What brings you to Dubai?
I just escaped from the recording studio to come here and contribute to the Higher Colleges of Technology’s 25th anniversary Education Without Borders event [at Rixos The Palm], as a United Nations ambassador for UNESCO. But it’s always a pleasure to visit Dubai. I love this city– I think it’s what Tokyo or New York used to be like in ’80s, this kind of Blade Runner feel. In a sense, it’s conveying this vision of the future that somehow we lost in the beginning of the 21st century.
In the ’70s, your music was described as representing a vision of the future.
The main difference between when I started and now is that we’re always recycling things generation after generation. Rather than being focused on the future, we’re now more focused on vintage brands and nostalgia. I think the first creations of the 21st century are ahead of us. You’ve been married to three famous actresses – Flore Guillard, Charlotte Rampling and Anne Parillaud-Jarre.
Is this your type?
Not any more! It’s over now. It was a phase in my life – a long phase – but now I’m cured.
What next then? A sculptor?
Who knows? This is what makes the future exciting.
Are you quite a private person?
I like organising parties, I have lots of friends, but I don’t feel close to the showbiz world, the celebrity thing. I’m not into it – even if I’ve been trapped by the media at times.
We’ve heard reports that you considered a move to London as a tax exile…
That is another episode – I love London, I love England. Charlotte Rampling, the mother of our children, is English, our three children are half-and-half by definition. What happened is I have contacts developing a new project in London, an academy of electronic music.
Do you have any plans to perform in Middle East?
It’s been one of my dreams for a long time. When you think of doing an outdoor concert on a large scale, where else but Dubai? The Burj Khalifa – this for me is not megalomania, it’s ambition to fulfil a dream. It’s very audacious, and it’s also a very poetic symbol of the [financial] crisis. You feel in Dubai that westerners have a lot to learn, we should have more humility about what’s going on in other parts of the world, not just economically but conceptually.
You’ve played to the largest audience ever, of 3.5 million, in Moscow in 1997, and were the first western musician to perform in communist China. What next? A gig on the moon?
My friend [science fiction writer] Sir Arthur Charles Clarke told me one day, ‘You know, you could play on the moon’. I said it wasn’t reasonable,’ but with the help of Richard Branson, who knows?