KT Cloudbusting -- Kate Bush In Her Own Words

Early Life 1958-1968

July 30,1958 - kate bush is born to robert john bush and hannah bush. She has two brothers, john carter bush (jay), b. 1944, and paddy bush, b. 1952.

Do you come from a particularly artistic family?

Well, my mother's a dancer, she won a lot of prizes cleaning the floor with the opposition, and my father's a musician. (1981, Dreaming - Hannah)


I was born in a nursing home in Erith, Kent, while my parents were living where they are now, in Welling. The date was July 30th, 1958. (1979, KBC 1)


*I just wondered what your middle name was?

I haven't got one actually. I've got a confirmation name but that's not really an official name and that's Mary. (1979, Personal Call)


I don't know if it was a dream or not, but I remember somebody looking over into my cot going something like ``googgy wooogy woogy wooo'' I might have been one, maybe two years old.

My father was a doctor and my mother a nurse. Now she works on the phone for my father, taking calls. (1982, Flexipop)


You're very close to the family - you're a very close-knit family?


Are your family supportive so far as your music is concerned?

I think they're supportive of me in every area possible. I think I am most definitely a strongly emotionally-based person, and my family are totally integral, I think, to everything I do. They affect me because I love them.

Do you need that support? Is that essential?

I think it is essential. I think it's something that has always been there, and that if it wasn't there it would probably be devastating for me, yes. (1985, Homeground)


I think we are an exceptionally close family. Without my family I wouldn't be where I am today. (????,AVD)

While we're all aware of looking after each other, we're all very much individuals. We can work as a unit - a very strong unit - but I don't find it inhibiting or over-protective. (????,SH)

My mother, to whom I have always been very close also, was a muse. But my eye was almost always on what my father was up to. Don't you think that, as a child, your aspirations are into the world?

You take the whole domestic situation, including your mother, for granted. Little did I know it was mum who was holding it all together. (1989, You)


I joined in all my brother's games when I was younger and they'd always end up tying me to a tree or something! (???,TWS)

I remember my first day at school and somebody calling ``Bye bye, Catherine'' to me. And I turned and said ``Bye bye,'' only the person wasn't talking to me, but to another girl called Catherine. It seemed a bit odd.

I found the idea of school rather exciting. I liked the idea of wearing a uniform. It was a convent school, so the teachers were nuns.

I missed school for about six months because I went to Australia with my parents. I was only five or six. I met a kangaroo, and that was really beautiful. And my brother met an emu. He walked straight into it. The emu freaked out.

My strongest memories were of the seatrip to Australia - I was seasick on the way out and had measles on the way back. (1982, The Garden)


Well, I think the first pop thing I ever heard which I really liked was ``Little Red Rooster'' [By the rolling stones]. I heard it in a car coming back from the shops and I thought it was fascinating. It was the first song I'd ever heard where the singer was actually singing out of tune. I don't mean that derogatorily. What I mean, I suppose, is that the record sounded so unconventional, and I just hadn't experienced anyone singing like that before.

The stones had that record out around 1964, was this when you were about six years old? Yes, around that time, I suppose. It was really a fantastic sound - the fact that someone wasn't singing quite in tune and, because of that, was getting a very different emotion out of it. But I suppose, really, I first became aware of pop music around the late 1960s. I was hearing that sort of music through my two brothers and thinking just how good it was. But for the fact that my brothers were playing those records, I probably wouldn't have heard them, as my friends in school wouldn't have been listening to things like that! I think that was the earliest pop music that I really felt was good.

Paddy bush: But you see now, that's an interesting thing, because we weren't really involved in the pop thing at all at that time. Jay [John carder bush] and I were very much involved in the english folk revival, we had an incredibly staunch approach towards traditional folk music. (1985, keyboard)


I'm wondering who it was that introduced pop music into your family?

Who it was? I suppose it was probably the radio, as it is with most people. I think, as I got older, it was much more me getting into my own music. Obviously when you're very young you're listening to the music that is supplied to you. And I think the radio was probably my main influence getting into new music. And also a large selection of forty-fives that my brothers had, that I used to plow through on wet rainy afternoons and find these records that I'd never heard before, people that I'd never heard before. And also it was good because it meant I could catch up on years that I'd not been around in... which is very useful indeed! (1980, BBC)


When you say you were brought up on it [Traditional english- irish music], you mean within the family?

