Molly’s world exclusive interview—Prince Purple rage... but Molly gets the interview

Molly Meldrum

WHEN I first arrived in Tokyo, I thought everything was okay. Journalists from around the world had flown in for an audience with The Artist Formerly Known As Prince.
I went straight to the listening party where The Artist was personally playing tracks from his new album, Emancipation. The new album - a three-CD set - sounded great. One track in particular, Holy River, blew my mind. I think it’s as good as Purple Rain.
My interview was scheduled for the next morning. When I woke up, I found out about the drama the day before. The Artist had walked out of two interviews, one with Asian music channel VTV, and the other with Sydney’s Keith Williams from 2DAY FM. Keith got to ask only two questions before The Artist decided he didn’t like the sound of his voice. He walked out and his minder seized the tape.
The Artist then banned all electronic media. It seems that he doesn’t like his voice or image to be recorded.
I assumed that my interview would be canceled because I had a crew with me to film the interview for Hey Hey it’s Saturday.
But then the message came through: “The Artist wants to talk to you, but just you, no crew.”
I was ushered into his room, where it was just me, The Artist and a Japanese interpreter. We were both surprised by the presence of the interpreter. The Arist said : “But Molly, you speak English, don’t you?” I laughed and said: “That’s debatable.”
Then we sat down and spoke. I was nervous, because although I’d met him before, this was my first interview.
He spoke freely about his new relationship with EMI (the word “slave", formerly inscribed on his face, has been removed), his wife, Mayte, and Emancipation, which he says is: “Three hours of love, sex and liberty.”
The only hiccup in the interview was when I got confused and called him “lovey”.
I did ask him what you are meant to call him. He told me his name has no sound, but people call him “The Artist” and his friends call him “friend”.
As we spoke, the interpreter took notes. This was the result:

MOLLY : How hard was it to create a set of three CDs, and how many songs did you come up with?

PRINCE : Before starting the CD, there was a blueprint of three CDs, with each containing 12 songs and exactly 60 minutes. I started the album with the songs Slave and Emancipation, but as I got started, the direction became more bright and uplifting. This new album is about happiness and being free. Each CD was a big challenge for me to not go over 60 minutes. I’m grateful to Warner Bros. in that they helped me build my recording studio, so this time I did not have to worry about running out of studio time. I just went according to heart.

MOLLY : It must be hard to live up to, on a personal level, what you are as a songwriter?

PRINCE : I first try to please myself. I do not look into what the press says. I only do what pleases myself and God basically.

MOLLY : In order to come up with such a vast amount of material, what inspires you?

PRINCE : I’ve been doing this for over 20 years, so it is my job. It is easy for me. Songs are completed in my head. I’m grateful to be an instrument to dictate what comes into my mind. Praise God for my talent. It is a great gift.

MOLLY : I think Holy River is one of your best songs ever. How did you create that?

PRINCE : I first came up with the chorus part. I played the piano with a drum machine. When I played the piano, I was looking at the sky and reading lyrics. My friend, who played the drum machine, knew what I was leading to. And we played around for hours. Since the words were tragic, I needed some tragic piano. The arrangement of the song was already there, done in my head, so I just stayed true to myself.

MOLLY : Emancipation’s first single is a cover of The Stylistics’ Betcha By Golly, Wow. How did you choose this?

PRINCE : I choose artists who are not able to support themselves. I’m glad to be in this position that I do this not for money, but to give something to artists from the past.

MOLLY : What about your songs that have been covered by other artists? Do you like any of these?

PRINCE : No, I do not think I can say that I like them. I appreciate and also like the fact my songs are covered, but do I like any of them? No.

MOLLY : What songs will you perform on tour?

PRINCE : I’ve been thinking about the tour, but the first thing I need to do is to get used to new musicians. It will take time. New musicians all use computers. They have to learn some songs. As for the selection of songs for live performances, the Internet is helpful. It’s good to see what songs people are into, and I’m able to get this sort of information from different cities.

MOLLY : Are you fascinated by the big sound of an orchestra?

PRINCE : My father had an orchestra, but he did not allow me to see or hear it. One day I snuck in and saw him playing. I was fascinated by the power and noise that was created.

MOLLY : How do you fit everything in? Do you have a body clock?

PRINCE : My wife always criticizes me for not taking care of myself. Basically, I keep going until I drop. Is there a body clock? Yes, but it is interesting that your body does what your mind says.

MOLLY : Will you continue with film projects?

PRINCE : Not for a while. I have not thought about films since I focused on this project, and I’m enjoying it. There were some parts of Purple Rain I enjoyed filming, but there were some I didn’t.”