FORMERLY REMEMBER THE EIGHTIES.COM
PEPSI & SHIRLIE (SHIRLIE KEMP) [2011]

THIS IS PROBABLY AN ODD WAY TO START AN INTERVIEW BUT I WAS RESEARCHING YOU THIS MORNING AND ALL WAS GOING WELL WITH MY DAY UNTIL I MADE THE MISTAKE OF 'YOUTUBE-ING' PEPSI AND SHIRLIE.

(suspicious) Right… so has it got worse now?

NO, NO, NOTHING PERSONAL, BUT APPARENTLY SHIRLEY LAVERNE IN AMERICA USED TO DRINK PEPSI AND MILK IN SOME TV SHOW OVER THERE, AND THERE'S ALL THESE VIDEO'S OF PEOPLE MIXING MILK AND PEPSI AND DRINKING IT…

Oh my god!

…AND THAT COMES UP IF YOU SEARCH FOR PEPSI AND SHIRLIE! SO, FUNNY SORT OF A START TO THE DAY...

I know the internet always takes you to unexpected places, I just click on something and the next thing I'm way past whatever I was looking for.

SO PEPSI AND SHIRLIE ARE BACK FOR THE HERE AND NOW TOUR, WHICH IS FANTASTIC NEWS, I THINK PEOPLE ARE VERY EXCITED ABOUT IT. WHAT SORT OF ALIGNMENT OF PLANETS MADE IT HAPPEN THIS TIME AROUND?

I think really it was just the fact, personally for me, my son passed his driving test.

NO MORE 'MUM'S TAXI' YOU MEAN?

Yeah! He passed his test and I suddenly thought 'Hmmm, I've kind of done my job now, I got through this'. I thought I'd really like to work, but I didn't have a clue in my head what to do. And then, literally an hour after me sitting and thinking - I'm a real thinker - the phone rang and it was Tony Denton, the Here And Now promoter! He had asked us before, and I always said 'No, I don't wanna go there'. I just thought that was such a strange coincidence that I kind of paused for a moment thinking about what I'm going to be doing, what I should be doing or what can I do and Tony rings with an offer, and so to his surprise I said 'Um, let me ring Pepsi'. So I rang Pepsi - she lives in St Lucia now - and I thought she'll decide, you know? She'll say what's what, and she just said 'yeah, why not?' and because it's not like 'The Pepsi & Shirlie Show' or anything - we are just playing only a part of it - we thought it would be great because you've got no responsibility of it, nothing really, you're not organising anything, there's not this big-do about it… and then two days later I thought 'Oh my God what have I done?'!

HAVE YOU BEEN TO ANY OF THE HERE AND NOW TOURS IN THE PAST?

No. Saying that, I was in LA a few years ago and ABC were on and I just happened to bump into someone who worked on the tour. All I saw were Belinda Carlisle and ABC. We left after that (laughs), not because we didn't want to see anyone else, it wasn't in our plans to go there.

ARE THERE PEOPLE ON THIS PARTICULAR TOUR THAT YOU ARE REALLY KEEN TO SEE?

I think it will be good to see all of them really, because I haven't really kept in contact with eighties music. So it'll be interesting to see what songs they've got. It will be a pleasant surprise to see the mixture of artists, and hear the songs again.

HAVE YOU AND PEPSI ALWAYS BEEN IN TOUCH WITH EACH OTHER?

Yeah, yeah, we've always been in touch, although we don't physically see each other, but with the help of Skype, emails, the phone. Yeah, we've got a really deep connection between us, always on a parallel life scheme without knowing it, like I'll mention a book I've just read and she'll go 'Oh my god, I've just read that!' Or we'll both be inspired by something and both tell each other about it at the same time.

RIGHT, KIND OF LIKE A SPOOKY CONNECTION, LIKE THE WHOLE HERE AND NOW TONY DENTON PHONECALL, THAT MOMENT?

Yeah! I totally believe in the whole synchronicity thing.

