KT Cloudbusting -- Kate Bush In Her Own Words


Can you just tell me a little about it, you've obviously had training, what sort of training have you had?

Well, I haven't really had that much training. The first thing I had to do was with Lindsay Kemp and I just went to see a show one night. And it was incredible! I couldn't believe what this guy was doing on the stage, in a night. He was completely demanding the audiences attention...

He's the mime artist.

Oh, yeah, fantastic. I was just in tears at the end of the show. And I went to some of his lessons and he just opened up a new world for me, the fact that you can express so much with your body. And I thought, ``well you know maybe I can combine that with singing as well.'' So I went along and started taking some proper lessons because it's important to discipline your body. And I did a couple years at a place in Covent Garden, like five days a week. And I really enjoyed it. (1979, Swap Shop)


He taught me that you can express with your body - and when your body is awake so is your mind. He'd put you into emotional situations, some of them very heavy. Like he'd say, ``right, you're all going to become sailors drowning and there are waves curling up around you.'' And everyone would just start screaming.

Or maybe he'd turn you into a little piece of flame... (1978, NME)


I remember it so well. I saw this funny little guy up there on this stage giving himself physically to other people's music. And I thought that if one person could actually produce the music themselves and give him or herself physically at the same time then you'd get double energy coming from one person. It could only be stronger and I thought, golly, that's what I want to do. (1978, Record Mirror)


The first time I saw him it was like a whole new world opened up for me. He did more than I'd ever seen done on stage before and he never opened his mouth! (????,TWS)

Once I'd seen Flowers I knew I had to do something which would be my own Flowers - not necessarily a show. (????,TWS)

And then you became involved with dance?

Yes, but that didn't happen until I was seventeen, because I didn't really get on with the dance teacher at school. Once I'd left school I tried to get into a dance school full-time, but no one would accept me as I had no qualifications in ballet. I had almost given up the idea of using dance as an extension of my music, until I met Lindsay Kemp, and that really did change so many of my ideas. [This is, as far as I am aware, the only occasion in which kate explains that her ambition to merge her music with movement pre-dated her exposure to kemp's work. Usually she simply credits kemp exclusively for her inspiration. -ied] He was the first person to actually give me some lessons in movement. I realized there was so much potential with using movement in songs, and I wanted to get a basic technique in order to be able to express myself fully.

Lindsay has his own style - it's more like mime - and although he studied in many ballet schools and is technically qualified as a dancer, his classes and style are much more to do with letting go what's inside and expressing that. It doesn't matter if you haven't perfect technique. (1982, Electronics Music Maker)


It was through seeing a show that Lindsay Kemp did that I thought dance would be an extremely useful way of expressing myself besides music, and if I wanted to be a performer, that would help me a lot. When I left school, I started training as a dancer and working on my music on a full time basis. I joined the dance class as one of the students and really only trained with him for two or three months before he went to Australia. From then on I got lessons when I could but went into a more straight form of dance, learning contemporary dance, and touched on ballet and just tried different things. (????,TWS)

I loved that, SHE SAYS WITH REAL ENTHUSIASM. It's the only place you can go and learn to dance without qualifications, which I didn't have. You pay by lesson and even though I was 16 and had never danced before, I did make great progress. (1978, Record Mirror)


*Originally what was your idea in wanting to incorporate theatre, really, into your presentation of music?

Well, I'd been writing songs for a long time and I was very happy about the idea of being involved in music and I'd never even really thought about dance until I decided to leave school because I wanted to get involved in the music. So dance just came out of the blue really,. I needed something to do, something to work on while I wasn't at school and something that would complement the music. And dance, really, just became the obvious thing. I was very lucky to go and see a show by Lindsay Kemp and he really inspired a couple of years of hard work in dance schools for me.

Yes, but it's more than dance, I mean, you took mime lessons...


... And around is that whole theatrical... I mean everything is really exaggerated, isn't it?

Yes, I think very much the theatrical flavour came again from Lindsay. Because he's surrounded by a strange magic, it's a very unusual theatrical magic. And once you've seen a show of his or you've been involved with him, it stays with you forever. It happens to everyone who works with Lindsay. (1982, Dreaming debut)


*What about your training, though, in the early days, kate? Tell us about that.

