Cloudbusting -- Kate
Bush In Her Own Words
- First songs I ever sang were dirty sea shanties. I'm very proud of
it, I can't think of a nicer influence. Traditional music says a great deal
about the country. English folk music is a lot different from Irish folk music,
not only musically, but lyrically. I mean, that song ``She Moves Thro' the
Fair:'' it sums up the Irish spirit. It's incredible, so moving. (1980, Oct 10,
- When I was really little most of the music that influenced me was my
family's. I've got two older brothers who
went through a long phase of being into traditional music, English and Irish in
particular, so it's always been played in the house. My mother's Irish and she
always had relatives popping around, the vast majority of whom were superb
musicians. They'd come around and play accordions and things. HER FATHER WAS A
KEEN PIANIST, AND ALTHOUGH SHE BEGAN TAKING VIOLIN LESSONS, SHE WAS ONLY NINE
YEARS OLD WHEN SHE'D DECIDED TO TAKE UP PIANO AND SONGWRITING. IN HER EARLY
TEENS, SHE STARTED LISTENING TO MORE CONTEMPORARY SOUNDS.
- I remember the early Roxy Music albums, SHE SWOONS. It was like
``Ah! This is *my* music, this is what I want to be associated with.'' Such
wonderful songwriting, very English as well, not American style, and, of course
Bryan Ferry's voice. I suppose another one of my biggest heroes as a kid was
Elton John, because, at that time, I used to mess about on the piano and sing.
Most of the female artists and male singer/songwriters played guitar; they
didn't play the piano and write and sing like Elton did. He was just my hero,
he's a fantastic piano player, a great performer. These people make a big
impression on you. (1989, Pulse)
- I think I was very lucky cos when I was a small child, my brothers
were extremely musical. They were into traditional music: English and Irish
folk. They were always playing stuff on the record players and had their own
bands and go around the clubs. I got quite involved with it. I would sing along
with them and sing harmonies. I think it was important cos when you are very
young, your mind is so open for new stimulus and direction. I think it was
given to me then, so I didn't really have to spend maybe ten years finding out
what I was here for. I think that's been an important part of my life. My other
musical influences really have been things from the radio, obviously, because
what you listen to are the things that are going on. and again, what my
brothers were playing on the radio. At a later stage, I started seeking out my
own stimulus and that came from people like, especially Billie Holiday. She was
a really important thing to happen to me. Her voice just really did things to
me. so emotional and so tearing. I still can't get over how incredible her
voice was and her presence. I'm into more progressive people, I guess, like
David Bowie and Roxy Music and Steely Dan. I think they are a very
underestimated group, especially in England. They really are an important
musical influence. And nearly anything really. I love so much music. I think
that's the amazing thing about it: music can go into every corner of every
room. there's so many different styles of music. everyone is great in their own
right - it's just a matter of personal taste, really. (1978, Self Portrait)
It fascinates me that, despite the basic rock instrumentation which
you employ, your music doesn't seem to owe very much of its ancestry to
american sources. I would venture to say you're one in the very few popular
artists to have evolved such a uniquely british kind of music.
- Yes, that's very interesting. I think probably most of the stuff I
have liked, though, has actually been English, and possibly that's why my roots
aren't American. Whereas perhaps with the majority of other people, well, you
know, they were listening to Elvis and people like that and most of their
heroes would have been American. But the artists I liked, such as Roxy Music
and David Bowie, they were all singing in English accents and, in fact, were
among the few in England who were actually doing so at that time.
I mean to say, Elton John, Robert Palmer and Robert Plant sound American when
they sing, although of course they're English. (1985, Keyboard)
So what about the irish flavour in your music?
- I feel that strongly, being torn between the Irish and the English
blood in me, really. And the Irish influence is definitely very strong. My
mother was always playing Irish music, and again, I think when you are really
young, things get in and get in deeper because you haven't got as many walls
up. I just - it's the same as my mother - I watch her, and when the pipes start
playing, ``Yahoo!", you know, everything just lights up and it can be so
inspiring. It's just emotional stuff. I think I was really lucky to be given
that kind of stimulus. It's really heavy, emotionally - the pipes,
they really tear it out of your heart.
But do you listen to irish traditional music at the moment?
- Yeah, I do. It's great. I love it. (1985, Hot Press)
- And I think it's very similar in a way to a lot of the traditional
music that I was again influenced by when I was very little... by my
family. My brothers were really into folk
music. And a lot of folk music is so into telling stories. And it's in a way
something that doesn't feature so much in contemporary music any more. I think
contemporary music is used to help relationships a lot of the time. Like you go
to the disco and you meet someone, so you have a song, and it's your song. It's
more about that then actually telling stories. Like the traditional things are.
