Cloudbusting -- Kate
Bush In Her Own Words
Kate insists that she isn't exploiting her sexuality: That's a very
obvious image. I suppose the poster is
reasonably sexy just 'cause you can see my tits, but I think the vibe from the
face is there. The main thing about a picture is that it should create a vibe.
Often you get pictures of females showing their legs with a very plastic face.
I think that poster projects a mood.
But what about the album cover in which you're showing your legs
with a vengeance?
- The picture is creating a feeling of flying and movement. If you're
up in the sky you're gonna be free. It would look a bit weird if I had a dirty
great black serge coat on.
Again, one of the hand out-pics is particularly sexy - with kate
drawing attention to her crotch.
- That came from a seven hour photo session where the photographer and
I was trying to produce a vibe. It had to be a relevant one. A nice, simple,
obvious one for me is that fact that I do dance, so we got a load of leotards
and just did that, but still trying to create a vibe. Not necessarily a sexy
one - although I will agree with you that it is - but from now on we're taking
a more subtle approach.
So there'll be no more suggestive shots?
- I don't know. It's hard to say. I don't really think it's important.
I think I'm going to have trouble because people tend to put the sexuality
first. I hope they don't. That's what I'm trying to fight.
- I want to be recognised as an artist. (1978, NME)
How do you
plan to promote the album then?
- Well, I'm doing general promotion. And I do feel that there's
something about records, because it's music it has its own life. And there are
people that are totally unknown and the single goes out, well it happened with
me I was unknown, `` Wuthering Heights'' went out, I didn't really do any
promotion until it was up there. Songs have their own life and I think they do
whatever they want. You can have all the forces you want against a song going
but if it's needed to get there, it will. It does its own thing.
And when it comes down to it, it really is just the black vinyl
that the song....
- I think it is. And if people want to hear the music then the record
does it by itself. (1980, Never For
Do you choose all the photos of you that appear in magazines?
- No, I don't. It does depend on the magazine, but most like take at
least one of their own at the time of the interview, and if they have room for
more photos, we supply them with our favourite shots. (1984, KBC 16)
As somebody who is involved in making records, you are also
involved in creating a product and to an extent, kate bush becomes a commodity.
How do you feel about that?
- Yes, that is something that does scare me. If you want to make
records, videos, you have got to have
money, and to get that money you have to have albums that are relatively
successful. You have to promote them. And that's where I feel the commodity
side comes in, because as soon as the personality seeps into it rather than the
work, you're making that person vulnerable to the public. I don't like that.
I'd much rather work on albums, videos, and explore films and that, without
having to promote them. I find it difficult, I feel false. It's very against
what I feel is right.
- I think sometimes the work speaks much better than the person does.
I certainly feel mine does. Because I can spend a lot of time trying to say
something, and I don't feel that I am good enough at what I am doing
now to really warrant doing it, other than for selling my work.
And I think sometimes it can go against the work: the personality can almost
Can you give an example of that?
- Preconceptions can cause problems, and I think, say some of the
press I got a while ago was very flippant. And I felt that, to a
certain extent, did work against what I was trying to do. It created an
impression of me that wasn't really what I was, and perhaps gave that
impression to people who could have seen me in a different way.
You can't escape the fact that this is the century of mass
communication, and the whole way in which the media work is through creating
resonances off one another. To me, it's part of the excitement.
- I suppose if we start talking about someone else, I can
automatically relate to what you are saying. I am curious about what made Sting
write ``Message in a Bottle.'' But at the same time I can see things that have
happened to other people, where it would have been better if that area of their
personality hadn't been aired.
The initial poster promoting your first album was a close-up shot
of you in a leotard. That caused quite a bit of controversy at the time. What's
your view, retrospectively, of that?
- I didn't really see it objectively at that time, and I think now,
when I see it, it's quite embarrassing - but I suppose that's because I'm a
long way away from it. I don't think it had too many sexual connotations - I
thought it was rather nice at the time.
But why do you find it embarrassing now? Is it the fact that you
can see your breasts through the vest?
- Yes, it should have been cropped, and I think that's something that
we would certainly do now. It's not necessary, it's just something that I
didn't see then. Looking at it retrospectively, I can see that it was
At the same time, there is a projection of sexuality through the
photos on the latest album.
- Do you think so, on this album cover?
Yeah, I suppose it begins with the fact that you're in a sleeping
- Yes, you are right. That was very difficult. Because the album is
called Hounds of Love, and it was very difficult trying to get a picture of
myself with dogs that wouldn't look either like something out of Country
Life or too period - it was impossible. The original idea
was just to have the three heads - myself and a dog each side of me, but it
just didn't work. The dogs wouldn't stay still! It was ridiculous, and the only
way we could do it was to lie down with them and just get them to relax enough
so that they would sort of ZZZzzz! And that was the way it worked. But I
suppose you're right, though it wasn't initially or consciously thought of as a
sexual thing at all. In fact it's something - I have become I think a bit - It
worries me anytime I think there is any kind of sexual connotation: ``My God!
