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Erin Vandermolen-Pater presents “Kate Bush Does…”

Last summer, while on a road trip with my family, I got into joking with my brother about how funny it would be to hear Kate Bush* perform songs like Olivia Rodrigo’s “driver’s license.” I’m not sure where the idea came from, but there and then a project was born.

Track #1 off of my faux-EP is “Kate Bush Does… Hello” (by Adele). You can hear within the first 30 seconds why it makes for a great album opener:

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There were almost a dozen songs considered for the project altogether… The criteria for the ones that finally made it onto YouTube became 1. Can the song be considered a top hit of the past few years (one that people will recognize)? 2. Do I make myself laugh listening back to recordings of my trial runs (I figure if it makes me laugh, it will make others laugh as well, and be worth doing besides)? and 3. Will it “Kate”?

Obviously Olivia Rodrigo’s ‘driver’s license’ had to be included, as the song that started it all. It has become Track #2 in the set:

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One day at work inspiration struck, and I decided I needed to do a photo shoot to solidify the project. When I got home I informed Chet that he was to be my photographer (luckily he’s always game to get involved in my creative, sometimes nutso, projects), and I started gathering inspirational images from Kate Bush’s photo shoots and album covers. My main influence was her “Hounds of Love” cover, so I had my fingers crossed that my cats would get involved. It wasn’t hard to convince Georgie to participate when he saw me laying on the ground on a piece of fabric with my hair splayed out everywhere…

Track #3 is probably the least well known of the songs I covered. It is by Canadian singer Charlotte Cardin, and had been top of the CBC hit charts for weeks back when I was compiling my setlist for the project. If you haven’t heard her version, I’ve linked it in the description of the YouTube video:

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There you have it! The three tracks that make up my faux-EP “Erin Vandermolen-Pater Presents ‘Kate Bush Does…'”!

It’s been a self-indulgent project for the most part, really just intended to make me and my brother laugh, and to annoy my husband by making him listen to multiple takes of every song, but I hope you get a kick out of it. Call me up if you ever need a Kate Bush impression (I know it’s a niche audience, but I figured I should put the offer out there).

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*If you are not aware of the work of Kate Bush–you should be! She is pure magic; creative genius; my number one artistic inspiration. Maybe start with her “Hounds of Love” album–the A-side is practically a greatest hits compilation.

Sweatpant Sessions #3–Brighter Than Sunshine

Session number three is dedicated to Chet. I sang this one last August at a cabaret/hand-fasting ceremony hosted by my parents before our wedding a week later. I prefaced it by telling the story of a road trip we had taken together, before getting engaged, where Chet informed me that he had added a schmaltzy piece to our road trip playlist. The following is that song.

Before we get to the song, though, I should mention that playlists have always been a point of contention between the two of us. Our musical interests only intersect slightly, and only with particular artists and eras. I love stuff from the 80s; weird alt-pop (some of those choices were mentioned in the previous Sweatpant Sessions post); musical theatre; modern singer-songwriters, especially along the folk-pop divide; and anything fun and boppy. Chet likes… pretty much none of that. “Fun and boppy”? Nu-uh. Weird alt-pop? No thank you. Musical theatre? Occasionally. 80s? No frickin’ way. Chet likes a strong rhythm section; pop punk; classic rock (no, 80s rock doesn’t generally count); and the 90s (but not the fun girl and boy band 90s–the grunge 90s). At least there are some areas where our musical interests are copacetic–it helps that I’m fairly easy going about music, and can put up with mostly anything so long as it doesn’t make my ears bleed. This song is one that works for both of us–decent melody, lyrics, and vocals for me, all the 90s/early 00s vibes for Chet.

So here’s Aqualung’s “Brighter Than Sunshine.”

Sweatpant Sessions #2–Wuthering Heights

Kate Bush is one of my all-time favourite artists. I remember listening to her “The Whole Story” album on family road trips, which my parents had bought in a bout of nostalgia. 

It was also the mixed influence of Kate Bush and my dad that introduced me to Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights. It was while listening to Kate Bush’s song of the same title that my dad announced the novel was one of his favourites, and being a big ol’ daddy’s girl, I immediately had to get my hands on this book. Which I ended up loving, reading multiple times throughout the years, and writing a one-woman show about.