And I think that's a big fascination for me.
Well is this a recent thing? Like on your last couple of albums
I've noticed a lot more like jigs and stuff and folk instrumentation. Is this a
direction that you're going in more?
- I think I've always been really influenced by it, but I haven't been
able to express it through my songs. It's weird, trying to talk about the
process of writing. But it does actually take over you and you don't have
control over it beyond a certain point. And it's only really, I suppose, the
last couple of albums, where I feel I've had enough control over the process to
be able to express the influences that are in there. And particulary the Irish
ones. I've wanted to work with Irish musicians and the pipes and fiddles for a
long time but haven't really had anywhere in my music for them. (1985, MTV)
to ask you, who has influenced you most on your music, in the early part of
- Ooo. Well, that's a lot to do with traditional music, because when I
was a kid that was always around me. But people like Bryan Ferry and David
Bowie, they were very strong influences, because they were so new when they
came out. They were such strong talents, you know, I really liked a lot of
their stuff. (1979, Personal
She loves Steely Dan and David Bowie ("I wish I could write
constructions like his") but she was probably most influenced by Bryan Ferry,
during his days with Roxy Music and Eno. It was the moods of the songs. They
had a very strong effect on me because they had such atmospheres.
- I really enjoy some female songwriters, like Joni Mitchell, but it's
just that I feel closer to male writers. Maybe I want to be a man, SHE LAUGHS.
I like the guts that men have in performing and singing, like the punks, like
the way Johnny Rotten would use his voice was so original and you get very few
females even having the guts to do that because they unfortunately tend to get
stereotyped if they make it.
- I really enjoy seeing people doing something that isn't normal, you
know. It's so refreshing. It's like that guy, you know, ``Cor Baby, that's
really free.'' John Otway. It was amazing watching him perform and you just
don't get females like that.
- I don't regard myself as a rock 'n' roll writer. I'd love it if
someone said they thought I wrote rock 'n' roll songs. That'd be great, but I
don't think I am. Some of the punks and new wave songs are so clever. Quite
amazing really. It's a modern poetry idiom. Some of the lyrics are fantastic,
so imaginative, not sticking to a reality level, shooting off and coming back
She mentioned the Boomtown Rats as ``amazing'' and was genuinely
ecstatic when I told her of the Rats' fondness of her music.
- Do they? Really? Oh, I didn't think they'd be into me. Great!
Fantastic! I wonder if really beautiful punk groups like that - I think the
Stranglers are really good too, there are so many - I wonder if they think
I'm... not so much square, but whether they think,... ah... sort of oblong.
- I really admire those bands and I really admired the Sex Pistols
tremendously. I don't know if I liked them that much but some of their songs
were great. I admired them so much just for the freshness and the guts although
I did get a hypey vibe off it and that they were in fact being pushed around
because it seemed more an image that was being forced upon them from what
people were expecting.
- I feel apart from those bands because I feel I"m in a different
area, but I really like to think that they get off on me like I do them. That's
why I don't see them as contemporaries, because I'm apart. It's not a matter of
being above or below them but if it was, I think I'd be below them.
- I think they're on a new level inas much as... it's hard to explain,
they're definitely hitting people that need stimulation. They're hitting tired,
bored people that want to pull their hair out and paint their face green.
They're giving people the stimulation to do what they want and I think I'm
maybe just making people think about it, if I'm doing anything.
Do you see that as the main difference between you role and their?
- Yeah. I'm probably, if anything, stimulating the emotional end, the
intellect, and they're stimulating the guts, the body. They're getting the guts
jumping around. That's a much more direct way to hit people. A punch is more
effective than a look. Teachers always give you looks.
Would you like to have that effect on people?
- I don't think I could because... SHE STUMBLES OVER THE NEXT BIT. ...
it's not what... I'm... here to... do. I really love rock 'n' roll. I think
it's an incredible force but there's something about it that I don't get on
with when I write it, maybe because I'm very concerned about melodies in my
music and generally I find rock 'n' roll tends to neglect it a bit because it's
got so much rhythm and voice that you don't need so much music.
- Some of the new wave, though, is so melodic. Like the Rich Kids. I'm
not really a rock 'n' roll writer yet. I'd like to be though and I hope I'm
become more that way oriented.
- Mind you. I identify with new wave music. We're both trying to stir
something in the altitudes we've got but I honestly don't know if I'm doing it.
I guess I'm more interested in stirring people's intellect's. It's longer
lasting but not so much fun as new wave.
