In December 2010, the last time Yoko Ono was at Billboard, she was being honored for a whopping five consecutive No. 1s on the Billboard Dance Club Songs chart. With her just-released single “Talking To The Universe” climbing the same chart, the iconoclastic veteran artist took time out to chat about the DJ community’s affinity for her music, sharing a stage with Lady Gaga (“one of the most awesome pied pipers the world ever had”), Twitter, and her continuing work protecting and curating her late husband John Lennon‘s music and legacy.
Billboard.com: “Talking To The Universe” is vying to be your next hit on Billboard’s Dance/Club Play chart. You already have a slew of No. 1s on that chart. Were you surprised when your music was embraced by the DJ community? How has that, in turn, influenced how you make music?
Yoko Ono: Many of my songs were dance orientated from way back. That’s because I LOVE DANCE! When I hear a dance number, just hearing the first eight bars, it immediately makes my bod start moving and dancing. That’s how I was from a long, long time ago. I can’t help it. But now that I am very involved with making dance tracks, I feel I finally came home!
One thing I didn’t know, and now I know: DJs are in incredible competition, musically. And they are the most musically creative and sensitive people in all the music charts. I am amazed how they are. Without their creativity, my songs could never have become No. 1. I have so much respect and love for the DJs on the dance chart, you just don’t know. One day, the dance charts will be the biggest chart in the music world. Because we all need to dance. This planet will be a fun planet when the judges in court will end the day with a dance!
Is there someone you would especially like to have remix your work?
I would love to see a repeat performance of Chairman Mao and Nixon… with John [Lennon] mixing [his] song “We’re All Water.”
What are your plans for new music? Is there a new album in the works? Are there any collaborations with artists from the dance or rock worlds that are afoot?
Yes. You hit the spot. There is something in the works. But I’m not telling.
You performed with Lady Gaga last fall. How did that come about and what was performing with her like?
It was really exciting to perform with a lady who just made herself into a legend in two weeks… or was it two years? I think everything about her is worthy of being mentioned in the Guinness Book of World Records.
What did you think of Gaga after meeting her? What do you think of her music and career trajectory?
She is just being herself. She can’t help it! But the other side of the story is that she is one of the most awesome pied pipers the world ever had. Being close to her amazing energy is waking yourself up to the future of the Universe. Bless her.
When you spoke with Billboard last fall you said your role in terms of John’s catalog and legacy was as “protector.” What are your thoughts on the warm reception to the reissues of his solo work that you oversaw last fall in time for his 70th birthday?
Humbly, with all my heart, I’d like to say thank you to the Universe. Thank you, Universe.
You have been in the music industry for almost 40 years. In this age of digital distribution and social media, where the labels have a far different role than they used to, what advice can you give to artists about having a career that is creative, long and lucrative?
Nothing is written in stone. So don’t prepare yourself for a long and lucrative career. You might die tomorrow. Your gold holdings might become dust. Just make the music you want to make now and enjoy it. That’s what music can give you: the kind of fun moment that will be good for your health. Maybe nobody else will hear it. Well, too bad for them!
Your tweets (@yokoono) are often almost like Fluxus cards from the 60s art movement. Do you see that medium as an art as well?
Tweets? Of course, it’s art! It’s the latest most exciting art we have now. I am thrilled to bits! I hope you are not questioning it.
You’ve helped The Rock And Roll Hall of Fame put together an upcoming Beatles exhibit. What item in it is the most special to you?
I totally enjoyed all of it. Everything in it is so special, you just can’t pick one out of it.
Is there any aspect of art — music, visual arts, performing arts, film, writing — that you haven’t delved into that you want to get onto your long list of accomplishments?
Eulogy. How about that? Lately, I am asked to write a eulogy quite often for my friends who passed away. I like to think that I make them smile with what I remember about them. I have one for myself. I want it carved on stone saying: Here lies a woman who was in love with the Planet Earth and she still is.