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David Bowie Live Chat Transcription - 1/7/94

DAVID BOWIE LIVE: A production of Hollywood Online

Transmitted: 94-07-01 05:42:07 EDT - 1st July 1994

ONLINE HOST: An artist whose career has come to symbolize change, experimentation, and individualism, David Bowie is a natural to be at the forefront of one of the most exciting areas of new technology, interactive multimedia. Fresh from the completion of his first interactive venture, Jump: the Interactive David Bowie, he will certainly help shape the future of this medium with his unique creative vision. It is an honor to welcome this multi-talented star to this most modern of public forums.

Joining David Bowie on stage is Joey Berlin of Hollywood Online's Inside Hollywood.

GARY L. BROCK: Welcome to the Odeon, David and Joey.

AUDIOMAGS: Welcome everyone. Let's get right into it. David, allow me the first question.

What are you working on now?

BOWIE LIVE: First, really great to be in the Odeon. The decoration is so much nicer than it was. The restoration was obviously a success. Right now, I'm working really hard with Brian Eno on several projects. Two of which are music-oriented. One heavy CD-ROM and two others we haven't a clue about. Always an exciting situation.

QUESTION: Hi David. Harry Maslin here. Any new music on the ROM?

BOWIE LIVE: Maslin, Maslin. Is that a European name? I once knew a duke who knew a bloke called Maslin. Anyway, in reply to your question, Harry, Brian and I have a CD-ROM project based on locomotive travel throughout England. Got any ideas for it?

I should explain to everyone else that Harry, my old friend, produced Station to Station with me.

QUESTION: David, do you have an online account? And do you use it much?

BOWIE LIVE: I don't have those kinds of financial resources, so I use Brian Eno's instead. It helps so much when one's in the middle of restoration work. I'm at the moment propping up the beard that I grew in '89.

QUESTION: Will Mr. Bowie be attending this year's Philadelphia Music Conference November 3-6 at the Penn Tower Hotel?

BOWIE LIVE: Firstly, please just call me David. Or Mr. Secondly. At this moment, it's fairly unlikely, as Brian and I are really on the grindstone to have our CD-ROM finished for early next year. It's particularly complex as it's extremely revolutionary hopefully in its inception and has all the inherent problems that pertain to this kind of creative situation.

AUDIOMAGS: David, what are your travel/tour plans? Any live performing planned for '95?

BOWIE LIVE: Absolutely. I will be definitely performing in the near future. Possibly. At the moment, my travel is stunted and consists of a sort of shuttle between studio and wife.

QUESTION: I was wondering if you felt that the present-day marketing necessity of videos and interactive software in any way compromises the integrity of rock music. How do you feel about having to produce videos, et al., to get your music across to the public?

BOWIE LIVE: Videos long ago ceased to hold any interest at all for me. CD-ROMs at the moment in the main seem to be little more than catalogue devices and have quickly become boring. The potential is huge, but inventive manipulation is absolutely essential if it is not to become the quad of the end of the millennium.

AUDIOMAGS: David, what about your CD-ROM?

BOWIE LIVE: Clarify please. Existing Jump CD-ROM? or Bowieno CD-ROM?

AUDIOMAGS: A little about both, please.

BOWIE LIVE: Oh, hedging bets I see :)

Ty Roberts of ION put together the Jump CD-ROM with my permission to try out some new techniques. My participation was minimal. What it did do, though, was secure my interest enough to thoroughly emerse myself, dragging Brian Eno down with me into the underworld of absolutely ludicrous ideas for the forthcoming Bowieno CD-ROM.

QUESTION: Any other Tin Machine tours or solo tours planned?

BOWIE LIVE: Those three devout Tin Machine fans may be pleased to know that I am still working. Sorry, I meant to say still working with Reeves Gabrels. Tin Machine aficionados can find a couple of live tracks on a new Roots Of Grunge CD along with Helmet, Smashing Pumpkins, et al.

QUESTION: How has this new technology changed your creative methods? Or how do you see them changing in the future?

