on his highly successful new career as a headlining DJ at nightclubs around
the world, London-Sire unleashed Boy Georges debut American dance
compilation CD on February 20th. The latest installment in the highly acclaimed
Essential Mix series showcases Georges eclectic taste in dance music
while introducing him to a new generation and genre of American fans. An
eight-city promotional DJ tour began on Valentines Day in Las Vegas,
with performances scheduled in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Philadelphia,
Washington, DC and Boston before the tour wraps up at Twilo in New York
City on February 28th.
Behind the Music
Sensational tabloid rumors and scandalous
public spectacles are inherent to a modern celebritys
existence. But it is the rare celebrity whose life actually
rivals that of the medias controversial coverage. From
the pinnacle of the pop music charts to the rock bottom despair
of drug addiction, Boy George epitomizes the stereotypical
rock musician in so many ways.
Cleverly launching an artistic assault
on the general public in the early 1980s, the quintessential
drama queen shocked sensibilities with aberrant antics that
ingenuously melded with his immense talent to create a larger-than-life
persona. This outrageous persona may have helped Culture Club
become one of the most successful bands of the decade, but
it also eventually consumed George, both publicly and privately.
Realizing he must make some important changes in his life,
the resilient entertainer found the strength and clarity he
needed to turn his life around. He also learned that reinventing
himself was the best way to survive in this business.
Georges latest incarnation happened
quite by chance, and ironically brings his remarkable musical
career full circle. "If DJs can make records, why cant
I DJ?" the Grammy award-winner remembers asking himself
back in 1988 as he contemplated his next career move. "I
got into it accidentally," he insists. "I didnt
suddenly wake up and say, Well, Im gonna DJ. I was actually
at a big rave called Pascha, and in the back there was a chill-out
room where they were playing tapes. I said, Why dont
you get someone to play in this room, get someone to play
old pop music or vintage house records, and they said, Why
dont you do it? I said, hmm, okay, how much are you
going to pay me? [laughs] I ended up doing it for like £300.
It was just a bit of fun. So I did a few of those, and then
I started getting asked to do gigs, and I said, Oh no, no,
I couldnt possibly do this seriously."
did do it seriously, and throughout the 90s, George worked diligently to
turn his life around. Inspired by artists like Timo Maas, George Morell
and Cevin Fisher, George polished his turntable skills, paid his dues, and
eventually conquered the European club scene. In addition to DJing, George
also works behind the scenes writing, producing, remixing and singing. Pseudonyms
are nothing new to George ODowd (his birth name), and hes had
a lot of fun over the years working on projects under the guise of names
like Angela Dust, Jesus Loves You and The Colein. Several of these records
have been released on Georges fledgling More Protein record label,
now optimistically called GNP (Gross National Product).
past three years, the androgynous pop icon has been exercising his wit and
creativity while writing a weekly gossip column for the Sunday Express.
"This is just on like where Ive been and who Ive seen,"
George explains. "[It can be] political, social, or sometimes just
mindless gossip about seeing Madonna in restaurants and things like that.
It really depends on what kind of mood Im in or where Ive been
that week." He also hosts his own weekly radio show called Clubversive
which is syndicated regionally throughout the U.K. and Europe, as well as
some rather unusual locales like Latvia and Bosnia. "I dont know
why," he says of his popularity in these regions, "but they seem
to like it."
George has proudly embraced his success
as a DJ in Europe and other parts of the world, but hes
anxious to tackle the burgeoning American market. "One
of the exciting things about America at the moment is that
theyre not as jaded as the British about dance music,"
George claims. "America has a more adventurous spirit
and open-minded mentality. From the British DJs point
of view, America is like the new frontier because people arent
so cynical there."
never more apparent to George than while working on the Essential Mix compilation
for London-Sire. "When I was asked to do it, I said I would not be
told what to put on it," he recalls. "They said, No, you put what
you want on it, and there was really no interference whatsoever. That was
is a smoothly sequenced mixture of different musical styles that reflects
Georges varied taste in dance music. The 17 tracks transcend the spectrum
of traditional American dance music offering listeners everything from house
to techno, trance to hip-hop, and the latest European sensations, ragga
and two-step. "Ragga really is a kind of raggae thats spoken.
Its kind of a rap, but its in a Jamaican style. Two-step is
sort of a hybrid of house, R&B and hip-hop," George explains. "I
know a lot of American artists are coming to London to get two-step mixes
done for this market, but I know a lot of people in America just think,
What is this?"
me, the whole two-step thing is very sexy," he goes on to say. "When
I first heard it a few years ago, I thought, Ooh, this is really odd. When
I first watched people getting down to it in a club, it was actually quite
an experience because people were literally copulating on the dance floor.
Its very much like the raggae scene which is very sexually charged.
In the two-step scene, when a club really goes off, people are literally
simulating sex on the dance floor."
take American audiences a while to get past the country and western line
dancing imagery of this new form of two-step, but George is optimistic that
the erotic grooves will eventually catch on in the States. His new CD is
destined to help fulfill that prophecy.
Georges Essential Mix
excursion starts off slowly with the Boogie Macs "Girl
from Ipanema," but quickly picks up the pace as the ragga
and two-step genres are adeptly explored on several funky
tunes before the disc reaches its high house crescendo with
Shauna Solomons "Watcha Gonna Do" and Tutto
Matto vs. Different Gears "Take My Hand."
The dreamy trance vocal "Spreading the Light" by
The Colein (on which George sings) and Amanda Ghosts
"Filfthy Mind" equalize the remaining industrial,
techno and progressively hard-edged tracks in sublime fashion.
The sweeping sonic journey wraps up with the Waveheads
energetic "Second Coming."
Essential Mix CD doesnt satisfy your Boy George craving, watch out
for a new Culture Club release in the near future. "We had an album
out in England about a year ago called I Dont Mind if I Do,
and weve taken about four or five tracks from that and reworked and
remixed them for the dance floor," George proudly reports. "We
are going to release this sort of EP thing in America which is much more
dance oriented than anything weve done in a while."
Everyday Is Like Survival
Through the many triumphs and tribulations,
George has developed a healthy perspective on both his career
and his personal life that has led to pure contentment. "Ive
managed to survive since 1995 without having records out and
without having a [singing] career," he says. "If
I relied on my [singing] career to be successful, Id
be living in a tin hut right now. Thats the great thing
about DJing and all the other work I do I am able to
make a very good living, and I enjoy what I do."
No matter what path Boy George takes next, there is
no doubt that he will continue entertaining the world for
many years to come. After all, as he wryly points out himself,
"Its quite hard to be out of the limelight when
youre Boy George." And we wouldnt have it
any other way.