Beyond that, Kate Bush has had an influence on me as an artist of originality and theatricality. I love the “weirdness” of her work, including the strange movie she made in the ‘90s and the amazing three-disc concert album of her “Before the Dawn” concerts a few years ago. She is one of a group of female artists who I adore for the theatrical nature of their music and the generous use of head voice (thank goodness!). Other artists in this company include Regina Spektor, Laura Nyro, and Joni Mitchell. It’s the intersection of musical theatre and pop/folk/indie songwriting that I love. It feels like music that I can really sing.

So here’s the song that started it all; Kate Bush’s “Wuthering Heights.”

Sweatpant Sessions #1–Nightswimming

Welcome to [the Official] Part 1 of my “Sweatpant Sessions”! This one goes out to my brother, Nathan (Natey), and to my cousins on mom’s side of the family. Hopefully no one finds this story too embarrassing…

Back when we were all energetic, innocent kids, the whole troupe of us decided to go skinny-dipping one night when our extended family was camping at Kootenay Lake. It started with a game of poker, which we jokingly called “strip poker,” but of course none of us actually wanted to take any clothes off when we lost a hand. Instead, we decided the compromise would be that the loser had to go for a naked swim after dark. 

One of the younger cousins ended up losing, and for the sake of moral support, we decided we couldn’t send him off alone, so it became a group cousin skinny-dipping session. After the sun had set, and adults were starting to settle in for the night in campers or in front of campfires, the six of us snuck out onto the rocks, leaving our bathing suits behind and slipping into the cold nighttime water. The youngest of my cousins (at least, the youngest of the group involved) was afraid to be in the water at night, so he was nominated to stay up on one of the rocks shining a flashlight down at us. The point of this was to create safe passage up and down the rocks, but of course he caught plenty of nude scrambling up and down in his spotlight, and would giggle and shine it at those of us in the water doing dolphin dives–sticking bare bums into the air in the glow of the flashlight and making jokes about the “full moon.”

Nowadays, when people mention skinny-dipping with a suggestive wink or eyebrow raise, I just think of this happy innocent time in my childhood. Cousin bonding in the waters of Kootenay Lake. As I said before, hopefully the innocence and joyfulness of the story keeps it from being too embarrassing for any of those involved.

This song, Nightswimming, by R.E.M. was introduced to me by Natey who-knows-how-many years ago. R.E.M. is one of his favourite groups, but it wasn’t their version that first got me into the song. It was a cover that Ingrid Michaelson did where she looped all of the background parts–all done vocally, completely acapella. I’m afraid I don’t have the technology or skill to imitate her cover, but here’s one of my own:

Sweatpant Sessions–War and Peace Day!

I just finished reading Leo Tolstoy’s “War and Peace”–yes, the 1300-page Russian epic! It took me 16 days to finish… thank you, isolation life.

This book has been on my “To Read” list for a long time, but it took a much higher place on the list after I became aware of Dave Malloy’s musical, “Natasha, Pierre, & the Great Comet of 1812,” which is based on a section from Book 2 of the novel. Over the course of this past week, as I’ve been nearing the end of the book, I’ve been singing through much of “The Great Comet,” and here we have a few selections from the show. 

“Dust and Ashes” is Pierre’s big song early on in Act 1; Pierre is one of the main characters in “War and Peace.” A philosopher and a bit of a drunk stuck in an unhappy marriage that he found himself sort of suckered into, he spends much of the novel searching for some sort of meaning and happiness in life. Many times he thinks he’s found it, only to be disappointed by the solution later on. The song reflects some of his early journey on this road. (You’ll have to ignore my trash page-turning near the end–my book was being uncooperative and I was far too lazy to do a second take).

“No One Else” is sung by the character Natasha, who has recently become engaged to Prince Andrei, a soldier, who says they must wait a year before they can get married, as his first wife has just died in childbirth. He goes off on a trip (sort of a “I have to find myself” kind of thing, honestly), and Natasha pines and mopes about the house for his return. Spoiler alert, though, events transpire in the musical and the wedding doesn’t end up taking place. Regardless, here is Natasha singing about her love.

The final selection I’ve done from this show is “Sonya Alone.” Sonya, Natasha’s friend and cousin, is worried because of Natasha’s relationship with the bad boy Anatole (brother of Pierre’s wife, Helene), and vows to keep her friend from making the mistake of running off with him, ruining her relationship with Andrei and possibly staining her reputation for life. I dedicate this one to all of the people who I feel the need to protect… I doubt many of them know who they are, but the dedication stands.

*This post is the unofficial first in my “Sweatpant Sessions” series. The reasoning for the title should be obvious–these were all recorded at home in my den while I am sporting my quarantine uniform… except I’ve put a shirt on for all of the recordings.