We can be HEROES
Guess who is lining up to celebrate David Bowie?
There’s nothing quite like diving into the deep stuff. Just a few minutes after meeting with IOTA, we’re on the subject of life after death. The singer and songwriter is set to appear — alongside Tim Rogers, Steve Kilbey, Deborah Conway, Adalita and Jack Ladder — with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra as part of a tribute to David Bowie, called Nothing Has Changed, at the Opera House in May. Best Weekend meets IOTA on the day of Prince’s death, so naturally, recently departed rock stars are on the mind.
But rather than getting caught up in a sense of mourning, IOTA is philosophical about that final journey, and what might await us on the other side.
“We’ve all got to go — I wasn’t surprised when Bowie died,” he says. “I don’t really feel sad; I kind of think it’s cool. I sort of look forward to it myself, in a way, just because it’s a whole new adventure.
“It’s somethingg that we so don’t know anything about, but we can explore with our minds now. I’ve always wondered what that moment’s like, to go. ‘This is it, I’m definitely going’. Whether you believe there’s going to be more, or whether you think that it’s just over. I can imagine that there’s more, because the universe is infinite.”
After Bowie passed away, IOTA says he was asked to perform in several tribute shows to the Thin White Duke, but it was only when the SSO asked that he acquiesced.
“I love him. I saw Bowie when I grew up, on the TV — the ’80s were probably when I first got into him with Let’s Dance and China Girl, when he did the Australian film clips. That was him to me, that was how I remembered learning about him. “The Ziggy Stardust album was when I first heard an entire album of his and was really struck by the songs and by his voice. The Heathen album and Reality — I really loved those two albums. I don’t mean to do it, but I don’t get into things that everyone’s into; I get into it 10 years later. “The big attraction was the SSO — to do it with an orchestra is an experience that I haven’t had. If you’re going to do one, it’s the one to do,” he says, adding that he feels the concerts will provide a respectful reflection on Bowie’s body of work without being mawkish.
“It’s a fine line — it’s either got to be really grand or in someone’s lounge room singing a couple of songs.”
While IOTA admits to a few nerves at taking on Bowie’s much-loved back catalogue, performing onstage is when he’s most comfortable in his own skin.
“It’s like the only time I really know what’s going on. I wish I could go confidently through life like that — just completely letting go and letting it all happen and knowing that everything is going to be fine. It’s quite lovely.
“But the first time we do this Bowie thing, I’ll be having a whole other out-of-body experience. I feel a bit nervous about the lyrics, and just making sure I get them right. I feel like you have to because this is a big show — he’s dead, we’re honouring him and his art. As an artist I think that it’s important to do that — I’m terrible at lyrics, even my own. I’m studying hard, I’m not going to fuck it up.”
Apart from paying his respects to Bowie’s talent, IOTA is hoping the night turns into a celebration of the artist’s work — much in the way he danced on the streets of Newtown after Michael Jackson’s passing.
“When he died, I was going somewhere with my boyfriend into the city and they’d just set up speakers and were playing Michael Jackson. People were just walking past and started to dance, and I just went, ‘We have to go’, and cancelled what we were doing. We bought a bottle of wine and danced to Michael Jackson for a couple of hours. They put a screen up (showing) how to do the moves to Thriller, so there were all these drunk people trying to do all these moves — it was really great.”