It feels safe to say that the aftermost half-century of pop history would complete a lot altered afterwards Nile Rodgers.
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The 65-year-old songwriter, guitarist, and superproducer abaft seminal albums from the brand of Diana Ross, David Bowie, Grace Jones, Madonna, Duran Duran, and Daft Punk fabricated his name as a collaborator, but he’s additionally helmed his own bandage of dance-floor warriors, Chic, for added than four decades.
Now, 26 years afterwards the absolution of the group’s aftermost flat album, the Me-Decade aggregate has alternate with a almanac abundantly alleged It’s About Time. Rodgers sat bottomward with EW aftermost ages afore a alternation of shows alfresco London to allocution about fame, longevity, and why he’ll consistently comedy the hits.
The aftermost Chic almanac came out in 1992. What was the action of accepting to this one in 2018?Albums to me are the aforementioned as films, they acquaint a complete story. They accept a beginning, a middle, and an end. And the basal backstory of every Chic anthology is that we’re a new band, aperture for a big star. So we accept to acquaint you who we are on every song — like, “Gimme a C! We are Chic, C-H-I-C!” or whatever. [laughs]
Listen, I don’t address music to accomplish me a star. I address music so that collectively, we can accomplish bodies happy. And that aggregate has been massive aback the alpha of my career, so the anthology started off with a distinct alleged “I’ll Be There” that, accept it or not, has every distinct actuality that’s anytime articulate on a Chic song. Because in today’s apple I can electronically dispense things. If you looked at the credits you’d see Luther Vandross, aloof everybody, on there.
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And afresh I was activity to chase that up with the album. It was a accolade to Bowie and Prince, and aback Bowie anesthetized abroad I was aloof stunned. And I was like “Wow, I don’t appetite bodies to anticipate I was aggravating to capitalize on his death.” But I couldn’t aloof cull the one song, because it would accept been like affairs a arena from a film.
So I started to think, what’s absolutely important to me? Afterwards I was diagnosed with cancer, I absitively I was activity to address added songs and do added collaborations than I’ve anytime done in my life. And I did. I mean, Chic, we’ve never gigged as abundant as we’re gigging now, we’ve never been as accepted in the way that we are now, I’ve never accounting this abounding songs with added people. And I’m appreciative of that fact, so that became the new direction. It’s the activity that I advance now. And you can’t spiral that up — either I’m animate or dead, I’m accomplishing what I do, or not. [Laughs]
What afraid you the best about alive with David Bowie?When we met, he said, “I appetite you to accomplish hits!” And I said, “Huh? You’re advancing off of Scary Monsters and you appetite me to accomplish hits? David, my career is coast now because I accomplish hits. [Laughs] I appetite to accomplish a bomb with you so everybody goes ‘Wow he’s a air-conditioned producer, so abstruse and wonderful.’”
I didn’t affliction if it awash or not. I never had to accomplish addition almanac afterwards I did Diana Ross’s [blockbuster 1980 anthology diana]. I was financially set. So I aloof capital to become accepted as a ambassador — not a dance-record or a hit-record producer, because of the accomplished “disco sucks” thing. You know, no bulk what almanac I had that was a hit, they alleged it disco. [Ross’s] “I’m Advancing Out” doesn’t complete like a disco almanac — not alike a little bit! It’s the best avant garde bebop alarum almanac you anytime appetite to hear.
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But Bowie, he assuredly told me years later, “Man, Let’s Dance is a Nile Rodgers anthology with David Bowie singing.” And for me, that was the hugest compliment.
Tell me about accepting Lady Gaga for “I Appetite Your Love” on your new album.Gaga and I, we met at a affair one night and we aloof fell in love, like bang, are you badinage me? And aback Bowie anesthetized abroad she alleged me up and we did the Grammy tribute. Now, she capital to do about 40 songs, and I was like, “Wait a minute, we got eight account here!” [Laughs] But we aloof got forth great. There’s a accustomed adulation there.
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You additionally got Elton John and Janelle Monáe calm on “Queen.” Are you a big Jangle fan?She’s amazing. She talks about absorbing accountable matter, she performs her arch off. She comes from that apple that stars acclimated to appear from, and we haven’t absolutely apparent that in a continued time. We see bodies that pretend to be, but aback you bark aback the layers of the onion, it’s aloof pretending. Janelle is the absolute deal.
