Cloudbusting -- Kate
Bush In Her Own Words
I ask her what it's like to be paraded in the sun and
suchlike as the sex goddess of pop!
- Hmm. Y'see, you do a very straight interview with these people
without ever mentioning sex, but of course that's the only angle they write it
from when you read it. That kind of freaks me out because the public tend to
believe it... (1979, NME)
I recall charlie murray's less than enthusiastic review of her
palladium show... Csm reckons it was one of the most condescending gigs in the
history of music. Kate had read the review but she didn't break down.
- Just tell me one thing, SHE SAID IN NORMAL TONES. I mean, was he
actually at the show that night?
Yeah sure. I remember he told me he'd spent a week there one
- Oh well in that case, I guess that's just his opinion and he's
entitled to it. [Smiles] (1979, NME)
- I think the public have become conditioned to want to know who is
sleeping with who, or how many marriages somebody has had, but as far as I'm
concerned it's totally irrelevant. I'm really very normal and there is nothing
sensational to uncover. I wouldn't talk about some private things to my mother
so why should I to anyone else. (C.1980, Music is my life)
Out in out in, kate bush and today she's in. Kate bush live
in....kate, you have a lot to do now you came from holland you did some dates
here, some dates there, and of course the press is very interesting and I'm
sure that a lot of people think about you, they try to ask you some very
specific things what do you think about the questions from journalists. Because
you know just kate bush will be asked some very special things, not where you
were born, where you first got your first gibson guitar...
- Mmm, Well interestingly enough, I was saying to a journalist today
that all the interviews I've done today in Munich were incredible the questions
were very clever, very precise, they'd done all their research, they knew a
lot, and I really enjoyed talking to them. The standard was incredible and
compared to the English press, on average it was just superb, wonderful.
They care more about music and those things then about the person?
- Yes. And,that's what I'd like to talk about I love to talk about my
music because that's what I love. It gets very boring for me to sit and talk
about myself all the time you don't normally do that?
And they asked you whether you liked blond, tall boys and so on,
and so rubbish. Do you like them?
- Yeah! (1980, Unknown German
A surprisingly slight but strikingly attractive figure with a
direct gaze, clad in baggy jumper and jeans, kate bush is nothing like her
dreadful public image - that of a
breathless, squeaky-voiced girl whose vocabulary is limited to words like
``wow'' and ``incredible'' I wondered if she finds it disconcerting that people
have such a weird image of her.
- Oh yeah, and it worries me a bit, too. That image was something that
was created in the first two years of my popularity, though, when people
latched onto the fact that I was young and female, rather than a young female
- Now it's much easier for females to be recognised as that, because
there are more around, but when I started there was really only me and Debbie
Harry, and we got tied into the whole body thing. It was very flattering, but
not the ideal image I would have chosen.
Because people see that, rather than hear the songs...
- Right, and I've spent so much time trying to prove to those people
that there's more to me than that. Just the fact that I'm still around and my
art keeps happening should convince them.
- I can't go around all the time telling people where I'm at now. I
just have to hope that there are people who see the changes and change with me.
I think it was just that the media didn't know how to handle it, because it was
so unusual at the time.
Did you ever feel like you were being treated as a child prodigy?
- I felt that because I was so young people weren't taking me
seriously. They couldn't accept that I could be so involved in what I was
- I was very lucky, because when I left school I knew what I wanted to
do, and it worked out; and I suppose I did grow up fairly fast, because in a
way, I was working in an area two or three years ahead of myself. (1982,
So, kate, do you think your audience is restricted by these
prejudices against you?
- Yeah, I think I'm conscious of people doing that in certain areas,
because of the way they've seen me, and I think that's inevitable. I don't
blame them. It's really good for me to speak to other magazines.
It'd be good if people could see that you're doing stuff that's
pretty new, too. You could never mistake kate bush for anyone else.
- Oh, great. I'd like to think that, but it's not for me to say. When
you first come out, people say you're the new thing. then when you've been
around for two or three years you become old hat, and they want to sweep you
under the carpet as being MOR, which I don't feel I am from the artistic point
of view. It doesn't feel like MOR to me at all, although I
wouldn't call it Punk! Sometimes it's not even rock... I don't know, I think
it's wrong to put labels on music. Even Punk, that's really just a label for
convenience - it covers so many areas. I think sometimes it can actually kill
people, being put under labels. I think it's something that shouldn't be
encouraged. If people could just accept music as music and people as people,
without having to compare them to other things... which is something we
instinctively try to do.
