Interview of George Michael in a television show in Denmark on August 29, 2011.
You’re gonna be playing three shows here in Herning and one show in Copenhagen. How does it feel to start off your Symphonica tour here in Denmark?
GM: Well I’ve had such a fantastically enthusiastic reaction the last time I was here, you know, and I came back and played shows I wasn’t expecting to play. Because things went so well here. And I think the place where I was playing held fifty thousand, didn’t it.. or something like that. But yeah, there were fantastic crowds, amazing crowds. So it’s a really good place to be, for it to be the first big venue with the show set up and everything.
You’ve been to Denmark several times before. As you say you were here on your last tour and you recorded your very famous album Faith in the Puk Studios here in Judland.
GM: That’s right, yeah.
What do you think about Denmark?
GM: Lovely people. Lots of trees (laughs) …lovely people. Just feels very.. Two things I remember feeling, especially during Faith was 1) how pleasant everyone was and 2) how safe it felt compared to London, you know.
In the breaks of this tour I understand that you’re recording a new album. Which is very different from the Symphonica tour, it’s modern dance music. How do you combine the two?
GM: Well the thing is, I’m interested in the two, you know what I’m saying.. I’ve always had.. I mean, I think I’m pretty well known for.. have there been a fairly even balance in my successes in terms of ballads and up-tempo songs, and so that kept my kind of lyric writing, the lyric writing element of what I do, going constantly ‘cause I’m working in my mind on that. And this is all much more about my voice, you know. So I think.. I think at my age, to be able to have those two things going on and to know that they’ll both be heard to a degree is quite remarkable. I’m.. you know, I’m thrilled about it. To have that kind of momentum in my own brain at this age, you know.
On your new album, on your dance music album, there are lots of gay and gay friendly artists on that. What’s it meant to you to be open about your sexuality?
GM: Well I’ve been open in the songs that I’ve written since I’ve been out. But they’ve still basically been about relationships and only some of these lyrics on this new album are about relationships. There are so many things that, you know, there are so many aspects to gay life that I’ve discovered, and so many things to write about. I have a new life and I have a new take on dance music because of that life and…
What do you mean new life?
GM: Well, as a gay man, you know.. and dance music plays a very different part in gay men’s lives at 48 than it does in straight men’s lives at 48. I would say that’s an understatement actually.
This CD I bought in 84 I think it was (she holds up a Wham! Fantastic CD) and this was the first CD I ever bought, and actually it was the first CD you were able to buy in Judland – in this part of Judland. And I think for many people in my generation, we grew up with your music. We fell in love with your music, we got married with your music and all these..
GM: …and had lots of babies with my music!
And had lots of babies with your music.
GM: Don’t forget that bit!
Yeah (laughs) What does it feel like to have provided the soundtrack to so many people’s lives?
GM: Well it’s a privilege, isn’t it. It’s an amazing privilege. I mean, I’ve been very aware of it and felt very responsible for kind of handling that privilege with care. Not many people really.. really are that meticulous with what they do I suppose, and I’m just a control freak and terribly afraid of failure or regret so I.. I work very hard at these things. And I hope people will feel that in the show as well, you know.
You have been in the spotlight for almost three decades. How have you coped or how are you coping with the media attention and fuss and..
GM: As badly as ever, really. I’ve just been on a holiday on an island and.. just for four days and I think pretty much everybody on the island has my picture now (laughs). I’m a little too polite for my own good really.
You don’t get used to it over the years?
GM: No, it gets stranger over the years actually. Because the longer people have seen.. like a two-dimensional, you know, whether it be TV or the newspaper.. people who’ve seen you in two dimensions for nearly three decades, you know – since they were children or whatever. When they see the 3D version, they tend to… it’s almost like it gets weirder. The experience gets weirder because people’s response to you over time gets stronger. Not necessarily.. it doesn’t necessarily go with your chart success or whatever. It goes with how long you’ve been around, you know. And so the response to you gets stronger and stronger. And people, I think a lot of people don’t appreciate that. I think that’s why a lot of people like me – who’s been around for years and years, only really lose it in their 40s and 50s, you know. And there are a lot of people that seem to lose their minds at a certain age. And I think I know why now, you know (laughs) – they’re really like the legends.. the kind of legends
What are you doing to avoid that, what are you doing to keep that from happening?