Should I be careful?..."
But why does that worry you so much?
- I don't know. It confuses me. It's really annoying, too, because I
don't see what's wrong with having sexuality, with recognising the sexual
quality of things. But I suppose it confuses me because when I am doing things
at the time, maybe people will say ``That's sexy,'' and I can't relate to it. I
can't see myself sexually - I just see me being silly. I can't be objective
In a funny way, there's quite a strange kind of sexuality that
comes across through all your photography. For example, the second album, where
you are in the lion's costume.
- Yes, it didn't occur to me again - it really didn't - until people
started saying ``Oooh!'' And I couldn't see it.
I suppose it's - on an entirely crude level with hounds of love,
the implication is of consorting with animals...
- Yes, I see, Hounds of Love, definitely. It's fascinating, I think,
the idea of humans becoming animals. Like the guy in An American Werewolf
in London - It's really the first time it's been done well, isn't it,
the idea of a man actually transferring into an animal. It's got a wonderful,
very primeval, magical sense about it. And I suppose that dividing line - We
are animals but we are different, we are much more intelligent - There is a
separation but there isn't. It can be really disturbing, I think, really scary.
When you see an image, you automatically read meanings into it.
There are certain connotations that are unavoidable, and implicit. The latest
sleeve: I would have thought lying with two dogs asleep, entitled the hounds of
love [Sic], connecting the two you have created quite a definitive...
- Yes. I think Hounds of Love is very obvious- quite a lot of people
have suggested that. But when you think of it in terms of the song it's
completely different. It's the sense of the ``hounds'' of love: the hound
symbolically representing that force. You're terrified of it so you run, but it
keeps coming after you, and you're terrified that when it catches you, it's
going to hurt you.
But if you interpret that on a subconscious level, what does it
- On a subconscious level! What are we getting into, Freud?
Well, why not?
- I haven't gone that far. It was an image, the idea of being scared.
Instead of this force of man, it was a pack of hounds.
But what are people afraid of? People are afraid of sex. People are
fascinated by it, but it does also have the quality of inspiring fear. And
particularly if it's with somebody or something which isn't an accepted part of
everyday situations. So it's to do with temptation, and once you commit the
sin, everything is actually fine - because that's what people experience in
relation to sexuality. [Huh?]
- I suppose you're right. I suppose the fear of relationships is what
it's about, but obviously it's dealing with a man and woman, and that does have
to do with sexual energy. (1985, Hot
How do you feel about being, shall we say, marketed like in the pop
music world, when it seems like you obviously put a lot more care into things
than your average three minute pop song person?
- I don't know if I feel like I'm marketed. I think you make an album
and the outlets for it - there are no other outlets for it, really. A lot of
things go into that chart that are very diverse. It's a very versatile chart,
and more so than the name suggests, really. (1985, Picture Disk)
- I feel that it's important for me to retreat and to... I don't see
myself as a famous person, as a personality. It's really just me pushing my
work. You know, I have to kinda promote my work, not me. So as soon as the work
has been promoted then I can go back to doing the work and not promoting it. So
I tend not to get involved in a lot of areas of the business and just sort of
stay quiet until I've got another album out. [Laughs] (1989, Rapido)
What you've achieved musically is pretty incredible too - the way
you can do exactly what you want exactly when you want without anyone
interfering. You're very much admired for your independence, and most of the
women I know who aspire to make a living making music would rather be you than,
- Oh, really! Ha!
You seem to live the life you want to, almost in a world of your
own, whereas Madonna's constantly
playing corporate games. She has to compete, you don't.
- I think I'm incredibly lucky to be in this position now, although
it's not something I'm aware of without people sparking off my realisation. I
think Madonna's very clever, and I think
she's very aware of what she's doing, don't you? I think that's the game she
wants to play, and she seems to have her heart stuck on being an actress, and
absolutely good luck to her because she's really... talk about on the front
line! She's such an exposed person. I would find that so difficult to live
- I guess I have fought for what I want, but you always have to do
that. I am very lucky. But it's hard to keep up that level of concern,
particularly when you feel the music business becoming very mercenary - there
are so many things that encourage you to abuse it. It's so horrid. It's such a
shame. (1989, Melody
Madonna's way - I don't
think that's me, really. (1985, ZigZag)
- A large part of this business is so false, isn't it? You hear such a
lot about the rock 'n' roll life-style, but I really don't know what that is
about any more. The showbusiness life has simply never appealed to me. I wasn't
attracted to the music business by the idea of wearing a black leather mini and
getting legless at all the right parties every night. What I wanted to do was
make music. That's all I want to do now. (1989, You)
- Yeah, I'm tremendously lucky. The amount of freedom I have is
extraordinary. And yet, it's still not enough. Because I don't think you can
ever have enough time to create. You can be creating all the time. But just the
way our lives work, the way the system works, there continually have to be big
breaks in creating. Do you know what I mean? (1990, Option)
Cloudbusting / Subjects / Promotion