A Peek At Prince

The Artist talks via e-mail, which gives him a chance to use his funny language

Joel Selvine

The ever-reclusive Prince can be found all over the Internet these days. Not only is he actively involved in his official Web site, where he is selling new recordings unavailable in record stores, but he also has participated in an America Online chat room that’s gotten 350,000 visits, and even agreed to conduct a brief e-mail interview before appearing Friday at Shoreline Amphitheatre.

He is taking prerelease orders for “Crystal Ball,” a specially packaged four-disc set that sells for $50, at his (800) NEW-FUNK hotline, and is offering an acoustic CD, “The Truth,” as a bonus to those who order the deluxe set. The man who has adopted an unpronounceable symbol for his name writes in a locution familiar to his followers, substituting numbers for words and typing in an eyeball symbol in place of “I.”

Q: Tell me about your new album, “Crystal Ball.”

A: CDs of `previously’ unreleased bootlegs—a must have for Purple People.

Q: You are selling this new record specifically through your Web site. How is that working?

A: Perfectly. . . . We have 84,000 pre-orders so far. Pressing has begun.

Q: After finally disentangling yourself from an unhappy relationship with Warner Bros., you made an arrangement with the now-defunct EMI to release “Emancipation.” Was this relationship any more satisfactory? What are your plans for releasing your recordings with established record companies?

A: The people at EMI were very receptive 2 me retaining ownership of my work. As long as (eyeball) can do that working with other record companies is cool.

Q: Do you have any special plans for your music in 1999?

A: Of course. 1999 is a very important year for music messages.

Q: Do you spend a lot of time on the Web? What operating system do you use? What kind of gear do you have? What do you like about the Internet?
What are some of your favorite Web sites? Do you stay active in your
official site?

A: (Eyeball) am very active on my official site, www.love4oneanother.com. (Eyeball) constantly give them new things to download.

Q: The name thing is confusing. How do you wish to have your name appear in print? What do your friends call you? Are you ever going to use your given name again?

A: It’s only confusing to those who c it that way. My friends respect my choice.

Q: Do you and your wife plan on having any more children?

A: (No response.)

Q: On the B-side of the single “Kiss” is a song titled “Love or Money” that sounds as if it was pressed at the wrong speed. In fact, played back at 33 rpm, it sounds just like a secret tribute to Sly and the Family Stone. Was that your intention? Why did you change the speed?

A: If it were a tribute, (eyeball)’d give props by saying names. The sound of the record is intentional.

Q: You are touring with Graham Central Station – featuring Sly bassist Larry Graham – and even mixing some of his sets. Just how important was the role of Sly’s music in shaping yours?

A: Larry is a hero of mine. That’s why he is near... birds of a feather...