Expect a view to a thrill when Duran Duran hits the 2021 Billboard Music Awards on Sunday (May 23) for their first-ever performance on the awards show.
The British new wave hitmakers are currently putting finishing touches on a new album, Future Past, which they recently previewed with lead single "Invisible" and its artificial intelligence-assisted video. Hopping on a Zoom call with Billboard ahead of this weekend's BBMAs, the quartet teased the new album and what to expect on Sunday.
"We know each other -- personally and creatively -- very well," bassist John Taylor tells Billboard. "We've been making music and art for 40 years. So for us, the people that we bring in on individual projects -- such as our producers, our engineers, our musicians -- are so important to us. They invigorate the project in a crazy way; it keeps us vital."
For Future Past, one of those key collaborators was Blur's Graham Coxon. "As I recall, we were working with [producer] Erol Alkan and he said, 'I would like to invite Graham down to the studio for a couple of days,'" says drummer Roger Taylor, his Grace Jones and Gary Numan LPs peeking out from behind him on the Zoom call. "I don't think any of us knew how creative he is as a player. He played on a lot of the record and took it in a different direction. He was so great to work with, so humble and so talented. Thank you, Graham!"
Another new collaborator entering the Duran Duran fold was Lykke Li, whom lead singer Simon Le Bon refers to as "absolutely magical." "She's like a Scandinavian wood nymph. She's very sensitive. I wanted to get some of that female energy into the song, into the lyric, and it turned out to be a lyric I would have never written by myself. It was nice to let her take the lead with that one," says Le Bon. "She's an incredible singer. She's got something very unique about the way she sings; I learned quite a lot about intonation from listening to her."
As for Duran Duran's BBMAs performance this Sunday, keyboardist Nick Rhodes says to expect a little bit of the AI-aided footage from the band's "Invisible" video ("it's such beautiful imagery"), and also a few surprises from the band's back catalog. "We're doing three songs; it's a medley. We're starting off with something old, then launching 'Invisible' -- which will be the first time we've played it live together on anything -- and then we're finishing with a song that some of our fans may know," he teases as his bandmates chuckle.
The Billboard Music Awards air on NBC at 8 p.m. ET Sunday (May 23).