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Idina Menzel: ‘Nile Rodgers is the first person I called when I thought about making a disco album’ [Exclusive]

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Idina Menzel Credit Press 2023 Drama Queen

Idina Menzel has revealed Nile Rodgers was the first person she reached out to when she decided to make a dance album. 

The Broadway icon returned last month with her larger-than-life LP, ‘Drama Queen’, featuring a collaboration with the Godfather Of Disco himself – who encouraged the performer to bring her vision to life. 

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“Nile is the one that I called first to say, ‘I have this idea – what do you think? Could I pull this off?’, because he’s the Godfather of Disco,” she tells RETROPOP’s October issue, “and he said, ‘Look at Diana Ross – it can totally work, it’ll be amazing’. And we had so much fun working together. He’s sort of mentored me on this whole album.”

The pair went on to work together on the single Paradise, while Idina also enjoyed another dream collaboration with Scissor Sisters frontman, Jake Shears, with whom she worked while both were in the UK.

“We got together in London with Jim Elliot – we all hadn’t met before that writing session – and we fell in love with each other,” adds Idina. “Then we followed Jim back to his house in Wales, because he had to get back sooner than we thought, so we drove five hours together and there we finished the lyrics to our song Dramatic

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“Then we wrote another song on the album called Funny Kind Of Lonely. So Jake is my new buddy and he’s such a wonderful person. That was one of my favourite collaborations on the album.”

Over the summer, the superstar debuted a number of songs from the project during Pride In London and, reflecting on the inspirations behind the LP, she credits the collective strength of the LGBTQ+ community for influencing her latest move.

“When you’re asked to be a role model, there’s a lot of responsibility and a lot of hypocrisy for me, because I don’t always practise what I preach,” she laughs. “So I felt like that was a lesson I needed to learn and when I started writing songs like Beast, I realised how it would perhaps resonate with my friends and my family in the queer community. It became very obvious that this would be a great album to share with them, to celebrate with them, and to express my gratitude with. 

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“They’ve been with me for so many years and supported my choices, creatively and artistically, and inspired me in the way that they choose to live their lives, because it takes courage to live an authentic, honest life. So the idea that this culminated with Pride and I could get out in front of these audiences and share this music has just been a dream.”

With a stellar line-up of collaborators and an infectious energy from the leading lady herself, it inevitably begs the question: is there more music to come from Idina Menzel? “I would love that,” she beams, while admitting she’s “trying to stay present in my life and enjoy where I am right now”. 

“I used to think about all that stuff and get ahead of myself trying to figure out my career and what people expect of me, but the whole reason I did this album was to say, ‘Screw it!’. I just want to do what I want to do and not worry about, ‘What should the Disney Princess be doing next?’. I’m happy doing the music and seeing where it takes me…”

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Read the full interview in the October 2023 edition of RETROPOP, out now. Order yours or subscribe via our Online Store, use our Store Finder to locate your nearest stockist, or get Digital Copies delivered direct to your devices.

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