Well, when I left school I wanted to do something that would help my music, you know, I didn't want to be sat round doing nothing. Although I knew that I wanted to push myself into my music, I thought one of best things that I could do would be to learn to dance, because they're very close arts, music and dance are meant to go together. And I went to see an incredible performance by someone called Lindsay Kemp and then I suddenly realized that this was what I was looking for, this sort of movement combined with music. So I took some classes with him and then went on to The Dance Center, which [Did exist then ???], and took lessons with a wonderful lady called Robin Kovak and a lot of other teachers, and I've been going ever since really, on and off. (1981, Razzmatazz)


Before you studied dance did you ever feel you might have a natural aptitude for dancing, performing?

No. Never. Within the first two weeks of trying - I went to this dance school up in London where, you know, you can just go along part-time - I thought, there's no way I can do this, this is just ridiculous, I'm useless and it's going to take me years and years... I'd really thought that after about a year I'd be a really great dancer.

But I got hooked and started going up to London every day. Suddenly, I became a human being - just learning to move!

Do you employ a choreographer?

No. The only time I've ever used one really was on the tour, though it can be almost impossible to work at dancing by yourself, you need a teacher. When I'm working on my classes I tend to go up to London because my teacher can't travel. She's too busy.

In another life, could you have made a career out of dancing?

I don't know. There was a time, when I'd been dancing for about a year and a half, and I was never really sure if an album was going to manifest itself, that I thought, if you want to be a dancer you should do it now. Because I had people approaching me at the dance class, asking if I wanted to go to Germany and dance in clubs and things, and for a time I really got into the dance thing much more seriously than I thought I would. But I don't think I was good enough. I didn't stand out enough. (1981, RM)


*I went in thinking, ``Oh well, I'll have this off in a week.'' But after a year I realised I didn't know anything. In 10 years, I might just be starting to get good. (1978, TV Week)


Obviously, a lot of my movements come from my training - during that time Robin Kovak certainly had a big influence on me at the Dance Centre. She certainly gave me that strength to develop my own style. (1982, Electronics Music Maker)


On leaving school, kate took up dancing, because she felt it was an art parallel to music, another pure art form inasmuch as it's free.

She reacts vehemently but positively to my comment that mime appeared to be an upper class art.

No, I wouldn't call it an upper class thing at all. It's probably further away from the upper class than anything else, because they probably find it hard to be free as they are so caught up in all their status problems, and the same probably goes for working class people in a lot of ways because they always feel this alienation from other people. (1978, March, Melody Maker)


You're not very prolific then?

I used to be. I used to write every day and if it wasn't very good keep a little bit and maybe use it in something else. As soon as ``Wuthering Heights'' became a hit, though, my whole routine was just blown apart, it was extraordinary how suddenly everything changed.

I had such a routine going. It was like, get up, play the piano, go dancing, come back, play the piano, write songs all night, then go to bed. It was like that every day.

Were you very happy then?

Yes, I was. I think it was one of the happiest times for me as a person. I'd just left school and I was beginning to find myself as an individual. It was very exciting, but I wanted more than anything in the world to make an album, just to see that piece of plastic. And then it happened, and it was instant, you know, Round the World in 80 Days sort of thing. It's frightening. I don't know how I did it. I couldn't do it now. (1981, RM)


When I actually left school, and I was training as a dancer, I kind of worked out a routine for my day, which would be I'd get up in the morning, I'd practice scales and that on the piano, go off dancing, and then in the evening I'd come back and play the piano all night. And I actually remember, well, the summer of 76 which was really hot here. We had such hot weather, I had all the windows open. And I just used to write until you know four in the morning, and I got a letter of complaint from a neighbor who was basically saying ``Shuuut Uuuup!'' cause they had to get up at like five in the morning. They did shift work and my voice had been carried the whole length of the street I think, so they weren't too appreciative. (1989, VH-1)


