Interviews & Articles


"Woman's Hour"
with Sue McGregor
BBC 2 radio- Feb 21, 1979

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Date: Sun, 4 Aug 1991 21:26:47 -0800
From: rhill@pnet01.cts.com (Ronald Hill)
Subject: "Woman's Hour" with Sue McGregor BBC 2, Feb 21, 1979

Woman's Hour Interview


With Sue McGregor

Feb 21, 1979

[Transcribed by Ron Hill. Thanks to IED for providing me with tape. The sound quality is not very good, so quite a bit of the interview is inaudible. If anyone has a better tape or a more complete transcription, please let me know.]


I: How does it feel, not long ago - just over a year ago, nobody had heard of you. Now everybody has, just about. Does the success seem a bit strange or have you gotten used to it?

K: Yes, they are certain aspects of it that are strange, but I think human beings are particularly good at adapting themselves to a new kind of situation, especially females. So I'm just still coping with it, really.

I: [Inaudible]

K: [Inaudible] as far as human being go, yeah. [Laughs]

I: Let's talk about that song, Wuthering Heights, now we could hear that you appeared in the song to be named Cathy. Is that right?

K: Yes, very much so, yeah. She was definitely the character in that song.

I: What was your choice to sing at the time?

K: It has always been a story that fascinated me, but I'd not actually read the book. And the year before last I read it and it was sorta standing over there ... I just had to write the song. And I think to a large extent I did side with Cathy because it's my name and when I was child I was always called Cathy, not Kate. And it just seemed to be the thing to do.

I: And I am told that was your first single. [Inaudible ???] you have a very unusual singing voice, it's very high. Did you deliberately choose something - a song with an unusual theme and was sing [Sic - sung] in an unusual voice in order to catch attention, because that's important these days isn't it?

K: Yes. To a certain extent that way why it was chosen, but it just seemed the right song, more than the fact that it was [??? dancing]. It just seemed to be the strongest song.

I: How do you get up that high. 'Cause you haven't got that high of voice when you talk, normally. Is it difficult for you to sing like that?

K: Not really, no. It's just the way it happens. That song said to me that it should be sung high, so that's why I did it. I think [??? inaudible] singing that high, but there you go. [Laughs]

I: Well [??? if the Good Lord] in good stead. Now, you left school when you were sixteen, like a lot of people. Did you at that point want to become a pop star? Had you set your sights on that, or did you want to do other things?

K: Well, I've never really wanted to be a pop star. I've always wanted to do my music and just be creative with my life in that way. And one of the reasons I left school was to do that, I just felt that I had to do brave and see if I could do it. And that's what I did, I left school and took up dancing and took [??? serious] dancing class.

I: Well took up dancing, now what sort of dancing did you do?

K: That was inspired by a [??? fellow] in London. A mime artist called Lindsay Kemp. And I'd never seen anything like and I'd started taking up his lessons in modern dance and a bit of ballet, I didn't really get on with ballet that much. But [girls at sixteen ???] were just the same as [??? inaudible].

I: Another [??? inaudible]

K: Yes.

I: What was it about that that appealed to you?

K: I couldn't believe how strongly Lindsay communicates with people without even opening his mouth. It was incredible, he had the whole audience in his control, just with his little finger. And it was amazing. I'd never seen anything like it, I really hadn't. And I felt if it was possible to combine that strength of movement with the voice, then maybe it would work, and that's what I've tried to do.

I: Is the more you [??? inaudible] what you know about movement, important to you. Do you think what you look like on the screen, the television screen, is [as] important as what you sound like?

K: Very important, yeah. I think it's vital because, especially when you're doing songs, it's important that you give them something to see. I mean when they hear the records their mind can just become whatever they want. They can make the song personality whatever they wish. But when they see it, they have to have something strong I think and it should be really adequate to the movement.

I: Well, now between sixteen and nineteen you were learning about dance and mime, but you were also writing songs. How did you [??? inaudible]?

K: Well, when I left school I already had a contract with EMI and that was really why I felt brave enough to see if I could just sorta develop myself. Because in school, you really are very unaware of the world. And it's only when you leave school that you start of learn about it. And it did me a lot of good.

