“Hello, is this Dorset?” George asks. Suddenly I feel like I’m representing a county rather than a newspaper. Without confirming I reply, “Is this George?”
“It certainly is. Your timing is impeccable,” he laughs.
I’ve been told in advance George has returned from America that evening.
If my timing is ‘impeccable’, it is only because I imagine jetlag will set in soon and he won’t be keen to talk.
I realise I’ve been misinformed however when George reveals he’s been back for a couple of days.
He says: “For some reason coming back from America this way seemed to really kind of knock me for six. I’ve been sleeping so much. But I’m actually back to normal now, so that’s good.”
That is good, I thought, as we first discussed his North America tour, which saw him perform in the US and Canada to promote his first album for 18 years entitled This Is What I Do.
During the tour, he appeared on well-known television shows such as Jimmy Kimmel Live, and even featured as part of a cooking segment on The Queen Latifah Show.
It’s the type of exposure any artist would want, particularly if releasing their first album after so long.
George says: “There’s a lot of enthusiasm in America. I think the difference is that over here when you put out a record, if you don’t get The Graham Norton Show, or you get play listed on this station, your campaign is finished.”
For George, the rules of releasing and promoting a record have changed.
“In some ways it’s a very exciting time because nobody really knows what’s going on. I think this is the most culturally confusing period ever in pop culture I’ve ever experienced.”
George will perform at Camp Bestival for the first time this year, an opportunity offered to him before but never taken until now.
He says: “I was available and the dates sat.” He laughs before adding: “It wasn’t anything to do with not wanting to do it. Festivals are great to do.
“Unless you’re really awful, you can’t really go wrong,” he laughs again.
The last time George performed in the region was at the Electric Palace in Bridport last year.
Before I can finish asking him about it, he says: “It was fantastic... did you come?”
I almost feel slightly bad for saying “No, I wasn’t here”, but before I even get the chance to he exclaims; “It was a riot. It was fantastic. People danced from the beginning of the set to the end. I could have stayed on for a couple more hours.”
George, known by his full name as George Alan O’Dowd, 52, is someone known to stand out in the crowd.
Gaining popularity in the early ’80s with Culture Club, George was known for his bright clothes, makeup and jewellery.
Following the band’s break up in 1986 however, George slipped out of the public eye to focus on establishing a successful solo career as a well-known DJ.
From Miami to Shoreditch, George has impressed many on the dance floor with a knack of playing the right song at the right time.
Nevertheless, incidents involving his private life soon brought George back into the limelight for the wrong reasons.
In 2005 he was arrested for suspected cocaine possession in Manhattan. The following year he carried out community service, picking up trash in New York City.
George has since bounced back from these events, touring with a ‘renewed excitement’ whilst celebrating a little over six years of sobriety.
George will perform at Camp Bestival with DJ Marc Vedo before heading to their annual residency at Amnesia in Ibiza. But Camp Bestival is no warm-up according to George.
“Oh no, every gig is its own gig. There are no rehearsals. You can’t.... The great thing about DJing is that it’s very, very unpredictable.”
This year is about putting himself back on the ‘musical map’, according to George.
As well as his solo work, George will reunite with Culture Club for the first time in 15 years for a new album and tour.
They’ll play 11 dates in December, including Greenwich’s O2 Arena.
George says, ‘It’s a busy year for me. I think we want to have Culture Club as an ongoing entity.’ One thing notable throughout our conversation is George’s optimistic tone of voice. I ask him how he remains positive-minded.
After pausing he says: “I think you have to be, don’t you? I suppose the bottom line is we are all clinging to a rock aren’t we at the end of the day. Some of us are doing better than others.
“In some ways, my life’s been a bit like a blues song,” he laughs.
“The hardest thing to do is change the way you look at things.
“If you can change the way you look at things and then change the way you think about something, anything’s possible.
“My journey has been pretty treacherous but then I’m here.”
“I’m at the top of the mountain and I’ve got my flag. I’ve surrendered,” he adds before laughing.