BOY GE­ORGE

Adam Lam­bert gets up close and per­sonal with the Cul­ture Club icon to dis­cuss his new Las Ve­gas res­i­dency and record deal, the ever-chang­ing face of the queer scene, and his per­sonal pro­gres­sions, all on the 30th an­niver­sary of his first Gay Times cover

Gay Times Magazine - - Contents - Pho­tog­ra­phy Bartek Szmigul­ski In­ter­view Adam Lam­bert Styling Kam­ran Ra­jput

The evo­lu­tion of our home­grown icon Boy Ge­orge has been the talk of the na­tion. 30 years on from his first Gay Times cover story, he sits down with Queen front­man Adam Lam­bert to dis­cuss how he got from there to here as he em­barks on his biŠest mu­si­cal mo­ment in nearly 30 years.

Boy Ge­orge is a man that needs no in­tro­duc­tion. He’s ba ed two Brits, two Ivor Novello’s and a Grammy, sold more the 50 mil­lion records in­ter­na­tion­ally and is recog­nised by many as a pi­o­neer of the New Ro­man­tic move­ment that shaped the 70s and 80s. In re­cent years he’s ap­peared as a guest coach on the The Voice (both in the UK and Aus­tralia) and has signed a new record deal with BMG — his first ma­jor la­bel sign­ing in nearly 30 years.

But aside from his im­pres­sive tra­jec­tory of mu­si­cal hits and sub­se­quent ac­co­lades, it’s the man be­hind the mu­sic that gen­er­ates the bi est on-set buzz. He is un­de­ni­ably a multi-faceted fig­ure, and as we wait for him on­set one Satur­day af­ter­noon in Camden, no one re­ally knows what to ex­pect. What re­ally do you ex­pect from an icon?

When we meet he’s calm and col­lected, but also charis­matic, fun and easy­go­ing. There’s a feel­ing that he’s reached a level of con­tent­ment in his life, and we’re keen to know more. Cel­e­brat­ing 30 years since his first Gay Times cover, Boy Ge­orge sits down with his con­tem­po­rary coun­ter­part and friend, Adam Lam­bert, to talk Las Ve­gas res­i­den­cies, stay­ing grounded and his evo­lu­tion from boy to man… Adam: I hear you have a Las Ve­gas res­i­dency com­ing up? That’s ex­cit­ing!

Ge­orge: We are go­ing to try and build a show in Ve­gas. I don’t re­ally know whether it’s go­ing to be like an ex­trav­a­ganza [or] whether it’s go­ing to be some­thing more of a one man show. So at the mo­ment we are meet­ing with var­i­ous peo­ple to sort of see what the view is. I am prob­a­bly go­ing to per­form with guests. So feel free to come along!

Adam: Yes! Do you have an idea of when this will be?

Ge­orge: Sum­mer or Septem­ber next year! That’s the dream.

Adam: Who else would you want to come in and guest with you?

Ge­orge: K.D Lang would be great – you know all the di­vas! Cindy Lau­per. Madonna. Come over Madge! Lets do ‘I Made It Through The Rain’ by Barry Manilow. It’s our song! I can just hear it! If I had to choose a song with me and Madonna I’d choose that! [Laughs]

Adam: You just signed with a big la­bel again, BMG. Do you have new mu­sic com­ing out?

Ge­orge: At the mo­ment, the next thing is the Cul­ture Club record which we sort of half did over the last two years. We are also up­dat­ing the records and this week we have been writ­ing. It’s been such fun, I have to say we’ve laughed a lot. Bands are like fam­i­lies; you don’t re­ally choose who is in your fam­ily and of­ten you do not choose who is in your band. You end up with a group of peo­ple that you of­ten have zero in com­mon with and you kind of have to learn over the years to let peo­ple be who they are. It’s the trick of life! Adam: With this la­bel sign­ing, is it both Cul­ture Club and you, solo?

Ge­orge: I have done my own deal. The Cul­ture club al­bum is com­ing out first. The next al­bum I do [alone], I’ll be cov­er­ing all of my favourite songs! Adam: Amaz­ing!

Ge­orge: And pos­si­bly cov­er­ing some Cul­ture Club songs, like what I’d do with them now. Sign­ing this record deal is ex­cit­ing!

Adam: Con­grat­u­la­tions, I love that! With Cul­ture Club, why do you think you guys waited this long?

Ge­orge: Oh, so many dra­mas!

Adam: I saw that doc­u­men­tary [From Karma to Calamity]

Ge­orge: Oh no, that doc­u­men­tary! We talked at length about that doc­u­men­tary this week. We went to Spain for three weeks. We ab­so­lutely had the most amaz­ing time — which you would never know from that doc­u­men­tary!