The way you're presented in the press could alienate some people, I
- Don't you think any form of publicity alienates the person who is
not involved in it? I think that's part of the whole process. That's why I feel
that the good thing about albums and gigs and even radio is that you are
directly communicating with your audience, but with papers and appearances on
TV you're not really relating directly.
Does the bad criticism hurt you?
- No, I don't get hurt. I've read a few reviews of the album, an some
of them really couldn't stand me, probably much more than the album. In fact,
one guy didn't like me so much, he had to write four columns of ``I can't stand
Bush!'' That's cool. Sometimes I find it funny. I think a bad review is a good
omen in some papers.
At least that's a positive reaction.
- Yeah, if they really hate you, it's just as good as really liking
you. You're really getting under their skin so much that they've got to speak
about it. That's great! (1980, Zigzag)
The nme review said the album was all glossy dressing
and little else.
- Well, the other two albums were what I would call glossy, and I
could understand them saying that. I feel this one is the rawest it's been,
it's raw in its own context. I feel perhaps the guy just wouldn't let me in,
and that was the problem. He saw me as this chocolate-box-sweetie little thing
who has no reality in there, no meaning of life. That's cool, I really
understand that, but I like to think that people will let me in, and I'm lucky
to have so many who do.
- I think it's good for you to read reviews like that about yourself,
because they don't matter, and although people are going to read them, it's
good for you to realise in some ways that people can say anything they want
about you. It shouldn't matter what they say. I think the public are starting
to realise the hype in the media manipulation, the propaganda. I pick up papers
and read something about someone, and I start believing it, and then I realise,
``God, I'm doing just what other people are doing to me!'' I think journalism
could be such an art, and some people treat it as such. Others use it as an
extension of their egos. You get nothing out of reading it, other than this
thick blanket of: ``Me-e-e-e!'' (1980, Zigzag)
- The thing I don't like about NME is that it seems so
cynical... (1982, NME)
- I don't see myself as being a publicist for myself but a publicist
for my music.
Despite constant prying down the years and gaudy newspaper spreads,
kate is one of the few people who has managed to keep her private life
extremely private. There"s still a great air of mystery about her. Almost as if
she puts up an invisible barrier. Some people have said that before. The main
thing is that I don"t think enough about what I have to say. I don't say a lot,
and then when I do, I don't want to be misrepresented.
- There's been such a lot written about me by people who say they know
me, but who I've never met. I find that a great intrusion, a kind of violation.
To set the record straight, kate's working on her own book. She's
been scribbling away for two years.
- I'd like to write more, but time is always against me. Sometimes I
wish the world would stop. (1982, Robin Smith)
Twenty-three-year-old kate bush says publicity still makes her feel
weird. It comes from seeing just how much I have done over the last three
years. Sometimes I find it hard to understand people's interest in me. I hate
it when I feel that someone is just after the scandalous details. The most
important part of my life is my work. (1982, Company)
Everything she does, she says candidly, seems to get harder all the
time: Anyone who is under the illusion that things get easier as you grow older
is mistaken. One of the things that kate has found harder is sorting out
priorities. At the beginning of her fame she went with the whirl of the music
business, the glamour, the foreign tours, the tv appearances. But she soon
found that this lifestyle did not suit her. For one thing kate hates parties
("formal occasions tailor-made for people not to talk to each other"); For
another, she found that it made her easily tired because her need for
perfection drove her to work all night in order to be ready for a tv show.
- The worst thing is not being prepared; I have to know, before I go
on stage, exactly what I am going to do. Rehearsals may take hours but they
have to be done. AS A RESULT, AFTER JUST OVER A YEAR OF FAME AND WHEN NEW SONGS
WERE BEGINNING TO BE EXPECTED FROM THE STAR, SHE FOUND HERSELF EMOTIONALLY AND
PHYSICALLY DRAINED: Out of energy, ideas and inspiration.
