KT Cloudbusting -- Kate Bush In Her Own Words

Paddy Bush

You're kate's brother aren't you.

Paddy: [Smiles] yeah, afraid so.

Is it a sort of a bit of a family business, really?

Paddy: Um, well yes and no. I mean like, kate and I have been making music together for years and years, on different levels, you know. But I mean, there's always been music in our family. My older brother john, he played. And I was in a band with him when I was about thirteen or fourteen. (1979, Kate Bush on Tour)


On different album tracks you've featured not only irish musicians but also an array of other ethnic sounds. Does this betray a lot of your own listening? Are you listening to a lot of pretty far-out stuff, music for example of aboriginal, oriental, or comparable ethnic origin, and deliberately seeking to integrate that into your own music?

No, I don't think I am really. There was a period when I used to listen to certain ethnic music. But I don't think I was ever really an avid listener. Paddy is much more of an avid listener to ethnic stuff, he listens to it nearly all the time.

Paddy: Yes, I take ethnic music very seriously and collect the instruments and the music.

And is it then you who's responsible when you add one of those instruments to one of kate's tracks, is it you who's conceived of what is possible there?

Paddy: Normally, yes, when it comes to unusual or ethnic instruments. Because that is what I am interested in. I come in with the suggestion for such and such an instrument. Kate then listens to it in the context of the track and if she likes it, it stays; If she doesn't I try and find something different.

Paddy, maybe you'd give a quick sketch of your career as a musician prior to your involvement with your sister.

Paddy: Well, I suppose it all started off initially because there's always been so much music in our family. Our mother comes from a very musical family, all her brothers, I.e. Our uncles, played on accordians and fiddles and stuff. So music was something we were always exposed to as young kids and we were always hearing irish dance music, which has been very special to me ever since. But my initial involvement in music came when I used to play for an english morris dance team. I used to play the concertina, and the anglo-chromatic concertina. I did that for a very long time and worked for the english folk dance and song society. The society's image is one of lady dance-teachers sat at pianos with children prancing about. But, basically, at that time, it was the only source of broad-spectrum information concerning folk music. So I used to play for their morris dance team, not a very big nor a very popular team really, but that was where my earliest experience of performing came from. We used to work a lot in folk clubs and, at that particular time in the sixties, the folk revival was happening in england and out of it came several thousand lps that are almost all unavailable and forgotten by now, but some of the stuff was just incredible, and that was our source material until I started getting involved in irish dance music. It's crazy! I happened to go to school, here in england, with a guy called kevin burke, who's considered the best fiddler in ireland. I was just walking past this classroom one day, and there was this geezer in there doing this absolutely incredible sligo fiddle playing. I'd never heard anything like it, I mean, it was a delirious kind of music! And then, from all that, my interest in musical instruments just grew and grew to the point where I tried to seek an apprenticeship with a musical instrument maker, actually with a harp maker at that particular time, 'cause I was interested in learning how to play all the things. So I looked for an apprenticeship for nearly two years - that would have been when I was between about eighteen and twenty - but I couldn't find anybody at all interested in taking me on. But then eventually, towards the mid-1970s, I discovered a place in london that was offering a course in musical instrument technology, not just on one instrument, but on everything. I mean literally, piano tuning, violin making, harpsichord building, keyboards, ethnic musicology with jean jenkings, and so on. And it seemed too good an opportunity to miss. So I went and studied at this college, the london college of furniture in shoreditch, for three years and became a musical instrument technologist specializing in mediaeval musical instruments.

And you were still playing around folk clubs during those years?

Paddy: Oh, yes, certainly. Folk music - it's very, very hard to give any sort of adequate description of what folk music can mean to you if you're not yourself completely involved in it. It's more like a way of life. It can't stop. It's like swimming, once you've learned the art you can't go and forget how to do it. You know, somebody goes ``dum-dee-diddle-dee-dum-dee-da'' (paddy breaks into an irish jig) and you're off! It instantly makes sense! If you're born into a tradition of playing some particular kind of music, you can branch out into all kinds of other music. But the tradition is something that's always there and just never, never falls apart. So, in my case, the folk tradition was constantly there. but my major interest in broad-spectrum musical instruments just grew and grew and grew. And being at that college was the perfect place to pursue it...

So then you came out of that into helping kate?

Paddy: Well, I struggled by myself for a time as an artist, an artist of weirdness. I had a couple of exhibitions of some things that I'd made during that time. You see, towards the end, my course in musical instrument making became very curious and strange, I started making instruments with arms and legs and out of very unorthodox materials; And instruments that didn't play and which demonstrated other sorts of principles. I had an exhibition at the whitechapel art gallery and sold a couple of things, there was a great deal of interest, but not much success! Then one day kate said, ``do you want to join the band?'' (1985, Musician)


Even from your lionheart album days there's been a noticeable interest in unusual instruments: Panpipes, mandocello, strumento da porco, sitar, koto, balalaika, harmonica, recorders, and musical saw.

Yes, that's because Paddy Bush, who has played on my albums, has made a lot of instruments since he studied at the London College of Furniture, specializing in mediaeval instruments. Whenever he finds an instrument that doesn't appear to exist that he likes - he'll make one, and learn to play it. Consequently, it ends up on one of my tracks!

Sounds are very important to me, and I think there are a lot of standard instruments that don't actually sound that emotional or that interesting, which is why it's really nice to have the flavours of these other instruments. In so many cases they are not used any more, and that means people don't recognize them, giving an air of mystery to the music. (1982, Electronics Music Maker)


Is Paddy married, and if not would he marry my friend?

No, he's not married, but I'll add your friend's name to the list (number 759). (1984, KBC 16)


*Paddy: Yeah, I am kate bush fan, I have everything she does. [Applause] but I'm not on the collecting side - I haven't got any kate bush t-shirts... Purely into the music. (1985, Romford Kate Bush Convention - Paddy and Jay interview)


*Do you have a favorite kate bush song?

Paddy: For me. Yes, yes...it's `` get out of my house", really, was my favorite track. I think if alfred hitchcock ever made hit singles [Laughter from audience]... And I love it, I love the energy that it deals with. It's fantastic. And paul hardiman's vocals on the very beginning of it I think are, to me, one of the most fantastic things thats ever been recorded. I used to go into fits of extascy when we listened to the multi-track tapes of that and those opening ``eoyores'' .. I love that track. (1985, Romford Kate Bush Convention - Paddy and Jay interview)


Your brother plays and sings on the album and your father contributes dialogue on one song. Do you feel the need to be protected by your family?

It's not a matter of protection, but getting the best music. There's no one else I could work with on this level except my brother. He's been very influential over the years. He's introduced me to interesting ethnic and traditional music. Most of the time it's myself and Del. I like to work with musicians who I've worked with before. (1989, Network)


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