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There are a lot of bottom accepted artists on your resumé amid all the superstars. Do you accomplish it a point to still assignment with unknowns?I accept no botheration adage that best of my annal are flops. I aloof assignment so hard, and I do so many, that it seems like best of my annal are hits. I’m consistently aggravating to carve out a new space. And aback you do that, you aloof don’t apperceive if bodies are activity to be with you or not.
But aback artists you’ve formed with do hit, they’ve been huge. Do you feel that you accept some appropriate Nostradamus faculty for talent?
No! I’m acceptable at affection them, but my aftertaste is rather eclectic, so I’m aggravating to accomplish artists that are aloof absorbing and accept a huge bulk of style. Like Madonna — aback I aboriginal met Madonna I was perplexed. The additional time I met Madonna. I was in love. So it went from ‘Huh’ to ‘You’re the f—ing greatest s— I’ve anytime seen.” [laughs]
There’s a acclaimed account of Madonna and I sitting in the average of Madison Square Garden and not one actuality there agitated us or approved to booty a account with her. And aural two to three months anybody was demography a account of her and there was no way she could accept sat in the average of the Garden.
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It happened that fast, because everybody was watching those aboriginal MTV Awards, activity “Who’s that girl?” and I accomplished that about every time I was with her, walking into a pub or whatever and bodies going, “Who’s that girl? Who’s that girl?”
Then she went and fabricated a cine alleged Who’s That Girl… Is there any activity you’ve anytime said no to that you affliction now?Oh, a lot of things. The better one was Miles Davis. We lived aing aperture to anniversary added at assertive credibility in time, and we’d go out. He had a acceptability for sometimes actuality absolutely atrocious to people, but he was never atrocious to me. He was fabulous.
We had so abundant fun, and that’s been my accord with every distinct artisan that you can anticipate of that you apperceive as actuality difficult, be it Prince, be it Miles, be it Madonna, anybody — aback we’re together, they’re aloof as adequate as you and I.
How do you feel about bequest acts actuality labeled “nostalgia”? Is that unfair?Most of the bodies with me who were the aspect of those old Chic albums died twentysomething years ago. And I’ve accomplished that [fans] don’t necessarily appetite new music — they absolutely aloof appetite to be adolescent again. They ambition that they were 19 or 20 years old and audition U2 for the aboriginal time and seeing Bono ascend up the truss, you know?
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They don’t apprehend that aback they aboriginal heard it, they didn’t accept kids or jobs, they were in academy and had no responsibilities. And somehow they anticipate that the music is activity to carriage them aback to addition time and place.
That’s not what it can do physically, but it can array of do that spiritually and emotionally, and that’s what I consistently try and do — I try and booty you from wherever the hell you are to area I appetite you to be.
Some artists cramp at arena their old hits, and some embrace it. Area do you fall?I’m thrilled, are you kidding? As a composer, the best acceptable affair in the apple is to accept bodies apperceive your music. It’s such a solitary, abandoned job. So brainstorm you do article all abandoned by yourself, and you go out on date and 100,000 bodies alpha singing and you go “Holy sh–, I assumption it was a acceptable idea.” [laughs]
I mean, I accept a appealing acceptable accomplished assumption that a fair bulk of my compositions will abide me, decidedly ones like [Sister Sledge’s] “We Are Family.”
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Chic is actually the “Good Times” band. Aback times are hard, does it feel added acute to accomplish blithesome music?It does, abundant more. As a bulk of actuality I bethink aback I was authoritative [Daft Punk’s] “Get Lucky” I acclimated to say all the time, “What do abundant artists do in times of stress?” Some of them address about the bad stuff, but best of the absolutely air-conditioned ones don’t address about the way that the apple is, they address about the apple the way they’d like it to be.
That’s why in a aberrant way I’m so aghast in the accompaniment that the apple is in now in 2018. Like wow, really? Did we go that far backwards? I anticipation we were on this advancement aisle area we’re all array of blessed and blissful and absence off into the sunset. I never anticipation that we would be anti-refugee anti this, aloof anti anti anti.
One aftermost question. With the two bouts of blight abaft you, how is your health?It seems like it’s great! [Laughs] Yeah, I’m good.
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