- The good thing about people like the Boomtown Rats is that not only
is it really good, but it's really exciting and fun, and maybe my things are
sometimes a bit too intricate to become fun. They're more picking pieces out
and examining them. There's very little music on my album that will make you
want to stamp your feet violently and hit your head against the wall.
- To actually understand what I'm about you actually have to hear the
lyrics, which is a lot to expect, whereas in something like the Boomtown Rats,
it's the complete energy that knocks you over. (1978, July, Melody Maker)
- I think an interesting thing I happening in the music scene at the
moment - I think from the beginning of this year, especially in
England. It was purely because of punk.
It was a very quick dynamic thing that happened and I think its purpose was in
order to bring new things out of it. we now have a sort of thing called new
wave, which has come from punk, but it's not like punk at all. It's rich in
interesting lyrics, completely different attitude towards music. There are very
interesting lyrics that are based a lot more on reality than a lot of things
have gone before. I think that's the trouble with a lot of music that was
happening: things were becoming purely romantic bubblegum. just talking about
boy meets girl. The great thing about music is that it's a message. You
actually have the power to convey a message to people to let them know about
something they didn't know about before. I think that's an incredible
responsibility on behalf of the artist. I find myself very aware of that and I
often wonder if I am doing any good, but I know it's my purpose. It's what I
must do. (1978, Self
- Maybe it's
ironic, but I think punk has actually done a lot for me in
England. People were waiting for
something new to come out - something with feeling. If you've got something to
tell people, you should lay it on them. (1978, Trouser Press)
- On the whole, I listen to very few lady singers. I identify myself
much more with male singers, especially male songwriters. But the people I
really admire: Billie Holiday, she's in a right of her own. David Bowie, I
think he's an incredible songwriter. Bryan Ferry I think is an important
writer. The other people I do listen a lot of are Steely Dan. And I think the
main common denominator for the people that I like are that they are
songwriters. They all seem to be either male groups or male single
personalities who write their songs and sing them. And I think this is why I
tend not to listen to females as much because the few that do get this together
I don't find particularly interesting. Joni Mitchell stands on her own. I think
Joan Armatrading too - she's special. But on the whole, I think I just identify
more with male songwriters. (1978, Self Portrait)
What sort of music do you like to listen to, if, or when, you have
free time? Do you like heavy rock such as led zeppelin?
- The sort of music I like to listen to when I've got the time is
Pink Floyd's album The
Wall; Stevie Wonder's The Secret Life of Plants; and I
really like classical music like John Williams's. I don't like that much heavy
rock, and I must admit that I've never really listened to Led Zeppelin, but I
like any music if it's good. The Who are the best group I ever saw live, and I
thought they were fantastic. I think they probably turned me onto it, and the
Beatles were really good when they were heavy. (1980, KBC 5)
On the plane back to london the next day I ask her about peter
gabriel. They did, after all, record together on ``games without frontiers,''
and I thought I'd detected a gabriel influence on never for ever. I ask about
peter gabriel and she talks about pink floyd.
- That last album of his was fantastic, but I don't know if it was a
direct influence on me. He may have opened up bits in me I hadn't thought of,
but a more direct influence was The Wall.
- It got to the point when I heard it I thought there's no point in
writing songs any more because they'd said it all. You know, when something
really gets you, it hits your creative centre and stops you creating... and
after a couple of weeks I realized that he hadn't done everything,
there was lots he hadn't done.
- And after that it became an inspiration. `` Breathing'' was
definitely inspired by the whole vibe I got from hearing that whole album,
especially the third side. There's something about Floyd that's pretty atomic
anyway. (1980, Oct 10, Melody
like to ask you, who do you most like to meet?
- Who would I like to meet most? Quite a few people.
Well, I'm here!
- I've met him, he's here, yeah. I'd love to meet David Bowie. I'd
love to meet. I'd really liked to have met Groucho Marx, but I'm to late.
(1979, Personal Call)
main inspiration has been traditional music. Irish airs, the uillean pipes -
music like that affect me physically. The composers for her are chopin,
debussy, sibelius and erik satie, and all of these are named before she comes
to modern popular music.
The litany begins with buddy holly and elvis presley. Billie
holiday is less expected. I [??? Line missing!] her upper range. What
she says with her voice is so human and vulnerable. Then, bowie and beatles,
roy harper and roxy music, thin lizzie and boomtown rats ("when they began -
not now"), paul simon and ian dury.
- I love Ian Dury because he says
good positive things that will help people, cheer them up. I'd be a fool to
think I could change the world, but to influence people, yes. It's important to
spread positivity. Stevie Wonder has a song, ``Love's In Need Of Love Today,''
and every time I hear it, it makes me feel better. Some writers concentrate on
the negative area. It's selfish masturbating really, and art's not a selfish
- If I listen to Leonard Chohen, I get depressed. So many of his songs
are autobiographical self- [??? Line missing!!] with no hope or
objectivity. One of my new songs, `` All We Ever Look For", it's not about me.