Within the family, yes, obviously there wasn't live music happening so much, but records. And so that's all you need as a kid, I think if your environment is there. That's what happened for me: it was such a natural thing that it seemed wrong not to be singing or playing music. Which is very good, I think, especially for children, because it's so good for the imagination. (1980, BBC)


*I was brought up in Kent. A very sort of normal upbringing. I think the music, again, that I was hearing at a very early age influenced me tremendously because before I was going to school, before I was reading, I was singing along to songs, to traditional music. And in a way I think that got my soul before the education even got near me. And I think really when you are that young, in a way I think the sparks of what you really want to do are there somewhere. (1981, Friday Night And Saturday Morning)


*You mentioned early that your family were musical, you know, your mother sort of enjoyed music and so on. Was it just because of that background that you wanted to write or was it a love of poetry or reading or what?

I think it was a big combination of everything. Cause my mother is a... well when she was in Ireland she used to dance all the time so there's definitely that spirit in her. And I think all of us have, in the family, have tended to go towards the musical direction, which is very interesting. I'm sure it comes from her and perhaps my father as well 'cause he used to play the piano alot, so maybe it's the combination.

You're father's a doctor, though, isn't he?

Yeah, that's right, yes.

...Is still a doctor?

Yes he is, yes.

But at home, I mean, did you have a lot of these musical sessions and is that partly what set the theme for you?

Well, when I was about six, seven, that sort of age, my two brothers were getting into folk music alot and they were going 'round to folk clubs. And they'd often have evenings every week where a load of there friends would come 'round and in a way it's quite parallel to the sort of evenings that would have happened in Ireland...


That's right! Where they just play music all night, and they'd be playing folk songs. And as I got a bit older I started to join in and learn folk songs, I mean they were the first songs I really learned - sea shanties, that sort of thing.

Do you remember any of those songs?

Um, vaguely, yeah. I mean, some of them I still love to listen to because the stories are always so interesting, they're beautiful, lovely lyrics. And the tunes are always very pretty as well. (1982, Dreaming debut)


Paddy: Here's a good one. It says do we have any special memories of early performances in folk clubs or of the kt bush band - it must have been 1977. And what songs were sung, standards or kate's own?

Jay: Traditional. I mean I don't think... I mean kate's never preformed in folk clubs. She certainly used to sing along with various folk bands that we had. Then she was very small so she couldn't have preformed anyway. And most of the songs she learned were victorian sea shanties which were pretty dirty songs. [Laughter] so I suppose, in a sense that is where it started. [Laugher.] [??? Walking up here] and sing a dirty song. She's not worked in any traditional folk [??? Styles] it's really just what she listened to as a child. (1985, kate bush con. Paddy and jay interview)


When I was very little, my brothers were into traditional folk music, and my father used to play and compose on the piano and I think that this was a very strong influence on me. I was very little and there was always music in the house, so it didn't seem unnatural to start playing the piano or playing around on the instruments that were in the house. (????,SH)

I was brought up on traditional folk music, mostly Irish stuff, and that must be the biggest influence on me I suppose, because I grew up with it. Bert Lloyd is the man as far as I'm concerned. (????,AVD)

On her household. Music was an obsession. (????,avd) *

I've always been into music. I was a child then and I think all children embrace music. (1984, Pulse!)


Was it [Fame] something that you wanted?

No...I don't think so. I mean as a child, the idea of being a star was attractive, as I think it is to every child. They love things that are larger than life, and dreams and fantasies, and most children never grow out of it to the day they die. But I think I didn't ever consider the idea of actually being a famous so-called songwriter-singer. I think that as a very young child, perhaps I aspired to becoming something like a great actress. I think I was very enamoured by people like Judy Garland. I thought she was incredible, so beautiful. But no, I never ever thought this. But I did hope that I would have involvement with music and that one day I might be able to sing and write songs. (1985, Homeground)


There were two very important things in my childhood that shaped my attitudes subsequently. One: my father had a piano in the house, and without that I'd never have got round to playing music. And two: my brothers were very into traditional music.

