Boy George takes over Miami for Art Basel
After a decade-long hiatus from the U.S., Boy George returned for the first time earlier this year. Now he's back and in full force just in time for Art Basel for a live acoustic set and a DJ set.
Boy George has been an iconic figure in pop culture since his days with Culture Club. After going solo, he's had a long journey that's taken him through several albums alongside a career as a DJ and a regular fixture in tabloids. But now he returns to Miami where he'll play his first live solo preformance in the United States in a decade at Mana Wynwood Art Basel Festival and also will bring his DJ act to Mansion. We spoke with Boy George about his hiatus, his new music and his coming preformances.
How did it feel returning to the United States earlier this year for the first time in a decade?
I had an amazing trip and because I was unrecognisable to everyone I was able to walk around freely which was a new experience. I also got to find out that there is in fact a huge appetite for authentic house music and not just the big bombastic stadium dance that has become popular. I love America and I have seriously missed being here so when I got through customs I did a little dance.
You had a nearly decade-long hiatus between "You U Can Never B2 Straight" and "Ordinary Alien." Why such a long break? Is there anything you learned during that hiatus that affected your music?
Well, that's what the blurb says but of course I've done other stuff like my collaboration with Mark Ronson and Andrew Wyatt and Antony & The Johnson's. Most of my music has been electronically based so this album is the first 'studio based' live record I've made since 'Cheapness & Beauty' which was eighteen years ago.
Tell us about your new album. What is unique about the album compared to previous records?
I feel that I have made a record that reflects who I am now and it's been received very well. "Leonard Cohen meets Burning Spear' 'Bob Dylan' and 'comeback of the year'. As an artist who has hardly ever received good 'musical' reviews I am of course delighted. This record is breezy and content. None of the early drama and overproduction of the 80s. My old songs were very much 'oh woe is me' and I just don't feel like that these days. You can only ever be who you are right now and I'm a more relaxed, reflexive and focussed person. I have been involved in dance music for the past twenty years and it's a very progressive and ever-evolving scene so I haven't had to think about nostalgia or what I used to be. Having a second career in dance music has helped me to stay in the moment and because I don't have to live in the past I now have a very respectful relationship with my legacy. Any artist who is shackled to their past must feel utter contempt for nostalgia. For me, it's utter fun because it feels refreshing being back on stage and even doing some of the old songs feels perfect. This new album translates perfectly to the live stage as well and I have an awesome band who I would love to bring to America.
Have you ever been to Art Basel Miami Beach in the past? What do you like about Miami in general?
I haven't been to Art Basel before but obviously I love Miami and these days I have fun wherever I go. I don't understand people who say they hate this place or that place. You can always have a great time anywhere but you need to adapt to the place and take things in. What's not to love about Miami, it's hot and it's pretty.
What can we expect from your show in Miami?
My show will be an acoustic jam for about 45 minutes and it's very intimate. I'm going to drop some new stuff and a couple of classic gems but it's not a full band show. Then I'm off to play some deep, low slung house music at Mansion and the two things will have zero in common. I try to encourage fans of music to avoid my DJ gigs because you don't need people staring and waving Culture Club albums at a dance show. The clue is in the title “dance music”. If you ain't moving, you are just a dead weight at the disco! Clubs should ban camera phones at dance events. A few places I have played have this policy and I can see it growing because the parties without camera phones are rocking!
Aside from your live act, you also DJ. How would you describe a typical night of DJing for you?
As DJ Boy George, I stay far away from the big stadium pop dance. You will hear stuff like “On Point” by GotSome on Defected. Monica Kruse, Catz N Dogs, Groove Armada. I like it deep and bass-driven. I play dance music with an “urban edge” and “soul”. A lot of the EDM stuff is for white boys who can't move their hips! I have a free podcast every month on iTunes called “Boy George Club Culture” and it's pumping!
What new club releases do you have coming up in 2014?
My latest dance project is called “Retrophobia” and our first track “Meet Me In The Basement” featuring Sam Buttery is just out and has entered the buzz chart here in the UK. This is me producing and writing and we use featured vocalists a bit like 'Disclosure'. I work with German producer Roland 'Kinky' Faber who is a long time friend and collaborator of mine. Expect some hot stuff from us in the new year. My album “This Is What I Do” is out in the US in February. Very exciting. I'm also in the process of putting together a dub version of my album using some of the reggae tracks and adding a bunch of new songs and great collaborations and I'm hoping to do a track with Sinead O'Connor which should be amazing. I might call the album “This Is What I Dub”'.
Boy George will play Mana Wynwood Art Basel Festival on Friday, December 6 at 318 NW 23rd St., Miami. Doors open at 9 p.m. Tickets are $32 and can be purchased at www.artbaselmanawynwood.com. He will also DJ at Mansion on Saturday, December 7. For more info, go to www.mansionmiami.com.
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