GM: Well, I stay home a lot. No I’m trying to break free of that as well. I’m just.. I try very hard to thank my lucky stars, you know. And keep it all in proportion and perspective. But it can be, it can be very tiring – having a smiley face all day for thousands of (indicates camera shutters clicking).
Yeah, no wonder.
GM: When I travel, that’s much more likely to happen of course.
There were, when you’re talking about keeping away from the public, there were l7 years when you did not go on the road. But now you are on the road and on a tour again. How do you feel about it now?
GM: One thing I will say about the holiday I just went on, I didn’t have any security with me. Which is one of the reasons I spent the whole.. that’s, that’s one thing. So I’m protected from some of that out here. But I obviously feel a very different relationship with the people who come to see the shows than the people because… if it were just my fans that needed.. that decided they needed my picture, then I think I’d be alright, you know. There are, I mean, there are lots of George Michael fans, but there aren’t’ that many you know. It’s the fact that everyone seems to want one, just you know in case their wife wants it, or their daughter wants it, or their gay partner wants it. But you know, I cope with that okay and, and the better things are going for me in my own life and the more happy I am with the shows, the better I cope with everything, you know.
You have a long tour ahead of you now. You’re starting on Monday..
GM: This is the heaviest schedule I’ve ever had actually. I don’t know how that happened really. It was really much more about me being afraid of looking at the schedule (laughs) and not noticing there are more and more dates going in. I’m actually now just kind of excited to see in a bigger venue and…
There’s going to be a huge set up. You’re gonna have an entire symphony orchestra with you.
GM: Yeah exactly.
What’s that gonna be like?
GM: Well I know.. I know now as of last Monday it feels amazing. And I’m just, I’m looking forward to getting more and more comfortable with it and my voice getting stronger and stronger as the tour goes on, you know.
What do you do to prevent it from..
GM: Nothing. (laughs)
You’re just lucky?
GM: I’m just lucky yeah I mean I.. you know, I have lozenges that I sucked the whole day out of paranoia but no really l.. since I learned to relax about it, I’ve found it much easier actually. I used to get really, really paranoid. And after every show I’d have to go straight back to the hotel and talk to no one, you know. And it’s so dull and so boring. And actually led to more throat problems because of the anxiety. But I’m much more relaxed about it now and my voice seems to be fine so.. And I feel ready to do it and it also feels very honest, you know. Feels very honest. I would not be ready to come out and do another three years of a greatest hits tour, and even though there are some of my greatest.. quite a few of my greatest hits in this, it’s something completely different, you know. And that’s what I need right now, you know. I don’t want.. as I said I’m not really interested in repeating experiences again and again. And I like to challenge myself to improve as a vocalist, and believe me, singing with an orchestra is one way to do it, really. It really is.
So what challenges do you see lie ahead?
GM: Well, the dance album is a challenge. I think it will be a challenge with the media. But the challenge of this tour really is to see what kind of a singer I can be by the end of it. By Christmas I think I’ll see just what my potential as a singer is at this point in time, you know. And I hope that I’ll be a better singer than I’ve ever been so..
I wish you all the best of luck!
GM: That’s quite a good line, should finish on that.. you should definitely finish on that one!
Thank you very much!
GM: Okay (laughs) All right, thank you!
- An Audience with George Michael: Interview with Chris Evans (1996)
- George Michael in Q Magazine Interview (October 1990)
- George Michael’s Interview on Magic FM Radio (2007)
- George Michael Symphonica Interview on Denmark Television (2011)
- George Michael Interview in Blitz Magazine (June 1988)