When I was very little, I was quite extravert. (1982, The Garden)


My father has told me I used to dance to the music on the telly. I remember it vaguely. It was completely unselfconscious and I wasn't aware of people looking at me. One day some people came into the room, saw me and laughed and from that moment on I stopped doing it. I think maybe I've been trying to get back there ever since. (????, SH)

Inhibitions start coming in as you get older. (1982, The Garden)


When I was little my mother fainted for no apparent reason. My father was there and put her on the bed, but he couldn't feel any pulse so he started doing artificial respiration and so on to try to revive her. Meanwhile, according to my mum, she'd taken off like a balloon and hit the ceiling. She was looking down from there at my father pushing her body about and she was calling out ``Leave me alone, I'm all right!"

Then I walked in asking ``Where's my mum?'' and when she saw me she dropped down into her body, she says, anyway she did come back to life. (????,SH)

Everyone's aware of the physical changes that happen as you get older, but I was more aware of the mental ones. I found it very frustrating being treated like a child when I wasn't thinking like a child. I felt I was being patronised, right through until I was eighteen or nineteen. From the age of ten I felt old.

I became very shy at school. It laid some very heavy inhibitions on me. I wasn't exactly bullied, but there were people who picked on me and gave me a very hard time. I was very thin, and younger than most in my class, so I was rather like the runt of the litter. I'd get hit occasionally, but nothing that heavy. And I never fought back.

I was aware of a lot of my friends being into things that I wasn't into. Like sarcasm. It had never been a part of my family - they still don't use sarcasm. I don't actually think it's nice. I think sarcasm is a very cheap and negative way of trying to get laughs and make yourself superior.

It was a very cruel environment, and I was a loner. But I learnt to get hurt, and I learnt to cope with it.

My friends used to play this game whereby they'd send you to Coventry. My friends sometimes used to ignore me completely, and that would really upset me badly. I still tend to be vulnerable, but I'm much better at fighting back if people are nasty to me today.

I felt weak a lot of the time, but I think I was much stronger than I realised.

The school was obviously quite religious in nature, being a convent school. I started getting concepts on God very early on. I remember saying to my father that maybe God was a circle, because I'd been told that he never began and he never finished. To me that was a circle. A lot of Catholicism is still in me deeper than I can see. But I don't follow that religion at all.

I wasn't an easy, happy-go-lucky girl, because I used to think about everything so much, and I think I probably still do. I was writing songs from the age of ten - and I was never really into going to discos and dances and stuff. Obviously, I used to like to go and meet boys, but I mainly just liked playing with the piano. I never told anyone at school that I did that, because I feared it would alienate me even more.

I was too shy to be a hooligan, but inside I had many hooligan instincts. But I never even gave any lip to the teachers. And in return, none of them picked on me.

I first started getting interested in boys at the age of eleven. My first boyfriend was called John, and he lived just round the corner.

It was great. I really liked boys. I always will like boys. I was popular with them. And my level of involvement wasn't just a sexual one, whereas for a lot of girls it was.

I used to get the most terrible crushes on boys, always much older than me. And it was terrible. I used to think they were so beautiful. But I'd never get anywhere with them. Just the old fantasy trip of getting off on someone, was what it was about.

My life as a teenager was interesting and difficult. And it was important, because it stirred up all sorts of things in me. But I was very lonely. And even after I left school, there were times when the loneliness became desperate. (1982, The Garden)


But reading was once a very big passion. When I was about eight or nine, for about three years I got through dozens and dozens of books and was very much into reading, mostly fiction. But as soon as I began writing poems at school - basically, as soon as I started getting into writing songs - everything else seemed to go out the window. I'd sit down and read a book, and think how I could be writing a song rather than reading. (1985, Musician)


*Did you write a lot of poetry when you were young?

When I was at school, yeah that was my thing. And then I got into songs so I forgot about that then. It was much more exciting. (1979, Personal Call)


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