Cloudbusting -- Kate
Bush In Her Own Words
- The last album was the first one that I would actually hand over to
people with a smile, SHE SAYS, ALMOST SEEMING TO IMPLY THAT IT WAS THE FIRST
ONE SHE WAS ACTUALLY PLEASED WITH, and that was followed by a greater period of
non-creativity, when I just couldn't write properly at all.
- It happened before, when the tour was over, and then I felt I'd just
given so much out that I was like a drained battery, very physically and tired
and also a bit depressed.
- This time it was worse; a sort of terrible introverted depression.
The anti-climax after all the work really set in in a bad way, and that can be
very damaging to an artist. I could sit down at the piano and want
to write, and nothing would happen. It was like complete introspection time.
- I suppose I had about two months out earlier this year...and that
was a break I really needed. It gave me time to see friends, do things I hadn't
been able to do for three years.
- It wasn't really as if I was missing out on normality, SHE LAUGHS.
I'd rather hang on to madness than normality anyway, so it was more like
But something more came out of it than just a rest?
- Oh yes! THE SMILE RETURNS. I felt as if my writing needed some kind
of shock, and I think I've found one for myself. The single is the start, and
I'm trying to be brave about the rest of it. It's almost as if I'm going for
commercial-type ``hits'' for the whole album.
[I have always been struck by this statement. It seems to me to
indicate that kate really doesn't have a very sound notion of what is
``commercial"- which is all to the good, of course. For if she felt that the
dreaming had a commercial sound, then some listeners's criticism
that she seemed to have developed a calculatedly commercial sound
for the next album, hounds of love, loses credence, since her mental image of
``commercial'' sound is so different from the sound of hounds of love. -
ied] (1981, rm)
- Following the release of Never For Ever in September '80 I spent the
rest of the year promoting the album. After Christmas I had a short break and
then started writing songs for The Dreaming.
- I wanted a big catalogue to choose from, so every evening I'd write
a different song, using a piano, rhythm machines and synthesiser. The whole
songwriting process was very spontaneous, and I ended up with about twenty
songs, from which I chose ten for the album. I spent more time than ever trying
to get the lyrics just right.
Due to the nature of the
material, kate had decided to produce the record herself, but evidently this
added to the delay. She states: I used a lot of different studios to get the
songs sounding just how I wanted them to, and I spent weeks putting different
textures onto these tracks. (1984, Women of Rock)
- After the last album, Never For Ever, I started writing some new
songs. They were very different from anything I'd ever written before - they
were much more rhythmic, and in a way, a completely new side to my music. I was
using different instruments, and everything was changing; and I felt that
really the best thing to do would be to make this album a real departure - make
it completely different. And the only way to achieve this was to sever all the
links I had had with the older stuff. The main link was engineer Jon Kelly.
Everytime I was in the studio Jon was there to helping me, so I felt that in
order to make the stuff different enough I would have to stop working with Jon.
He really wanted to keep working with me, but we discussed it and realised that
it was for the best. (1982, Popix)
- While I was working on this album I was offered a part in a TV
series. I've been offered other acting roles, but this was the first totally
creative offer that has ever come my way. I had to turn it down -
I was already committed to the album. Sadly, I don't think that offer will be
made again, but you have to learn to let things go, not to hang on and get
upset, or to try to do it and then end up making a mess of everything else.
It's like wanting to dance in the studio when I'm recording - I want to but I
know that I can't because it will just tire me. I wish I had the energy to do
everything, SHE SAYS, SIGHING AT HER LIMITATIONS, but at least I'm healthy and
fit. (1982, Kerrang!)
- I want it to be experimental and quite cinematic, if
that doesn't sound too arrogant. Never For Ever was slightly cinematic, so I'll
just have to go all the way.
The shock that kate refers to, eyes almost ablaze as she uses the
word, came months ago... After she started to work with a rhythm machine while
she was writing.
- I'm sure lots of things that I'm trying to do won't work, but I
found that the main problem was the rhythm section. The piano, which is what I
was used to writing with, is so far removed from the drums. So I tried writing
with the rhythm rather than the tune. (1981, RM)
- Hope you are all well after all the eruptions of the New Year. What
with the news being so heavy at the moment, I think some sunshine could
brighten it up a lot for all of us.
- Mind you, I've been having a great time getting back into writing.
I'd forgotten how frustrating it gets. I seem to have accumulated a lot of
songs in the last few months, and am hoping to go into the studio and record
two or three with the hope that one will be a single. I feel - as far as an
album goes - that I still have a lot more to write. In many ways my recent
writing has been on an experimental basis. I've felt it so important to change
my attitudes to writing. I've been working much more with rhythmic ideas, and
at last I feel I am changing direction, slightly more towards the way I wish it
to go. It's difficult to explain, but sometimes the song will write me instead
of vice versa, so I don't always feel I've accomplished what I set out to; and
I'm trying to control this a little more. The addition of new toys to my work
has been invaluable. It's sad to say that I was reaching the point where I was
becoming bored with my ``patterns'' I think any writer sits in riffs that
become hard to move away from, and my new toys - such as rhythm box, analogue
delay system, CS-80 synthesiser - put some new magic back into it for me.
