Los Angeles Herald Examiner, 27 March 1981

Prince explains his royal secrets

Dennis Wilen

[this interview is possibly incomplete]

Sometimes even the most arcane mysteries have a simple explanation. The story behind the music of Prince is a good example. First of all, his name is not a monstrous conceit. Unlike Count Basie, the Duke of Earl and Screaming Lord Sutch, Prince is actually his given name. "It's really on his birth certificate," swears his publicist. "Only his last name is a secret."

OK. Then why, on his three albums, does Prince insist on writing the songs, playing virtually all the instruments singing 99 percent of the vocals and producing most of the tracks?

Prince himself revealed the truth in a recent interview. "It's simple," he said. "When I did the first record, I didn't have a band, so I had to do it myself out of necessity.

Although he is shy in person, choosing words carefully and barely speaking above a whisper, Prince loves being on stage. When I was younger, I was in a lot of bands,but it’s quite different now. It’s a real powerful feeling — not the kind of power that you have over anyone else, but the power that's going on around and through me. First of all, my amp is really load, and my guitar player’s is twice as loud. When you're playing for 17,000 people and they get to screaming, then that's really, really loud. Maybe that’s the kind of power that could change things. If everybody could funnel their energies into one positive source... well,that much power, it’s just amazing.

And what responsibility comes with this power ?

No responsibility. I think I’m only a conductor of whatever electricity comes from the world, or wherever we all come from. To me the ultimate responsibility is the hardest one - the responsibility to be true to myself.

Prince cut most of Dirty Mind's demos.

Basically, these are demo tapes, and I had no idea they’d be on an album together, so that's where I think a lot of the up-front quality comes from I didn’t have any lyrics written out for some of he tunes – they just came. I recorded at a lot of small eight and 16-track studios around Minneapolis – just personal songs that I wanted to have – and I don’t think it’s dirty. I got a new guitar before I made the record, and I started to play more one it, rather than just filling up space with other instruments.

Prince's no-holds-barred lyrical approach grew out of the demo-genesis of the album.

When I made these songs, I knew they would never be on the radio, and I’d never be bringing them to Warner Bros. – some of them, anyway. Then I decided that this was gonna be the record. I was so adamant about it, once I got to the label, that there was no way they could even say ”we won’t put this out.” I believed in it too much by that time. The one thing that's strange to me about doing interviews behind this record is that it was made with nothing in mind but dealing with songs and ideas that I was about at that time. I wasn't gearing myself toward anything except my own personal satisfaction.