DO YOU HAVE PLANS TO DO MORE AS PEPSI AND SHIRLIE AFTER THE HERE AND NOW TOUR?

Well, I think we'll see how it goes, and hopefully I'll really like being on stage and everything. I think it would be fun to do more but Pepsi lives in St Lucia so we'd have to see to the logistics of how we'd get her here all the time. There's also the concern that I'll love it so much and it'll go really flat afterwards, 'Oh no, that was so much fun what shall I do now?'. I'll be ringing Tony every week begging for more shows!

I DON'T KNOW WHAT HAPPENED AT THE END OF PEPSI AND SHIRLIE, I KNOW YOU HAD A SECOND ALBUM AND A COUPLE OF SINGLES FROM IT AND THEN IT ALL SEEMED TO GO QUITE QUIET.

It went quiet because I kind of made it like that, I feel like I did that on purpose. I got married, had a baby and just felt like there's nothing more than this, I don't want anything else. We had done a second album and it was killing me, just thinking 'I don't want to do this', and we went to the record company and they said 'yeah, we want you to go out to Japan and blah blah blah' and my heart sank, and I just thought 'I'm not leaving my child'. I knew the difficulty taking her with me, putting babies on aeroplanes, and I felt so guilty because in a partnership you have a responsibility. I knew we'd made an album and my heart wasn't in it and I didn't want to do it all you know? We'd come off all the world tours, my whole life was just going on and off aeroplanes, and I'd just got something so special. I remember I was with Pepsi, we were at dinner one night, and I was so nervous, I thought 'I've got to tell her, I've got to tell her… I don't want to do this'. I essentially wished it all away and I spoke to Pepsi, and she said 'I know', she was so brilliant, she said 'I know you've got everything you want and why would you want to leave it?', to my relief, I thought she was going to go mad. I think you can wish things away, and I literally lost momentum, I lost the energy, everything. I just wanted to back away from it all.

YOU HAD BEEN IN IT FOR QUITE A LONG TIME BY THEN HADN'T YOU?

Well it had been very fast, it was never my ambition, or in my mind, to be in a band, it was just the fact that George and Andrew were my friends. I never knew they were going to be big, you know? We were just kids messing around. That took off SO fast, I mean we literally did about three or four appearances in nightclubs and the next thing we're on Top of The Pops, I mean extremely fast! And then you're put into this world and you don't even know how to experience it properly. We were touring, going everywhere, and I think it was condensed, something that within a few years of that Wham!-time could take a lifetime for people to experience. It was very condensed; I was very worn out from it.

WAS IT FUN AT THE TIME?

You know what, it's all in hindsight. You don't realise at the time what a great job that you actually were in. It was… it was amazing, all the travelling and everything. Now I've got to pay for all the travelling I do, that's the bit I hate! Yeah, we had some lovely experiences and I am very, very grateful for the travelling side of it, but at the same time it wore me out.

I IMAGINE BECAUSE OF THE ROLE YOU HAD YOU COULD KIND OF GO ALONG AND HAVE A LOT OF FUN, BUT WITHOUT THE SAME RESPONSIBILITY THAT GEORGE AND ANDREW MUST HAVE HAD?

Yeah, that's right. I always say that after a while I started to feel like a spare part. What started off as just mates became serious, and then with George - being the perfectionist he is - the dynamic of our friendship was lost because it was all now centred on their career, which I totally understood. The other thing was that then I met Martin and realised 'Oh I feel much happier when I'm with him actually than this Wham! situation'. Also I never had any creative input or anything, but I'm very, very grateful and so lucky to have experienced that time.

DID YOU EVER HAVE AMBITIONS TO BE A SINGER OR WAS IT LITERALLY A COMPLETE ACCIDENT, YOU JUST HAPPENED TO BE IN THE RIGHT PLACE?

It was one of those synchronicity things, I was actually working with horses and I got horrendous hay fever, I mean horrendous, I was on an asthma thing, so I stepped out of that and George and Andrew just asked me to dance with them when they started doing shows! But saying that I've always loved music and as a kid Top of The Pops was everything to me. That show, jiving in front of it, dancing, singing, being shouted at by my other brothers and sisters. So of course, I think it was one of those things, subconsciously I might have thought 'Oh wow' you know, every teenager would like to be a pop star, but did I ever go for a singing lesson, drama school, dance lesson? Never in my life!

