Dan Prince gets the exclusive interview with one of the world’s biggest music icons
Hi George, you’ve just left a meeting with your Culture Club band members about reforming, what’s the latest?
“Hi Dan. Well we are just working out how we are going to do this thing, everyone has different ideas. I’ve always said bands are like families – impossible at times but worth it in the end. We’ve all grown up a lot and we can now disagree about things without falling out.”
So what’s the next step?
“We are looking for new management and are deciding which direction to go in. It’s definitely progress. Things have changed this year, we were meant to do a tour this summer but we have had some things to deal with. I really want to push on into America but I need to still sort the visa issues which hasn’t been an easy task, but the main thing is there wouldn’t be a way of doing this if we weren’t getting on. For me, what we did with Culture Club was the most magical, most powerful thing I have ever done, there is something very special about being in a band. It would be nice to do one more project and then perhaps put it to bed in a healthy way.”
Well it’s not as though you aren’t busy enough at the moment, your studio work and DJing is going through the roof right now…
“My criteria over the last few years is to have fun again with my music, which is just what I’ve done. It’s taken away all of the stress.”
So much great production going on at the moment. I hear Universal have just told you they want to sign ‘These Gods Will Fall’. What’s the idea behind the record?
“It’s simply that people come and go. Myself and Marc Vedo were discussing how so many artists come from nowhere, fill stadiums and disappear. The process of doing all of the groundwork and working your way up has gone. I am a strong believer in the quote “if you give something from your soul the music lasts longer”, there are too many people who are just interested in wanting a fur coat or getting that quick buck, if you are passionate about something you stay around for longer.”
Point taken. But are you going against that ethos by working with Afrojack and Re3ab on another new tune, ‘Bigger Than Love”?
“Well the end result is the most important thing Dan. When I got the track I loved it. I thought this is very me but what can I do with it vocally? It took me a few days of playing it over and over again and in the end I knew what to do. I’ve put a very dark, kind of Jim Morrison sound on it, not belting it out at all. I haven’t heard the finished version yet but I really like it.”
Do you find it harder to write lyrics for dance songs, there are so many people around Europe who are making millions with repetitive songs for huge trance producers…
“Whenever I write a song I’m looking for angles – with dance music lyrics it’s so much more difficult. There’s only so many times you can write about shaking your arse and waving your hands in the air. When I write for dance music I write for the track, it’s all about what works for the track and the dancefloor, I try and keep it as simple and concise as possible. I’ve always said that the best dance records in the world are the instrumental ones, there are a few exceptions such as ‘Show Me Love’ where you remember the vocals, but on the whole there aren’t any lyrics. That’s because most dance producers can’t work with chords, can’t deal with complicated chord changes and they are limited in what they can do. That’s why they sample so much or use technology.”
How did the hook up with George Michael happen on the new track you all have been working on?
“To be honest, that’s more Marc’s project than mine. George called me up and asked me to suggest some dance producers he should work with on his new album and I obviously put Marc’s name forward.”
Are you big mates with George these days?
“Dan, George doesn’t even follow me on Twitter, that’s how close we are!”
Ah social media! You admitted a few years ago to being addicted to the internet, spending six hours a day on it. These days you are a regular Twitter – do you get a lot of flack from people?
“Loads! All tongue in cheek though, once in a blue moon I’ll get a real nasty comment and if I can think of a witty response I’ll reply, more than often I’ll just block it. If I can leave them with a poignant reply or poke a stick into their soul then that’s great, but I don’t take it too seriously. I put ‘Video Games’ on YouTube last week and had somebody post up ‘why don’t you just retire?’. Everyone has critics but once someone has done something creative it’s done. What do they want me to do? Go away, re do it and then post it again and ask them their opinion? It’s not like I am going to take it offline. They are just arseoles. Just like the people who are bitter towards me who have never met me but still slag me off. I have no time for them.”
Does it still surprise you when you walk into a room and people are obviously flabbergasted at meeting you?
“When I dress up I know I am going to get attention but I have never been a fan of fuss Dan, never have been. At the height of the pop star fame it was much worse but it has never excited me. I have this knack of dressing down and going unnoticed, I can get on the tube and no one will bat an eyelid which I love.”
Okay, well who have you been starstruck around, you have met royalty for chrissakes…?
“With me it’s real random people. I was in awe when I met one of my idols Patti Smith, I was excited when I met the actress Sigourney Weaver. But on the other end of the spectrum I was at Leeds Airport the other week and I spotted Jane Cox who plays Lisa Dingle in Emmerdale. I was straight on my phone to my friends saying ‘you will not believe who I am sitting next to’.”