Now, she says, I make sure I have time to do everything; I turn
down a lot of offers. I know that I need time for my family, my work, my
dancing, my practising. When she is working hard - and that means anything up
to fifteen hours a day in the studio - her home life is suspended. When I come
out of the studio, it is a bit like being released from prison. I feel like a
martian. In the past, I would have gone straight on to a tour, a stage show or
something. Now I decline the offers and spend time at home.
Home for kate bush means both her parents' house in kent and the
place that she and her brothers, paddy and john, have bought about seven miles
away. The location of the new house is a closely guarded secret [No longer
where kate herself lives] and they bought it so that trips up and down to
london would be easier. Home also means seeing her friends - some new ones from
the music business, some old ones from school days and from her brother's old
band, with whom kate used to sing before going solo. Finally, home means being
with her boyfriend, about whom she is understandably secretive.
- It's hard because my life is so unpredictable. He's an artist, by
the way, but not in the music business. [This is a rare instance where kate
has made an outright lie to the press. -ied] It's the one area of my life
that I really do consider private. And I can't keep it private
unless I keep it close. (1982, Kerrang!)
How important do you feel your image is?
- I've never really considered it to be that important, I suppose
because I've never really wanted to be pinned down into one specific category.
I like to think that my image moves with what I'm doing. In fact, image to me
lasts no longer than one song.
Though kate has assumed a variety of roles on stage and on video,
she's maintained a fairly low off-stage profile, which has almost created an
element of mystique about her. Does she agree?
- Maybe...but I don't consider myself mysterious as a person.
Aside from selective interviews and carefully monitored press pix,
we rarely get a glimpse of the real kate bush, and one suspects that she
prefers to communicate through her music. Certainly, she's never been one to
encourage publicity through her social activities.
- Well, I'm not that sort of person. I don't like to just go to
parties to be noticed by the media and things like that. I prefer to just keep
to my own circle of friends.
How well has she managed to get on with the press?
- On the whole, fairly positively, I'd say. Although I may have been
misrepresented, and there have been situations where I've felt that critics
haven't taken me seriously. But to me it's the art that matters.
Is it because kate's a woman that she might not have been taken
- Quite possibly... but then again, if you're female, then it's up to
you to prove yourself. The whole thing with critics anyway, is that they're
very fashion-conscious. To me, fashion is a bit like a hit single: it's
incredibly transient. I've never found it very attractive, and I believe that
music isn't fashion, but an expression of emotion. (1984, Women of Rock)
- I think
it's really sad if a journalist is sent along to interview someone they don't
really want to talk to, SHE SAID FIRMLY. I believe that journalists are the
channel of communication between an artist and the public. But some rock
writers seem to think that they are more important than that... I've read some
really negative things about lovely people, and I think that's unfair. I don't
like set questions either. I prefer to have a chat, so that we are just two
humans communicating - and letting the public into the room with us. (1982,
One thing is puzzling bitz. We've been ``rapping'' for some time
now, and kate hasn't said ``amazing'' or ``wow'' once.
- No, I haven't. I think they call it aversion therapy, don't they? I
think one changes words that one found interesting at the time. And that was a
long time ago. And you chappies are so fond of
pulling up things that happened a long time ago.
Ahem, yes. So, kate, what words do you find interesting these days?
- "Interesting.'' That's an interesting word... And ``boomerang'' ..
- I've read so many extraordinary things about myself, such
preconceptions... SHE RAISES LARGE, LIMPID EYES TO THE CEILING AND SMILES A
DIMPLED SMILE. Really, my only concern is to separate home life from business.
When people intrude on personal matters it's hard to be creative. (1985,
What Kate Bush Did
I understand you don't do many interviews.
- That's right.
Why is that?
- I find it very difficult to express myself in interviews. Often
people have so many preconceptions that I spend most of the interview trying to
defend myself from the image that was created by the media eight years ago.
That is understandable to a certain extent - that's when I did most of my
interviews, and I think the image was created by what the press felt the public
wanted, how they interpreted me as I was then, and how I projected myself at
You mean like saying ``wow", ``amazing", and that you were weak and
- Yes, that is part of it. I was very young, idealistic and
enthusiastic about so much then, but I felt they exaggerated these qualities.
And I was - and am even more so now - a private person, and perhaps because I
wouldn't talk about these areas of my life they turned to the ``wow",
``amazing'' girl, even when I didn't use those words. The few interviews I do,
people still seem to dwell on this old ``me", and I find it disappointing when
I want to talk about my current work.
