THE ELECTRIFYING MOJO (1985)
On the eve of his birthday in 1985, Prince gave a surprise interview to legendary Detroit disc jockey the Electrifying Mojo. He had never offered a live radio interview before. Of the experience, Mojo later said:
"I had no idea he was going to call. I had no list of questions or anything like that. First I talked to Billy Sparks and he said, 'Hey Mojo! Prince wants to talk to you. You got a minute?' I said, 'Do I have a minute? Give me a minute to make sure we have a tape on,' and Prince says, 'Hey Mojo! What's happening? This is Prince.' If I hadn't heard Billy Sparks' voice prior to that, I may have said, 'Yeah, right.'"
The following is the text of the spoken interview, as transcribed by Rose Gardner on the Emancipation mailing list.
MOJO: This is the one-man hit machine from Minnesota. Ladies and Gentlemen...Prince.
PRINCE: Hello, Detroit.
MOJO: How are you?
PRINCE: Alright, how are you?
MOJO: Well, Prince... I heard nothing but magic flowin' down from the concert. How was it?
PRINCE: Mmm, a lot of fun. You should've been there.
MOJO: I was there in spirit. I wanted to be here for one reason...I wanted to be here, so that the moment that the concert was over...I wanted to flood the airwaves with Prince.
PRINCE: Well, you know what? I was driving from the gig, wiping the sweat off my brow, and I heard "Automatic." And we just got through playin' it...we don't normally play that one. It went over pretty good, and I think it's 'cuz of you, and what you've done for us and...my thang. It's a good feeling. I just wanna tell all my little motor babies that I'm just happy to be here...and it's a fun way to spend my birthday, for sure.
MOJO: Happy Birthday to you.
PRINCE: Thank you.
MOJO: Prince, you've been the entertainer that has insisted on doing things one way...your way.
PRINCE: Well, you know, it's like...I worked a long time under a lot of different people, and most of the time I was doing it their way. I mean, that was cool, but ya know, I figured if I worked hard enough and kept my head straight, one day I'd get to do this on my own...and that's what happened. So I feel like...if I don't try to hurt nobody...and like I say...keep my head on straight...my way usually is the best way.
MOJO: Growin' up in Minne-wood, as it's been now called, simply because that is the hot point on this planet right now.
PRINCE: Well, it's been called a lot of things, but it's always Uptown to me.
MOJO: What was it like growin' up Uptown?
PRINCE: Pretty different. Uh, kinda sad, to be exact. (laughs) I mean, the radio was dead, the discos was dead, ladies was kinda dead, so I felt like, if we wanted to make some noise, and I wanted to turn anything out....I was gonna have to get somethin' together. Which is what we did. We put together a few bands and turned it into Uptown. That consisted of a lot of bike riding nude, but ya know...it worked. We had fun. That's why I wanted to come here on my birthday...'cuz I wanted to give them a little taste of where we live and get a little taste of where you all live. To me, this is like my second home. If I could spend the night at somebody's crib, I would...'cuz this hotel.... They're real nice to us, but, this bed is hard!
MOJO: You've made fantastic albums, and you've made fantastic movies, and you're making another movie right now.
MOJO: What's the difference between making a hot movie and making a hot album?
PRINCE: There is no difference. There have been people who have tried to tell me contrary to that, but like you said before and like I said before, I strive for perfection, and sometimes I'm a little bull-headed in my ways. Hopefully, people understand that there's just a lot on my mind and I try to stay focused on one particular thing. And I try not to hurt nobody in the process. A movie is a little bit more complex, but to me it's just a larger version of an album. There are scenes and there are songs, and they all go together to make this painting, and...I'm the painter. Y'all is the paintees. (Mojo laughs.) Hopefully it's something that you can get into. Jerome Benton stars in this new film with me and he's on his way to becoming very, very big. I'm real proud of him. He takes direction well and he gives direction well and I expect a lot of big things from him.
MOJO: Speaking of Jerome Benton, and other people who've flown under the wings of Prince, and also speaking of Detroit's own Billy Sparks, a person that you took from Detroit, put him in your first movie...
MOJO: You've always maintained contact with people that you've always been in contact with.
PRINCE: Oh yeah. Without a doubt, there's people who have flown the coop, so to speak, and gone off to do their own thing, which is great and I stand behind them and support them, whatever they do. But contrary to rumors, we're all real tight still, and I have a strange feeling we're all going to be together again one day. We'll have to see.
MOJO: Do you think that there is a possibility that after this movie has been released, that...I've just heard rumors through the grapevine that there's a possibility that The Time is gonna record again...?
PRINCE: Well, Mojo. anything's possible. God willing and hopefully everybody's head will be in the right place. I'd like to see all that happen. They were, to be perfectly honest, the only band that I was afraid of. And, they were turning into like...Godzilla, and certain things happened and different waves flowed, different winds blew and everybody fell apart. But, I still love all those guys... and I hope they get back together 'cuz I want some competition, ya know? (both laugh)
MOJO: Prince, speaking of the movie, Under the Cherry Moon...could you tell us a little bit about that?
PRINCE: Um...God, I hate to blow the surprise though, you know?
MOJO: Without blowin' it -- we know it's gonna be in black and white...
PRINCE: Yeah, it's gonna be in black and white...
