Sting in Abu Dhabi
Former Police front man on music, fame and technology Discuss this article
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What kind of show are you bringing to Abu Dhabi?
After the Symphonicity tour, where I was performing symphonic arrangements of my songs with large orchestras, I wanted to do something completely in the opposite direction. We had the idea to sort of go back to the basics – performing with a five-piece band and taking a more stripped-down approach.
Your association with Arabic music (‘Desert Rose’, for example) is well known. What is it about Arabian sounds that excites you?
I think the ears must always be open to the universal language of music, as it cuts across all cultures. Arabic music is mesmerising, and I’ve spent quite some time listening to the incredible, swooping voices of Arabic vocalists.
Your love of classical and jazz is well documented, but do you keep up with current musical trends?
I know the broad strokes of what’s going on, but I don’t know the minutia of what’s happening in pop. I enjoy Lady Gaga, because I think she’s a musician who can really sing, and she has an amazing integrated concept of what it means to be a pop star. My daughter, Coco, is also making great music with her band I Blame Coco. I’m very proud of her.
Does being on the road excite you?
Working and being creative makes me happy. I have no idea what comes next, but standing still is not an option. I don’t want to put my feet up. I think as long as I can sing in tune, I’ll sing.
Do you think it’s easier or more difficult for young people to make it as a musician these days?
In my opinion, it’s a kind of dangerous trajectory, because I don’t think that it gives you any perspective. I think a lot of people nowadays say, ‘I want to be famous,’ not, ‘I want to be a musician,’ and you’ve got to
be careful what you wish for.
You’ve said in the past you find writing lyrics the most difficult part of songwriting. How do you overcome it?
I’ve certainly struggled with writer’s block at various times throughout my career. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve become more critical and demanding of my own work. That can strangle the creative inner child in you, and so it gets harder and harder to write. I can only do what I’m inspired to do, and sometimes finding that inspiration is a challenge, while other times it comes easily. I just have to wait for that inspiration to find me and be receptive when it does.
How do you know when a song is good enough?
I don’t feel as though I ever really finish anything. I abandon it at some point, because I could carry on tinkering with it forever. But I know when the time is to say, ‘This is it.’ For me, as hard as I work on each record, it’s not always the end result. The end result is usually the tour. You put a record out and then you tour with it, and it evolves into something slightly different, whereas the album is more definitive.
You’ve been famous for such a long time. Is it hard to stay grounded?
I have a perspective on fame that stems from early on in my career. Before I achieved any success, I held down a job and struggled to pay a mortgage. I really value those times because it has allowed me to keep a balanced view.
Does it upset you that, because you’re in the public eye, people assume they know what you’re like?
Because I’m very earnest by nature, if you ask me a serious question, I’ll probably give you a serious answer. But there’s a tendency for people to think that’s all there is to me. I’m also quite hopeful and
fun-loving on the other side.
Sting 25, your iPad app, was awarded the prestigious Cannes Lion for Best Design/Aesthetic at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity. How involved were you in its production?
I think it’s important to embrace new technology and to try to evolve with it. While we were putting together the 25 Years box set, we realised there was a wealth of material that simply didn’t fit – hours of video, including footage from my 60th birthday benefit concert, hundreds of photos, interviews and much more. We originally considered making some sort of documentary, but the idea developed into something much more compelling and dynamic. The app was a natural solution.
You’ve done so much but is there one goal you still want to achieve?
I never want to stop learning. I don’t really have a plan quite yet, but I get bored pretty easily and so I always like to do something new and something that is hopefully surprising.
Tickets on sale at www.thinkflash.ae (800 FLASH (35274)). Tickets start at Dhs295 for General Admission, Dhs695 for Golden Circle category and Dhs495 for the Grandstand seated category.
Time Out Abu Dhabi,
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