Cloudbusting -- Kate
Bush In Her Own Words
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,
- 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
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
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
- 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,
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,
- As soon as
you leave school, you learn things at three times the rate. (1980, Sunday Times)
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
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
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
- 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
- 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?
- 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
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,
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,
Cloudbusting / Story /