- Apart from my writing, I've been doing the occasional interview (and
have been haunted by domestic failures such as duff pancakes!). (1981, KBC 9)
- It's great to hear some really good music coming back. Wasn't Phil
Collins's ``In the Air'' a masterpiece? [Kate had been present at the
sessions for peter gabriels' third solo album, during which the distinctive and
now ubiquitous drum sound heard on ``in the air'' was developed by collins,
hugh padgham and gabriel. The influence of this drum sound is clear in kate's
next album, the dreaming. - ied] Well, while I'm trying to organise some
tracks to record, I hope you will be having a positive March forward. (1981,
- Piecing the album together is becoming like a big musical jigsaw,
and we're only halfway through. One particular phase at Abbey Road became
bizarre, as recording plus video met at the same point in time, and at the same
place. We'd been working on two tracks in the studio, just taking the odd day
and evening out for rehearsals; and with getting in early for meetings, it was
a very busy time for everybody. [One of these tracks is `` sat in your
lap,'' for which the video was taped at abbey road. The first single for the
new album, it had not yet been released when kate wrote this part of her
article, although it had come out by the time the newsletter
reached fans. The other track kate refers to is `` night of the swallow'' (see
below). - ied] Some days became very unreal, as, while going for a cup of
tea you would swear you heard the sound of tinkling bells as the tip of the
brightly coloured jester's hat disappeared around the corner. And once when I
ran out into the corridor, what should whizz by but a dunce on roller-skates
chased by four bulls who were being followed by a flying book and an
unbelieving door attendant.
- The video was filmed over two days, one part at a video studio, the
other at the audio studios. The former provided the quick, easy technical sides
to be performed, the latter provided the space and presence. The large parquet
floor was to be a feature, and Abbey Road's past, full of dancing and singing
spirits, was to be conjured up in the present day by tapping feet to the sound
of jungle drums - only to be turned into past again through the wonder of
video-tape. The shots were sorted into a logical order: all long shots were
audio studio, all others were video studio. A storyboard was drawn up and was
very closely worked to, being hung on the wall on days of shootings. The
editing was a long, difficult job, as it was comprised of many sections which
had to be edited together (just like the big musical one). The editor worked
all day and into the next morning with great skill and patience, and only when
someone told us did we find out it had been his birthday and he'd worked it all
- One of the exciting things about making the video was the
``accessories'' we used, such as the lovely costumes and props. The jerk-jacket
which we used in `` Army Dreamers'' was used again for a short sequence, and
although there's a silver wire, it feels like flying. Out of the harness and
into the light of a timeless tunnel, as a little magician's box springs to life
and the room is filled with laser and skaters.
- Meanwhile the album was still in progress: we were working on
backing tracks. We used all three studios for one of them [" night of the
swallow"]. It started with feeding the drums down into the largest studio
through speakers, and with microphones positioned near to them they were
brought back to the control room of the studio we were working in, sounding
very ambient. Then we found the piano and initial drum sounds too dead, so we
moved the drum kit and musicians to another studio downstairs, where we
preferred the sounds, and we set up. After getting all the leads from upstairs
connected to downstairs, there was one very tired and worn-out engineer
dedicatedly smiling through sleepy eyes, closely tailed by an equally smiley
and sleepy-eyed assistant. After all our hard work, the backing track sounded
great, and as the song is all about a swallow flying over the water, it seemed
only right to fly over to Ireland in a big, shiny bird, into the arms of
Planxty's magic. There for a day, due back too soon, and the big bird wouldn't
wait, so we worked all night. The pipes and whistles swooped and dived, fiddles
stole our souls away, and bouzoukis got us up onto our feet and made us bolt
the doors lest our souls flew away forever; and by seven the next morning the
track felt very proud of itself and there were tears in our eyes as we heard it
all back, and then were rushed back to London on the metal-winged thing.
- I went straight to the studio, and as I drooped over a hot cup of
canteen tea, my ears were full of pipes and what was yet to come - a sea of
overdubs, guitars, voices, instruments being whirled around and around,
becoming an aeroplane. And there was I, still back there, looking down at the
Typhoo in my china cup.
