KT Cloudbusting -- Kate Bush In Her Own Words

Music (Audience Of)

I think also one of the most amazing things about music, especially for the last twenty or thirty years, is the fact that we've been able to preserve it on record. So it's no longer someone jamming in a little club in the thirties in a little smoky place. It's an eternal process. you can listen to people that have died maybe twenty years ago. You can see them on the television. You can see them moving and young. They are no longer there. You've captured that moment, purely through mechanical things, which is really quite ironic because music is such a pure emotional thing to be captured on such a mechanical modern contraption. but it's the only way we can do it. (1978, Self Portrait) SHE THINKS, THEN, THAT HER MUSIC IS A THERAPY?

Oh, yes, it's very much a therapeutic thing, not only for me. That's a really good word. It really is like a therapy. The message I would like people to receive is that if they hear it and accept it, that's fantastic.

If they let it into their ears that is all I can ask for and if they think about it afterwards or during it, that is even more fantastic. There are so many writers and so many messages, to be chosen out of all of them is something very special.

The messages? Things that maybe could help people, like observing the where an emotional game is being played and maybe making people think about it again.

It's very glamorous to make a statement like that, but how true did she think it was?

It's easy to say everything. Really all I do when I write songs is try and write something that affects me: something that I feel does have a solution or something that is unexplored.

It really is just self-expression, and although I know that a lot of people will just say it's a load of rubbish, I would like to think that there is a message and maybe people will hear it. (1978, March, Melody Maker)


Would it upset you if you missed the mark and people totally misread what you're about?

It's a lot, to expect people to sit down and read my lyrics, and I'd be amazed if many people did. Not many people read poetry and it's a similar effort. No, it doesn't worry me that much if they don't. That's what I'd like them to do because that's why I do it.

But really, I think I've had enough response from people to make me have done enough to fade away now. I've had much more of a chance than most people to get through with a message. From some of the letters I get, it seems that people have understood and it seems to have helped them a bit. That's all I could wish for. (1978, July, Melody Maker)


How important is it for the listener to understand your intentions while listening to one of your records?

It means a lot to me if people are interpreting the music in the way that I originally wanted it to be done. But, I do feel that music is a bit like a painting, in that when you buy a painting, it's because you like it. And what is important is your interpretation of what it means. That's why it means so much to you. I think that applies to records as well.

But, as long as people are getting enjoyment out of them, I don't think it matters to me. It doesn't worry me if they don't understand the way that I'd hoped they would. But of course it's always nice if they do. (1983, Voc'l)


*What propels the serious music listener to plunk down the cash for one her albums anyway?

If I could actually pin down the quality that enables me to keep working and keep people enjoying it, I wouldn't worry very much. Whenever I make an album I do everything I can to make sure, within the time allowed, is that every song is as good as I possibly can make it. (C.1983, Kate Connection)

*Do you find that a lot of people don't quite understand your work, maybe think it's a little bit mystical?

I think there's a lot of people who don't understand necessarily what I'd originally conceived as the idea, but I don't know if that's very important. I think if people feel they understand it on any level, then I've achieved something and that's great. (1985, Rock Over London)


Well, are people clued in enough to pick up on all these sort of subtleties and allusions in your songs, generally, and to know what they mean? When you talk with people, by and large do they show a good understanding of the concepts?

You know, I think that the majority of the people really do. Yes, I really think they do. Because, if they bother to listen, then after about three or four times they start putting the words or the ideas together. And I mean the one that really amazed me, we did a video of `` Breathing'' and the idea was being in this huge inflatable; and I was at this conference somewhere and there were all these women in their forties and fifties, real Monty Python sort of women, and they all came up and said [Kate affects a strong london accent, which requires merely an exaggeration of her normal accent]: ``Oh, we loved your video!'' And then one of them says: ``But listen, you must tell me, I had this, you know, this argument with my daughter; you were meant to be in a womb, weren't you? I mean, that is what it was meant to be wasn't it? A womb?'' And I said yeah!

You mean she got it, it was true?

