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The synth and drum machine that powered Kate Bush’s Running Up That Hill

The recent resurgence of Kate Bush’s 1985 single Running Up That Hill (A Deal with God) is as surprising as it is welcome.

Propelled up the charts by its use in season 4 of Netflix sci-fi saga Stranger Things, the song has just given Bush her first top-ten hit in the US, and is currently challenging Harry Styles - who wasn’t even born when the track was originally released - for the number one spot in the UK.

Bush released a rare public statement earlier this week, giving the song's usage her seal of approval.

"When the first series came out, friends kept asking us if we’d seen 'Stranger Things’, so we checked it out and really loved it," she explained. "We’ve watched every series since then, as a family.

"When they approached us to use Running Up That Hill, you could tell that a lot of care had gone into how it was used in the context of the story and I really liked the fact that the song was a positive totem for the character, Max.  I’m really impressed by this latest series. It's an epic piece of work - the shows are extremely well put together with great characters and fantastic SFX. 

"It’s very touching that the song has been so warmly received, especially as it’s being driven by the young fans who love the shows. I’m really happy that the Duffer Brothers are getting such positive feedback for their latest creation. They deserve it."

The synth parts in the track (of which there are several) lean heavily on the Fairlight CMI. It’s believed that Bush used one of the included cello samples in this quintessentially ‘80s machine (it was released in 1979) to create both the main riff and the backing string part.

Drums came courtesy of the LinnDrum; the beat was programmed by Del Palmer, who also played bass guitar and performed engineering duties.

This was all state of the art stuff back in 1985 but, as you’d expect, these sounds can easily be recreated in your DAW today.

Check out Reverb Machine’s excellent instrumental cover above, which uses Arturia’s Fairlight-emulating CMI V for the leads, chords and drone, and Aly James VProm 2 for the LinnDrum drums.

I’m the Group Content Manager for MusicRadar, specialising in all things tech. I previously spent eight years working on our sister magazine, Computer Music. I’ve been playing the piano, gigging in bands and failing to finish tracks at home for more than 30 years, 20 of which I’ve also spent writing about music technology. 

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