Interviews & Articles


Radio 1
Classic Albums interview: Hounds Of Love
with Richard Skinner
aired January 26, 1992

To the Reaching Out (Interviews) Table of Contents

From: Scott Telford <s.telford@ed.ac.uk>
Date: Sun, 26 Jan 1992 08:16:33 -0800
Subject: Radio 1 Classic Albums interview HoL (26/1/92)

This was one of the best interviews I've heard (even if the interviewer did refer to "*The* Hounds of Love" 8^). KaTe was relaxed, witty, giggly and generally altogether wonderful.

Much of what she said, she had said before (the story behind "Cloudbusting", "A Deal with God" being retitled, etc) but she did say some things I hadn't heard before:

"The Morning Fog" *does* represent the rescue of the character - although she admitted this wasn't explicit. I suppose "The light.../Begin to bleed/Begin to breathe..." does sound like someone's senses returning after being rescued from a state of sensory deprivation...

The steam train effect at the end of "Cloudbusting" wasn't actually a steam train (it was Del and a Fairlight whistle sample) and was included mainly to mask the various instruments petering out inconclusively at the end, and also to symbolize some sort of "arrival".

No transcription yet, but if nobody else is feeling dweebish enough (only joking guys! 8^), I might get round to it eventually.


Date: Mon, 27 Jan 1992 02:40:37 -0800
From: Clive Backham <mcdd1!clive@EDDIE.MIT.EDU>
Subject: Re: Radio 1 Classic Albums interview (26/1/92)

In addition to Scott's information about Kate's Radio 1 interview, she also explicitly said that "Mother" is about a woman protecting her SON. I seem to recall some debate about whether this song was written from a man's point of view (eg. can a "murderer" be a woman?, etc). Mind you, it always seemed more obvious than that to me, considering the line "Mother will hide the madman".

BTW, I have a recording of the interview (with the album tracks themselves edited out); there's about 20 minutes of talk, 95% of which is Kate. If anyone would like me to make a copy and post it to them, I will be happy to do so, just email me.

- Clive


From: rhill@netlink.cts.com (Ron Hill)
Date: Thu, 20 Feb 1992 00:39:07 -0800
Subject: Radio 1 Classic Albums interview HoL (26/1/92)

I've typed in the "Classic Albums" interview from last month (taped the middle of last year). Thanks to Clive Backman for supplying me with it.

It is, to me, THE BEST Hounds of Love interview EVER! She somehow manages to say new things about every track and it's blown away everyone I've read stuff from it to. It's 20 minutes long (20 minutes = 20k) and I'll post it when everything gets back to normal.

In the meantime, maybe we can have some disccusion as to what is in the interview (be interesting to have a discussion where the answer is known). Perhaps people's answers would be more interesting then Kate's.

Here are some questions:

1) What exactly is the "little light" in the song?

2) Who was the deal with God originally going to be made with?

3) Aside from dying, whats the most terrifying thing about the whole Ninth Wave experience?

4) What else could the Cloudbuster do aside from make it rain?

5) Where did the steam sound at the end of Cloudbusting come from, and why is it there?

And my (unanswered) question is, what would they have offered God, in "the deal"?


From BBC Radio 1

January 25, 1992

This interview was actually recorded around the middle of 1991, making it one of only two known interviews she did that year.

Kate sounds very enthusiastic during the interview, and manages to convey some very interesting new information about the album she's talked the most about. In fact, this is probably the BEST interview on the album, it's one of only three (along with the KBC and HOMEGROUND interviews) where she goes track by track over each song.

[Transcribed by Ron Hill, thanks to Clive Backham for supplying me with the tape.]

A: ... for the start of a new series of Classic Albums, introduced by Richard Skinner.

A: It's a music business cliche that the second album is the difficult one. The truth is that they all are, especially when the singer writes the songs and produces the record as well. The album we're about to hear was the artist's fifth, and it certainly wasn't easy. The year is 1985, and our classic album is the Hounds of Love [sic].

A:...for the next hour, is Kate Bush.

K: I think it was probably the most difficult stage I've been at so far. Because The Dreaming, the album before... I'd never produced an album before that one. And because it had a lot of unfavorable attention from some people, I think it was felt that me producing Hounds of Love wasn't such a good idea. And for the first time I felt I was actually meeting resistance artistically. I felt the album had done very well to reach number three, but I felt under a lot of pressure and I wanted to stay as close to my work as possible. And everyone was saying "Oh, she really's gone mad now." You know, "hey, listen to this, it's a really weird record." But it was very important that it happened to me because it made me think, "Right. Do I really want to produce my own stuff?" You know, "Do I really care about being famous?" And I was very pleased with myself that, no, it didn't matter as much as making a good album.

