South by Southwest is known for it music showcases, but the daytime conference programming about music business, emerging technologies, and culture, bring it to a whole other level, offering great insights on the current state of the music industry. One of the most interesting speakers was CHIC co-founder Nile Rodgers. The hit record producer and musician talked about everything from his early days to becoming one of the biggest producers in history and working with current stars like Avicii, Sigala, Disclosure and Sam Smith.
One key moment was when he talked about the influence of his jazz guitar teacher; they had an argument when Rodgers laughed about the Archies’ late-60s hit “Sugar Sugar,” his teacher replied that“any song that sells and gets to the top 40 or top 10 is a great composition.” “He said something that changed my life. I asked him how he could say it was a great composition and he said because it speaks to the souls of a million strangers. Two weeks later I wrote a song called Everybody Dance.” Rodgers emotionally recalled.
He also explained how his guitar “The Hitmaker,” helps him test the musical ideas in his head. “The guitar is just something that I use as a secondary form of expression,” Rodgers said. “Typically the ideas come to my head and I use the guitar… It’s like when you’re doing math. You use [the guitar] to prove your work and prove your theorems and formulas.”
And when asked about the secret to his success, he said he had no idea how he got to that place in his career, but that he is passionate about his job and that’s why he works so hard. “I don’t know what the key factor to my success is, but I do know that I love my job and I’ve had many more failures than successes. I love it. It’s so much fun. I’m always inspired by other artists.”
As for his band, CHIC, fans should expect an album later this year.