Yeah, she got it! And she said: ``There you are, didn't I tell you it was a womb.'' And I thought yeah, that's fantastic! I mean, I wouldn't have even expected her to sit and watch it...

But kate, I'd like to pick an argument with you. I must confess, I find it difficult to watch your performances, I think for a few reasons. It seems to me so much of your music flows right out from essence, so to speak, whereas all the acting, all the theatrics, by their very nature they're something artificial and contrived. Also, because there's often a more or less flagrant sexual element to your performance, the viewer is automatically thrust into the position of being a voyeur, and being a voyeur is not necessarily everyone's cup of tea. You know what I mean?

Wow, yeah, that's h-e-a-v-y. But I have only ever consciously projected the sexual element in a couple of characters, and if that's present for you in every performance, well, that is worrying for me, as it's not intentional and I'm not aware of it.

Well, be that as it may, I know just how seriously you've taken the art of performance, how you studied under lindsay kemp and all that. And I'm also aware how much effort and skill it takes; To act like that is not something just anybody could get up and do. Now I'm not sure to what extent my own perception is idiosyncratic, I mean to say, I do know people who love your performances. But, myself, I wonder - and here's where I'm trying to pick the argument - if all these theatrics might not detract from your potential for being taken seriously as a musician, especially in america.

It's a big problem. Because I don't think I've been completely happy with any visual performance that I've done except for `` Army Dreamers'' and perhaps `` Running Up That Hill.'' But they were videos which took a lot of time and work and control. Except for one I did recently of `` Running Up That Hill'' for a British TV show, where I look a bit like Richard III, there are no TV performances I've done where I think I've ever even got close to pulling it off. So, apart from those few things, but also the videos of `` Wuthering Heights'' and bits of `` Breathing,'' I don't think I've accomplished what I really wanted visually. Usually the problems are lack of time or money. We always have a lot of challenging ideas but then end up compromising somewhere or other in order to meet deadlines or budgets. But occasionally things do come together well. If anything, though, I think my performances help audiences understand the music better, especially the lyrical aspect, and the tour of Europe definitely caused a change in attitude both among the public and the media. Many people began to take me seriously as a musician for the first time. The audiences could see me there singing and dancing, leading the band and in control of the whole act. And that's quite different from the kind of controlled, far-away image that one gets through the media...

But in these performances, kate - and really they are what I wanted to talk about, not your videos - there are only a couple of songs which you yourself perform on the piano, usually one or two of the more gentle and intimate ones like `` the man with the child in his eyes.'' yet someone like me, at any rate, would like to see you as a performer, as a serious musician, singing at the piano and leading the band, which I know you could do very well if you wanted to. I told you earlier how the first time I saw kate bush was early on, around 1978, when you did two or three numbers in that manner on a tv show, and it was then that I recognized in an instant, that this young kid was an exceptional artist who had to be taken very seriously, I mean musically. am I right in thinking that one of the reasons you've never toured in the states is because you suppose you need this big show with all the people involved and all the expensive props? Do you not feel - and I suppose this is really what my argument comes down to - that you could come to america just with your band and play more or less straightforwardly?

I'd be able to feel that I had any effort or sense of challenge left in me. I don't really feel that happy doing something, in a way, unless I've really pushed myself to the limit. And, you know, it's like when we do videos and things, I don't really feel right unless we're all filthy and exhausted by the end of the day. Otherwise it doesn't feel like you've put enough effort into it. When you hear an album you listen to the music; but when you go and see a show, you're going there to see that person or the band come alive, and hopefully give you everything that they've got, so that you can really have a good evening and enjoy the music within the concept of a show. And I think, if I was just going to stand up there, then, you know, what are the audience getting apart from seeing me just standing there that they can't get on an album? On the albums, they get much better arrangements, much better vocals which are in tune, all that sort of thing... (1985, Musician)


Do a lot of your fans actually write and ask you about the meanings of your songs?

Um...No, I think most of them don't have to. I think they actually understand it, or if they don't, they still feel it and understand it; and that's really what it's all about. But I do get a lot of feedback from them and it's very important to me, and it's very interesting, as well, just to hear what strikes them, what they like. (1985, Homeground)


Do you think it's important that people know what the songs are about?

