Gregory Arlt is a world famous makeup artist who has worked with everyone from Cher to Dita Von Teese and Gwen Stefani. Boy George and Nina Hagen shared space on his bedroom wall as a teenager and inspired his move into the world of makeup, while The Beatles and Julee Cruise satisfy his romantic side. He just returned from New York Fashion Week and is working on his first book called Beauty Exorcist.
For More: http://www.gregoryarlt.com/
1. Culture Club - "Do You Really Want To Hurt Me"
2. Roberta Flack - "The First Time I Ever Saw Your Face"
3. Nina Hagen - "Universal Radio"
4. Julee Cruise - "Mysteries of Love"
5. The Beatles - "All You Need Is Love"
Anthony Valadez: Hey, I’m Anthony Valadez and I’m here with world famous makeup artist Gregory Arlt. He’s the director of makeup artistry for Mac cosmetics and has worked his magic on big names like Cher, Gwen Stefani and Dita Von Teese. Today we’re here to talk about songs he’s selected that have inspired him over the years as part of KCRW’s Guest DJ Project. Gregory, how are you?
Gregory Arlt: I'm fantastic.
AV: Great, well we’re here to talk about music. What did you bring for us?
GA: So number 1 is “Do You Really Want To Hurt Me” by Culture Club.
AV: One of my favorites.
GA: Okay, glad to hear that. You know, that song is, I mean, it really just takes me back to a certain time in my life.
It came out in 1982, I was 11 going on 12. I had always been really obsessed with music and I loved listening to music and I would go into my room and go and listen to records all day, literally,when I was kid. And I’ll never forget watching the video, the video came on and my whole world changed in an instant.
Song: “Do You Really Want to Hurt Me” -- Culture Club
AV: How did it change?
GA: First and foremost, I mean, I was overwhelmed, it was almost too much for me.
I remember my sister and I were watching it and, first of all we got in argument, because we were arguing whether it was a guy or a girl, you know? It’s a boy, no it’s a girl, and I won.
AV: What did you think?
GA: I mean, the thing about that song is there is such a quietness to it, and the video, actually if you remember the video, there is a sort of a quietness to the video. It wasn’t like it came out with a bang.
And so it just made me realize, oh my god, there is a whole world out there. Because, growing up, to me, London, you know, was the place the London Bridge was and the Queen lived, and I didn’t realize how many other queens were in London.
But this was just such a pivotal moment in pop culture, in music, and it made me aware that, “oh my god, you can look like that, you can be a man wearing makeup,” you know? You can have dreadlocks, you can… just everything. And I became a rabid Culture Club fan.
AV: That was "Do You Really Want To Hurt Me” by Culture Club. What’s next?
GA: So next on my list is an amazing song called “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face” by Roberta Flack. This particular song, I mean, it just, it’s just so overwhelming, the flood of memories and what it actually means to me.
Song: “The First Time I Saw Your Face” -- Roberta Flack
GA: So cut to probably 1984, I was 14 year old. And I remember we had gone on a family trip to San Diego and we were driving home. We had been shopping all day and all of that kind of stuff and we were driving home, and we were all exhausted in the car.
And, you know, the scenery is rushing by, it’s really beautiful, the ocean’s there, the sun was setting, and we were all just zoning out in the car. And the radio was on and this song came on, and no one was talking, because we were all in our own little worlds.
That was actually the first time I listened to the lyrics and really listened to the words and I was just so blown away by her voice and the passion she had with that song. Just that moment, you know, and I, before I knew it, I had tears in my eyes.
It was such a beautiful love song. There was such a sparseness to it. It’s not a complex song at all, but it’s so deep at the same time. And, you know, I’ve been a huge Roberta Flack fan, I love soul, I love R&B, and she’s one of my favorites.
AV: "The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face” by Roberta Flack selected by Gregory Alt as part of KCRW’s Guest DJ Project. You know, I’m having a great time. What’s next, Gregory?
GA: Me too! Okay. So next on my list is “Universal Radio” by Nina Hagen.
And to say that this had a huge effect on my life as well… I mean, it was such a moment because, you know, like I mentioned Boy George kinda changed my life as far as make up goes- gender bending.
Well, at this point, we’re three years later, I’m in this whole world of pop music, punk music, new wave -- all that kind of stuff. But I remember the first time I literally became aware of Nina Hagen.
Again it was the same reaction I had to Boy George, only she was Nina Hagen. This punk princess-she, I mean talk about make up, and that woman completely inspired me as a make up artist and still does.
She was kind of the punk Madonna of her time. I mean, she really, truly changed her look practically weekly. She never had one signature look, and she still evolves her look, which I love. But I remember when “Universal Radio” came out. I heard it on KROQ and I just remember it was such a moment of like, you know, it was-it’s a gaudy song, it’s a little over-the-top and she talks about being alone, talking to herself. She’s her own radio.
And I just remember I loved her confidence. I thought, wow, this is truly a song about independence and communicating to the world about who you are, and I was kind of coming into that on my own, you know, at 15 years old. I became also a rabid fan of hers. She and Boy George co-existed on my walls.
Song: “Universal Radio” -- Nina Hagen
AV: Okay, so what’s next in the record bag?
GA: The next song is by the amazing Julee Cruise -- the horribly underrated Julee Cruise, I’d like to think because she was incredible.
And the song… I was really obsessed with Twin Peaks when it came out and I was obsessed with a lot of David Lynch movies, just the mood of them and the whole essence.
And I remember when the Julee Cruise album came out, Floating Into the Night, I just reacted so strongly to it.
I remember once driving in my car with one of my best girlfriend Gala, and we’d be driving down Mulholland, and it was night time and the Santa Ana winds were blowing, it was really warm, we had all the windows down. The whole city was just sparkling.
And I remember the song “Mysteries of Love” coming on and I was like, “oh my god, where am I?,” you know? It just took me to a whole other place and it reminded me of when I started working for Mac when I was much younger than I am now. You know, it’s just sort of this whole time period.
And I just love this song. It reminds me of being in love. It reminds me of being dreamy, and it reminds me of being dreamily in love. *Laughs*
So, “Mysteries of Love” is definitely one of those songs that just takes me back to a really incredible, a very hopeful time in my life of you know, “love can happen.”
AV: Let’s take a listen. This is “Mysteries of Love” by Julee Cruise.
Song: “Mysteries of Love” -- Julee Cruise
AV: So now we’re down to the last track. Tell us about this one.
GA: I have two older sisters, one of whom is seven years older than me. So when I was like, around six, she was already 13.
She was already listening to pop music and she would listen to Queen and David Bowie, and Journey, and all these other bands. And she also loved the Beatles. And I remember my sister had the record and was listening to it. And of course, you know, the one side of “The Yellow Submarine” record was all the Beatles songs, and on the other side was instrumental.
It was kind of cartoony and it kind of took me to a place.
And I remember putting on my headphones and I would listen to my sister’s record when she wasn’t home, because she would have killed me. And I just remember “All You Need Is Love” starting and it was just the pageantry it starts out with -- the horns -- and you feel like you’re on this great love parade.
I remember just loving it. Closing my eyes and listening to that song. I thought, “gosh, all you really need is love.” It’s just really a song that, you know, I hope I play it at my wedding one day.
Song: “All You Need Is Love” -- The Beatles
AV: Well Gregory, thanks so much for joining us at KCRW.com.
GA: It’s so great being here.
AV: Been great having you.