Disco is, of course, a wonderful thing. We don’t always associate it with meaning and artistic perfection. But the work of Chic, the group formed by Nile Rodgers and Bernard Edwards, embodies the notion of art as an idea in a way most people don’t appreciate.
And nor do they need to.
I’m reading Nile Rodgers’ autobiography right now, and it contains this wonderful passage on how their working relationship ensured everything they did was as focused, definitive and as perfect as possible.
We taught each other how to believe in each other’s artistic ideas. We also taught each other how to fight for ideas when we thought they best served the project.
We created a production technique that would be the foundation for every project we’d do. We called it DHM, or Deep Hidden Meaning. Our golden rule was all our songs had to have this ingredient. In short it meant understanding the song’s DNA and seeing it from many angles. Art is subjective, but if we knew what we were talking about, then we could relay it to others in various disguises while maintaining its essential truth.
I think this is a fantastic take on how discipline is not the enemy of creativity, but its friend.
On how trust needs to be balanced with intuition for collaboration to work.
On how clearly defining an idea for yourselves is the first step to making it understood by others.
On how a central but unseen thought is the key to making something that still feels alive once its left your control.
And on how what we make not only can have meaning, but has to if it’s going to live in the real world.