It's about family relationships generally. Our parents got beaten physically.
We get beaten psychologically. The last line - ``All we ever look for - but we
never did score.'' Well, that's the way it is - you do get faced sometimes with
futile situations. But the answers not to kill yourself. You have to accept it,
you ``have'' to cope with it. (1980, Sunday
- I've always
been an admirer of Bowie and Roxy Music, especially Roxy's earlier material.
What I enjoyed the most was their ability to create atmosphere. This is what I
get the most pleasure from in my own work. After a song is finished, it's so
exciting to see what you've created. (1983, Music Express)
And I was
reading an interesting review of your new album in the sunday times yesterday
which kinda compared you to joni mitchell. You know, sorta britain's answer to
joni mitchell. [Kate laughs] have you ever heard that comparison? Or how
do you react when you hear that sort of comment?
- Well actually I find that very flattering cause I think Joni
Mitchell's really great. So yeah! (1982, Unknown
the bands that you like most at the present time?
- Um! Terrible question. I really like the Beats, still like David
Bowie, still like Roxy Music. I like ABC's stuff, Madness, they're great.
(1982, Unknown BBC interview)
bush all the record companies are very sad and all the artists they look for
her sales because it's not so good for the moment the people are not buying so
much records as they did before uh but does they doesn't care at in this time.
What means you, I mean you sell records I think, every record is selling more
than the other one.
- I think the interesting thing is that although the sales are down,
there's an incredible amount of really good new material. I mean just, I can't
remember the last time there were so many top acts having their albums out, and
the quality being so high, I mean in England it's just been going number one one
week out number one one week-out, it's incredible. (1980, Unknown German Interview)
Who are your favourite band at the moment, and what has been your
favourite album and single of 1984?
- Favourite band: Killing Joke. Favourite single: ``80s'' by Killing
Joke. I can't give you my favourite album, as I haven't really had time to
listen to any this year. (1984, KBC
do you think of the new german wave? Obviously engles from there so she's
anxious to know what you think of bands like ideal or trio?
- Wow! I'm afraid I don't know much about them so... sorry.
Alright, okay. I know that you're keen on captain beefheart 'cause
last christmas when we asked you to choose a favorite track of yours over the
christmas period we played ``tropical hot dog night'' and that is a track that
you have asked to hear again.
- Yeah, I think it's great.
Is he an influence at all?
- Yes I'm sure he is, just cause I like him so much. I think it should
be a single, I think it would be a really big single, it's brilliant. (1982,
Unknown BBC interview)
influenced you, do you feel, in terms of your writing or your performance?
- Gosh, so many people. I think definitely, my performance I would say
people like Lindsay and a lot of the teachers that I was taught by, especially
when I started dance, because there's no doubt when you're being taught
movements they stay, you remember those patterns. And I suppose in writings,
Even in terms of other performers, I mean who do you admire? I'm
not saying that you would copy there style or anything.
- I'm a big admirer of Bowie, and people like David Byrne as well.
Eno, I think Eno is fantastic. Captain Beefheart, it's a very wide range,
really. I think there's a lot of music that I enjoy. But it's mainly people
that tend to show strength and originality. People like Bowie, who have gone
for something different and they're still standing there. (1982, Dreaming debut)
come to write a song do you ever get any inspiration from classical music that
you've listened to in your spare time?
- Yes, yes I think classical music is very inspirational. Again,
because it's normally quite visual, you close your eyes and wonderful
landscapes start happening. So I'm sure it has been very inspirational.
Do you listen to a lot of classical stuff?
- No, not as much as I used to,no. I listen to a lot more contemporary
stuff now. (1982, Dreaming
yourself, where do you think pop music is going at the moment? I sometimes get
the feeling that apart from individualist performers like yourself, a lot of it
is beginning to sound, maybe I'm getting old, but it sounds all the same to me
now, alot of it on top of the pops.
- I have that problem, too. I watch Top Of The Pops, you
know, some weeks and I really find it very, very hard to identify with some of
the music that people are making. And yet obviously the young people of today
really do enjoy it. (1981, Friday
Night, Saturday Morning)
doing some research, Mark and I, we want to know why ``Genius of Love'' by the
Tom Tom Club wasn't a massive hit all over the world for weeks and weeks and
weeks. Have you heard it?
- No. ...I THINK SEVERAL PEOPLE OUT HERE HAVE BOUGHT ONE, AND YOU
- No, I do think they're good, though, I think they're great.