Adam: The doc­u­men­tary was all about the drama!

Ge­orge: There were 2 ar­gu­ments and they were ba­si­cally turned into the doc­u­men­tary. I was like “we had fun!” I mean yes, I had rows with Jon but ac­tu­ally, we recorded nine­teen songs... no men­tion of that! It just shows you that if you’re not care­ful, a re­ally mi­nor thing can ap­pear to be a ma­jor thing. It was a bit dis­ap­point­ing. We had fun in Spain, but not like we have done this week, we’ve been laugh­ing and it’s re­ally re­flected in the writ­ing.

Adam: It comes from joy.

Ge­orge: Yes, it comes from joy. Mu­sic is a thing that has al­ways glued my life to­gether, I’m sure it’s the same for you, but it’s the one thing no mat­ter what has gone on in my life, mu­sic has al­ways been a con­stant. There’s al­ways a song for ev­ery sit­u­a­tion wher­ever you are, how­ever deep you are in the hole.

Adam: It’s medicine. 100 per cent. Song­writ­ing is weird. It changes de­pend­ing on who is in the room doesn’t it. I also feel like any­thing goes right now, stylis­ti­cally, genre wise.

Ge­orge: Although I’m associated most with the 80s, the 70s was my decade, that was when I dis­cov­ered glam-rock, mu­sic, fash­ion, cloth­ing, sex­u­al­ity. I never got past Alice Cooper, David Bowie, Rod Ste­wart and the Faces, Roxy Mu­sic, Patti Smith, Blondie.

Adam: I think mu­sic in the 70s was all stuff that hadn’t been done be­fore. It was all new. Peo­ple were cre­at­ing their own thing.

Ge­orge: I feel like nowa­days ev­ery­thing’s a lit­tle bit of a for­mula. I think also at­ti­tudes to­wards things; ev­ery­one gets put into a cat­e­gory.

Adam: There’s too many cat­e­gories!

Ge­orge: Grow­ing up in the 70s, I al­ways felt like a bit of an out­sider and I quite liked that! But when I get into a lift with busi­ness men and I’m dressed up I still get a lit­tle bit un­com­fort­able and I’m happy with that! [Laughs]

Adam: You’re get­ting into lifts with busi­ness­men... that sounds ex­cit­ing! Do you think those “out­siders” still ex­ist to­day?

Ge­orge: Yes, there’s loads! I mean es­pe­cially in Lon­don, you go to Dal­ston and Hox­ton, there’s th­ese young kids do­ing their ver­sion of that, and I think it’s re­ally im­por­tant not to be too cyn­i­cal, be­cause re­ally there’s noth­ing that hasn’t been done, so all you’re left with is in­ter­pre­ta­tion, and that is just as valid.

Adam: I feel like there’s a new move­ment go­ing on with the kids to­day, it’s sort of echo­ing what was go­ing on in the 70s with this sort of gen­der neu­tral, fluid, peo­ple are be­ing more an­drog­y­nous!

Ge­orge: I’m in­ter­ested to know how you feel about all of that, be­cause I feel like I’m a lit­tle bit old fash­ioned, I’m kind of like — how many flavours can there be? I feel like there’s girls and boys and there’s peo­ple that like both. What else is there?!

Adam: I don’t like all the la­bels.

Ge­orge: It is an in­ter­est­ing time be­cause we have so much more free­dom in some re­spects in the way that we com­mu­ni­cate with each other, and that’s fas­ci­nat­ing I think!

Adam: Ran­dom ques­tion; you’ve said that you have an un­re­leased track with Ge­orge Michael, is that true?

Ge­orge: I did a show with Ge­orge for Cap­i­tal Ra­dio for some sort of char­ity and we did a ver­sion of a song of mine called ‘Free­dom’ be­cause I had a song called “Free­dom” on my al­bum. We had this op­por­tu­nity to go in and re-voice it for broad­cast and Ge­orge wasn’t happy with how he sounded, although he sounded amaz­ing I have to say, but it never hap­pened and it got shelved.

Adam: Are there any other col­lab­o­ra­tions that you’ve cre­ated that we, the pub­lic, have not heard yet?

Ge­orge: No. I’ve had some amaz­ing ex­pe­ri­ences in that re­spect. I’ve sang with Luther Van­dross, I’ve sang with Ste­vie Won­der. Smokey Robin­son, Dionne War­wick. I mean when I was younger and much more fear­ful, I would love to get the op­por­tu­nity to do th­ese things now.

Adam: And th­ese are live col­lab­o­ra­tions?

