“Can I call you right back? I just had an idea,” Nile Rodgers says in a relentless game of phone tag with VIBE. The 60-year-old producer/guitar hero is in the studio all day, almost every day and must lay down whatever new sonic concoction he’s thought up before he forgets it. Although VIBE’s Summer 2013 cover robots Daft Punk ,along with Pharrell, pegged Rodgers to collaborate on three tracks for Random Access Memories, they started out using samples from his first major group, Chic, on their debut album Homework. As Rodgers says, “I didn’t really understand it until I got the album and heard all the samples that were very Chic-inspired.”
Cut to today and Rodgers is gearing up to drop a new Chic dedication album and has collaborations lined up with David Guetta, Chase & Status, Brett Ratner and Avicii. Then there’s the next video off RAM, “Lose Yourself to Dance,” which could drop at any moment—as per the mysterious nature of Daft Punk. Here, VIBE speaks with the Grammy-winning producer/artist/composer on his future projects and beyond.
VIBE: The next single off Random Access Memories that you’re on is “Lose Yourself To Dance.” What was it like shooting the music video with Daft Punk and Pharrell?
Nile Rodgers: We had a great time. Now for me, it was a little bit tricky because I had to fly in from Europe. I was on tour, so I flew in and they did the video shoot around my schedule. I literally got off the stage, went right to the airport, flew out to L.A. and as soon as the plane landed was on the set.
Was this for shooting “Get Lucky” or “Lose Yourself To Dance?”
Both. So we were shooting like crazy until it was time for me to leave. It was shot and reshot, and you can see all the extras lying on the floor because everybody was exhausted. Then when I left and the plane landed, the limo took me directly to the hall where I did a concert.
What do you do when you’re drained of creativity?
That doesn’t really happen. I have a strange, I wouldn’t call it an affliction or malady because it actually helps me, where I can think of music all the time. Like when you called, the reason why I was so excited was because I had an idea that, to me, was great and it made a huge difference in this new record.
What was the idea behind the record and who was it for?
I’m working with this English drum and bass dubstep group Chase & Status. We were working on some stuff, and I just said to them, like ‘Guys, I’m going to turn this shit into some commercial stuff,’ and they said ‘No, it’s cool, it’s nice.’ When they hear this thing tomorrow, they’re going to flip out. It’s really great.
What else are you working on at the moment?
I’m working on two or three tracks right now with David Guetta. It’s crazy, unbelievable. I get all excited. I’m like a kid, working on all these records with Guetta. It’s so good, it’s scary, and when David called me, I gave him the big idea and he became just as childish as me.
How do you stay on top of all the new music of today?
I just love music. Like today, I took on three epic jobs. I got a phone call from Brett Ratner who’s working this big project for Vanity Fair. He says they’re doing 10 directors and each director is a decade. So Brett said he was going to take the '70s and called me up asking if I could score [the film] for him. And I was like ‘Sure Brett, of course. I love you man, I’d do anything.’ So, I’m going to do that for him. I got crazy new stuff with Avicii. I love Avicii.
Are you digging Avicii's new "country-step" sound?
Hell yeah! I probably have the next single. It will be the one with Adam Lambert. I wrote that song. I love that shit. That’s how he and I first met. He played "Wake Me Up" for me and I said to him, ‘Tim, let me tell you something. That shit’s going to be huge.' What you’re doing is you’re pushing the envelope so when you think about it, what you’ve just done is probably one of the most intelligent. People won’t get it right away. The thing that makes America different, as far as being a fragmented music market, is that we have this thing called "country" that’s so big, it makes a massive impact on pop. It’s really only country that has something like that. Think about this: if a record really connects, your audience is going to expand five-fold.’
And Avicii’s “Wake Me Up” shot to number one real quick.
It’s great. When he played it for me, I was sitting there with my mouth hanging open. Now I have to top this shit. It was a great way to start working, and now he and I love each other. Every time we’re in the studio, we come up with something great.
What about you? Are you going to write anything just for yourself?
Yeah, I’m going to do a Chic record. I think it’s going to be great. Honestly, in my heart, I’m going to try to make the best record I’ve ever made in my life.
Are there any people you’re going to bring on to sing or are you going to use old recordings?
It’s a combination of all of that. I know Daft Punk’s going to work on one joint, Guetta’s definitely working on this thing we’re writing together – it’s killer, it’s crazy. According to Nicky Romero, this is the best beat they’ve ever worked on.
How is Nicky Romero involved?
I walked into the studio and my guitar was coming back from the repair shop. I opened up my case and just started trying out my guitar when all of a sudden a bass line came out. I started playing the riff over and over again, and Nicky was sitting on the couch, and I said ‘Get the engineer! Record this shit or I’ll never remember.’ Then we started going crazy. Everybody was running around going nuts. So, I just recorded it quickly. Nicky had a laptop with him. I was practicing so that when the engineer came in, I then played it and had it down. Now Nicky already had the sample in his computer, so he got inspired and wrote a beat on top of it. That’s the great thing about EDM is that it reflects the life that I’ve always had. The only records I do are the records that I want to do, and I’ve been fortunate enough that almost every record I’ve done is with someone like Daft Punk or someone I met at a club. With RAM, they didn’t even have a record deal, which is very similar to my situation with David Bowie in "Let’s Dance." He didn’t have a record deal. I’m not answering to any label. I’m just dealing with the artists.