When did you first meet Marc?
“I started playing down in Bristol for Marc at Lakota years ago before the UK’s club scene died from the waist down. We ended up doing a tour of South America that Marc was promoted and became friends from then.”
Did you fancy him?
“Ha ha ha. No, I might have fancied him when he was 19 but Dan, I’m the godfather to his child so I really can’t think of him in that way!”
Are you a good God Father?
“I’m getting there, I have quite a few but the last couple I’m getting close to and I think the parents can rely on me.”
In a baby sitting way?
“God no. More of in if there was a crisis way.”
Has the thought of having children like Elton John and David Furnish ever interested you?
“No. I think it’s far too much responsibility. Dan, I can hardly look after a hat never mind a child. Kids are amazing but they are not for me.”
What do you respect about Marc Vedo?
“I think he has a great passion for what he does, which I love. He is very ambitious and hungry for success.”
Has any of that rubbed off on you?
“I don’t think about the future too much. I don’t see age as a barrier any more, I have changed a lot over the past five years and am just enjoying myself.”
I asked him what was your most annoying habit was. He said your stubbornness and the fact that it is ‘always Marc’s fault’. What’s his?
“Ha ha! I was speaking to Marc’s wife at the weekend and we had a laugh as I was blaming him for something or other. I am a little less stubborn these days. When I was in Culture Club my initial response to circumstances may sometimes have not been the most healthy. Nowadays I am able to take a deep breath and if needed apologise. I didn’t used to have an ‘off button’ or any sort of ‘volume control’…I kind of know where they both are now. As for Marc, he never answers his fucking phone! And he is guilty of a trait so many other manager’s have of agreeing things on their clients behalf and forgetting to tell us about it. But on the whole he’s great Dan.”
Let’s talk about the state of UK clubland. It is dire at the moment, a lot of people blame Radio 1 for channeling shit music down people’s throats. As far back as 1990 you were screaming that there wasn’t enough black producers and programmes on the airwaves. What are your thoughts firstly on British radio in 2012…
“There still isn’t any emphasis on proper house music in the UK, there is also a definite soul element missing. And the sad thing is, there are some great records around right now. Look at Margaret Grace ‘My Love’, a beautiful track that has been around for a while and should be getting much more exposure, but isn’t. These days you have to work so harder to get your sound together, back in the day all you had to do was go into your favourite record store where the staff knew your vibe and they would have a pile of records waiting for you. That’s all changed now with the Internet.”
So how do you put your sets together today?
“I always feel a good starting point is ‘no compromise’, maybe I will play a remix of a big tune in there to give the crowd a false sense of security. I always play what I love, the moment the audience starts dictating the music you play, well you may as well as be a jukebox. And that’s why when you drop something as wonderful as the Margaret Grace track into your set and it goes off knowing that the crowd doesn’t know the track, well that’s what makes it so worthwhile.”
And what about the state of the UK’s clubland? I’ve just been speaking to Marc about the last whirlwind three weeks where you have been wowing dancefloors all across Europe. I touched on the subject of UK clubbing at the moment and he said he shudders when he looks in his diary and sees a booking for a UK club. It’s that bad. He claims the UK club owners have been caught up and left way behind behind their worldwide counterparts who once upon a time, envied our scene. Thoughts….
“There is still a scene out there, the Dubstep scene is still going strong for instance. But it’s only the foreign DJs that sell out clubs in the UK nowadays, the only time most UK DJs play here are at the big festivals. Thank goodness some of us have a name around the world and keep getting booked. The only time I ever see most of the big UK DJs are at airports, I bumped in Paul Oakenfold in Poland last week and Sasha at Heathrow yesterday. Still, it was nice seeing them!”
And finally, at school you used to got o the careers advisor and tell them you wanted to work int the theatre or become a make up artist. They told you, no George, you are going to work in Tescos. Did you ever bump into those people in later life?
“Funny you should say that. Two weeks ago I appeared at the Literary and WIne Festival in Barolo in Italy which was beautiful. Anyway I bumped into an old school friend who I hadn’t seen since I was about 17 and she came up to me and said ‘hey George I’ve got something to show you.’ She pulled out my Dole Card from 1979 that she’d kept for all those years. Turns out she’s a soprano singer living over there and her husband is now teaching me Italian. Emma Dogliani – Google her Dan, she’s great!”