Ge­orge: Live col­lab­o­ra­tions and the most ter­ri­fy­ing! You can only imag­ine what it’s like singing with Luther Van­dross. I wish I could do it now, be­cause I was so young and in­ex­pe­ri­enced and didn’t know who I was, I didn’t re­ally know my voice. I was ter­ri­fied! I ap­proach my work with such a dif­fer­ent at­ti­tude now, whereas when you’re 19 you think “this will go on for­ever.” Adam: You’re kind of caught up in other things!

Ge­orge: Yeah! The lev­els of clar­ity that I have in my life now. I don’t know how I crossed the road! [Laughs] I don’t know how I be­came sen­si­ble.

Lam­bet: Would you say that the life­style you were liv­ing is part of that?

Ge­orge: Yes! I prac­tice Buddhism now. I have a daily rit­ual that I do that is very ground­ing and gets me fo­cused on what’s im­por­tant. I do a lot of med­i­ta­tion and if I’m in a sit­u­a­tion where I maybe lose con­trol or get a lit­tle bit fear­ful, I just go and sit some­where. I sup­pose it’s called mind­ful­ness. I make a choice and go “I don’t need to do this.”

Adam: I think it comes with age too. You know your lim­its and when you need to get ahold of your­self.

Ge­orge: I don’t know about you but I love to be on my own. I like my life and I like be­ing with peo­ple, but I love that op­por­tu­nity to go home and have rub­bish TV and UberEATS! [Laughs]

Adam: What do they call it? It’s like ex­tro­verted in­tro­vert.

Ge­orge: That’s very Gemini.

Adam: I think I’m one of those peo­ple where I can be su­per so­cial and chatty chatty chatty, but then I have to be able to have my turn off time. So still on the mu­sic kick, what con­tem­po­rary mu­sic have you been lis­ten­ing to?

Ge­orge: That’s al­ways a dif­fi­cult one. I love Plan­ning­torock. It’s quite elec­tro. She wears this pros­thetic nose so you know, ob­vi­ously I’m go­ing to be in love! I love Spo­tify be­cause you get that thing ev­ery week, like re­lease radar, and they re­ally clev­erly pick up on what you play.

Adam: I love Spo­tify be­cause I feel like yes, they’re work­ing with the ma­jor la­bels and the whole com­mer­cial sys­tem, but it seems to me like all the peo­ple run­ning things love mu­sic.

Ge­orge: My other ob­ses­sion is Pin­ter­est. I’ve got boards on ev­ery­thing; food, soups, drinks...

Adam: Hats!

Ge­orge: Hats, fash­ion, any­thing that I see, I love pho­tog­ra­phy and I like to keep im­ages so I lit­er­ally have hun­dreds all un­der a dif­fer­ent name, so no one knows! I was on YouTube and I saw a ver­sion of “Creep” by Chrissie Hyde, and it’s al­ways a mis­take to read the com­ments but I can’t help it! So I’m look­ing down and some­one wrote “this is quite a good song con­sid­er­ing it’s old” so I replied and I said “well, you’re older than you were yes­ter­day and you’re still valu­able.” I don’t know about you but I ran­domly go on and some­one’ll say some­thing about me and I’ll be like “what the fuck do you know.” [Laughs]

Adam: Back to the con­tem­po­rary mu­sic thing, do you think mu­sic was bet­ter or worse in the 80s?

Ge­orge: I think it’s re­ally dan­ger­ous to start say­ing things were bet­ter be­cause then you start to sound re­ally old! If you want to find some­thing that’s re­ally truly un­usual, you prob­a­bly won’t find it on the ra­dio. All my friends are mu­sic ob­sessed, so if some­thing hap­pens I will get a call. With Ma­jor Lazer and “Pon De Floor”, when that video came out, my friend sent me that and said “you’re go­ing to go men­tal when you see this” and I did.

Adam: That’s good for in­spi­ra­tion!

Ge­orge: I went out last week to get some [coat] hang­ers. I got off my butt and I went to get a box of hang­ers. I went on the tube and I came back with them. And I was think­ing as I stood there in the rain and waited to get on the bus... I could have sent some­one to do this for me, but no, it’s re­ally good to be out in the world. I think if you’re in an ivory tower, at some point you’ve got noth­ing to write about.

Adam: Some artists are just so in­su­lated that they’re los­ing touch with what peo­ple want to hear about.

I think in our busi­ness, hav­ing self-con­trol is such a rev­e­la­tion.

