Sting Internet Chat "AOL Live" - August 30th, 2000

[Updated: April 24, 2002]

Transcript from: Sting Internet Chat "AOL Live"
Date: Wednesday August 30th, 2000 from 7-7:30 (EST)

Drew Marko: Hello, Sting. How are you?

Sting: I'm in Nashville.

Drew Marko: You're on tour there?

Sting: Yeah, I've got another two weeks to go on the American tour. It's going pretty well, actually.

Drew Marko: We're happy to have you on your -- toward the end of [your tour]. We have tens of thousands of people here to talk to you.

Drew Marko: AOL Live would like to welcome international superstar Sting.Tonight he will be chatting with us about the success of his newest [album], Brand New Day, featuring the single "Summer Rose." Do you have any comments for us?

Sting: It's nice to be with you all in the virtual auditorium. I'm thrilled and honored you asked me to do this. I look forward to answering your questions.

Drew Marko: OK. The first question we have is about the single "Desert Rose." What inspired you to write that song, and how did you choose it as your single?

Sting: I spent a lot of time in Paris during the recording of this record, and the big music in France is called rai music. It's kind of a combination of dance music and Arabic music. There's a big Arab population in Paris. I would go to clubs, dance clubs, and hear this amazing hybrid sound and became very interested in it. I met Cheb Mami, one of the most famous singers of rai music. He's from Algeria. I decided I would write an Arabesque song and try to get Cheb Mami to do a duet with me. That's what happened. I'm happy it's a huge hit in America, where people were a little wary that an Arab singer on a dance record wouldn't make it. But we proved them wrong.

Drew Marko: Absolutely. It's a beautiful song. Well, next question is coming from CongaMan14, the screen name: Now with the success of your new album, "Brand New Day", do you think you've inspired a new generation of listeners with your music?

Sting: It's a very interesting demographic that I see come to the shows. I mean, that's the only demographic I really can witness, and the people that normally come to see me are there, and people much older than that demographic, and also people much younger. So the demographic seems to be growing at both ends. I think that has to be up to the fact that we have a Top 40 single. Also, the fact that just I've been around a long time and people are getting to me from all different walks and ages.

Drew Marko: OK. Next question is: Do you see yourself collaborating with other Arab singers, for instance Alabena, etc.?

Sting: I have a great deal of respect -- there are more Arab singers than Cheb Mami, and I'm a big fan of them. Choosing Cheb Mami is arbitrary. It could easily have been someone else. But I'm not really in the business of dueting. I think if it happens organically, it happens. That would be very nice.

Drew Marko: OK. Next question is from No58Dove, and it is: What was it like to work with the Backstreet Boys? Also I notice you worked with Puff Daddy in the past. Do you enjoy working with these modern pop stars?

Sting: It's interesting, because I was in the position almost 20 years ago, and for me to still be in that arena and working with those younger people says something, in a way. And they certainly do pay respect to me, and I pay due respect to them. I understand what they do. They're fine artists. And for them to reinterpret one of my old songs is a great honor. I'm the eternal student. I'm never the guy who thinks he knows everything.

Drew Marko: Excellent. That's a great philosophy. Now, our next question is from ImAvacado, their screen name. It is: What other artists do you admire today?

Sting: That's almost an impossible question to answer. There are so many good musicians.

Drew Marko: Such a range, yes.

Sting: Good artists. Again, I have an open mind and an open ear. I listen to almost everything and respect almost everything I hear. I'm not a critic, but I do learn.

Drew Marko: Are there any other particular cultures today that influence your music?

Sting: Well, I am interested in culture, but I don't see myself as a cultural pirate. In other words, I don't fly around the world looking for stuff that I can steal. It has to be a part of my understanding. On the other hand, I think that music is a common language that we all share, and within that language there are various subgroups. And it's nice when those subgroups can have a sort of interface. And I think that's what my job is, to interface different cultures with my own, rather than steal it wholesale.

Drew Marko: OK. Next question we have is from --

Sting: Very good typing going on here.

Drew Marko: Yes, what we have is something called National Captioning Institute doing captioning for us. You know on television, if you have captioning, it will scroll very quickly. That's definitely their background, and they're very good at what they do. So we can speak at a normal pace.

Sting: Congratulations.

Drew Marko: Yeah. It's great. We have LadyVols2022 asking: What is your newest single? Would that be "Desert Rose," or do you have something else in store for us?

Sting: "Desert Rose" is currently the Top 40 single, but on triple-A format it is "After the Rain," which again has an Arabic flavor to it. Kind of a "Thousand and One Nights" story.

Drew Marko: Next question: How is "Brand New Day" different from your past releases?

Sting: I like to think there's some kind of revolution taking place, some kind of spiral upwards. My intention is to be a better musician than four years ago, a better arranger, a better songwriter, a better performer. That's the intention. Whether I succeed or not is really up to the listener to decide. That's really what I want to happen.

Drew Marko: Next question is: I heard that you crafted the music before the lyrics. Do you usually do that with your releases?

Sting: Normally, I would write lyrics and music at the same time. Sometimes music first, sometimes lyrics first. This album was a musical venture first of all, and was almost complete before I decided that it had to have some kind of lyric content to it. And then I took the whole finished piece away and tried to figure out what it was telling me.

Drew Marko: OK. Next question is: I understand that you're a very outspoken activist. What causes are you involved in right now?

Sting: I'm trying to save the lemming. We're building a wall around Norway.

Drew Marko: Oh, really?

Sting: Yeah. Three-foot wall. We hope it's big enough to stop them.

Drew Marko: OK.

Sting: I'm joking.

Drew Marko: I figured.

Sting: The things I've been involved in for 20 years are still the things that I'm involved in; for example, Amnesty International and their work on human rights, and helping the native people of the rain forests so they can help themselves.

Drew Marko: OK. Our next question is from Sam1382, and the question is: I'm a fan of both your singing and your acting. Are there any acting projects you're currently working on or considering?

Sting: No. I mean, I'll be on this tour until this time next year, so I really have no time to even think about a movie. I am doing the soundtrack to a Disney movie called "The Emperor's New Groove." It's an animated feature starring David Spade, John Goodman and Eartha Kitt, and it is a wacky anarchist comedy.

Drew Marko: Our next question is regarding downloadable services like Napster. Do you believe it"s a good thing or a bad thing?

Sting: Well, I think the genie is out of the bottle. It does seem to be a very convenient way of receiving music. I would think that is the future. The important question is how do people maintain their intellectual rights. In other words, the creators of this music need to be paid. Now, how they get paid is a matter of technology. But I don't think anyone can argue that when you produce something, you should be paid for it. That's a given in our society.

Drew Marko: OK. Member B1JSpam868 is asking: Do you have a favorite place or favorite places in the world where you like to perform?

Sting: I love America, obviously. I have a great rapport with American audiences and have done for many years. Europe, which is my home. I sometimes like to go to exotic places, you know, like India or the Far East, where perhaps this kind of performance is unusual. That's always very stimulating. But I like to play to people.


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