They are indeed... (1982, The Old Grey Whistle Test)
- So many
records have left great impressions on me. It is always hard to just call them
all to mind so quickly but to mention a few - ``No. 9 Dream'' by John Lennon:
``I Am The Walrus'' by The Beatles: ``He's My Man'' by Billie Holiday: ``Best
of Both Worlds'' by Robert Palmer: ``Really Good Time'' by Roxy Music:
``Tropical Hot Dog Night'' by Captain Beefheart: ``Montana'' by Frank Zappa:
music by Eberhard Weber, and ``the Wall'' by Pink Floyd. (1984, Pulse!)
Kate finds she's too busy to get involved in pop culture. Since I've been in
the business I've had a lot less time to keep up with what's happening, she
said regretfully. I don't feel I have to ``keep up'' as such, but I always love
to hear good music and see new interesting bands.
But most of what she listens to these days is classical. Very
little contemporary - mostly old favorite records and radio 4. (1984, Pulse!)
Do you know Laurie Anderson's music?
- Yes, I really liked her album Big Science, there was
some very interesting stuff on it. I love ``Oh Superman."
I was amazed recently to see that one of your favourite things was
Captain Beefheart's ``Tropical Hot Dog Night."
- Oh, he's fantastic! And the lyrics on ``Bat Chain Puller,'' wow!
He's a bit like Lindsay Kemp: he's terribly underestimated and yet he's been
such an incredible influence on so many people. In a way, that seems to be his
role, you know, people tend to use so many of his ideas.
Are there certain singers you are into, or do you tend to listen
more to instrumentalists?
- Well, there are certain singers I listen to, but I'd say generally
I'm much more into instrumentalists; like there's a jazz pianist, George
Winston, for instance, on the Windham Hill label, whom I find beautiful to
listen to. But the thing is, when you've been working on an album so intensely,
like I've been doing, in fact to unwind I tend to watch visual things because
your ears get so tired and your brain gets so cotton-woolly from all the
concentration in the studio - say, for instance, if you're listening for clicks
or things that are out of time. I find that if I listened to music after a day
of that, I'd be sitting there criticizing it: ``Oh, that's out of time or out
of tune,'' or stuff like that. So it's really nice to watch comedy because it's
good to relax and have a laugh. Also comedy is very observant stuff, as well.
It's all based on observation of people. (1985, Musician)
What about Peter Gabriel? How has his music influenced you?
- I think anything you like influences you, and I do like his music. I
think he's very clever, he's brilliant. And I think he's one of the few people
who is trying to do something interesting with contemporary music.
Ok, what do you mean by that, by ``interesting", ``different''
Well, you didn't say ``different", you said ``interesting.''
- Hmm. Well I think it's both and I don't think there's much of that
happening. For me the Floyd were doing something interesting, especially with
The Wall. Talking Heads are doing something very interesting. I
think David Bowie certainly was as was Roxy Music way back in the
seventies, in fact they set a kind of formula that people are still copying and
getting away with now. I mean so many people sound like Brian Ferry, so many
people look or sound like David Bowie. And I think it's these kind of original
stamps that create an incredible amount of imitators, but it's still these
people who leave the mark and who are doing something really interesting.
Well you sang with Peter Gabriel, right?
- Say again?
You sang Peter Gabriel on one of his records. Can you tell us about
- I was really delighted to be asked to do something and it was a lot
What was the song and what do you think of the song?
- I thought it was a great song, I think that that album that Peter
did was one of those albums that actually set a mark in a point in time. And I
think it was well appreciated, which is good. I think another album like that
was David Bryne and Eno's Night in The Bush Of Ghosts. I don't
know how popular that was here, but it didn't really get that much attention in
our country. And I think that left a very big mark on popular music,
particularly when you look at the charts
at the moment. The things that are happening again in our country are so
derivative of that album.
That's the sort of album that a lot of people in music or who
really follow music listen to alot. So it definitely got a lot of attention. It
wasn't like a top 100 album or anything but...
.. It really had it's audience. (1985, MTV)
Our next track is from a film - and a film I've seen - called
Meetings With Remarkable Men, a film made by Peter Brook. And it
was the story of the man Gurdjieff, who has followers, and, uh, are you one of
- Um, I'm not actually a follower, but I'm a great admirer of a lot
that the man said. And I think indeed Peter must be too, because the
film, as you know, is very beautiful. It's
a quite exceptional film because of the visuals. And it is a ``journey.'' He
takes you on the journey of part of this man's life. And, uh, there's a
beautiful scene in it which is a competition, where there are, ah, about half a
dozen men seated in this valley. And the scene is very sort of sandy, and the
sun is bursting down on them. And the competition is for whoever can make the
magical valley vibrate with a particular frequency of music. And so one by one
they all try to make the rocks vibrate, and create the magic. And not until we
get to the last one does something magical happen. It's called ``The Contest of
the Ashoks.. `` [The piece, for a kind of ethnic flute and solo male voice,
is played. This flows into some joyous western music for orchestra, and fades
And the people start to celebrate because the man has indeed made
the valley vibrate. Uh, is there such an actual valley?
