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What's new in iJamming!...
Tue, Oct 23, 2001
ECHO & THE BUNNYMEN: "Flowers is Echo & The Bunnymen's finest hour since Ocean Rain."
HEDONISM:
An intrigue of early 90s New York nightlife.
NEW CHAPTER now online
From the Jamming! Archives:
U2 interviewed in 1984.
"It's not U2 that's creating this great art. . .There's something that works through us to create in this way."
MUSING ON A SEPTEMBER MOURNING
PART1:
My immediate reaction to September 11
PART 2: Messages from friends & family overseas
PART 3: Observations & quotes from others.
PART 4: LINKS
PART 5: COPING - 2 weeks later
iJamming! Wino/Muso:
JOHN ACQUAVIVA
"New world wines are just too techno for me."
Featured albums
(Hub, Slumber Party, DJ Harry, Spearhead, The Who tribute
)
Albums that sound different since September 11
(Charlatans UK, Arabian Travels, Cafe del Mar, Sugarcult)
Featured wine region 3:
SOUTHERN RHÔNE WHITES
Featured wine region 4:
SOUTHERN RHÔNE ROSÉS
iJamming! interview:
Jesse Hartman, aka LAPTOP
"Every New York band knows the meaning of failure"
MIX Albums:
Who, what and why you should bother (DB, Spooky, Jody, RSW, Bad Boy Bill)
FEATURED Wines (Langlois Cremant de Loire, Honig Sauvignon Blanc, Campbell's Muscat, Brumont Gros Manseng, Dr Frank Gewürtztraminer, Daubree CoteRotie, Dry Creek Chenin Blanc, Mas Saint Laurent Picpoul, Quivira Dry Creek)
The iJAMMING! interview: DAVID SYLVIAN
"I don't think people realize that life can become so exciting and interesting that it can draw you away for long periods of time from creating music - & why not?"
From the Keith Moon archives:
the JEFF BECK interview .
From Homework to the Disco:
DAFT PUNK
grows up and dumbs down
The iJAMMING! chat:
MARK PERRY

"If I was asked why Sniffin' Glue was so important, it was the way we conducted ourselves, the style of it, just the attitude. It had attitude in abundance didn't it?"
The Return of Shoegazing:
DOVES take New York by swarm
Forgotten Classics:
THE CHILLS: Brave Words
THE iJAMMING! Book Review:
SNIFFIN' GLUE: The Essential Punk Accessory
Musing with SALLY TAYLOR:
"I'm not interested in what the major labels have to offer."
From the JAMMING! archives: PAUL WELLER ON POP
Featured wine region 2:
CÔTES DU RHÔNE VILLAGES
From the JAMMING! archives: ALTERNATIVE TV
interviewed in 1978
TRAVIS.
Fran Healy explains why "you cannot own a song." (And why Liam Gallagher "is going to turn into a really great songwriter.")
Featured Artist Web Site:
LLOYD COLE
From the JAMMING! archives: The Story That Spawned Creation
Featured vine:
VIOGNIER:
Finally, a worthy rival to Chardonnay.
The iJAMMING! interview:
BOY GEORGE.
"Once you've had your go, what-ever it may be, they want you to piss off, and they can't bear it if you come back, they can't bear it."
SUPERDRAG
They love rock'n'roll but they don't want to deal with the hassle
From the JAMMING! archives: RAYMONDE in 1985
The full iJamming! Contents
The iJAMMING! interview:
BOY GEORGE
I can only imagine what some of the rockists will be thinking when they come to this site and see a Boy George interview as a selected feature. But if they read through they'll realize that this is someone who unquestionably knows his music - albeit dance music. I used to see quite a lot of George when Jamming! had its office at the Nomis Studios near Hammersmith where, on any given day, you might find Culture Club, Duran Duran, Spandau Ballet, Dexys Midnight Runners, Def Leppard, Iron Maiden, The Jam and Motorhead all rehearsing. As you can imagine with so many icons in one place at one time, there was always a gaggle of girls out front; most of them dressed like Boy George, and he always had time for them, even at a point when he seemed to be the most famous pop star on the planet.
After Culture Club split, George went through that terrible public period of heroin abuse and near death that you wouldn't wish on your most hated rock star, then pulled himself out from the very brink of the abyss, and scored a number one hit with his first ever solo single, a cover of Bread's 'Everything I Own.' And then, as far as many people were concerned, he disappeared. In fact, he was reinventing himself, or at least repositioning himself, returning to the world he had started out in - the nightclub scene, right at the point that the acid house revolution occurred. Rather than cry at the thought of the elitist night spots being taken over by the hoi polloi, George threw himself head first into the new melting pot, launching a label (More Protein), a number of pseudonyms (most memorably Jesus Loves You) and then having the audacity to become a club DJ.