So we started Hounds of Love in our own studio, and I started to find out an awful lot of things that I wouldn't have realized otherwise. I relaxed tremendously within my own environment, for a start. And also, on The Dreaming, because I was working in such an experimental way, the studio costs were becoming absolutely phenomenal, and I really don't think I could have afforded to have made Hounds of Love in a commercial setup. So, here I was in a situation of having as much creative control, really, as I could ever ask for.

["Running Up That Hill" is played in the background]

K: I had an idea of what I wanted to say in the song and I actually asked Del to write me a drum pattern, and he wrote this great pattern in the drum machine. So I just put the Fairlight on top of it and that was the basis of the song, with the drone [drum ???], which played quite an important part.

[The song continues]

K: I was trying to say that, really, a man and a woman, can't understand each other because we are a man and a woman. And if we could actually swap each others roles, if we could actually be in each others place for a while, I think we'd both be very surprised! [Laughs] And I think it would be lead to a greater understanding. And really the only way I could think it could be done was either... you know, I thought a deal with the devil, you know. And I thought, "well, no, why not a deal with God!" You know, because in a way it's so much more powerful the whole idea of asking God to make a deal with you. You see, for me it is still called "Deal With God", that was it's title. But we were told that if we kept this title that it wouldn't be played in any of the religious countries, Italy wouldn't play it, France wouldn't play it, and Australia wouldn't play it! Ireland wouldn't play it, and that generally we might get it blacked purely because it had "God" in the title. Now, I couldn't believe this, this seemed completely ridiculous to me and the title was such a part of the song's entity. I just couldn't understand it. But none the less, although I was very unhappy about it, I felt unless I compromised that I was going to be cutting my own throat, you know, I'd just spent two, three years making an album and we weren't gonna get this record played on the radio, if I was stubborn. So I felt I had to be grown up about this, so we changed it to "Running Up That Hill". But it's always something I've regretted doing, I must say. And normally I always regret any compromises that I make.

"Hounds of Love". Well, again this was written at home, this was an early song. And it was inspired in some ways by this old black and white movie that is a real favorite of ours, called Night of the Demon. It's all about this demon that appears in the trees. And the line at the top of the song "It's in the trees, it's coming" is actually taken from the film. Morris Demon [??? spelling] is the guy that sang it.

[The song is played]

When I was writing the song I sorta started coming across this line about hounds and I thought "hounds of love" and the whole idea of being chasing by this love that actually gonna... when it get you it just going to rip you to pieces, [raises voice] you know, and have your guts all over the floor! So this very sort of... being hunted by love, I liked the imagery, I thought it was really good.

"Big Sky" was very difficult to write. I knew what I wanted to finish up with, but I didn't seem to be able to get there! We had three different versions and eventually it just kind of turned into what it did, thank goodness.

[The song is played]

That was really about... you know the thing of when - I used to do it a lot when I was a kid, we'd go out somewhere and sit up and look at the sky. And if you watch the clouds long enough, they take on different shapes, you can see dinosaurs in them, or castles. And at the time I was writing this album, we were living in the country and my keyboards and stuff were in this room overlooking a valley and I'd sit and watch the clouds rolling up the hill towards me. And there is a lot of weather on this album. The countryside was a big inspiration at this time, and it's always changing, it's a very different perspective from living in the city, sometimes you hardly see the sky above the buildings at all.

A: "The Big Sky." Kate had first used a Fairlight on her third album Never For Ever and by the time she made Hounds of Love it had become a key element in the creative process.

K: I'd say with this album, that most of the songs were written on Fairlight and synths and not piano, which was moving away really from the earlier albums, where all my material was written on piano. And there is something about the character of a sound - you hear a sound and it has a whole quality of it's own, that it can be sad or happy or... And that immediately conjures up images, which can of course help you to think of ideas that lead you on to a song. So everything is crucial for trying to find some direction with inspiration, and really sounds, now, I think are pieces of gold for people, you know. A good sound is worth a lot, artistically. [Laughs]

Quite often I find synthetic sounds create a coldness, that if the track is lonely or sad or dark, sometimes you want that kind of coldness, that machine-like coldness, which is very specific. And with acoustic instruments you get a real - normally - a very warm, human presence and something that's intimate and really there, something that breathes, you know, it's not this kind of dead, cold, machine. And I feel that both are very usable, depending on what you want to say.

A: How about, "Mother Stands For Comfort" for instance?

K: Well, the personality that sings this track is very unfeeling in a way. And the cold qualities of synths and machines were appropriate here. There are many different kinds of love and the track's really talking about the love of a mother, and in this case she's the mother of a murderer, in that she's basically prepared to protect her son against anything. 'Cause in a way it's also suggesting that the son is using the mother, as much as the mother is protecting him. It's a bit of a strange matter, isn't it really? [laughs]

[The song is played]

A: "Mother Stand For Comfort" Our classic album is the Hounds of Love [sic] by Kate Bush, and the next track is "Cloudbusting".

