Cloudbusting -- Kate
Bush In Her Own Words
Her bulgar obsession stems from her brother paddy,
multi-instrumentalist and student of ethnic musics and musicians.
- He had this tape of Bulgarian voices, three years ago, just when we
were finishing Hounds of Love. It was the most incredible thing I've ever
heard, beautiful. So I decided I wanted to work with them in some form in the
future... But it takes me a long time to digest ideas - even if I read a book
it maybe won't come out into a song until four years later. So I wrote a track
with a choir-synthesiser sound hoping that if we could get to work with them,
they would take the weight of the song from the synthesisers. (1988, NME)
- I first heard the Trio Bulgarka when I'd finished the last album,
and I was devastated. I think everyone that hears it for the first time is;
it's *INCREDIBLY* powerful music. I listened to it for a long time, and started
thinking how nice it'd be if I could somehow work with them.
- I worked with Irish musicians before, and Irish music I think is in
my blood. My mother's Irish and my brother was always playing it when I was a
kid. I feel a real affinity for Irish music, and really knew nothing about
Bulgarian music until a few years ago. But when you hear it, and you relate it
to something like Irish music, there are a lot of similarities. (1989, YTV)
- I think the hardest thing about working with the Trio Bulgarka was
just having enough courage to go ahead and do it. Once I actually did that and
I met them I and worked together, it was heaven. It was so easy, we had
fantastic communication. You know what the language problem is like. But in
terms of music it was no problem. We just communicated emotionally and just
kind of cuddled each other and sang to each other. It was just the most
incredible experience to meet them as people as well as musicians, and to work
with women like that - on a creative level. The whole thing was very exciting.
- Also what was extraordinary was the arranger that we worked with,
Dmitr Penev. Without him I don't know if it would have been possible. Although
communicated directly with the girls, he was really the one who pulled all the
arrangements together. He was just fabulous, so enthusiastic! I'd say to ``I
want something like this...,'' and he'd think and go work on it, write
something out, and get the girls to rehearse and come back in ten minutes. He'd
come back and ask, ``Do you like this?,'' and he'd get the girls to sing thing
and I'd say, ``Yes that's absolutely brilliant,'' or ``we've got to work this
bit here.'' Again, the communication with him was extraordinary. He didn't
speak English either. There was just a tremendous musical chemistry I'd
love to work with them again. (1990,
She made contact with trio bulgarka through their british
producer/promoter/friend/bragg-associate joe boyd of hannibal records, who
released the balkana compilation in '87 and the trio's own
the forest is crying lp earlier this year. Two weeks ago kate
visited bulgaria and returned with the trio to record two tracks in london.
- I was very worried because chances were it might not work,
particularly because they're so good. It might just sound like we'd bunged them
in a Western track. I really didn't want them to be dragged down to my level. I
was worried that they wouldn't want to get involved with Western pop music,
because it has a bad name and a lot of people are initially scared of it... I
don't blame them at all.
- We had to get a special arranger (Dmitr Penev) because the beauty is
not just in the voices but also in the ancient arrangements. He was brilliant,
it couldn't have been better, the way we managed to communicate exactly what we
wanted despite language problems...It sounds corny, but I do feel very
The raw results of these sessions which I hear by accident, sound
impressive. Any fears that bush might be dabbling in some sort of bulgarian
``duck rock'' or even graceland territory are dispelled by the
true spirit of the recording; The emotion of the trio's traditional singing is
beautifully complimented by kate's distinctive vocal. The trio sing bulgarian
words, so perhaps the azanian chorals of gabriel's biko would be a
closer reference point, although there's not quite such a potent message here.
- You're not distracted by words, all you're picking up are the
emotions that they're translating to you. It feels like very deep information.
There's one point when Yanka's belting it out, really fantastic, yet she's
singing something like, ``Marco sits down with his mother and has some bread
That's one of the strange things about bulgarian music. You find
yourself sitting, listening, awe-struck, lump-throated, only to find you've
been moved to tears by a song about a bumble-bee or a mosquito playing the
bagpipes or dark-eyed yanka's marigolds ("I mislaid my kavals by your gates
last night, elenke, did you see them?"). Whatever they sing about it always
comes over as powerful, spine-tinglingly heartfelt (particularly their lament
for the bulgarian robin hood indje voivode). Just listen and it's easy to
understand why kate bush and others have been drawn to this music, this
antithesis of producer pop for inspiration.
- If they sing ``Strati Angelaki'' to me I can't take it. I have to
leave the room, it just makes me cry and there are very few things musically
that affect me like that.
Rather than increasing the difficulties, the language barrier
between kate and the trio seems to have promoted their personal and working
- I've been so excited doing it and it's so lovely for me to work with
women as well, a tremendous difference. And because we can't talk
intellectually - we can't talk about the state of Bulgaria or even what the
shops are like in London - our whole communication is totally emotional.
- It's an incredible experience, the warmth they give you, you don't
often get it from Westerners. Here it's very much a communication of ``I have
this, you don't have that'' or ``I don't have that and you do,'' whereas they
want to know what kind of person you are... you can feel them probing your
Bush has, of course, experimented before with global ideas on odd
tracks: ``egypt", ``kashka from
baghdad", the aboriginally-inspired `` the dreaming,'' greek rhythms and
portentous use of bulgarian teppan (drum) on `` jig of life.'' here, the
bulgarian singers are playing a more central role than previous ethnic
musicians (esmail sheikh, donal lunny, liam o'flynn, rolf harris), employed to
compliment kate's attempts to create lasting pop rather than quick cash.
It's been a strange experience for trio bulgarka, who are more used
to the familiar string drones of the gadulka or the strummed tambura or the
piping gaida than to bush-style pop experimentalism. They seem, however, to
have adapted with remarkable ease.
Yanka rupkina through interpreter borimira nedeva: Kate's very
popular in bulgaria, young people like her very much. She sings emotionally.
There's lots of lovely thinking in her writing and she's a very good musician.
It is our first time with such a famous singer, and we hope we'll work with her
in the future, if we haven't caused her too many worries.
There's the distinct, appealing prospect of bush (in full bulgarian
gear?) performing live with the trio; It's been donkeys since the theatre of
kate was last seen onstage (benefits aside) but, she says, if anything could
make me tour again it would be the people in this studio. (1988, NME)
- They couldn't speak a word of English and I couldn't speak a word of
Bulgarian. Everything went through translators and it didn't matter at all.
Lovely working with women, and especially them, they're very affectionate. We
tended to communicate through cuddles rather than words. In fact, we could get
on perfectly well without the translators. At one point we were talking away in
the studio when the translator walked in and we all shut up because she'd
suddenly made us self-conscious about what we were doing. (1989, Q)
She speaks in awe of all the musicians who support her, but none
more so that the trio bulgarka, whom she feels are working on a higher plane of
creation. We are talking big music here. We are talking real music, that goes
back so far. I can't imagine who would have put music like this together. Way
- I suppose the main thing was getting up the courage to actually
approach the Trio. 'Cause I wanted to work with them so badly. But I was also
very scared that I wouldn't do them justice. Particularly in the context of
contemporary music. I really didn't want them to be belittled into pop music.
The kind of music that they are working with was in touch with something that I
think we've lost touch with. And it's very rarely now that you are affected
that powerfully by music, like that. Contemporary music occasionally hits you
in the heart and very, very rarely reaches your soul. But music like that is so
old, intense, powerful and spiritual - instinctive music, almost. You know, I'd
like to see anyone who could stand in the room with those three women singing
for more than twenty minutes and not cry. (1990, Musician)
Cloudbusting / Story /