IF YOU WERE A KID NOW DO YOU THINK YOU'D HAVE THAT SORT OF AMBITION? WOULD YOU DO THE X-FACTOR OR SOMETHING LIKE THAT?

No. Not at all, I would die standing to stand in front of a panel of four people in a room and sing, so not me.

AFTER WHAM! YOU WORKED FOR GEORGE FOR A WHILE DIDN'T YOU? ON HIS WEBSITE OR SOMETHING?

Yeah, I did his fan club for a while, and that was so funny, I'm sure there's never been a fan club like it! Most fan clubs are quite clinical, you send your things in and wait for your response and it's kind of quite robotic work. But I was kind of sitting there like an agony aunt, on a one to one with his fans, and they loved it, absolutely loved it. One girl was depressed about her life and I was getting involved, but it felt like quite a responsibility after a while. When I look back I think 'Wow, that was the most amazing fan club'!

WHAT SORT OF THING DO YOU LISTEN TO NOW? YOU SAID YOU DIDN'T REALLY KEEP IN TOUCH WITH THE EIGHTIES STUFF.

You know what? It’s getting the time to listen to stuff. The last time I had a little sing - the other night - was to James Morrison and 'You Make Me Feel'. I used to listen to the Sade album I used to play that repetitively, I love Sade. You know what is amazing for kids nowadays? My son's in a band and his musical taste is so vast! In my day the only access you had to music was the radio and Top of The Pops. I grew up on The Beatles and Elvis, every Sunday we'd have a big dance on Sunday mornings and my dad just played the music so loud, didn't care about the neighbours, and we would just dance! But the access that they have to music now, my son's knowledge is vast - of music, old singers, new singers, I'm always fascinated what he's listening to, one moment it's a heavy rap song, then a jazz song, then maybe Nirvana, then The Pixies, it just goes all over the place, it's funny.

WELL PRESUMABLY HE'S GROWN UP IN QUITE A MUSICAL ENVIRONMENT?

He grew up on Alanis Morrisette!

WELL IT COULD BE MUCH, MUCH WORSE!

She's influenced my daughter because she writes songs too; she does it just because she does it, she doesn't want a career out of it. I sometimes feel a bit guilty because in the car all I used to play was Alanis Morrisette. I don't think it's done them any harm though!

AM I RIGHT I THINKING THAT YOUR SON'S BAND PLAYED AT THE BLITZ REUNION, WAS IT LAST WEEK LAST? HOW DID THAT ALL GO BECAUSE YOU AND MARTIN WENT DOWN THERE DIDN'T YOU?

Yeah, Steve Strange and Rusty, loads of old faces. That went really well, it's a small place The Blitz, very small, but I think he wanted to do it because historically his dad's band played there, it's thirty years since Spandau played there, but it was just so loud! (laughs) I thought 'I must buy ear plugs', but everyone loved them and it was quite funny because they are not a new romantic band, you should check them out actually. They're called Paradise Point!

OBVIOUSLY MARTIN WAS PART OF THAT WHOLE ORIGINAL BLITZ CLUB THING, WAS THAT SOMETHING THAT TOUCHED YOU AT ALL AT THE TIME?

No it wasn't, I think I was living in Sussex, I was doing the horsey thing. I went through the punk thing, and then we moved out of London and lost that a little bit. The only club I went to was… oh, god, I've forgotten it now (laughs) hold on, what are the eighties clubs? Le Beat Route, that was the first club I went to yeah, Le Beat Route.

IT WAS ALL A BIT MORE SOULY BY THEN WASN'T IT?

Yeah, because George and me and Andrew went up there and thought 'Oh let's go and see' because George was a big Spandau fan - he had their posters on his wall - and so we went up there and I remember him saying (whispers) 'Oh, look, there's Spandau Ballet' and they were all dressed up and posing!

