Music icon Bryan Ferry gets personal about his new album Olympia and his work with former-Semifinalist member, Ferry Guow
Bestival has officially ended the British summer, and done so in its own glorious way. Fantasy themed and tailored to cater for all needs, the line-up, which boasted the likes of Gil Scott-Heron, Flying Lotus and LCD Soundsystem, saw that it went off with a bang.
It has, by all definitions, become an iconic event and one that can only be appropriately celebrated by interviewing another icon: Bryan Ferry. With work complete on, Olympia, his forthcoming solo album, Kate Moss on the cover, and a weighty supporting cast, including the likes of David Gilmour, Flea and Brian Eno, all making appearances, it looks like Ferry has made the most of his 40 year old contact book. With Roxy Music playing the main stage on Saturday we caught up with the man himself to find out about Olympia, his collaboration with Indonesian director Ferry Gouw and to get his take on news that the elusive Roxy bassist Graham Simpson is the subject of a new documentary.
Dazed Digital: How do you think your music has progressed?
Bryan Ferry: I'd like to think that there has been some progression since the debut Roxy Music album in 1972. Perhaps it's not for me to judge, but I have certainly covered a lot of ground since then. Having the two careers, both with Roxy and solo, has
been a great help in as much as it has given me the freedom to explore many musical possibilities.
DD: Why did you choose to release this as a solo record and not as Roxy Music?
Bryan Ferry: At a certain point during the making of the album I entertained the idea of turning it into a Roxy record, but after a while I felt that the material was better suited to a solo album. In addition to this, there was the fact that I wanted to work with
lots of different players rather than a fixed group, as players like David Williams and Oliver Thompson had become key members of my team and I very much wanted them to play on some of the tracks - this route seemed the most natural thing to do. It's very
much a song-based album and I think perhaps Roxy's best interests would be served by something a little more abstract. However it's great to have Manzanera, Mackay & Eno all present here on the same album, albeit in cameo roles.
DD: How did the collaboration with Ferry Gouw come about?
Bryan Ferry: It is wonderful to work with people who are on the same wavelength and who share a similar aesthetic. 'Fez', as I like to call him, was introduced to me by my son, Isaac, who has been a phenomenal force behind the making of Olympia and its satellite projects. Fez directed 'You Can Dance' and Isaac made the 'Olympia' documentary film, so we now have quite an interesting team of young hopefuls. Isaac also helped to put together the cast and crew for the album photoshoot.
DD: Did you intentionally bring in all the big names for the album?
Bryan Ferry: Not really… Olympia is quite a cool district in London and you never know who you might bump into in Frank's sandwich bar! I've been making records for a long time now and so I tend to know quite a few musicians, some more famous than others. I asked some of these guys if they would like to work on the album. Since the record was made over a fairly long period it isn't surprising that there are quite a few of them on there. It certainly wasn't an aim for the album to have a cast of thousands.
DD: In an interview with The Face in 1985 you said that you have always thought of yourself as an artist rather than a personality. Do you think that at your absolute climax this wasn’t the case?
Bryan Ferry: I think if you are around for long enough, sometimes personality can tend to overshadow the work you create. I would hope that people would approach my music with an open mind, but it's hard for me to say.
DD: Did you know that Graham Simpson is the subject of a new documentary called ‘Nothing but the Magnificent’? Why do you think that he, and not anyone else, “dived in a bit too deep”?
Bryan Ferry: I was very lucky to meet Graham when we were students in Newcastle in the mid-60s, and as you know he was a key figure on that first Roxy Music album. He had a very deep interest in the more obscure areas of jazz music, and afterwards I
suspect that his obsessions lay elsewhere. I remember him, for instance, being very keen on Eric Dolphy, and I think when Graham was into something he was really into it. It was a privilege to work with him during Roxy Music's formation, but all of a sudden he just disappeared. He was always a bit of a loner as far as I could see, very deep, and very cool.
DD: Are you flattered that people get excited when they hear about you collaborating with Brian Eno again?
Bryan Ferry: Yes, I am flattered whenever people get excited about what I do, and working with Eno is always a pleasure although this time, sadly, it was only a fleeting visit.
DD: What’s next for you?
Bryan Ferry: I have enjoyed performing with Roxy Music this summer and I'm looking forward to the shows we'll be doing early next year. Also, I would like to do some showcase dates featuring songs from the new album. And after that - who knows?….