There may never be full agreement on whether George had to work for his success as a DJ or whether it was gifted him by his fame; what can't be argued is that his popularity in the club scene has endured and increased over the years. His name has been attached to a number of successful mix albums, and in the new year, he'll be releasing his first American CD, as part of the Essential Mix series. I was drafted in to write the record company bio and sat down for lunch with him the week that the reformed Culture Club came back and played NewYork's Beacon Theater. (No, I didn't go!) As always seems to be the case when I'm doing interviews, we found ourselves talking way longer than we needed to. But George was always an interviewer's delight, and it's no different now that he's no longer a global pop star. It just means that these days we can talk about the minutia of music - a subject closer to his heart than ever.


If memory serves me, after Culture Club broke up, rather than go straight into DJing, I think you set up More Protein first.

When Culture Club broke up, I hadn't been going out a lot because we'd been working all the time, so I suddenly had this period of leisure. And it was just around the time that the whole acid house thing kicked off in London. I was at Heaven for the first Spectrum, just out of curiousity, I'm always looking out for what's new. And I think Oakey (Paul Oakenfold) had said, 'Oh we're doing this club, come down', and the first time I went there it was only 200 people and you know how big Heaven is, it's a huge cavernous place. I got into that whole scene. What was exciting about it was the fact that you didn't have to be dressed up, it wasn't about being a pop star, it was almost anti all that. It was a great place to just mingle and disappear. And there wasn't any kind of strict uniform because everyone was going out to dance, so you literally were in dirty old t-shirts and sweaty jeans. Also there was a connection with Jeremy Healy, because to start with, my first ever DJing gig was with Jeremy Healy at a club called Planets. This was in 1979. We got the gig because we've always manically collected records, we've always bought vinyl and we've always been obsessive about it. My friend Philip Salon was doing this club called Planets, and we were the only people he knew had records, and he knew we'd do it for twenty quid. So we started DJing at that club, and Jeremy, when (his band) Haysi Fantayzee finished, really got into that whole hip hop scene in New York, he was one of the first people I knew to get decks, get into scratching, making mix tapes, he did this club called The Circus, so that was a little bit of an influence on me. Because when Culture Club broke up I started hanging with him again and he was always giving me these crazy mix tapes.

About two years down the line, I bought decks, I didn't buy them to DJ, I bought them cos you had to have them! Then in about 1988 I did a record called 'Everything Starts with an E,' with MC Kinky, Jeremy, and this guy called Simon Rodgers. And the story behind that was - I'd managed to get Virgin to put it out, and at that time Lisa Loud was the label A&R and she was also going out with Paul Oakenfold, and she was saying 'You've got to take this MC Kinky off this record, no one's going to get this ragga house thing' - we were pretty ahead of ourselves with that - so I said 'it so works, without her there's no record, she is it.' I said, 'Have you not given it to Paul?' and she said 'Oh they've all had copies.' What happened was up at the Hacienda in Manchester Graeme Park got hold of the record, and at the Hac at 12 o'clock he turned all the music off, all the lights off and played the record and the whole place had gone ballistic. This had filtered back to Oakenfold and at Spectrum he came up to me and said 'What's this with this E record?' I said 'your girlfriend's promoting it.' He said 'I haven't got a copy' and I said 'well you'd better get a copy' and then he went ballistic about it as well.

What was the artist name on that?

E-zee Posse. Unfortunately it came out at the time that Radio 1 had decided not to ban records publicly, but just to not play them, so we lost a bit of power with that, but the record lasted for three or four years. It's still considered an acid house classic. And a lot of people didn't really know that I was involved with that, and that was a deliberate thing, because I knew that particularly in England, people really like to hold you in a corner, so if I'd told people I'd done everything it probably wouldn't have sold at all. So all the stuff I did at the time was under different names, I did it under Jesus Loves You, and I used a pseudonym, Angela Dust, and I tried to go through the back door doing dance stuff.

What I remember was that you did a year or two's work before people knew it was George.

I also tried to avoid doing obvious dance records. There was a sound, and I thought 'well I'm not going to do that because I will get slagged off.' And with 'After the Love' I got Single of the Week in NME and I almost fell over! I just knew that during that period, just to survive, I had to do something that was left of center.

Most people know you as a DJ or a singer, but when doing records like Ezee Posse, what other breadth of the studio knowledge did you bring in to make the records?

It was real collaboration. I knew Jeremy wanted to make records again and I was encouraging him to do that. And Simon Rodgers is part of Slacker now. He's very talented. He was a bit of a whiz in the studio. And then Kinky was this quirky mad girl that I met who was doing something that was quite unusual at the time. There hadn't been any of those ragga house records. We kind of started it but we didn't capitalize on it! (Laughs)

At the same time, you're rebuilding your credibility. So even if you don't have a top 20 hit. . .

Also, it was just enjoying myself a bit. Because the Culture Club thing had become very hard work, and I'd forgotten that you could actually have a laugh in the studio. Plus technology was making it much easier to make records. Jeremy had a set up in his council house in Camden. You could do all this work without running up bills, plus you could work on things, there wasn't a clock ticking. That was nice. It was just a different kind of pressure.

And you felt the whole dance thing welcome you in? Because it was really a brand new thing wasn't it?