No, I think it can be interesting for people, but their interpretation is what matters, and I find it fascinating how people do seem to understand so much about a song that must be totally obscure and is so personal to me, but maybe they just feel it, they feel the emotions of the song, somehow grasp the meanings. It's so hard for me to tell because I know what it's about, but for example, some of the stuff on The Ninth Wave are so obscure lyrically, and yet people seem to know exactly what I'm trying to say. That's a great feeling. It stops me worrying about that aspect of songwriting - that someone somewhere knows exactly what you're trying to put into words. (1987, KBC 21)


Do you have favourite lyric-writers, as opposed to ``musical'' songwriters?

I'm not sure you can separate the two, because once a word is sung, it can completely change its feeling to the point where you don't recognise the word any more - for me that is part of the fascination. But my favourite lyric just now is ``The Boy in the Bubble'' by Paul Simon. The chorus of that is totally brilliant, particularly the line, ``The way we look to the distant constellation that is dying in the corner of the sky.'' It's poetry, but the impact is the combination of the words with the music, and the way he sings it - it's so good. But quite often I mishear lyrics, and prefer my version to the real words when I find them out. I know a lot of people who have the same experience, and again we're back to what music means to the listener, or how they hear it. Music is a very special thing. (1987, KBC 21)


My music can be a little obscure. It does worry me that the music might be too complicated for people to take in - that they have to work too hard at it. (1990, Los Angeles Times)


When people listen to your record, that's an audio experience; you don't necessarily want to see things. Like when you write a song: the person singing the song is a character. Although it might be you vocally, it's not yourself you are singing about, but that character. It's someone who is in a situation, so you treat it like a film. That's how I see songs. They are just like a little story: you are in a situation, you are this character. This is what happens. End. That's what human beings want desperately. We all love being read stories. And none of us get it anymore. 'Cause there's a television now instead. (1990, Musician)


It's impossible for me to know how other people hear my music. I think the wonderful thing about art is that it's all down to the receiver as to whether they like it or not, what they see in it, how they feel about it. It's a totally personal relationship between that piece of work and that person and a really special thing. I just continually think how extraordinary it is, really, that people do want to hear my stuff, especially when I take so long to make records, you know. (1989, Music Express)


How important is it to you that the person listening to your record understands what's going through your mind? Or do you mind if they have their own interpretations?

I think it's wonderful if they have their own interpretations. I think that's really important, although it matters to me that the lyrics are saying something, and I spend a lot of time on lyrics. They're very difficult. I think a lot of the power of lyrics is the sounds. The whole thing is just a combination of sounds and textures, and definitely different words have a different feeling that go with them. The way consonants mark things. It's a very percussive instrument, in a way, words. And I think that's what's very important, that they feel and sound right. (1989, Greater London)


There are so many musical cliches, and you're breaking them down. Using davey spillane's uillean pipes and dave gilmour's guitar and the trio, you've succeeded in creating a new, uncategorisable sort of music which isn't anything, it's just music. I think that's important, because it makes people open their ears to stuff. It enriches their lives.

Well, that's lovely. What a really nice thing to say. Um...I think everything seems too easy to categorise, and...I think that's just such a lovely thing to say...

It's like what you were saying about relationships - you've done it with music. You've given it time to grow, to see if it's compatible. And it sounds natural, not cosmetic.

Well, I think that's fantastic... that's just such a nice thing to say, that's really great...wonderful, absolutely wonderful. Because I think this is really what music is - a continual process of people experimenting, taking this and that and putting them together: all these experimental marriages. And when they work, I think that's such an important step, because then they've created a new music of a sort which then goes on to evolve.

And, if it doesn't work, that's absolutely fine, too, because that shows you what doesn't work. So, if you feel this is a natural union, that's really good. I suppose I'd like to think that, as long as I really care about making music, there will always be people out there who want to hear music that is cared for. (1989, Melody Maker)


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