MOJO: ...and we know it's gonna be quote unquote "helluva."
PRINCE: Yeah, it's gonna be that. It's gonna be that. All I can tell you is that you'll have a good time. I'm hoping that everyone understands where I was trying to go with it. It is like an album for me, and I put my heart and sould into it and I worked very long and very hard. Jerome did the same, and there's a message behind it all and I hope people think about it when they leave. That's the main thing. It's a lot of fun, but there's something to think about when it's over. You know, there's a reason for everything.
MOJO: Let's talk about the album, Around The World In A Day... which I think was one of the greatest albums.
PRINCE: My favorite!
MOJO: It's absolutely my favorite, without question. Tunes like "Around The World In A Day," "Paisley Park." What type of mood were you in when you recorded that album?
PRINCE: Yeah, I sorta had an f-you attitude, meaning that I was making something for myself and my fans. And the people who supported me through the years -- I wanted to give them something and it was like my mental letter. And those people are the ones who wrote me back, telling me that they felt what I was feeling. Record sales and things like that...it really doesn't matter, ya know. It keeps a roof over your head, and keeps money in all these folks' pockets that I got hangin' around here! (laughs) It basically stems from the music, and I'm just hoping that people understand that money is one thing but soul is another. That's all we're really trying to do, you know? Idon't know. I wouldn't mind if I just went broke, you know, 'cuz as long as I can play this type of thing and come here, ya know. There were a lot of people there tonight and they turned the lights on and I looked up...it brings tears to your eyes because it's just -- you can feel the love in the room, ya know? And that means more than money. I could just go on for hours...I don't know, I just have fun, and I'm thankful to be alive, ya know?
MOJO: What's a day like, in the life of Prince?
PRINCE: Work! I work a lot. I'm trying to get a lot of things done very quickly, so that I can stop working for a while. Everyone's afraid I'm gonna die. (laughs)
MOJO: You say, you are afraid?
PRINCE: No, I'm not afraid? Everyone else is afraid. They think I work too much. I'm not afraid of anything.
MOJO: It's been said that when you're working -- you work on the road, you carry your studio around with you, you get up in the middle of the night, you get an idea for a tune and you get up and go do it -- there's just no such thing as Prince being off from work. Some people have even called you the workaholic, ever-movin' one-man storm. Is that true?
PRINCE: The thing is that when you're called, you're called. I hear things in my sleep; I walk around and go to the bathroom and try to brush my teeth and all of the sudden the toothbrush starts vibrating! That's a groove, you know.
MOJO: You know it!
PRINCE: You gotta go with that, and that means drop the toothbrush and get down to the studio or get to a bass guitar, quick! My best things have come out like that. To me, making a song is like a new girl walking in the room...you never know what's going to happen 'til all the things come together, and there she stands! And she says, "Hi! You want to take a bite of this orange?" And you bite it, and it's cool, and I send it to you. You know?
MOJO: I know! Look here -- one question.
MOJO: What's your favorite instrument? You play them all....
PRINCE: Mmmm. Stewardesses! (laughs)
MOJO: It's dirty...! it's dirty...!
PRINCE: No, listen...it depends on the song, it depends on the color. They all sound differently. It's very strange, I try to stay original in my work and a lot of sounds have been used now, and I'm looking for new instruments and new sounds and new rhythms. I got a lot of suprises...I don't want to give them all away.
MOJO: Look, you've done everything.
PRINCE: Not yet!
MOJO: You've done hard rock. You've done some of the most sensuous --
PRINCE: No, we've just scratched the surface with all that stuff. There's so many sounds, it's limitless.
MOJO: Some people say you probably have in your secret vault...in the Prince music vault, about 500 tunes that you've done that you haven't even considered using yet...that you could put out an album for the next twenty years, two a year --
PRINCE: Naw, not that many...320 to be exact. Not 500. (laughs)
MOJO: 320 songs? That have never been released.
MOJO: It's been rumored that they all sound different, that's probably why each album you release is just a little bit different.
PRINCE: Yeah. They don't ALL sound different. There's a couple times I copied myself.
MOJO: It's alright to copy yourself.
PRINCE: You think you hit on something, right! You try to do it again...ya know? (both laugh) I try not to do that too much. If I do, then it's usually someone around, Wendy or Lisa, who says, "Hey, man, I've heard that. Put it away." And it goes away. And we don't hear from that song for a while. Mojo, guess what? We're all going to see Purple Rain tonight.
MOJO: You are?
MOJO: I've seen it twelve times.
PRINCE: I've seen it too many times, but I wanna watch it again.
MOJO: I've seen it twelve times, and I'll go watch it tonight. Tell you what -- I'm gonna ask everybody out there to go watch Purple Rain. What time will you be watching it?
PRINCE: About three minutes...they're knocking on my door now. I'll tell you what I'm gonna do. I'll call back tomorrow and I'm gonna leave a little message at about 4:30. And, this one's just for all the purple people, and I think they'll understand. I'll call you. I got your number.
MOJO: Alright! Prince, it's been one big pleasure. Words cannot describe this moment. I don't think words can describe how Detroit feels about Prince. So, in closing, whatever you want to say to Detroit...the airwaves are yours.
PRINCE: (makes five kissing sounds with his lips and then says the word...) KISS.