Yeah. In the clubs. But when I started DJing, definitely not. My first DJ gig was at Venus in Nottingham, with James Bailly, and that was my first professional job, I don't know if you remember the Pushka raves, they had all these big parties, I went to one of those and in the chill room they had a cassette playing and I said to Debbie and Rick (the promoters) why don't you play records, old pop tunes and stuff, and they said 'why don't you do it?' I said 'give me £300 and my cab fare and I'll do it.' So the next one they did two months later I did it and it was great fun. I was playing stuff like 'Islands in the Stream' but also things like Ce Ce Rogers, Completely mixing things up like it was like a school disco. And that became a regular thing and then I started getting asked to do proper gigs and I thought, No I can't do this, (laughs) I can't do proper clubs. Then I got to the point and thought 'well I'm getting some many offers that I should practice for a bit and not be such a coward.' So I started working on it and spending a lot of time practicing, taking my decks around with me when I went away to the studio. Making tapes and just learning. But having said that, until you go out and play in a club, it doesn't matter how much you practice at home and how great you are, when you play in a club it changes everything. There were a handful of promoters - James Bailie, Charlie Chester - that really really gave me work, put me on when I was really learning. I played in this club in Middlesborough called The Arena and I used to do that almost one a month. I guess at the beginning there was this novelty thing of 'Boy George is going to be in a club playing records!' (laughs) but there were three or four promoters who just stuck with me. I was obviously into the music. If I'd played the wrong music they wouldn't have booked me again, but it was more from a technical point of view. . .


" I think one of the things they hate (in the UK) is that once you've had your go, whatever it may be, they want you to piss off, and they can't bear it if you come back, they can't bear it. They'd prefer to hear about you having a turn at the Vauxhall Tavern or on the cabaret circuit."


I remember reading a lot about your mixing ability in those early days - or lack of it. Was that people being snide?

I think some of it was people being snide. A lot of people felt 'why are you DJing?' A lot of people felt I was getting work because I was Boy George. My response at the time was that there's a lot of DJs making records, they're not all making good records, but they have the right to do that. But I think that's more of a real British thing. I think one of the things they hate at home is that once you've had your go, whatever it may be, they want you to piss off, and they can't bear it if you come back, they can't bear it. They'd prefer to hear about you having a turn at the Vauxhall Tavern or on the cabaret circuit. But if you come back and try your hand at something new, there are some people who really resent that. But I've never had that attitude about what I do, I knew that I was learning, I knew that I had to go out and play, and I knew that I had to go out and face the criticisms, but at a certain point, I learned to do it and I stopped being scared. I remember being booked alongside Sasha at one gig in Hastings and I was so terrified I thought I was going to throw up and I did my set, and afterwards Sasha was really sweet and was saying 'You're really good, you rocked it.' I said 'Thank you so much, that really means a lot to me.' I've found that the DJs that are well established, they tend to be a lot cooler.

But that's the same with pop stars. Those who've been at the top for a long time are always the coolest people. It's usually those on the way up - or of course, the way back down - who are most difficult.

Well there are those who think you can only succeed at someone else's expense. So a lot of people felt that 'you're getting work that I could be getting.' But in a way you can't separate the man from what he does. You take Jeremy Healy, he took a lot of criticism for being a showman, but that's his quality. You get a lot of DJs, who are really earnest, and everything they do is really perfect but they might as well not be there. I remember a really funny incident at the Hacienda, I was playing there for some gay benefit, I did this really awful mix, it was like a drag queen falling down the stairs in a pair of Vivienne Westwood platforms! I was really freaked out and Jon Pleased (Wimmin) was there and said 'well at least they know you're here!' The main thing was watching what other people do. What does that mean, how does that work? Another thing is I'm a total technophobe. It took me 12 years to work out how to operate my washing machine! For me it was a really big thing to , not so much get that technical side, but to overcome that fear. Now if something goes wrong I'll deal with it. I don't get all fucking freaked out and hide. Because I've been with DJs who are the best DJs and they fuck up!

All the time, even when you were learning and there was some bitterness, you were having fun? It seems to me that you did.

But also the audience. People in clubs were generally very supportive. You'd have the odd situation where the resident DJ would be really snotty and unfriendly, but the public, the clubbers, really embraced me and were really friendly.

People who know you by name and reputation and image would assume that you play clubs that are glam, gay. . .

I'm a northern DJ, by default really. I play mostly in the north of England, the midlands, and the south coast, I don't really play in London. I like playing around. I've seen more of England in the last seven years than I ever did beforehand. There are certain promoters - Lush, I do a club in Ireland called Progress - so you do tend to go to places where you're popular, I did a few dates the other week and the set that worked in Perth didn't work in Glasgow. I had to adapt. I don't plan my set, I don't have an order of records because you can't really. And I really just play things I like. I'm always loathe to say I don't play this or that, but I play what works. I don't really like trance music but I will play a trance record if I like it. There are a lot of DJs who play a style, I don't really have any loyalty to any sound.

PART 2
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