- I hope I've managed to convey some of the wonderful things that have
happened, and I hope you catch the sun when it next pops out. (1980, KBC 10)
She has more or less completed five tracks, one of which involves
the irish folk band, planxty. She asked the group if they would be interested
in working with her, they said yes, she flew to dublin, found she had a strong
feeling for ireland. (mum has irish blood), and together they came up with ``
night of the swallow'' Once again kate enthuses:
- They're fantastic musicians with open, receptive minds, which is
unusual for people who work with traditional folk music. (1981, What I Did On My Holidays)
- I'm still really up from the experience. In fact, I'm still
reeling from it. I asked them if they'd be interested, and the
whole thing was so relaxed, it was wonderful. I badly want to work with them
again. I'm so excited about the fusion.
- And I think that there's so much of the Irish in my mother that it
all suddenly came back to me - it was fate rearing its head at just the right
- I've been lucky enough to be tucked away in the studio through all
the riots, and only catching the muggy weather in between sounds. I hope
everything has been good for you during this summerless time. We all know that
``things they are a-changing.'' (1981, RM)
- I'm beginning to feel like shit. Ireland's catching up
on me. And all the things that have to be done. It's impossible to do it all in
the time... perhaps if I could stop sleeping it would help. (1981, RM)
- I know I am not alone in saying that this year has flown, and we are
heading towards Christmas like something being thrown at a wall. I must admit
that I really am looking forward to it, and I really hope we have some more
- As you all know, I've been working on the album, and it is
definitely the hardest one so far. Yet somewhere inside me, I do feel that it
could be the best one yet.
- I've also been experiencing things on this album that I have not
come across before, and although these are invaluable in terms of learning, I
think perhaps they have made things a little harder for me rather than helping
while I'm trying to work in the studio. I am not the only one who has been
finding it difficult to work on this album, either. I have many visions of my
faithful engineers with puzzled, worried expressions on their faces, all of us
fumbling around the desk at three or four in the morning, doing nothing more
than chasing our own tails, really.
- I think the main reason for the problems is that we are
experimenting with new methods and attitudes, the throwing away of some old
routines. So, of course, this causes problems. Also, my involvement in
production is leading me further into the world of responsibility and trying to
be sensible. I really do enjoy the whole process, though, and that is why I do
it; otherwise it could be quite a relief to hand all the worries over to
someone else. But in my hear I don't want to - wrong or right, I don't know,
but as long as I have this love for it, and
can manage to cope, I'd like to continue.
- One of the new feelings in me is wanting the album to be complete as
soon as possible. Ideally it would be finished already; whereas normally I want
to hold on to it for every last moment possible until a deadline makes me leave
it alone. I think this new attitude is much more positive. Hopefully it will
help me to be more detached and objective about it all. It seems, too, that
because the album is behind, so am I with a lot of my other projects, but I
always do seem to be. I'm just glad that all my friends and the people I work
with are so patient with me. Otherwise I would be unforgiven for the way I am.
- Having worked on this album constantly for a long time, I reached
the point where I had lost all impetus - again, something I had never
experienced. I found it hard to even listen to the tracks. Some would call it
saturation point, the time to take a breather. I just needed to be normal for a
while, and get away from the intensity of the mole-life situation in the
studios. You can never tell what time of day it is in most studios, because
there are no windows to the outside. It could literally be any time, and the
studio environment is constant. I think this can tire you out mentally. Plus
the constant noise - not just the music but the hiss of tapes, the monitors,
buzzing lights. It's not until all the machinery is off at the end of the day
do you feel your brain relax and you suddenly realise all the sounds you have
been hearing without even realising it. That silence is like heaven.
- I felt like it was time to get out of London, so one evening, driven
by the desire to visit the Loch Ness Monster, we decided to act upon the
impulse of the moment and go as soon as we could. We travelled by train,
something very nostalgic for me. I don't often travel on trains now; obviously
it's not always easy for me to mingle, so I normally travel by car. We waved
goodbye to Zoodle and Pye in the arms of Lisa and Rob, and the train pulled
- Journeys overnight on ``public vehicles'' are always atmospheric.
Planes, ships, coaches, trains - for some reason they always make me think
about the past. The mechanical movement, the smells of upholstery, no real
traces of people being there before you but the knowledge that they have been.
Maybe it's to do with the process of leaving things; normally when things are
left behind or lost, there is a need to recall memories - maybe to assess if
your decision to leave or lose was correct or not. I think sometimes this can
be a sad thing, but I was very happy to be leaving London; and, cocooned inside
our sleeper-berths, away from the elements, we were off to Scotland.
- I've never really been to Scotland before - I have been there, but
I've not had a chance to see it. It is one of the most perfect settings I have
ever seen. Brilliant for film locations. In fact, in a spy programme we
recognised their so-called German border as being the road beside Loch Ness! At
that time of year, the trees of which there are so many are a multi-coloured
mass, with the cold winds challenging each leaf to turn a shade brighter before
it's torn away from its source of colour and has no choice but to fade away.
