“Let’s Dance became beautiful art that would live forever”: the music maven on producing Bowie’s bestselling album
“Billy Idol and I spotted Bowie at The Continental nightclub: He was alone, sitting back and sipping a glass of orange juice as if it was the last glass of orange juice in the world. We talked about jazz all night, like there was no one else in the room. Later he said, ‘Nile darling, I want you to make me a hit album.’ So I think we’re making a jazz album, we do loads of research and he says, ‘I’ve figured it out: I want my record to sound like this!’ He pulls out this Little Richard record: he’s climbing into a red Cadillac in a red suit, with this shock of red hair. With that picture, David injected into my brain exactly what he was thinking. The picture was clearly from the 60s but it could have been shot that morning. It wasn’t about the past, wasn’t about the future, wasn’t about now; it was just about time. Let’s Dance became beautiful art that would live forever.”
I first met Nile through Kim Jones on a Louis Vuitton project. It was amazing to meet someone who has done so much to change culture and music, working with true greats like Madonna on Like a Virgin, Grace Jones on Inside Story and Duran Duran on Notorious. Let’s Dance is one of my favourite albums – Bowie’s bestselling – and it came at that moment after disco in New York. You know, disco didn’t die: it just morphed into something else. Today, I feel like music isn’t being made to uplift people, it’s about consumption, it’s self-absorbed – almost a reflection of social media. Nile has always made music to transport you, to help you explore another side of yourself and your creativity.
Hair: Blake Erik at Statement Artists using Hairstory. Make-up: Susie Sobol at Julian Watson Agency. Set design: Ian Salter at Frank Reps. Digital tech: Frederike Heide. Photographic assistants: Christopher Parente and Max Bernetz. Styling assistants: Rebecca Perlmutar, Kat Banas and Athena Zammit. Make-up assistant: Ayaka Nihei. Set-design assistant: George de Lacey. Production: Artistry London. Post-production: Studio Private
The Spring/Summer 2018 issue of AnOther Magazine is out now.