hisham hm

David Bowie in 1999 on the cultural impact of the internet


It’s impressive to see David Bowie’s foresight on the cultural impact of the internet back in 1999, and how the interviewer was completely oblivious to it:

« Bowie: [When I was really young,] it still produced sighs of horror from people when you said “I’m in rock’n'roll”. Now it’s a career opportunity. And the internet now carries that flag, from the subversive and possibly rebellious, and chaotic, and nihilistic… Forget about the Microsoft element: the monopolies do not have a monopoly — maybe on programs.

Interviewer: What you like about it is that anyone can say anything, or do anything?

Bowie: From where I am, by virtue of the fact that I am a pop singer and writer, I really embrace the idea that there’s a new demystification process going on between the artist and the audience. If you look back at this last decade, there hasn’t been a single entity, artist or group that personified or became the brand of the 90s. It started to fade in the 80s… in the 70s there were definitely such artists, in the 60s… the Beatles, and Hendrix… in the 50s there was Presley.

Now it’s sub-groups, it’s genres: it’s hip-hop, it’s girl-power, it’s a communal kind of thing. It’s about a community, it’s becoming more and more about the audience. Because the point of having someone who led the forces has dissapeared, because the vocabulary of rock is too well-known. It’s a currency that is not devoid of meaning anymore, but it’s become only conveyor of information, not a conveyor of rebellion, and the internet has taken on that, as I said. So I find that a terribly exciting era.

So, from my standpoint, being an artist, I’d like to see what the new construction is between artist and audience. There is a breakdown, personified I think about rave culture, where the audience is at least as important as the person who is playing at the rave. It’s almost like the artist is to accompany the audience and what the audience is doing. And that feeling is very much permeating music. And permeating the internet. »