I: [Laughs] Your father's a doctor in Kent. Now what did you parents think about this, did they think it was a slightly weird world that you wanted to get into, or did it [matter for it ???]?

K: Yes, they were worried that I was leaving school without something definite to go into, as all parents would be. But they could see that I was... that I really wanted to do it and that I wasn't just wasting time, I was being disciplined in my work. And now they're very happy.

I: How do write your songs, Kate? You have a piano, the piano that we hear on the records is you playing...

K: Yes, it is.

I: But how do you actually sit down and create a song?

K: Well, it's normally at night. I think that's definitely the time to create, for me it is anyway. And I have to be with the piano, I have to be alone. And normally I've got some kind of an idea, some sort of subject matter to write about before I sit down. And I start playing the chords and whatever chords you play have a completely different feeling. So it just tells me what [the sounds are ???]

I: Major chords and minor chords.

K: Right. You know, like happiness and sadness, this or that, those really talk to you. And one [??? inaudible] write the music, so it has a little control over me.

I: I realize in your songs... they're very elliptical [??? inaudible] the first time around. And I'd like to play an example of that off your new record. It's called Symphony In Blue, and play a little bit and then one can tell us about how you wrote it and why.

[Symphony In Blue is presumably played]

I: ..."the head of the good soul department" and then the chorus goes on to say "I see myself, suddenly, on the piano as a melody. My terrible fear of dying no longer plays with me. So now I know that I am needed for the symphony." Now those sound like wise old words when you were what, nineteen years old when you wrote it. What did you mean by that, "I see myself on the piano as a melody?"

K: Well, I think really, for me I feel that my purpose here is to write music, it's the only thing that I can do where I can really let myself go, where I can communicate with masses of people. And I'm just saying that it gives me great comfort, whenever I'm at the piano, because for the few times that it happens I feel that I'm a part of something.

I: And [??? that's the line] the feel of dying, at your age!?

K: Oh, yeah! I mean everyone. I think it's a very, very basic human thing you know, to fear dying. It's totally unknown and it's something that stays with you from the moment you first hear about someone dying, you know. You have no idea what will happen, and it's inevitable. And in a way that is a [??? inaudible] fear that [we ???] in this life, we know we're going to die. And I think it's fascinating. I think everyone at some point seems to have a purpose and think that's really necessary.

I: And the songs [??? inaudible] autobiographical. Now the way you promote them is interesting, because you haven't yet appeared on a personal appearance tour anywhere, have you?

K: No.

I: We see you mainly on telly and Top Of The Pops [??? inaudible] films. How do you actually go about making these films, cause it's very interesting. This is a new way, really, or promoting pop, isn't it.

K: Yes it is. The amazing thing about it is that through a day's work, you can reach millions of people, it can go all over the world. But with a personal performance you have personally go to all of these places, and obviously it takes a lot longer. And I think it's an incredible breakthrough. [??? inaudible] and it's just amazing, we have great fun doing it, and it's fun.

I: What about the thought though, of the big tour that you're going to do, starting April, right through the United Kingdom and on to the continent. Does it scare you?

K: Yes, it makes me nervous, anxious. But it also makes me very excited and very happy. It's something I've always wanted to do. I think so far I've been considered more of a recording artist than a performer and I think it's very important that you can try and give [??? inaudible] to be with the audience. And I think it's got to be one of the very special moments in the world.

I: But I wonder if the whole pop world isn't a bit scary [??? inaudible] who's only just twenty and who's only had a year in it, and it really riddeled with stories about drugs and bribery and corruption [???]. Now is that kind of thing something that you've really touched on, or does it frighten you?

K: Well I think that as far as me being twenty, it's, you know obviouly I'm young, but maybe this isn't my first time 'round, you know? It depends how you look at it. Personally, I'm not really worried [???] that much. I mean obviously with certain things, I am aware of them. But I don't consider myself to be that age and I cope with things as they come. And I think it's the same as the pop business, it's how your attitude towards it is, as to what you get back. And there's alot of things you can promote and push away and it's totally up to you to get the things [??? inaudible]

I: [??? inaudible] young lady.

K: I how so yeah, I like to think so.

I: Kate, you choosen [???? inaudible] now why's that?

K: I think it's a really beautiful piece of music and [??? inaudible] and it's just beautiful.

[A piece of music is played.]

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