KT 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 recharging.

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, KBC 9)


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 away.

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 time!

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 snow.

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 away.

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 time.

Happy Christmas (1981, KBC 11)


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 produced myself.

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!)


Gaffaweb / Cloudbusting / Story / 1981