- Um, I'm not sure, but I presume so. Um, I daresay in the film they
just set it up.
Right. That's one of my favourite scenes from the film.
- But, I think it is incredible: the fact that that's just a human
voice. I think we so often underestimate it as an instrument. Perhaps this is
one of the points I'm trying to prove today.
Maybe that's the reason that that particular track appeals to you.
- Yes, I think it is, yes. And also, remembering the magic of the
visuals with that.
Well here's one that is not from a film. And it's called ``and
spake sodroc.'' and it's from a selection from _piper'srock. what
- Well, _Piper'sRock is just the name of an album. But
what's interesting about it is that it's an album full of Uillean piping, which
are Irish pipes - very different from Scottish pipes, um, etcetera. They're
played...they're pumped with the elbow: the bellows are under the elbow. And
there's a selection of pipes on the bag. And it's played across the lap. And
normally this is something which is played by older people. It's a traditional
Irish instrument and normally years and years are spent before they become
experts. And what's interesting about this album is that they're all very young
people. And one of them is a female piper, which is extremely unusual. And
they're only about seventeen or eighteen years old. And they're playing the
traditional music with a very new, fresh spirit, which is lovely.
"And spake sodroc.''
[The piece, for several sets (?) of uillean pipes, is
played.] (1980, Paul
This next selection that we're going to play, it doesn't appear in
the bbc library. It's a really off-the-wall selection and I love it. What is
- Well, the thing is, I don't know anyone that actually knows what it
is. It was given to me by a friend years ago, a man whose stories that, uh...
Every place he travels to (he travels around the world), he collects a seed
from every country he's been to, and he says that one day, when he gets a house
and a garden, he's going to plant each of these seeds and he'll have a tree
from every country in the world in his garden. Now this is the man that gave me
this tape. And, it's a very strange tape: most of the music on it is Voodoo,
and it's very heavy.
Is it in the english language?
- Some of it is, but some of it isn't. And it seems to be a
compilation tape. And right in the middle of all these Voodoo tracks is this
one track, and it seems like two completely different bits of music put
together. One is a morning prayer that's being sung by a man from a temple. And
the other is a ``Kyrie Eleison'' sung by a choir of nuns. Now who's put them
together I don't know, but it's a very strange combination. At points the
chords really clash unconventionally, and then resolve themselves beautifully.
Well let's see if this mixture appeals to us as much as it does to
[A portion of the recording is played.]
One of the most historic records in pop music is one by the
drifters, called ``there goes my baby.'' it was the first rhythm-and-blues song
to use strings. And the dissonance at times, radio listeners thought they were
listening to two different songs being played together. And that is precisely
what we have here--
- Yes, I think so.
- The kyrie eleison, and this voodoo chant, which I found haunting.
[Gambaccini has misunderstood this to be a voodoo chant; In fact, the man
singing, as kate put it, ``from a temple", is clearly vocalising a moslem
morning prayer, such as those which priests cry from minarets in middle-eastern
temples. Kate very tentatively corrects him. - ied]
- It...it's incredible, yes. It... There isn't actually a Voodoo chant
in this song. What I found very interesting is, again, the way he's using his
voice like an instrument, the way he's projecting out of his mouth. Now, I
presume that it's the prayer that he would sing from his temple as the sun's
coming up in the morning. And something I also find very interesting is the
language thing. Although we say that music is international, and, um, you know,
words don't matter, when was the last time in our charts we... we had a song
with people singing in another language - other than English?
Plastic bertrand, ``ca plane pour moi.'' [Kate laughs.] that
was the last top ten in a foreign language, I believe.
- It doesn't happen much, though.
- And I think what is interesting: As soon as you have someone singing
in a different language, it automatically becomes an instrument, instead of a
voice, because you can no longer relate to what they're singing about. And I
find this very interesting. And it would be nice if we had more songs that were
sung in other languages.
And now, one of my favourites, oh yes, kate and anna mcgarrigle.
Now this is a, a duet, and it's from their first album together, isn't it?
