50 musicians and music-related applicants were specially invited to attend an up-close and personal session with the architect of disco himself, Nile Rodgers. In town for the Chic featuring Nile Rodgers concert at KL Live last night, the guitarist and band leader made time for an hour-long Q&A session hosted by Red Bull Music Academy.
With his trusty Fender Stratocaster guitar (dubbed, The Hitmaker) strapped on, Rodgers demonstrated how he developed his unique playing style and approach to hit-making. Stressing that he always wanted to play the piano, Rodgers said that he took the piano’s approach of playing running melodies to his guitar-playing. Having produced numerous hit albums and songs for the likes of David Bowie, Duran Duran, Diana Ross, Sister Sledge, Madonna; and now Daft Punk, Avicci, and Chase & Status; Rodgers’ work can be heard today on the radio at any given time – whether it is via his influence or direct sampling of his works (eg: Diana Ross’ ‘I’m Coming Out’ used on Notorious BIG’s ‘Mo Money Mo Problems’).
The legendary guitarist-producer of Chic revealed secrets behind the hit records he produced to an intimate crowd of music opinion leaders and budding musician-producers
Serving as MC for the night, Editor of JUICE and CLIVE magazine, Ben Liew fired away questions about his production work and also on Rodgers’ tremulous past. Rodgers, growing up in ghettos of New York and Los Angeles, had been the victim of racism as a result of his mix-race parents, both of whom were heroin addicts. From an early age, Rodgers learnt to survive using his wit and became musically inclined while meeting a host of colour characters from Frank Sinatra to the Blank Panthers.
Rodgers admitted that he had always been a “Fixer record producer” – someone to go to when an artist has not had any hits for a while and needs “fixing”. His open attitude and willingness to push the envelope as well as his trademark “happy” dance sound has made him the sought-after producer he is currently with Daft Punk’s ‘Get Lucky’ cementing itself as the Song of the Year for 2013. Rodgers also spoke about his work with David Bowie on Let’s Dance (particularly how he created the riff for ‘China Doll’) and the role of DJs in today’s music ecosystem, and got philosophical about music business and reaching a wider audience.
Coming off performing 100 shows in the last 120 days, the prostate-cancer survivor gave a vivacious performance with Chic in the concert that followed the infosession playing hits like ‘Le Freak’, ‘Dance Dance Dance’, ‘I Want Your Love’ and ‘Good Times’.
About Red Bull Music Academy
The Red Bull Music Academy (RBMA) is a world-travelling music symposium curating special educational workshops for musicians and music-related professionals, concerts and events, and other activities aimed at bringing the local and international music community closer. Although RBMA organises events all over the world, all year round, it has one major stop each year which lasts one month. For the past 15 years, at each of its major stops, RBMA builds infrastructure and equips it with facilities and technology to host a small group of students (picked by Red Bull from around the world) to further their musical knowledge and awareness in hopes of creating leaders in their fields.