K: This was very special to me because it was all inspired by a book that I found years ago. And I went into a bookshop I used to go into regularly and just saw this... I liked the title, it said A Book of Dreams, and took the book off the shelf, I never done it before, an unknown book. And it was this beautiful story by this guy called Peter Reich. And it's all about his view of his father, but through the eyes of a child, so it was all about his childhood and how he saw his father as this incredibly magical figure. And his father was Wilhelm Reich and he was a very respected Psychoanalyst, I believe, but his work became very controversial and he eventually arrested and died in prison. But one of the things that features in the book is how he used to go with his father cloudbusting. And his father had this machine that when you pointed it up to the sky you could make the clouds disperse or you could gather them together, and if you gathered them together it would rain. And the machine is all based on Orgone energy, which is one of the bases of Reich's teachings. And the book is just extraordinary. It's so sad, but it's also got this beautiful kind of happy innocence that goes with childhood. And as the guy grows up in the book, in does get sadder and sadder as you can feel him hanging onto his childhood. And the book really touched me, and the song is really trying to tell that story.

[The song is played]

K: That did all fall apart over a period of about ten bars. And everything just started falling apart, 'cause it didn't end properly, and, you know, the drummer would stop and then the strings would just sorta start wiggling around and talking. And I felt it needed an ending, and I didn't really know what to do. And then I thought maybe decoy tactics were the way, and we covered the whole thing over with the sound of a steam engine slowing down so that you had the sense of the journey coming to an end. And it worked, it covered up all the falling apart and actually made it sound very complete in a way. And we had terrible trouble getting a sound effect of steam train so we actually made up the sound effect out of various sounds, and Del was the steam. [Laughs] And we got a whistle on the Fairlight for the "poo poop."

A: The continuous flow of music on a compact disk masks the fact that Hounds of Love and The Ninth Wave were conceived as two quite separate sides to the album.

K: Yes they were. I started off writing, I think, "Running Up That Hill", "Hounds of Love", and then I think probably "Dream of Sheep." And once I wrote that, that was it, that was the beginning of what then became the concept. And really, for me, from the beginning, The Ninth Wave was a film, that's how I thought of it. It's the idea of this person being in the water, how they've got there, we don't know. But the idea is that they've been on a ship and they've been washed over the side so they're alone in this water. And I find that horrific imagery, the thought of being completely alone in all this water. And they've got a life jacket with a little light so that if anyone should be traveling at night they'll see the light and know they're there. And they're absolutely terrified, and they're completely alone at the mercy of their imagination, which again I personally find such a terrifying thing, the power of ones own imagination being let loose on something like that. And the idea that they've got it in their head that they mustn't fall asleep, because if you fall asleep when you're in the water, I've heard that you roll over and so you drown, so they're trying to keep themselves awake.

[The song is played]

K: Well at this point, although they didn't want to go to sleep, of course they do. [Laughs] And this is the dream, and it's really meant to be quite nightmarish. And this was all kinda coming together by itself, I didn't have much to do with this, I just sat down and wrote this little tune on the Fairlight with the cello sound. And it sounded very operatic and I thought "well, great" because it, you know, it conjured up the image of ice and was really simple to record. I mean we did the whole thing in a day, I guess.

[The song is played]

K: Again it's very lonely, it's terribly lonely, they're all alone on like this frozen lake. And at the end of it, it's the idea of seeing themselves under the ice in the river, so I mean we're talking real nightmare stuff here. And at this point, when they say, you know, "my god, it's me," you know, "it's me under the ice. Ahhhh" [laughs] These sort of visitors come to wake them up, to bring them out of this dream so that they don't drown.

My mother's in there, my father, my brothers Paddy and John, Brian Tench - the guy that mixed the album with us - is in the there, Del is in there, Robbie Coltrane does one of the voices. It was just trying to get lots of different characters and all the ways that people wake you up, like you know, you sorta fall asleep at your desk at school and the teacher says [song cut's in at "Wake up child, pay attention!" line]

[Song plays through to helicopter sound]

K: Couldn't get a helicopter anywhere and in the end I asked permission to use the helicopter from The Wall from The Floyd, it was the best helicopter I'd heard for years for years [laughs].

I think it's very interesting the whole concept of witch-hunting and the fear of women's power. In a way it's very sexist behavior, and I feel that female intuition and instincts are very strong, and are still put down, really. And in this song, this women is being persecuted by the witch-hunter and the whole jury, although she's committed no crime, and they're trying to push her under the water to see if she'll sink or float. Uooo, ah. [Laughs]

A: And the next track on "Hounds of Love" is "Watching You Without Me".