- Yes, as far as I know. I think they're lovely. I really do, I think
they're great. And their energy is very positive and very pure. And we saw them
live a couple of years ago, and that was just the same: very honest, and very
simple. And it was beautiful. And this again is in a foreign language. We think
it's in Old French; and Anna was in on the writing of this, and I just think
it's a lovely track.
Dare I pronounce this one, or are you gonna give it a go?
- Well, 'ere we go! ``Complainte pour Ste. Catherine."
[Part of the song, actually sung in modern french with a heavy
canadian accent, is played.]
From a marvellous eponymous album, kate and anna
mcgarrigle. Kate, has there ever been an anna with which you wished you
- Um, not really, I must admit. I find that working with myself is
much... it's interesting because I can tell myself off and get very annoyed
with it. Or I'd use a choir. Or I'd use male voices, I think, because I'd
rather put myself with myself or with something very different, rather than
with another female. That's just the way I feel about working at the moment.
But working with other people on any level is just so incredible, because as
soon as you have another person there, you have something to bounce of, you...
you haven't got your own criticisms and ideals bouncing around in there.
And this is why you've enjoyed working with peter gabriel, even if
only on backing vocals for his song.
- Lovely! Uh, that's a really good experience. What's nice about that
is being able to walk into someone else's studio and not have the
responsibility of the sounds, and everything. You just go in and sing and have
a really great time. And for me that was a great honour to be on that album,
because the music is so good.
It's certainly one of my ten favourite albums of the year.
Now we move on to an artist not normally heard on radio one: The
choir of kings college chapel, cambridge. Have you ever been to this chapel?
- No, I haven't, no. But they sing like angels. And this particular
piece is remarkable.
[An excerpt is played.]
From the ``miserere,'' by allegri, the choir of kings college
chapel, in cambridge. You loved the voice of that young boy.
- I think, anyone that heard that would. It's interesting: every time
I've played that in my room, the last few weeks when I've been getting this
together, the room would go completely silent every time that boy starts
singing. Just complete silence. And then when he's finished his notes everyone
says ``Oh-h! Again!'' I think it is stunning.
The choir of kings college chapel, cambridge. Have you ever wished
you'd gone to university?
- No, never.
And you didn't.
You left school at sixteen and never, never looked back.
- Uh, I must have been about seventeen when I left, but...
So much for the press release.
[Laughs] yeah. (1980, bbc)
Do you ever go to concerts? If so, who?
- I very rarely go to gigs, as I don't really have much free time; but
it's always nice to go and see artists whose music I enjoy, especially when the
shows are as spectacular as The Wall. (1983, KBC 14)
When you started working with electronic instruments, did you start
listening to what other people were doing?
- Yes, you can't help but hear other people's electronic music. Music
is an inspiring thing to hear. But unfortunately, 99% of my time is eaten up
listening to my own and nothing else. And then, it's only listening to what I'm
working on at that moment. When I'm finished, I go through these big phases of
listening to other people's stuff. It's so exciting.
Who do you listen to at those times?
- I'm particularly into a label called Windham Hill. That's beautiful
music - absolutely gorgeous. And there's a German label called ECM that has a
lot of jazz-rock music. One of my favorite artists there is Eberhard Weber.
He's fantastic. I find that the most enjoyable thing for me to do when I get in
from the studio, other than listen to music, is to watch videos. My ears are so
tired. You get such a form of concentrated listening - you've got to listen for
clicks and drums and the voice... So when you get back, you want to rest your
ears and let your eyes watch rubbish for half an hour. (1985, Keyboard)
What was your favourite record of 1983?
- "101 Damnations", by Scarlet Party. (1984, KBC 16)
Reading the press that's come out recently, it's mentioned again
your love of people like roxy music and david bowie. Are there any more
contemporary people that you like?
- I don't listen to very much contemporary music at the moment, and I
think my love of people like David Bowie
and Bryan Ferry - I was normally making the point of what a big influence those
two have been. They're true originals, and there are so many people mimicking
their style of voice, they're style of song structures, etcetera, and I think
they should be credited for their influences. I think Peter Gabriel's had a
very big influence, too, on a lot of people. His third album was very
influential, I think.
He's got a new one coming out.
Have you heard any of it?
- No, I haven't.
I've heard a couple of tracks; Very good.
[I find this exchange interesting for the fact that since this
interview was in '85, the album in question is so, which, of course, contains
``don't give up,'' a duet with kate herself!] (1985, picture disk)
What are your main song writing influences? Obviously quite a
difficult one cos you must have many.