BOWIE LIVE: Firstly, as artists we must stop trying to repackage existing songs as fodder for CD-ROM and treating it as a sophisticated sales device. Nothing will bury this medium faster than tacky promotional ROMs. It is essential to construct music specifically for the medium, along with visuals and fully integrated user participation. Trying hard to annihilate all couch potato aspects. There's nothing more boring than point, click, and wait. And then to be told you can go left, you can go right, or you can go straight ahead. I had enough of that at school.

QUESTION: Have you found it difficult to continue to write music through four decades: the '60s, '70s, '80s, and now '90s?

BOWIE LIVE: It was worse in the '30s!

AUDIOMAGS: David, have you seen the Peter Gabriel and Todd Rundgren CD-ROMs?

BOWIE LIVE: Yes. I have seen them.

QUESTION: To date, "The rise and fall..." is indisputably the one of the all-time best rock and roll albums to date in what would seem to be a pretty dismal world for music. Where did the inspirations come from for such a masterpiece?

BOWIE LIVE: I'd really only prefer to talk about the future. I have particular admiration for Todd for devoting so much of his time so early on.

QUESTION: Do you see yourself returning to smaller venues at some point?

BOWIE LIVE: Being dragged screaming and yelling.

QUESTION: Are you going to be further involved with interactive productions in the future?

BOWIE LIVE: I have an ongoing collaboration with Brian Eno. It would only be productive to continue working within interactive media if I felt I could contribute something which does not already exist. Kind of like my approach to music. If I find I am merely repeating what others are doing, I promise I'll quit!

QUESTION: David, what prompted your release of an interactive CD?

BOWIE LIVE: I hope I explained that earlier.

AUDIOMAGS: David, you mentioned nonmusic-related projects. Can you tell us more? Will you be acting again?

BOWIE LIVE: I'm trying to build a stronger interrelationship between music, theatre, the plastic arts like painting and stuff, and CD-ROMs themselves. It's a bit like spinning plates with food on them!

QUESTION: David, what is your sense of the creative process? Are there any universal elements?

BOWIE LIVE: Oh dear, I think I might come over all serious. I'll try and be concise, as I can be particularly boring on this one. For me, it has less to do with expressing myself and my opinion than with expressing my relationship to everything that is physically manifested around me. It also has something to do with a sense of spiritual values. I better stop there.

QUESTION: David, we have seen more multimedia concerts, like U2's ZooTV tour. Your concerts have always been very theatrical. What impact do you feel the future of these types of concerts will bring to the computer generation?

BOWIE LIVE: Hi! This is Prince. Did I tell you I have a CD-ROM coming out soon? It will be...excuse me, Prince...sorry to use your old name, but your thingy isn't on the keyboard. Could you set up your own AUDIOMAGS please.

In answer to your question, I think it may probably end up a bit like that last paragraph! With music.

AUDIOMAGS: David, to go back to creativity for a second. Can sexuality be separated out. It's such a big part of your music, isn't it?

BOWIE LIVE: Are you referring to my big part? Or big parts in general?


QUESTION: David, what were your goals going into the CD-ROM projects?

BOWIE LIVE: Ty's construction of the Jump CD-ROM was immeasurably important in really attracting my interest. I would like to feel now that Brian and I are developing something from which the user will genuinely feel he has had a full participation creatively and will have something to show for it at the end of about nine and a half hours or even ten minutes. It should be satisfying enough to be immediately accessible to a five year old and to hold the attention of wise old sages like myself! Who, if they're like me, are returning to a five-year-old mentality anyway. It should also be super-fast responsive and not dependent on highly complex operation. Anyone got any ideas?

AUDIOMAGS: What are the limitations you and Brian are struggling against, technologically speaking?

BOWIE LIVE: Slow speed is really the only obstacle thus far, but that is improving by the minute.

QUESTION: Technology seems to drive the music industry. Do you think other artists will soon be doing what you are doing? And do you consider yourself somewhat like a pioneer?

