KT Cloudbusting -- Kate Bush In Her Own Words

Rhythm Machines/Drums

How did you get on with rhythm machines?

It took me quite a while to get used to working with them because they seemed very limiting. I like rhythms to ``move", especially in the ballad songs where the tempo would ebb and flow with the words, stopping and slowing down as necessary. Suddenly, having to work with a very strict rhythm, I found it almost impossible at first to tie myself down to the rigid beat. Once I had got used to this, I found that I could work in between the beats. (1982, Electronics Music Maker)


The Dreaming was really my first move into production by myself. So it the first time I could try things that I didn't feel brave enough to do before. There was a lot of weight on the drummers, and they were fabulous because it was very difficult for them. I was trying to get them to do things they had never done before. They were wonderful.

By the time we were getting on to Hounds of Love, being in our own studio, and working with Del, I think the rhythms took on a more solid feeling. There was a tremendous amount of experimenting going on in The Dreaming, and it was great. It was more controllable doing the rhythms from, say, a Fairlight or a Linn drum machine and then getting a drummer in. That way, what we found was that we started getting an interaction built where the drum machine would have a nice strong mechanical feel which works for tracks a lot. Then you add a very human feel to the same song by putting a drummer in there with it. That's the technique we've carried on with, and obviously the more we work together the more we're developing that process. (1990, Option)


Kate's always used a wide variety of musicians on her records, but drummer stuart elliot seems to have been there from the beginning, even though he sometimes shares the drum stool with charlie morgan.

He's the only one that's worked on every album - he's lovely work with. I think it's good to keep that long term relationship. He's so easy to work with because he knows what I'm like. Occasionally I even ask him to use cymbals on a track now! He's been through that whole stage where I just couldn't handle cymbals or hi hats. Now that I'm actually using them again he can't cope.

I always found them something that we used too much. I felt they were leant on too much. It held the music down in such a specific way. They're very marked. Not using them is just a way of opening up the music, I think. I learnt a lot from it. It's always been, ``this is the drum kit, so let's use it.'' I always found that extraordinary. But I think now that I've taken that break from it, I see it very differently.

Even though both stuart and charlie get to contribute on most tracks, the sensual world features more programmed drums than earlier recordings.

We replace a lot, but there's a lot that's still there. We used the Fairlight for the drums this time, and because the quality was so much better we could keep them all. It's just the last album, with the Linn patterns, they had to be much more disguised because they sounded like a Linn machine. We had much more finished drum tracks to work with - that caused some problems. They were so good that I didn't want to get in and replace them at an early stage like on the last album. I had to be quite brutal and get drummers to just get in there and throw bits of the Fairlight away, just to give it different levels. On the next track, ``HeadsWe'reDancing", it was all based around the Fairlight pattern that Del did, which is the basis of the whole song. The only thing I think we replaced was the snare.

Why bother?

Because I think it gives it a human feel, even though he's got to stay in with the machine. There's still a certain amount of movement, and there's all this human energy. I even believe that the sounds a drummer makes can be part of the track - they all make sounds, sing along while they're playing, grunting... It puts air in there. It's nice to get someone else's input as well.

I like to use real musicians - it's so exciting. Machines are great but you can get such great feedback from people when they think they're working on something intimate. Things you'd never think of. Like Mick Karn's bass on ``HeadsWe'reDancing'' puts such a different feel to the song. I was really impressed with Mick - his energy. He's very distinctive - so many people admire him because he stays in that unorthodox area, he doesn't come into the commercial world - he just does his thing. (1989, International Musician)


Gaffaweb / Cloudbusting / Subjects / Rhythm Machines / Drums