In Conversation: Questlove

Monday, December 17, 2018

excerpt from the interview on

On Thursday you’ve got ‘4U: A Symphonic Celebration of Prince’ at the Royal Albert Hall. How did you get involved in that, and why do you think it’s important to present Prince’s music in that way?

I was shocked when they asked me to put it together because at that point I realised that Prince’s legacy was about to be spread wide open, and there were two ways to approach it. Either, as the world’s biggest Prince fan, to dive in head-on and be part of the legacy and participate. Or to just be a fan and sit on the sidelines.

For two years I decided to just be a fan and not get emotionally attached in any way: not get angry when this project comes up that I don’t think is right, or get too excited when another project comes up. I just decided to [wait] it out. But once this project came to me, I took it because this was going to be the first of many Prince projects to come.

And what I wanted to do was, I really wanted to give fans a chance to mourn, if you will. Prince is world famous for his exit strategy without giving you a warning. He just “Poof” out of nowhere and disappears. And I know that for a lot of us that knew him, there wasn’t a proper service or anything because he’s a Jehovah’s Witness, so we’ve never really had a moment to process his death and say goodbye in a proper way. This is my way to give fans a chance to have that moment.

It’s a celebration, it’s sombre, it’s emotional and his catalogue, he’s one of the few people whose catalogue could really be translated so many ways. You do jazz interpretations, you can do orchestral interpretations, you can do rap interpretations. You can interpret his music so many ways because it’s so richly textured with the right amount of melodic and the right type of chords.

And once I was able to bring Brent Fischer about - Brent’s father is Clare Fischer, who structured all of Prince’s music for all the orchestration stuff that Prince did in the mid-80s. Brent and Clare were a part of that. His genius, his work, his textures, and his absence.

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