To call Boy George a legend is no exaggeration. An international pop star, video music outlier and pioneer of a certain type of gender-bending style that has only grown more iconic as the years go by, his influence on pop culture — and pop music — cannot be denied.
That’s why it’s a bit of shock when he admits many younger revelers attending his current DJ tour haven’t a clue who he is. “I haven’t been in America in seven years, and a lot of the kids who go to clubs were in school 10 years ago,” says George, who is spinning at It’ll Do Club in Dallas on October 19. “I’m the artist formerly known as Boy George!
“The other night in Boston, a lot of people were thinking, ‘It’s a guy in a hat with a beard and makeup on,’ so there’s work to be done. But [what I spin] is a good part of their education.”
“I’m a Renaissance man,” George says. “What an awful thing to put a cap on your creativity!”
And he should know. George had the foresight (or fortuitousness) to be around during the golden age of clubland — from London’s Blitz to The Hacienda in Manchester — and his DJ career began in the late 1970s, long before he assumed the mantle of pop star.
Currently touring with co-headliner and house music star Marc Vedo (“He’s on first, and he’s the good-looking one”), George admits it’s a strange time culturally, and this sea change extends to the dance floor.
“Things are very different now,” he says. “You’ve got lots of artists at the moment, they’ve got millions of followers and are on YouTube, but you know nothing about them.
“We’re in a weird, weird period in history where people don’t know what they want, and as artists, it’s our job to remind them. All of us are fumbling in the dark. Sometimes it’s about the right artist with the right hairdo; sometimes it’s about touching people’s hearts.”
George prefers the latter, as he spins a more soulful take on house music in lieu of the culturally pervasive EDM. “It’s a little bit funkier; it’s got bass,” he says. “A lot of what we’re doing comes from disco; you’d think with the Internet people would explore more.
“When I was a kid, I listened to jazz music and all sorts of interesting things from the past — Sinatra, old ’70s music, rock bands. We didn’t have the Internet. We had that pioneering spirit.”
George credits friends around the world with keeping him updated on what’s happening, and he plays his favorite finds on a weekly iTunes podcast. In addition to collaborations with dance artists such as Vedo and Roger Sanchez, he’s releasing his latest record on his own label, Very Me.
He describes his latest output as “very independent and very rewarding. The first single, ‘King of Everything,’ is not dance, so more confusion! I’m a Renaissance man. What an awful thing to put a cap on your creativity!”
The release of This is What I Do on October 28 and a packed DJ schedule is just the beginning of a very busy musical period for the Boy. He’s not sharing all the details yet, but a “very exciting” collaboration is on the horizon.
As he explains, “I had a really, really interesting message from this band, and we’re talking about working together. It’s not dance, it’s not pop, it’s pure rock and roll, and I’ve always wanted to do that. It’s so bonkers, but I’m going to keep it under my wig for now.”
Boy George, with Marc Vedo and DJ Red Eye, spins Saturday, October 19, at 10 pm at It’ll Do. Tickets can be purchased online.