This Delicate Thing He's Made
By Bill Chenevert
Is it true that the album was inspired by -- or even in conversation with -- Kate Bush�s Hounds of Love?
I can honestly say that I felt like I was a little bit possessed by the spirit of Kate Bush. I had a fascination at that time in my life with reminiscing, really looking back at my childhood and reconnecting with friends through Facebook and MySpace. Suddenly I was reconnecting with childhood friends I hadn�t seen in 15 years and making my peace with my past and where I grew up. I had a couple trips home to Australia, where I had done everything I could to run away from the boy who I was. And I�d gone out to the world and made it, you know, I�d really made it -- and yet the happiest I�ve ever been is the past couple years, when theoretically I shouldn�t have been. I was marginalized by being a gay artist, I didn�t have a major record deal and I�m certainly not selling the kinds of records or playing the same kinds of venues that I used to play. But I guess I was just so grateful that I had learned so much. I was catching up with this decade of my life that I had given over to the pursuit of fame and the pursuit of success. A part of that was revisiting old records, and two things that I did was fall in love with Hounds of Love all over again, and the other thing was that I bought a Fairlight synthesizer, which was the instrument that she used to make that album. I kept saying to a lot of my friends, "I almost feel like I�m picking up where that album had left off." She obviously continued to evolve and become extraordinary and she left that technology behind. But there was something kind of sappy and a bit sentimental, and a bit magical, about saying, I�m going to use this technology from this particular year -- which was 1983 -- and maybe I�m going to use that as a time machine.
And yet the tracks on that record don�t seem dated at all. They sound a little like fellow Aussie Kylie Minogue or Daft Punk -- dancey and electronic.
I hope so. The thing about wearing your influences on your sleeve, I think the only way you get away with it is if you�re honest about where you�re drawing your influences from and you do something relevant. I don�t kid myself and think that I�m ever cutting edge but I think it is important to make sure that you�re relevant. There�s no point in making an imitation or pastiche, because then it�s really just a career for the sake of your own ego -- you might as well be a karaoke artist, really. Secretly, I�ve always had this idea to make an album called 1983 and literally just re-record all my favorite �80s songs. But then every time I think about doing them I think, Well, what�s the point? It�s really just an ego trip for me to reminisce.
The videos for the album are really dance-heavy.
[Laughs] Do you know why? I�m dancing because Columbia Records never let me. It�s interesting because the rumor was Donny Ida, the president of the label, saw some edits from a video that I did called "Insatiable." I was openly gay, I hadn�t held a press conference about it but everybody at the label and everyone in my life knew I was a gay man. I guess I swayed my hips a little too much for him, and he freaked out. Apparently there was this internal memo, like the opposite of Elvis -- I can only be shot from the waist up, and I can�t move in videos because I�d be too gay. Once I didn�t have those shackles on, I thought, You know, I want to do this. And part of it is a little indulgent, really. I grew up watching Michael Jackson, Madonna and Bowie and people of that era who were performance artists, and I thought I wanted to do that. But I don�t think for one second that I�m Justin Timberlake. It was really nice to be able to move and work with a choreographer to make a video as opposed to hearing, Just stand there and look dreamy.
So you�ve naturally always been a dancer? Or did you work with choreographers?
Oh, for sure. When I say choreographer, let me clarify: in both of the main performances in �On the Verge of Something Wonderful� I didn�t work with a choreographer. In �Me, Myself, and I,� I�m kind of freestyling a little, but I was also doing some kind of Kraftwerk-inspired really robotic stuff. I had to work with a choreographer with those moves, because I think I�ve got some natural rhythm, but I�m not good with actually remembering steps. When I was 15 I used to live in a garden shed on the property for a year while we built the main house, it was not glamorous, let�s put it that way. Every night I would go up to the site of the house because it was a big open space. The walls were just the wooden structure of the walls and the roof was all glass and you could see right through it. And I would dance up there, I would dance to Michael Jackson. My dad said to me one day, �Ahhh, I�ve been watching you dance on TV.� I said, �What do you mean, dad? What TV?� And he pointed to the house at nighttime, and at nighttime it�s completely illuminated and he said, �The big TV,� and I just about died.
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