Ge­orge: You have to go out and lis­ten to what peo­ple are say­ing and ob­serve and for me, as a writer, I write my best stuff when I’m trawl­ing around. I don’t have to be on the bus — I could get a he­li­copter [Laughs] but I like that mad con­tra­dic­tion. One night you’re do­ing a mas­sive gig to 20,000 peo­ple and then you’re on your way to Waitrose to get some pick­led gherkins!

Adam: Is there any­body that you haven’t worked with yet that you wish you’d worked with?

Ge­orge: Well Bowie was the big one. That was a real big dream of mine. I met him a few times and he was adorable and he knew that I was a mas­sive fan. He was very re­spectable, he was al­ways lovely! I like the idea of do­ing things with peo­ple that you don’t ex­pect. I’d like to work with Eminem or Dr Dre, or some­thing that that just shouldn’t hap­pen. Some­times it works and some­times it doesn’t work.

Adam: Out of all the mu­sic that you’ve recorded, what’s your mag­num opus?

Ge­orge: Taboo: The Mu­si­cal is my most com­plete mo­ment. Iron­i­cally, when I was sell­ing records I was never re­ally hav­ing good re­views. I come from an era where crit­ics used to re­ally slag you off and it was kind of a sport, so I never re­ally ex­pected any­one to say any­thing nice about what I did mu­si­cally, but when I did Taboo, I got a [pos­i­tive] re­view that made me cry. It was about some­thing that meant some­thing to me. I was writ­ing about char­ac­ters that I knew very well [and] that I wanted to kind of play tribute to; peo­ple that had in­flu­enced me, that were part of my teenage ex­pe­ri­ence and it was just so nice to go “right, I’m go­ing to write a song about this per­son.”

Adam: You were part of the Blitz Kidz. You were kind of [on] the orig­i­nal club kid scene, and look­ing at the cul­ture here in Lon­don now, where do you see club kid cul­ture kind of go­ing?

Ge­orge: I feel like one of the most ex­cit­ing things about the politi­cal cli­mate right now is that I’m hop­ing it’s go­ing to cre­ate more cre­ativ­ity. Some­times you have th­ese re­ally dark politi­cal pe­ri­ods and it sort of makes the flow­ers grow, and I’m kind of hop­ing that that’s what is go­ing to hap­pen.

Adam: Sort of as a re­bel­lion?

Ge­orge: As a re­ac­tion. I feel like ob­vi­ously I don’t go club­bing re­ally, I go here and there, whereas when I was younger I couldn’t stay in, I just HAD to go out, so be­cause I’m not im­mersed in that world I don’t re­ally know what’s go­ing on. I hear things, ap­par­ently Dal­ston is the place to go. I al­ways smile when I see any­body mak­ing an ef­fort. It doesn’t mat­ter if I’ve seen it 100 times be­fore, it’s if like blue dread­locks and fuck­ing mon­ster mash boots it just makes me smile.

Adam: Be­cause you know that they’re en­joy­ing them­selves!

Ge­orge: And there’s noth­ing wrong with also fit­ting in. It’s about tol­er­ance. It’s like one thing isn’t bet­ter than the other, but I, as an artist, want to en­cour­age peo­ple to ex­press them­selves. That can also be jeans and a t-shirt!

Adam: I like what you said about times of tur­moil, in present it seems daunt­ing, but I think it’s plant­ing seeds for peo­ple to re­act to it.

Ge­orge: I have grown up through­out a few dif­fer­ent decades and politi­cal cli­mates and I’ve never looked at any politi­cian and thought “you re­ally in­spire me”. I’m go­ing to find them in a point of paint and pot of glit­ter...not in politics. [Laughs]

Adam: Over the rain­bow! When this is­sue goes on sale, it will have been thirty years since your first Gay Times cover story. Fi­nally, how has your life changed since your first cover?

Ge­orge: Well, it’s got bet­ter! It’s taken a while, but it’s def­i­nitely got bet­ter. I feel that life is about grow­ing into who you are. You know Quentin Crisp used to say “you have to push your neu­ro­sis around in your body un­til it can sit some­where that you can live with it” and I think that’s so true. I don’t feel like I have a lot of neu­ro­sis. I’ve got a dif­fer­ent type of con­fi­dence now that I didn’t have when I was 20, or 25, or 30 or even 40, where I just used to be so con­trolled by out­side forces...in­side forces. I also work harder, I eat well, I ex­er­cise, I’m very con­scious of what I do to my­self, I don’t drink, I don’t take drugs, so my life in that re­spect has im­proved. I think in our busi­ness, hav­ing self-con­trol is such a rev­e­la­tion. It’s like “I didn’t do that, isn’t that amaz­ing!” so I kind of en­joy that feel­ing of self-con­trol, be­ing in charge and just get­ting shit done!

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