With all this clubland activity, George soon found himself Djing again. At first, he confined himself to back rooms where he could play a little of everything, "like the school disco." But he was asked so frequently to perform on main floors that he decided to take on the challenge. "I started working on it and spending a lot of time practicing, taking my decks around with me when I went away to the studio, making tapes and just learning. But having said that, it doesn't matter how much you practice at home and how great you are, when you play in a club it changes everything."
George admits to being "scared" about taking on high-profile Dj bookings, partly because of what he calls "the novelty thing of Boy George playing records in a club," but more so in awareness of potential resentment that a former pop idol would dare to reinvent himself. "It's a real British thing," he observes. "Once you've had your go, whatever it may be, they want you to piss off, and they can't bear it if you come back, they can't bear it. They'd prefer to hear about you having a turn on the cabaret circuit."
So during his inaugural period, George had to contend with jealous wanna-be DJs who felt he was doing them out of a gig ("My response was that there's a lot of DJs making records, and they have the right to do that,") while attempting to master the technology in a live situation. He recalls, laughing now, the time at Manchester's Hacienda he delivered a mix that sounded "like a drag queen falling down the stairs in a pair of Vivienne Westwood platforms!" (A pop star friend in attendance turned and laughed: "Well at least they know you're here.") He also remembers that when he played alongside Sasha for the first time, it was him, not the younger DJ, who was starstruck and "so frightened I almost threw up."
Yet wherever George played, he connected with the audience. And the more he played, the more his name spread; to a new generation growing up after Culture Club's reign, Boy George was first and foremost a DJ. By the middle of the '90s, not only could he mix with the best of them, but he could draw crowds to compete with the biggest of them. London mega club Ministry of Sound hired him to compile one of their first CDs, and it promptly sold 100,000 copies. George had clearly developed the great DJ's knack of knowing how to both program and present great music. "I really just play things I like," he says casually. "I'm always loathe to say I don't play this or that; I play what works. There are a lot of Djs who play a particular style, I don't really have any loyalty to any sound."
This much is obvious from his 'Essential Mix.' The first few songs, including a funky reworking of 'Girl from Ipanema' by the Boogie Macs, and 'See You Through' by Cultural Diversions, on which George sings, introduce what he calls "the sexiest sound around," two-step. "It's basically R&B, with a bit of ragga," he says of the genre that has swept the British charts. "I think that if anything is going to cross over in the States it's going to be that sound, because it really does incorporate a lot of that American R&B flavor."
Not that George confines himself to any one genre. There's a new version of Baby D's UK number one (and US rave classic) 'Let Me Be Your Fantasy,' and an appearance from his old friend Kinky Roland singing 'Born Funky.' There are stop offs in Miami (with Shauna Solomon) and Italy (Tutto Matto vs Different Gear). On a much harder tip, George and friends show up as The Colein performing the optimistic 'Spreading the Light', and new British solo singer Amanda Ghost is featured with the American club smash 'Filthy Mind.' The album closes out with some seriously pumping late night groovesfrom Bassdubs, Oscar Goldmana nd Wave, all a long dancefloor's journey from the opening cuts.
With 'Essential Mix,' Boy George hopes to take full advantage of American dance fans' currently open state of mind. "A lot of that freedom we had in the early acid house days is gone now, because the whole dance thing has become so corporate," he says of the UK scene. "And one of the really nice things about America is that America isn't really at that stage yet, so there isn't that strictness about what you can put on the records. You can really show people that your tastes are varied and wide." He recalls handing the legendary Larry Levan a Culture Club remix at the Paradise Garage, and hearing it on the dancefloor five minutes later, and he wants to keep that willingness to take a chance in his own performances. "Being in the DJ booth," he says, "is one of the few places that you have complete freedom."
The Annual Vol.1: Mixed By Boy George & Pete Tong 1995
The Annual Vol.2 1996
BOY GEORGE The Annual II (1996 Official UK In House Platinum award disc, presented to recognise sales in the UK in excess of 300,000 copies sold of the album, which was remixed by both Pete Tong & Boy George.
Dance Nation Vol.4: Mixed By Boy George & Pete Tong 1997
Ministry of Sound Presents: The Annual III 1997
Ministry of Sound: The Ibiza Annual V.1 - mixed by Judge Jules & Boy George 1998
The Annual Vol.4: Mixed By Boy George 1998
Dance Nation 5: mixed by Pete Tong & Boy George 1998
The Annual IV 1998
The House Collection 1998
Ministry of Sound: Dance Nation V.1 - mixed by Boy George & Pete Tong 1999
Dance Nation V.2 1999
Galaxy Mix: Mixed By Boy George 1999
THE ANNUAL : Mixed by TOM NOVY & BOY GEORGE 1999
Galaxy Weekend 2000
Galaxy Hits 2000
Boygeorgedj.Com: Mixed By Boy George 2001
Essential Mix 2001
With a cheeky flair for symbolism that's entirely in character, Boy George kicked off his inaugural U.S. DJ tour on Valentine's Day, headlining at clubs around the country to promote his latest persona as showcased in his new record, Essential Mix. He's long since come back from his druggy, dark post-Culture Club days with a Peter Pan-like rebound, dropping one needle for another. It's a return to roots in a way: the dance music club scene is practically amniotic for Boy George, the milieu where he cut his teeth. So there's less of a leap than might be assumed to find the sister following in the formidable footsteps of Fatboy Slim and Paul Oakenfold (who contributed an earlier volume to London/Sire's essential mix series). And--exactly as you'd expect--Boy George indulges his decidedly idiosyncratic taste for beats with a totally unpredictable, unorthodox mad science. He's not afraid to risk jolting the crowd with some unexpected speed bumps in his flow, moving from ragga or diva house to full-on techno throb and ghosting out a voice here and there to pinch the energy's pitch. He brings on several artists from More Protein projects, including Kinky Roland (who contributes an irresistible retro-disco highlight, "Born Funky"). The Boy's mix is like moving from one club theme room into another, whether it's rave anthem ("Let Me Be Your Fantasy") or ethereal trance chilling ("Spreading the Light," with the Boy as "The Colein"). The resurrected Culture Club itself makes an appearance as "Cultural Diversion" in "See Thru" (also featuring the BG's vocals and his personal favorite, the "sexy" two-step). Boy George has said he thinks of his mix as the kind of music you might listen to while getting ready to leave for the party--but once you have it on, you're already there.
In and Out: Mixed By Boy George 2002
A Night Out With Boy George A DJ Mix 2002
A Night In With Boy George A Chillout Mix 2002
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