BOWIE LIVE: I hope no other artists are doing what I'm doing this particular Thursday, but it would obviously be more healthy for us all to be as brave and adventurous as possible, as this is one plane that you can crash and walk away from.

AUDIOMAGS: Will you work until you drop or can you imagine retiring?

BOWIE LIVE: Didn't I retire in 1990? I can't remember.

AUDIOMAGS: Is collaboration necessary to keep the creative spark or can you do it alone?

BOWIE LIVE: It's always something that I've found to be one of the most fulfilling situations to be in. There's nothing more exciting than bouncing ideas off the head that contains half a mind. As long as one's self has the other half, a good idea can often unite said brain.

QUESTION: David, what do you think of musicians who sample Third World music and incorporate it into European and US albums?

BOWIE LIVE: Are you talking about copyright?

AUDIOMAGS: Any advice for musician/hackers who want to do what you do for a living?

BOWIE LIVE: I do not understand the question. Is that question serious? :)

QUESTION: Mr. Bowie, are you planning on starring in any new movies?

BOWIE LIVE: Yes. I am starring in the next Jeremy Irons movie as Jeremy Irons. He is playing the part of Prince, an aspiring musician/hacker on a worldwide search for a good stage name, as his entire town has the surname Prince.

COMMENT: David, you are a musical pioneer and technical artist. Never quit! Keep up the great work and success!

BOWIE LIVE: I've gone all emotional {{{{}}}}}

AUDIOMAGS: You mentioned the spiritual side of your music. Which of your songs express it most personally.

BOWIE LIVE: There's no doubting for me anyway that it's been a recurrent qualification of my work from the day I started writing. A very early example, I suppose, is Space Oddity. A more obvious example would be Word On A Wing, which, Harry, you would remember very well. More recently, the underlying thread of Black Tie White Noise tried to unify a sort of passion and the spiritual font from which it flowed: the wedding thing. I find in my very present work a more anxious cloud is appearing on the horizon. Golly!

AUDIOMAGS: Are you touched by the despair in much of today's music? Or the Kurt Cobain suicide?

BOWIE LIVE: Please don't think me rude, but the above question almost requires no comment if one has any sensitivity or actual acknowledgement of the society in which one lives. Everything hurts, but all things shall pass. Sorry, it's the old Buddhist in me.

QUESTION: Station to Station is one of my favorite Bowie albums. Will the title song be on the ROM?

BOWIE LIVE: My comments about railway travel ROMs were a joke, I'm afraid. The Bowieno CD-ROM contains music specifically written for this medium.

QUESTION: Hi David. I thought your last album was really wonderful. It reminded me of some of your old stuff, but was quite different too! Are you working on anything now? What about something with Sakamoto?

BOWIE LIVE: I've answered this previously. Please refer back. I have the greatest admiration for Sakamoto. Great musician. Great guy. Great make-up.

QUESTION: Will the CD work on the MacIntosh as well as Windows/DOS?

BOWIE LIVE: Yes. PC in fall. I'm referring to Jump CD-ROM.

QUESTION: Will you be singing any of your older stuff on any tours? I hope so. I'm only 17, so I didn't get to see you in your Ziggy years. Or do you feel the past music is too confining?

BOWIE LIVE: You're breaking my heart! You may have heard that I made a solemn decision ::sob sob:: to not perform my older songs again after 1990. As an artist, I think it's important to make quite radical decisions for one's self to prevent complacency building. It's an adventure.

AUDIOMAGS: So David, how do you like being on America Online?

BOWIE LIVE: I've decided that this is the only way to do interviews/correspondence. I shall now only be available on this medium.

QUESTION: David, will the locomotive travel CD-ROM be solely travel through your eyes or a travelogue of sorts?

BOWIE LIVE: The travel CD-ROM was a joke. Bowieno CD-ROM is quite unlike anything anywhere anytime. I can't possibly explain it, but I defy you not to be completely hypnotized by it. It will be available early next year.