K: Now, this poor sod [laughs], has been in the water for hours and been witch-hunted and everything. Suddenly, they're kind of at home, in spirit, seeing their loved one sitting there waiting for them to come home. And, you know, watching the clock, and obviously very worried about where they are, maybe making phone calls and things. But there's no way that you can actually communicate, because they can't see you, they can't you. And I find this really horrific, [laughs] these are all like my own personal worst nightmares, I guess, put into song.

And when we started putting the track together, I had the idea for these backing vocals, you know, [sings] "you can't hear me". And I thought that maybe to disguise them so that, you know, you couldn't actually hear what the backing vocals were saying.

[The song continues]

A: "Watching You Without Me". Next is "The Jig of Life".

K: At this point in the story, it's the future self of this person coming to visit them to give them a bit of help here. I mean, it's about time they have a bit of help. So it's their future self saying, "look," you know, "don't give up, you've got to stay alive, 'cause if you don't stay alive, that means I don't." You know, "and I'm alive, I've had kids [laughs]. I've been through years and years of life, so you have to survive, you mustn't give up."

[The song is played]

K: This was written in Ireland. At one point I did quite a lot of writing, you know, I mean lyrically, particularly. And again it was a tremendous sort of elemental dose I was getting, you know, all this beautiful countryside. Spending a lot of time outside and walking, so it had this tremendous sort of stimulus from the outside. And this was one of the tracks that the Irish musicians that we worked with was featured on.

There was a tune that my brother Paddy found which... he said "you've got to hear this, you'll love it." And he was right [laughs], he played it to me and I just thought, you know, "this would be fantastic somehow to incorporate here."

Was just sort of, pull this person up out of despair.

"Hello Earth" was a very difficult track to write, as well, because it was... in some ways it was too big for me. [Laughs] And I ended up with this song that had two huge great holes in the choruses, where the drums stopped, and everything stopped, and people would say to me, "what's going to happen in these choruses," and I hadn't got a clue.

[The song is played]

We had the whole song, it was all there, but these huge, great holes in the choruses. And I knew I wanted to put something in there, and I'd had this idea to put a vocal piece in there, that was like this traditional tune I'd heard used in the film Nosferatu. And really everything I came up with, it with was rubbish really compared to what this piece was saying. So we did some research to find out if it was possible to use it. And it was, so that's what we did, we re-recorded the piece and I kind of made up words that sounded like what I could hear was happening on the original. And suddenly there was these beautiful voices in these chorus that had just been like two black holes.

[The song is continued]

In some ways I thought of it as a lullaby for the Earth. And it was the idea of turning the whole thing upside down and looking at it from completely above. You know, that image of if you were lying in water at night and you were looking up at the sky all the time, I wonder if you wouldn't get the sense of as the stars were reflected in the water, you know, a sense of like, you could be looking up at water that's reflecting the stars from the sky that you're in. And the idea of them looking down at the earth and seeing these storms forming over America and moving around the globe, and they have this like huge fantasticly overseeing view of everything, everything is in total perspective. And way, way down there somewhere there's this little dot in the ocean that is them.

A: The Ninth Wave song sequence concludes with "The Morning Fog"

K: Well, that's really meant to be the rescue of the whole situation, where now suddenly out of all this darkness and weight comes light. You know, the weightiness is gone and here's the morning, and it's meant to feel very positive and bright and uplifting from the rest of dense, darkness of the previous track. And although it doesn't say so, in my mind this was the song where they were rescued, where they get pulled out of the water. And it's very much a song of seeing perspective, of really, you know, of being so grateful for everything that you have, that you're never grateful of in ordinary life because you just abuse it totally. And it was also meant to be one of those kind of "thank you and goodnight" songs. You know, the little finale where everyone does a little dance and then the bow and then they leave the stage. [laughs]

[The song is played]

K: I never was so pleased to finish anything if my life. There were times I never thought it would be finished. It was just such a lot of work, all of it was so much work, you know, the lyrics, trying to piece the thing together. But I did love it, I did enjoy it and everyone that worked on the album was wonderful. And it was really, in some ways, I think, the happiest I've been when I'd been writing and making an album. And I know there's a big theory that goes 'round that you must suffer for your art, you know, "it's not real art unless you suffer." And I don't believe this, because I think in some ways this is the most complete work that I've done, in some ways it is the best and I was the happiest that I'd been compared to making other albums.

To the Reaching Out (Interviews) Table of Contents

"The pull and the push of it all..." - Kate Bush

Reaching Out
is a
Marvick - Hill
Willker - Mapes
Grepel - Love-Hounds