SO HOW LONG DID IT TAKE YOU TO GET TO KNOW MARTIN FROM FIRST SEEING HIM IN THAT CONTEXT?

It was pretty quick!

(LAUGHS) ONCE YOU HAD YOUR FOCUS ON HIM!

Yeah! Although because Wham! hadn't taken off by then nothing happened at first, and to be honest I never would have thought anything more about him, but then Wham! did take off and I was bumping into people who knew Martin all the time. I was with a photographer and I was saying to him 'Do you know Martin?' and he said 'Yeah, I do. I'm working with him next weekend, why, do you like him?' and I said 'yeah'. Then next time I saw him he said 'He likes you too!'.

KIND OF LIKE BEING IN THE SCHOOL PLAYGROUND ISN'T IT? MY FRIEND LIKES YOU, THAT SORT OF THING...

It is yeah! But he said he'd seen me on Top of The Pops and gone 'Oh I like that girl from Wham!' and then finally we accidentally bumped into each other in a theatre show that all these celebrities had been invited to called Yakkety Yak.

ARE THERE ANY PLANS TO RE-ISSUE ANY OF THE OLD STUFF?

Well it is being done, but not any in any way that I have any control over it. I got an email from Pete Waterman from PWL and they've remastered the first album and it is all being released. I did ask them to send me a CD but I've not got it yet. So PWL are releasing it in April.

DO YOU HAVE GOOD MEMORIES OF WORKING WITH PWL BACK IN THE DAY?

You know what's interesting? We did a song with them and we didn't use it, I don't know what happened, I've got a really bad memory, that's the other thing when your life goes too fast, it's really hard to remember things! But we were working with them, and something happened, I don't know if we liked it, they liked it, but this song - which I cannot for the life of me even remember recording, although I can remember being in the studio - is on the album! I'll be interested to hear what that song was like!

WILL THE RELEASE BE ONE OF THOSE EXPANDED EDITIONS? 12-INCH MIXES, B-SIDES?

I have no idea! They haven't sent me anything. He said he was going to send it, and they contacted us to see if we would be interested in any promotion, but I'd like to hear it again!

DID YOU WRITE FOR THE EARLIER PEPSI AND SHIRLIE MATERIAL?

We did do some co-writing yes. But we were in a strange kind of publishing situation where our manager looked after the other songwriter! I do still write songs but I don't see it as a job. In the same way I can paint, but I don't paint to sell the paintings. If Pepsi did decide to do something new then between me and my daughter we've got a whole range of songs which would be really good. That would be a nice idea.

ARE YOUR KIDS CURIOUS ABOUT YOUR MUSICAL CAREER? PRESUMABLY THEY SAW SPANDAU LAST YEAR FOR THE FIRST TIME?

That's right! Well it's funny, I'd never really spoken about my career to them when they grew up, and it wasn't until they got a bit older and I dropped them at school and someone would say 'Your mum used to be in a band', 'My mum used to be make-up artist, she knew your mum' or something like that! Weird things like that. I was a bit embarrassed about it all, because it makes me cringe when I look at myself. So I never really mentioned anything, it was only as they got into their late teens they were like 'Oh my god, your band was quite big!' and they started YouTubing us and giggling with laughter!

THEY PROBABLY FOUND A PEPSI AND MILK VIDEO!

(laughs) No they never found that one! I think they realise now, my son realises how well mum and dad did because he's realising how hard it is, how hard the competition is although it's a different world nowadays for kids in the music world. I hope his band reaches that success.

IT SOUNDS LIKE HE'S GOT GOOD GUIDANCE FROM YOU AND MARTIN, AND I IMAGINE YOU'VE LEARNED LESSONS ALONG THE WAY THAT YOU CAN PASS ON TO HIM?

We have yeah, he's quite serious and business-minded about it all because he knows that it is a business. We didn't take it as a career or as a business. I think Martin and I just took it as 'well, this is fun', and it was!

JANUARY 2011

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