The gospel according to Nile Rodgers: Don't be authentic, 'pretend to be French'

While marketers, agency bosses and even celebrities the calibre of Katie Price spent Advertising Week repeatedly urging audiences to "be authentic", legendary songwriter, guitarist and producer Nile Rodgers refreshingly talked about faking it in order to make your mark.

In a Q&A hosted by Spotify and led by head of editorial Rob Fitzpatrick, Rodgers talked about his life, jammed on his guitar and sang (a snippet of Sister Sledge’s ‘We Are Family’ is captured above in an authentic, if rubbish, video).

Rodgers explained that his band Chic deliberately designed singles as novelty records, in order to cut through the noise of other music, as well as American bigotry.

"In the US radio was very segregated and playlists were very limited," he said. So Chic tried to create something that stood out from the norm. "All our songs start with the chorus - which is very non traditional.

"Our concept was to be this weird, hybrid, which was both a blessing and a curse," he said. "If you were a black artist and an R&B artist they wanted you to walk the straight line and fit the mould."

But Rodgers and Chic co-founder and bassist Bernard Edwards, instead pretended to be French, thinking (correctly) that the media and radio stations would treat them differently.

"When people found out the reality, some people, including the black press, were offended. But it didn’t matter, as we’d become so successful."

The fabrication didn't end there. Rodgers had also said in the past that he was born in the back of a taxi on the 59th Bridge; whereas he told Ad Week that in reality he was born under the bridge to his 13-year-old mother.

The success of ‘Everybody Dance’, with some club DJs playing mixes of the record for 90-minute stretches, "validated me as a composer"; while ‘Le Freak’ became Atlantic Records’ biggest-selling single.

By 1979, Chic "never had another hit", but Rodgers made a career out of producing, working with artists as diverse as David Bowie, Duran Duran and Madonna.

His career underwent another renaissance in 2011, when he collaborated with Daft Punk and Pharrell Willams on the album ‘Random Access Memories’, most notably single ‘Get Lucky’.

Rodgers also talked about taking acid when he was 13 with drugs guru Timothy Leary and leaving the Black Panthers to join the Sesame Street touring band - "Yes!"

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