QUESTION: David, what question would you most like to be asked?

BOWIE LIVE: The question above.

COMMENT: I first became aware of your work when I entered a bar called the Stardust Club, where a band named Ziggy played. This was located in Wildwood, New Jersey. I've loved your music since. Thank you for your contributions to the music world :)

BOWIE LIVE: Many thanks. Crazy name, crazy girl, crazy world.

QUESTION: How does Mr. Bowie feel about the future of this medium? How does the medium expand or enhance or detract from his art form?

BOWIE LIVE: It only detracts, as I mentioned earlier, if one tries to squash previously existing material into it. It has to expand by means of site-specific material.

QUESTION: Hi David. Were you satisfied with how the Jump CD-ROM turned out? Did you have to scale back any of your expectations because of the technology?

BOWIE LIVE: I had no expectations for Jump, as it was created by and large for me. Therefore, I was not disappointed. It did successfully excite me to the potential of this medium, which I feel has not even been scratched yet.

QUESTION: David, do you see any interest by other musicians in interacting with their fans on online services?

BOWIE LIVE: I believe I am not the first to have been involved in this delightful correspondence situation. I will not be the last :)

QUESTION: Is it true you will never perform your old songs, as was stated on your last tour?

BOWIE LIVE: Dear LambLips, if you have any spare time, I would like to introduce you to VelvetKis! However, your question has already been answered.

QUESTION: How do you feel about some of the outrageous prices being charged for concert tickets? The Eagles started at $65 for an obstructed view at a baseball field and went up to $135! What's a poor fan to do?

BOWIE LIVE: Eno and I have developed a new policy on ticket sales. We have decided that, on our next tour, we shall be paying the audience. However, we are still ruminating on this one, as believe it or not, there seems to be some reluctance from our agent. Reactionary! Long live Art and the Revolution (at 78)!

QUESTION: Bowie has always taken risks in creating new experiences and sensations for the audience using music, film, and now CD-ROM. Where does the creative energy come from and how do you maintain that courage to try new things?

BOWIE LIVE: One ends up constructing and deconstructing everything surrounding one just to find out what makes it tick. Fortunately, one never gets anywhere near the answer, but it's a great trip.

QUESTION: In Black Tie White Noise, I seemed to hear several musical allusions to earlier Bowie works (such as Aladdin Sane). Was that just my adoring ears playing tricks or was it intentional?

BOWIE LIVE: Dear questioner, it must be your adoring ears telling you the truth, as Mike Garson the pianist is on Black Tie White Noise as he was indeed on Aladdin Sane. Good spotting. I'm pleased to say we have reestablished our old working relationship and have subsequently been recording tons of tracks along with Reeves and Eno, and we're all very excited indeed. As you can anticipate, it bears not the slightest resemblance to Black Tie White Noise. Indeed, I'm wondering if it bears any resemblance to music at all!

QUESTION: Seems you made an impact on Tent Reznor of 9 Inch Nails. Have you two met yet? Could there be collaboration?

BOWIE LIVE: He and Beck in fact are two of the more interesting artists working at the moment. Delighted you found some Bowie resonance on Tent records.

QUESTION: David, do you anticipate that your future involvement with the world of cyberspace will provide regular opportunities to exchange ideas with those of us who are outside the music scene?

BOWIE LIVE: I hope this is an initial foray into a fab new millennium. I've had an absolute ball tonight and can't wait to tell all my friend. He will be so happy for me!

In all seriousness, I think this is a wonderful prospect of a medium and this evening has proved to me how satisfying it can be. God bless. Good night.

GARY L. BROCK: Thank you for joining us, David! Thank you for being here also, Joey!

AUDIOMAGS: A pleasure.

GARY L. BROCK: I would like to thank our guests for this evening, David Bowie and Joey Berlin! I would also like to thank all of our audience members who have participated this evening. Good night!

Copyright 1994 Hollywood Online Inc., Audio Magazines, Inc. and America Online Inc.

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