“I don't like to talk...”

My music is my language, " tells Serge Simonart, during a rare interview in Paisley Park.

Serge Simonart

S.S. : You have this incredible reputation for live shows, so why have you never released an official live album?

 O(+>: It'll happen. The bootlegs... some of these guys are making more off my music than I am. But I understand a fan's need. I mean , I wanted to have every note James Brown ever sung. It's just... maybe it's because a live album is such a definitive statement. I don't like definitive statements. I will play my old stuff again though. Maybe When Doves Cry will sound right for once.

S.S. : When Doves Cry was such a flop the first time around?

O(+> : Nnnoooo, haha... It's just that sometimes I get a better idea for a song, but it's already recorded. Live versions can be radically different from the original version. That's one of the reasons why, I guess. But that's OK. All those ol' jazz cats never made definitive versions. On the other hand, sometimes it's good not to mess with a song. Sign "O" The Times dies when you mess with it.

S.S. : Why did you record the covers on Emancipation?

O(+>: Betcha By Golly Wow (by The Stylistics) is a song I grew up with. Bonnie Raitt is a good friend of mine, and I think I Can't Make You Love Me is one of her best songs. And One Of Us is a great melody and an important statement. It's one of those songs I would advise every artist to perform at least once.

S.S. : The studio we're in must be the place where the legend has it you spend 25 hours a day.

 O(+>: It doesn't work like that. What happens is: I can't leave a good idea unfinished. If I do that, it drives me nuts. You see I get these ideas. Sometimes at 4am. So I get up, get dressed - and come and sit here (points to the control room) until it's over. I've got a thousand songs in the vaults. Finished songs. That's the thing: I have to finish a song to clear my mind for the next idea. It can be a curse,
you know.

S.S. : Does it happen that you perhaps write a song but deliberately don't release it because you feel the time isn't right? Because you feel the general public might not be ready for it?

O(+>: Yeah. Kiss is an example. I had that song for a long time. Changed it around a lot. (Dreamily) Yeah. Happens all the time.

S.S. : When recording, do you listen to the competition? Or do you shield yourself from outside musical influences?

O(+> : When I'm working, I'm working. I don't have time to... You Know what? It's such a drag to have musicians claim they never listen to the competition. They're liars, man. I mean, I know bands who in the press badmouth artists they revere in rehearsal. I don't wanna be like that. I crave great musicianship, and I don't care who provides it. I've got no problems saying I dig D'Angelo. Or some of the things that Björk does... The Cocteau Twins... Musicians - we're family. I hope young musicians learn from me - my mistakes too - the way I learned. I was talking to D'Angelo just now, you know, how when you are a one-man-band and you get in to the studio in a bad mood, then the whole band is in a bad mood. That's why Emancipation is like it is. I was happy. It's a happy album.

S.S. : I'm glad you're talking, if only because when you're silent for so long, you give all the gossip more room...

O(+> : Yeah... Rumours separate us, right? I realise that now. It's just, if I had to spend my time denying every rumour about me, I wouldn't get around to making records any more. And no offence, but I don't like to talk. I mean, my music is my language. It really is like that. I played with Me'Shelle Ngedeocello. She's no talker, believe me. But when we played... perfect understanding.