatrist, but I didn't really, I didn't really want to be. That was just, I suppose, to keep people happy to think that if I did get a career it would be a straight one. But it wasn't what I wanted to do at all.

Did you do thinks like ``a'' levels and ``o'' levels?

I took ``O'' levels and my mock ``A"'s but I left before...

How many o's did you get?

[Laughs] I got ten.



They must have been disappointed when you went off to sing?

I don't think so no. I think they thought I was a bit foolish. But I though it was right.

Was there one day when you decided, ``that's it! I'm going to be a singer, I'm going to make that a career?"

Yes there was! I didn't think there would have been, but one day I was with a friend in a park, and I just knew that was what I wanted to do. I had to leave school and I had to do it. And I'm very glad I did! (1979, Kate Bush On Tour)


On considering being a psychiatrist or social worker: I guess it's the thinking bit, trying to communicate with people and help them out. The emotional aspect. It's so sad to see good, nice people emotionally disserved, screwed up when they could be so happy.

Music is completely self indulgent and the other [Psychiatry] is almost charitable.

I know what you mean. The only reason in the first place that I did think of those things was that I in no way thought that my music should be a career because it's so difficult to make it. It's all a matter of timing and contacts and talent... and luck. I never thought I would have a chance to do that so I deliberately tried to have a career-oriented ambition, something I could hold onto.

The reasons I chose those sort of things is that they are, in a way, the things I do with music. When I write songs I really like to explore the mental area, the emotional values. Although in a way you can say that being a psychiatrist is more purposeful than writing music in many ways it isn't because a lot of people take a great comfort from music. I know I do. It makes you feel good.

The really important thing about music is that all it is is a vehicle for a message, what ever your message is. I'm probably a lot better at being a songwriter than I would be a psychiatrist, for instance I might have people jumping out of windows now. (1978, March, Melody Maker)


I think that actual decision about going for it was just before I left school and that's why I left school. I didn't feel that I could get what I wanted out of school anymore in a way that was going to encourage me getting involved with music. I really had to leave and go into a more artistic kind of lifestyle and dancing was a particulary good one to choose I think.

Well, when I left school I knew very much that I wanted to go into the music business, that that's what I wanted to aim for. And I wanted to do something that would fill my day, that would be a good discipline for me, and that would be complimentary to the music. And dance was something that I'd only just discovered recently at that time. And I felt that there was a whole world of expression there that I'd never experienced and that perhaps the combination of that with singing would make an interesting performing vehicle. So I started training with a mine artist called Lindsay Kemp, who was a very big inspiration for me, and then started dancing at a school. And since then, though the videos the dance has been an incredibly useful thing for me. (1985, Good Rockin Tonight)


Did you start out dancing before you became a singer?

No, when I... I left school at... I was about sixteen, seventeen. And I actually left school with the decision that I wanted to throw myself into the world of music and [Swings arm] go forth and get into it. And I felt that I had to work in order to find a way in. And I took up dance really to sorta fill up the day, give me some kind of discipline, and a way to get to meet people and become independent.

Really, like does it take a lot of time? Do you work out a lot? What has it done for you?

It did an incredible amount, especially when I started back then. I had a recording contract, but I didn't know when I was going to be making the first album, and I had, in a way, time to kill and use until that point. And I had very little experience... certainly the business, I mean coming straight from school. And I had almost two clear years of going to the dance school, learning to dance, getting more control over my body, and writing. Just using the time generally as a kind of foundation for what was to happen next when the album was released and the single was very successful. I think without having used the time like that, things could've been very different for me. I was very lucky. (1985, MTV)


It was really exciting for me. It was what I had been hoping for for a few years. It was great. At the same time, it wasn't very easy. You certainly had to fight for what you wanted and I think that's the code for anything. You do have to fight for what you want. When you know that there is something that you can aim for, the chances are there will be obstacles you will have to get over in order to get it. (????,TWS) I FIND IT REALLY AMAZING THAT AT SUCH A YOUNG AGE, YOU WERE PRACTICALLY A SCHOOLGIRL, THAT YOU COULD BE SO CREATIVE. I MEAN, LOOKING BACK NOW, DOES THAT SEEM REALLY ODD TO YOU?


[Laughter from audience]

I mean... [??? Inaudible.]

I'm sorry, say that last bit again?

[??? Inaudible.]

I'm not really sure. At the time it didn't strike me as being odd in any way at all. That was just what I had to do. This was it, this was my mission in life. And, actually, the older I get, the more I look back on it, I think how bizarre it was. I had such a feeling of time being incredibly important - that I shouldn't waste any time at all, and I was very impatient for the first album to be made and to come out... And, uh, maybe I was psychic [Laughing] and I knew that in ten years it would be taking me four years to make an album.


But, I did have an incredible sense of just... needing to do it. It was what I did. And I feel very lucky that I had something to actually focus on at such a young age. It, well it changed my life, eventually. I wouldn't be here today, now, if, you know. And, you find yourself in situations that you would never have imagined. You know, I think of myself back at school, and the first gig I ever saw was The Who. And they completely blew me away. And I could never have imagined that I would well, be here now. It's ridiculous, really. It is, it's ridiculous! [Laughing.] (1990 Kate Bush Con)

It's a very ordinary flat, though I like it because it's got all my things in it. It's just far enough out to be nice and quiet. I'd like to live in the country really, but the flat's best for the moment, while I'm working in London, because I can't drive. (????,TWS)

I wanted to get some sort of bodily expression together to go with the music. Music is a very emotional thing and there's always a message. Your purpose as a performer is to get it across to the people in as many ways as you can. (????,TWS)

I (privately) worked out this dance routine and mime to the beatles' ``eleanor rigby'' I just lived in the world of the song for days and days, dancing it, getting it right. (????,tws)

I never felt too young to be a musician. I'd written since I was fourteen, and my only ambition was to get ten songs on to a piece of plastic. It couldn't have happened fast enough. School inhibited me. I had only one close friend - she still is [This may be lisa, who is secretary of the kate bush club, among other things - ied] - who I felt able to tell about the record deal. It wasn't until I left school that I found real strength inside. I was lucky that Dave Gilmour liked my demos, but all the rest was karma, it was meant to be... (1985, What Kate Bush Did Next)


I came into EMI on a friendly basis and that was good for me because it meant that I could meet people there as people and not as a big vulture business where they're all coming in and pulling your arm out. Also, I could learn about the business which is so important because it is a business. (1978, NME)


Why did emi keep you under covers for so long?

They were very worried about me not being able to cope with things and I was worried 'cause I didn't feel capable of coping with it either. (1978, NME)


Gaffaweb / Cloudbusting / Story / 1975