Do you , like, er, think enthusiasm was an unfashionable thing,
particularly at this time, when punk and street cred were the ``hip'' thing?
- Yes, I do. I think it still is, particularly in this country. But I
think clever people hide their unfashionable faces from the public. Perhaps in
a way, I was too open with the press, maybe I should have ``performed'' for
them, and puked and gobbed at the cameras, but it's not my
nature, I was brought up too well. The
interviews I've sat through patiently, sometimes hanging onto my patience with
the skin of my teeth, thinking it's good for my tolerance and might make me a
But you do occasionally talk to the press?
- Yes. There are good people to talk to, they're not always talking
about the past, or deliberately trying to make you look like an idiot, and are
genuinely interested in my work. But it's like I said, I find it hard to
express myself in interviews. It depends how I feel - sometimes they're fun,
especially if I know the journalist, and the questions are interesting - they
make you think about areas you might not have even considered before. But
sometimes I find myself saying things just to please them, or just to give a
question an answer. Sometimes I get verbal diarrhoea and just burble complete
rubbish, and sometimes I feel so guarded that I invert, and feel like a trapped
animal. Quite often I go over an interview in my head afterwards and realise
I've said something completely contrary to what I believe, but I put most of it
down to being quite a private person, and being someone who likes to think
carefully about how I say something. Words are very special things, and are so
easily misinterpreted - I much prefer to write lyrics than do an interview. I
feel I'm a songwriter, not a personality, and I find it difficult to even talk
about my songs, sometimes. In a way, they speak for themselves, and the
subjects or inspirations can be so personal, or just seem ridiculous when
spoken about. (1987, KBC
- It's difficult. In interviews I talk complete rubbish most of the
time, SHE PROTESTS WITH A BAFFLED EXPRESSION. People ask you questions and I
don't know what I'm talking about. You're just kind of working through your
thought processes a lot of the time. That's the thing about writing songs. You
can think very carefully about what you want to say, but words are such a
powerful thing. Our language is beautiful but incredibly ambiguous, isn't it?
It's very hard to say what you mean. Is that what you mean?
- And for people to completely understand what you mean. You might
easily think they do, but actually they've taken it completely the other way,
and they just wouldn't say. So much of our communication deals with words when
half the time we don't actually know what the other person meant at all. We
think we do, and they think we do, so again it's just continual
misunderstanding. (1989, The
- There's not that much known about me, and what is known is so
diverse... There have been at least five books out. It's a continual problem
for me dealing with people's preconceptions of me. It's very difficult to get
people to take me as I am. That's why I want my work to speak for me. Because
that's what comes from my heart. (1990, RS)
- In England over the years,
I've had alot of trouble with the interviews I've done because they haven't
wanted to talk about my music. That's what I don't like. I feel that interviews
should talk about my music and not me, not my life. The other thing is that I
don't want to publicize myself personally. This is not why I do it. I want to
publicize my work and my music. There is a fine line anyway, because obviously
a person's work is an expression of what they are as a person. But I don't know
if it matters what the person is like. (When I read an interview of an artist,)
I don't want to know what they do on weekends, I want to hear and see their
work. (1990, Option)
Given her desire to be taken seriously, and the obvious control she
now exerts over her own career, it has always seemed curious that a woman
identified as kate bush did a nude spread in penthouse
international magazine (not released in the u.s.) in the 1970s, samples
of which have subsequently appeared as bootleg covers. [This is just bad
journalism: The penthouse spread did not identify the
woman in question as ``kate bush", but as ``kate simmons,'' since the woman did
not really resemble kate closely anyway, there is no excuse for dredging up
this nonsense again - and particularly no excuse for the following exchange,
which gives the appearance that kate herself is somehow
responsible for the incident. - ied]
- No, I didn't, SHE SAYS, SUDDENLY DRAWING UP HER DEFENSES.
"Well, what was it then?'' I ask.
- It was someone who looks like me. I have never done anything like
that. All I know is there is a look-alike who's done spreads in magazines, and
I presume this is what you're talking about, because I have never taken my
clothes off publicly for anyone. I am offended that you should think it's me,
SHE ADDS, WITH A TINGE OF ANGER LINGERING IN HER VOICE. I would not do that.
Cloudbusting / Subjects / The Press