It's hard to talk about the ‘80s without mentioning Boy George. His polished vocals paired with his androgenous — and sometimes outlandish — appearance were a seminal part of that decade's pop scene. Even though George continued to release albums, as well as deejay, write, paint and design fashions, he all but faded from America's mainstream.
But on April 18, he launched a North American tour in support of his new album, “This Is What I Do” (Very Me Records). Boasting eight dates, it culminates Tuesday at The Belasco in Los Angeles. The show is sold out.
“It's been a while since I've been out on the road, so I wanted to be a little bit careful and not book Shea stadium,” George said. “People haven't seen me in a long time. Somebody came to my show a couple of nights ago and they tweeted ‘Leave your preconceptions at the door,' I think a lot of people don't really know what I do musically. In a way, I'm re-educated people and re-engaging people with myself as an artist.”
The London vocalist — his full name is George Alan O'Dowd — said that “This Is What I Do” differs from his previous work in that it reflects his personal changes and growth, as well as the lack of stress he felt in producing it. George traces the album's beginnings to when he changed managers two years ago. Without the preconceived ideas of those working with him and the pressure to meet deadlines, he was free to be creative, but there was still a challenge.
“I needed to work out what I'm writing about because I was writing from quite a happy place. What do you write about when you've got no ax to grind?” George said. “The record, for me, it's melancholy, it's optimistic, it's looking back, it's looking forward, but also the thing you have to remember when you write a song. Yes, you invest a certain amount of who you are in the song, but you're also trying to write a song and create something that's going to sound good to someone else. You need to structure it a certain way and use a lot of artistic license when you write.”
Being in entertainment was in the stars for George.
“My mother used to describe me as theatrical, highly strung and sensitive. Music was something that I loved from a very early age,” George said. “I used to do shows for the family on the doorstep. I was always singing or entertaining. It was kind of inevitable, really.”
He grew up watching Busby Berkeley movies and listening to singers like Frank Sinatra, Bing Crosby and Johnny Ray. By age 11, George became enamored of pop music. He also enjoys spending time in the kitchen.
“I love food. I love the alchemy of food and I like to create things. I like to come up with unusual ways of putting things together. A lot of the time I just think on my feet, I say, ‘Oh, I wonder if that will go with that?' Some things don't go with each other. Sometimes you create these disasters, but the Internet is brilliant with anything to do with food,” he said.
Over the past two years, George has taken up the paint brush again. He has been collaborating with Los Angeles artists Germizm and Richard Duardo and has sold three paintings in the last few months. George describes his work as “punky,” as well as “humorous and glamorous” and said that it is similar to his approach to fashion and photography.
“I'm not interested in reality in any way, we can have reality any time of the day any day. I love the whole Hollywood thing, when you take a picture of somebody you want them to look how they want to look or how they dream they look rather than the reality,” George said.
“The next big project for me after this will be working with Culture Club, so this year is going to be pretty busy and it feels like a very fertile time for creativity and I'm excited about all the things coming up,” George said.
When: 8 p.m. April 29.
Where: The Belasco, 1050 S. HIll St., Los Angeles.
Tickets: Sold out.
Information: 213-746-5670, www.thebelascotheater.com.
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