- There is so much to see, unlike those compartments where, when the
people go out, the cleaners come in dusting, spraying, erasing. Here, when
people die out, nature cleans up but she leaves their marks behind. Castles,
burial mounds, standing stones, monsters; and all surrounded by untouched land
bearing Nature's marks. Great gaps in the earth, revealing hard rock better
than any recorded on tape, and mountains that you can climb - maybe, as with
us, for the first time.
- Just as it was getting dark one evening, we pulled up by a sign at
the edge of the road. It told of a fort from the fifth century, B.C., the ruins
of which were in the heather-thick field beyond the sign. It also mentioned a
phantom battle which had supposedly taken place very near to the site. As we
were about to drive away, I noticed three lights in the sky, descending in a
diagonal line. Then they formed a horizontal line and remained static just
below a layer of cloud. There were huge circular orange lights; and we set off
in the car in hot pursuit. We thought maybe they were some kind of stadium
lights, but they were too near to the clouds; and we had never seen aircraft
with such big lights, nor that colour.
- As we turned a bend we could no longer see them, but kept our eyes
pinned on the sky. A few minutes later they came into view again, and this time
we could see that they were completely unattached to any form of structure on
the ground; and now there were only two lights. They remained stationary until
we lost them a little while later, for good. All the way back to the hotel our
heads were pointed out of the windows in anticipation of another sighting, and
we wondered if instead of finding Nessie on our search, we had found another
strange phenomenon. What do you think?
- The Loch itself is an unbelievable place. It's so beautiful, yet so
remote. The first day the water was like the sea, it was so rough. The Loch is
really big - twenty-three miles long, and they don't know how deep. They say
that sightings of the monster usually happen when the water is as still as a
mill pond, which seemed impossible when we saw the waves crashing around the
Loch. But on the last day it was so calm that it was like a twenty-three mile
long mirror, and our hopes were up. After a quick visit to the monster
exhibition, which features numerous photos taken of Nessie, we sat down beside
the Loch and discussed the stories we had heard from the locals about the
appearance of the monsters - for they say there is more than one. We had no
luck, but we did have the pleasure of seeing on the news some
film - taken from a plane - of the Loch
Ness Monster under the water. It was very convincing, and was taken only one
week after we had been there.
- The Scots rested and fed us, and we returned to London; and I return
to the studio within the next few days, and can't wait to get back in there.
- Abbey Road celebrated their 50th anniversary last month, quite an
achievement considering the ups and downs the music business goes through.
Helen Shapiro and I were asked to cut a cake they had made specially. It was
five foot by four foot, covered in fresh cream and kiwi fruit and topped with
fifty birthday candles. The studio, which has been filled with orchestras for
so many years, on that night was holding a choir of people who have loved Abbey
Road, a huge cross-section of fame and talent making their chitter-chatter
music-talk and completely filling the old studio - which is hard to fill
because it is so big.
- It was great for me to bump into faces I hadn't seen for a time, and
there were a lot I hadn't seen for a very long time. Geoff
Emerick, the man who engineered my first professionally recorded tracks, was
there; I hadn't seen him for years. He was wearing a white suit and was tanned
and smiling from working in exotic studios.
- Having cut a huge slice of cake, I started to cross the room that
was very hard to move in because of the swirling crowds. But with a cream cake
aimed at their party clothes, the room practically cleared like the parting of
the waters, revealing a white suit and some friends who looked like they needed
to eat some cake. However, because the cake had been under heavy camera lights,
the cream was beginning was starting to wither a little. But nonetheless it all
went within minutes.
- Which takes us back to Christmas, where anything that resembles food
is consumed by us, the Consumers - who are fed with adverts and shop
decorations which get put up nearer to Guy Fawkes [Day] every year. But
as long as we all want it to be, we can still make Christmas a very special
- Happy Christmas (1981, KBC
- At the moment it hasn't got a title. It has been very hard to
produce because all the studios are so incredibly booked up, and because I
wanted to use one engineer only. This is the first album that I have actually
- Inevitably, this has meant a great deal more responsibility for me.
But it is a responsibility I like; I think that as soon as you get your hands
on the production, it becomes your baby. That's really exciting for me, because
you do everything for your own child. And I have been forced to think harder
about what is good and what is not so good.
I asked her if the vulnerability of that situation didn't worry
her. Yes, in a way - but it is a stronger position, too, though I find that I
now rely much more on other people's feedback - especially when I lack
confidence about a song.
In the past kate says she used to find that her words and music
came together with ease - now they take far more time. I like to leave all my
options open until the last minute so that I'm really sure - like about the
title of an album, for instance. I'm taking a complete break from
recording at the moment, going over
songs, tightening up lyrics and tunes, not going near the studio. I've worked
on this album so intensely for so long that I seemed to be losing sight of my
direction. I really wasn't sure what to do next - and that has never happened
to me before. (1982, kerrang!)
Cloudbusting / Story /