David Bowie is so current that his new album doesn’t have a name, just a symbol. The record, titled ★ (pronounced Blackstar), will be out January 8, which is Bowie’s 69th birthday. The title track and first single was released last week with a stunning short film (watch above), and now we know more about the album thanks to an interview with producer Tony Visconti in Rolling Stone.
He said that they listened to “a lot” of Kendrick Lamar while recording the album, explaining, “We wound up with nothing like that, but we loved the fact Kendrick was so open-minded and he didn’t do a straight-up hip-hop record. He threw everything on there, and that’s exactly what we wanted to do. The goal, in many, many ways, was to avoid rock & roll.”
Visconti also revealed that James Murphy was originally set to be one of three producers on Blackstar, but ended up performing percussion on two songs because he had his own projects to work on. “His role was never really defined. He brought in some synths and some percussion and had a ton of ideas,” explains Mark Guiliana.
There might also be a song on the album about ISIS, according to Donny McCaslin, saxophonist and leader of a jazz band who worked on the album with Bowie. McCaslin told Rolling Stone that the title track, which repeatedly refers to a “solitary candle,” is—according to Bowie himself—about ISIS, although Guiliana and Visconti cannot confirm that.
★ is out January 8. Read the full piece about the album on Rolling Stone here.