Musical icon and global DJ star Boy George will take Castlegar by storm on Friday, October 4 as he and co-headliner Marc Vedo, one of today’s hottest house stars, hit Element Club as part of an official North American DJ tour.
With shows confirmed at Pacha in New York, Foundation in Seattle, Mighty in San Francisco and Exchange in Los Angeles amongst others, their imminent arrival is quickly becoming the talk of the Kootenays’ entertainment scene.
Reached by telephone in London, England, we asked about coming to Castlegar as part of his four-week, 11-venue tour of North America.
“I’m excited about that,” he said. “Coming back to North America is going to be interesting for me because I used to do a lot of gigs in Canada and lots of DJ gigs in America but it has been while and things have changed. The dance music that’s popular over there is very different from what I play. It’s going to be an interesting experience.”
As an artist and songwriter Boy George, whose off-stage name is George O’Dowd, has sold over 100 million singles and in excess of 50 million albums worldwide.
“It’s kind of nice to go to new places and surprise people,” said George, who has been DJ’ing for about 25 years and has performed at many of the world’s best clubs such as Space in Ibiza, Ministry of Sound in London, Zouk in Singapore and Guvernment in Toronto.
“I’ve covered myself for this trip. I’ve put together some interesting things and things that I think will really please the audience. I’m hoping these little tricks I’ve put together are going to leave everybody with a big smile on their face.
“My sets are always kind of eclectic. I got into house music around the time of the whole acid house thing and it was very eclectic; there weren’t as many rules as there are now. So, I’m kind of mixing in cute 80s references and have done a few interesting bootlegs. I’ve just been listening to this thing that I’ve been working on which has Yazoo, and then it goes into Axel F and then it goes into “Jack your Body” and it really, really works.”
For as many people as there are who know of Boy George from his early musical career, there may now be more who only know him as one of the best DJs on the planet, blending house music with the genre’s deeper, techy sounds.
Asked how he would describe himself to someone who didn’t know who he was, George said he would probably say he was a renaissance man.
“In a way, having a history can be a negative thing because people feel like they know what you’re about. But when somebody sees you in a different role — obviously I’ve been DJ’ing for years but the scene has changed — so there are going to be a lot of people who don’t know me as a DJ,” he said.
What hasn’t changed over the years, is his youthful appearance, something he attributes to simply living well and paying more attention to his lifestyle.
“I’ve done a lot of hard work on myself the last couple of years, exercising, watching what I eat and I’ve worked very hard,” he said without even a hint of self-deprecation. “I don’t drink and party anymore and that has a massive affect on how you look.”
George said information travels at an “alarming pace” in this day and age, which is one of the key things he sees that’s shaping the music scene.
“In some ways, it’s interesting in the way you have a much more direct connection with your audience but I’m not sure if people are as passionate about music as they were,” he said. “You see people like Adam Lambert who has three million followers [actually 2.1 million as of Sep. 23] and you think, well he should be number one and he should be having massive hits. Millions of followers and yet they don’t seem to have the kind of cultural impact you feel that they should have.”
He said there are a number of classic DJs that he loves and respects (Roger Sanchez, Danny Tenaglia, Paul Oakenfold were given as examples) but records are what he looks for as a DJ and he’s always on the hunt for new tunes and things others don’t have.
“I’m really into records — it’s records that excite me. I’m typical of all DJs in that I’m not particularly interested in other DJs,” he laughed. “When I go to a club and hear another DJ it just makes me want to play. It’s all about communication and making people feel something. Whether it’s singing live or DJ’ing, you want people in the palm of your hand, you want them to have a great time, you want to kind of educate them a little bit and play things they haven’t heard before and you want to give people happiness.”
George said he dislikes compromising with his music and refuses to be a juke box.
“When you compromise you end up being kind of upset with yourself. When you’re DJ’ing you want people to have a great time and go home happy but at the same time you don’t want the audience to be dictating the art form. It’s always a fine balance. It’s the same when you do live shows. You obviously have to play things people know but you also want to play things they haven’t heard. it’s about striking a balance and finding a really happy medium.”
Describing himself as “not someone who sits around on the sidelines” he said risk-taking is part of his nature.
“I’ve been very lucky that I’ve been successful as a DJ. It has meant that I’ve been able to stay progressive and haven’t had to rely on the past too much. That’s been great.”
With a new album set for release on Oct. 28, his first live venture in 18 years, a new generation of music lovers will be able to enjoy one of the music industry’s most enduring talents and biggest names.
The single “King of Everything” is available online now and the new album “This Is What I Do” can be ordered in advance of its Oct. 28 release date. George said the album has nothing to do with dance music and is a whole other sound.
The release of the album will be followed by a tour of the UK in November when he gets back from North America and, if all things go according to plan, he will be returning to Canada and the United States in 2014 to perform more live shows.
For tickets to the show at the Element, visit www.clubelement.ca
BOY GEORGE AND MARC VEDO TOUR DATES
Thur 26 Sep Foundation, Seattle, US
Sat 28 Sep House of Blues, Boston, US
Sun 29 Sep Ego Providence, Providence, US
Thur 03 Oct Opera Ultralounge, Winnipeg, Canada
Fri 04 Oct Element, Castlegar, Canada
Fri 11 Oct Grappa, Santo Dominigo
Thur 17 Oct Republic Live, Austin, US
Fri 18 Oct Mighty, San Francisco, US
Sat 19 Oct It’ll do, Dallas, US
Sun 20 Oct Dolphin/Boom Boom Boom, Chicago, US
Thur 24 Oct Pacha, New York, US
Sat 26 Oct Exchange, Los Angeles, US