- Well, yes, that is a very difficult question. Subject matter is.. it
stems from people, either through their expressions in films, books, things
that people tell you about, things you witness. Musically, I think that's a
much more obscure area. I mean in a way, it's the music that often will suggest
the subject matter, so the music is quite often the thing that sparks it all
off. And that comes from the air, really. (1985, Profile 6)
Where do you get the ideas for the imagery in your music and
- I think most of my imagery comes from films. But, initially, it all
comes from people. Films are really the expression of the director, the actors,
the people who make the music. I think that definitely, it's the stories and
the situations that people are in that are the biggest inspirations. I have
some very interesting stories told by friends of things that have happened to
them or people they know. and books, of
course, are another very obvious inspiration for definitely some of my songs.
(1985, Open Interview)
- There's some really bad stuff happening in pop music, isn't there?
SHE MURMURS, LIKE SOMEBODY DISCUSSING A NEWSPAPER REPORT OF A SMALL, DISTANT
WAR. Everyone's been wearing black for the last five or six years in the music
business, and I see it as a real state of mourning for good music. (1989,
Do you listen to much pop music?
- Not much when I'm making albums. In the evenings I probably watch a
film or comedies or something visual to
take me away from my ears. But, in between albums, yeah, there's some great
stuff. Johnny Lydon's new album is just great, and I heard some tracks off the
new Jeff Beck album and they were great, too. I think there's been some good,
good music out there. Everyone in the music industry's been wearing black for,
what, the last four years? Well, I think everyone's in mourning for good music.
It's a show of mourning - ``Look, here we are, where's the music?'' And there's
little snatches now, and that's exciting. (1989, Melody Maker)
What about other people's music? Does she listen to records?
- I tend not to listen to music too much when I'm working on an album.
It's so intense that when I get home I like to watch things instead. But in
between I like to listen. Right now I'm listening to the new John Lydon album,
which is fantastic! It's really good! (1989, Music Express)
Are you hypersensitive to music? I mean, just because you make
music that moves other people, that doesn't necessarily mean that music moves
you, does it?
- God, I'd love to think that my
music could move people, because it doesn't happen to me often, but, when it
has, it's a lovely experience. The Bulgarians did it to me, and Nigel Kennedy
sometimes makes me cry. (1989, Melody Maker)
What sort of influences do you have when you're making an album?
Particularly other music?
- My normal way of working is not to listen to other music when I'm
making albums. I tend to listen to music after I've finished. A good example of
that is after I finished the Hounds of Love album. My brother Paddy played me a
tape of The Trio Bulgarka, and I'd never heard anything like it. I was
devastated, like everyone is when they hear it. And by hearing it then, it gave
me a lot of time to listen to them and gradually think that maybe we could work
together. Bearing them in mind, I actually wrote a track, and then it
eventually evolved into the process of working together. But it was probably
three years before I actually got around to doing something about it. It just
shows you how slow the whole evolving process is.
You don't follow trends at all, do you? [For those thinking that
the Bulgarian music influence was a trendy one, remember that kate's
involvement with the trio bulgarka actually pre-dated the first re-release of
marcel cellier's recording of le mystere on 4ad by several months. Neither she
nor Paddy could have had any idea that Bulgarian vocal music would become chic
in the west. - ied]
- I think again, Janice, that it's just as well I don't, because if I
did, by the time the album was out it would be three years out of date! I don't
stand much chance of being hip - unless it comes right round again, that is.
(1989, Greater London)
Is other music inspirational?
- I tend not to listen to music as consistently as I take in visual
imagery. I don't know if this is deliberate or because I spend so much time
working my ears listening to music. There's also a slight problem, I guess,
that if you really like something, you find yourself being pulled towards it
without realising. (1990, Q
Kate bush relaxes with a silk cut-a habit common among ballet
dancers past and present-and is asked once again to contemplate the life of
isolation. In other words,to select her desert island discs. Sitting as we are
in the legendary Abbey Road studios, her choice of the Beatles'
Sgt.Pepper'sLonely Hearts Club Band and Magical
Mystery Tour could not be more appropriate, followed by Brian Eno and
Bavid Byrne's My Life in the Bush of Ghosts ("tremendously
influential on me and the whole of modern of modern music with the repetition
and sampling"), her friend Nigel Kennedy's The Four Seasons
("there's something light and uplifting about it"), the Trio Bulgarka's
``Strati Angelaki'' (on the Bulgarian compilation lp, Balkana),
Donal Lunny's last album (called Donal Lunny), Eberhard Weber's
Fluid Rustle ("a lot of fond memories"), Billie Holliday's I
Love You Porgie ("the singer of singers. Lindsay Kemp used to use this
one in a show of his, and the combination of her singing and his theatre was
terrific") and Pink Floyd's ``Comfortably Numb'' (1990, Q special)
Subjects / Influences / Favorite