Keith Urban has been surprising fans in recent months with a few unlikely collaborations, and now he is adding another surprise partnership to his resume: Nile Rodgers of the funk group Chic. After teaming up with pop stars and hip-hop veterans for his 2013 album Fuse, and then recording a few songs with Jason Derulo and Stevie Wonder, Urban has now decided to add EDM to his list of feats.
The country music singer from Queensland, Australia has held on to a relatively traditional public image in the contemporary music landscape, but now that he is recording new music with Nile Rodgers, who was the producer and songwriter of Daft Punk’s Grammy-winning “Get Lucky,” among many other accomplishments in electro-funk music, it is safe to say that Urban is making a grab at refreshing his own reputation.
The two musicians met in February this year at a pre-Grammy party hosted by Jimmy Iovine, co-founder of Interscope Records. They allegedly got down to doing what it is that musicians do. They jammed. They liked each other’s styles. They decided to collaborate. “He is scary,” Rodgers said about the encounter. “I didn’t know he could play guitar like that!”
Two songs have already been cut and are in finishing stages. The songs will feature club beats and pop overtones to enhance Urban’s classic country sound. Rodgers is confident that the new mixing technologies with stretch the boundaries of Urban’s natural artistry. Rodgers played a similar role in David Bowie’s career back in 1982, when the legendary music producer pushed Bowie to add electronic editing elements to Let’s Dance. The album has since become a cornerstone of dance music history.
“[Urban’s] fans may have some kind of problem at first,” Rodgers admitted. “But my biggest records have always been like that. A lot of people, the only record they ever bought by David Bowie was Let’s Dance. His fanbase got angry: ‘This sucks! This is not Ziggy Stardust! That’s not Scary Monsters!’ But it was huge because it spoke to a broader audience. I think a record like this will speak to a broader audience [for Urban], and the country people will come around.”
While this is a bold experimental move on Urban’s part, Rodgers does seem to have a good sense for these things. He does have a solidly impressive track record. The collaboration will most likely prove fruitful for both musicians.