I was dancing every day, and singing and writing all night. I used to go to London by train every day. It was the time of bomb scares, and everyone would stare uneasily at unattended bags, and the trains were full of paranoia. It was brilliant for me - I'd get back to my newly acquired roommates, Zoodle and Pye, who were only kittens then, and I'd open all the windows and wail away all night. I only got one complaint from someone who had to get up at 4:00 a.m., and as I was creating noisily until at least that time, they were somewhat unhappy at their lack of sleep. But only that one complained. (1983, KBC 14)


I have had no formal vocal training, though there was a guy that I used to see for half-an-hour once a week, and he would advise me on things like breathing properly, which is very important to voice control. He'd say things like ``Does that hurt? Well, then, sing more from here (MOTIONS TO DIAPHRAGM) than from your throat.'' I don't like the idea of ``formal'' training, it has far too many rules and conventions that are later hard to break out of... (1978, The Blossoming Ms Bush)


Did you ever have singing lessons?


Did your teacher try to get you to sing in a lower voice? (stupid joke). [This was the interviewer's own comment.]

No, not at all. I used to go for about half-an-hour a week and the guy would get me to practice my scales and my breathing or something and then ask to hear my new songs. So I'd sing them for him and he helped me more that way. He was really good. (1981, RM)


With all the business taken care of, kate was able to ``educate'' herself.

Train myself for the ... ah ... Coming. I guess. I really felt that I wanted to get some sort of bodily expression together to go with the music. Music is a very emotional thing an there's always a message, and your purpose as a performer is to get it across to the people in as many ways as you can. (1978, July 1978, Melody Maker)


I know your family are involved in your business, but were they behind you when you signed to emi at sixteen? Did they freak out? Sex and drugs and writers etc...

No, not at all. They had seen it coming for a long time. The original idea was to see if we could sell my songs to a publisher, not that I should be a singer or a performer or anything. We had quite modest, curious aims. So it was gradual and they were always supportive. (1981, RM)


It surprises me even now when I look back at the amount of time that I was putting in, that as you say I was dedicated. And I would think it was extraordinary looking back on it now if it wasn't for the fact that at the time I just felt so strongly that this was what I had to do. Its like it almost felt like a mission to me, that this was why I was here, this was what I had to do - I had to make an album. And that was, that was it. I didn't want to be famous, I didn't want to make lots of money, I didn't want to successful, but I desperately wanted to make an album that I hoped people would want to hear. So all my energy was going into that. Even the dancing was tied in really with just trying to allow myself to grow a bit, to be able to express myself. And I also think if I hadn't put in those two years of dance training, I don't think I could have coped with anything after that point. Because the discipline and the humility that it taught me was something I think I'm still gaining a tremendous amount from. (1989, VH-1)


Waiting for EMI to click its fingers did have its drawbacks though: Artistically, I was getting so frustrated at not being able to get my art to people. (1978, NME)


You are, you're into reincarnation a bit aren't you.

Yes, I think so. I love the idea of a person during one lifetime actually having three or four lives.

Within the same lifetime?

Yeah. You see I feel that reincarnation is perhaps just a continuation of that. Cause if you look at yourself or maybe other people, you can see little circles, that maybe they emit the..., say there's fifty or sixty, but these little circles have occurred each time, maybe in each phase of their life. You know, where they get into a rut, and come around to a very similar relationship to the one they had years ago, and it ends up in exactly the same way. They start again, exactly the same thing happens, and they end up where they are again. And it's something ... maybe that little complete circle, and then break right away.

And really, I mean, for myself, if I look at my life, in a way I feel I've led almost two lives. Because the first part of my life was so difficult, whereas the second part...

Which part?

...the second stage...

Staying at home all day, composing?

Yes, I would say from my life up until 16 and then from 17 up until now have been two completely different stages. I mean I changed my Christian name, become a vegetarian, left school, got into dance...

Really, what was your christian name?

Well, it's just that I used to be called Cathy and I became Kate. And that was a very different stage for me.

Why would kate... Be more sorta tided into the vegetarian thing I suppose.

I don't know, but it actually created...

Did you lose lots of weight or something?

No, no I didn't. I think just becoming called that name gave me a chance to break away from the person I'd been before. I mean there's no doubt that when people change their names, they actually do change. (1982, Bootleg CD)


Gaffaweb / Cloudbusting / Story / 1976