When I call Boy George and Marc Vedo, I interrupt their Christmas dinner. The two met at a London gay club called Heaven, quickly becoming friends and collaborators. It’s fitting that the rebirth of George’s music career would start in the club scene, which is where it began, at the Blitz in early 1980s London.
This is the new era of George, which finds him travelling the world as a DJ with Vedo, whose upcoming video he’ll soon direct — director being the latest hat that the man of many, literally and professionally, is wearing these days.
He popped his behind-the-scene cherry on the video for “You Ruined My Xmas,” by The Supreme Fabulettes. “It’s nice to be able to do things for yourself,” he says, when asked about his decision to direct the drag trio. “It’s cheaper, and it’s your ideas. There are less limitations. And who doesn’t love a queen?”
Whatever George does in life, music is always the foundation. It shapes his bond with Vedo, who has been credited with bringing him into the 21st century.
“I kept telling [George] he’s a brand,” Vedo says. “He doesn’t like the word, but he is.”
A brand that, through their partnership, has remained cutting edge 30 years on. “People actually come up to us and say, ‘When are you going to play a “Do You Really Want to Hurt Me” remix?’” George laughs.
But their DJ set at Celebrities Nightclub on Dec 29 will be anything but retrospective. Just listen to their latest album, The Deep in Tweets Mix, available for free download, for a sense of the journey on which their beats might take you. George says he likes to “focus on the story. The idea, the flesh, is so essential to creating something magical. In my experience, the best songs I’ve ever written started with lyrics, but sometimes Marc produces something that brings out an idea. There are no rules.”
There may be no rules when it comes to his music, but after his past legal troubles, George has mellowed. His life has a new calm and focus. “It took me a while to grow up,” he admits. “That’s the nature of the [entertainment] industry. You’re allowed to act childish for a long time.”
If the gratitude in his voice over obtaining a visa to travel to Canada (which he and Vedo agree has some of “the best crowds in the world”) is any indication, with this new maturity has also come a revived enthusiasm for his career.
“I’ve been under the radar for 10 years,” he says, “so it’s nice to be back. At the moment my vibrations are really strong and positive. In a funny sort of way, I’m probably more ambitious than I’ve ever been. In the past, I think things happened for me because I was in the right place at the right time. Now that I’m older, and especially because I’m sober, I’m much more focused on what I can achieve. I’ve been doing this for a long time, and I have a lot of respect for what I do. This is a really good time right now.”
One of his ambitions is to record new music with the band that brought him to international fame three decades ago. “I’d like to produce an album with Culture Club,” he says. “We’ve been writing together, but obviously there are a lot of obstacles getting a band back together. There are political and emotional things that you have to deal with.”
If Culture Club were just starting out now, would Boy George make it in the YouTube age? “I think if I had the head I have right now, probably, yeah,” he says. “If you have this in your DNA, if you have this in your blood, then it’ll happen.”
You can’t deny destiny, after all, and as George puts it, “every artist has their time.”
Which is why he thinks Madonna should find “Born This Way” less reductive and more honorary.
Madonna “has accomplished so much and been so successful,” he says. “When I saw Gaga live, I did think it was very Madonna, but that should just make her proud.”
There’s no one in contemporary music who compares to George. He’s still the face of pretty boys and the reference point for many a drunk straight dude who has come up to me when I’m out wearing makeup to ask if anyone’s ever told me I look like Boy George.
“That just makes me smile,” he says.