Platinum Weird is a musical collaboration formed in 2004 between Dave Stewart and Kara DioGuardi. It is also the subject of an elaborate hoax placing the band in 1974, including a half hour mockumentary produced for television network VH1 and a series of bogus World Wide Web fan sites and related false documents for the “lost” group.
The backstory is that in 1973, Dave Stewart formed a band called Platinum Weird in North London with his female songwriting partner, muse and soul mate, Erin
Grace. The pair originally met a few months earlier and formed a creative and spiritual bond. Their debut gig was at Mick Jagger’s birthday party where they quickly enjoyed a cult-like status performing at intimate gigs in London’s rock club circuit. Elton John’s Rocket label decided to sign them. Says Stewart: “Platinum Weird formed at the end of 1973 and only lasted until the end of 1974. I was still meant to be in the band Longdancer – signed to Rocket Records – but I met Erin and decided to form a band with her. I played Elton John ‘Platinum Weird’ songs secretly on a cassette, and he agreed that it would be a good idea for me to hook up with Erin instead of Longdancer, and eventually signed Platinum Weird.” Erin’s behavior during the making of the album was unpredictable and eccentric and then disappeared.
As odd as the entire story about the band has become—with a documentary featured on VH1 we couldn’t help but want to figure it all out so we chat with the legendary Dave Stewart and songwriter extraordinary Kara DioGuardi.
HIP: This band has been a whole major to do.
Dave: There’s more to come. We’re just unleashing the first round.
HIP: How far back did you start working on the record?
Dave: We started about two years ago, right Kara?
Kara: Yeah it was about two years ago.
Dave: We didn’t know we were opening Pandora’s Box. We were writing our first song together and it just kept on going. It was weird.
HIP: All the filming must have taken a lot of work.
Kara: The whole thing has taken a lot of work. It’s such a great project to work. You’re using so many parts of your creative being.
HIP: Was it exciting to see it coming all together because you see this all as a big spectacle?
Dave: it’s like writing an article—like how do I tie all this together? I always knew the target and at one point when everything was at bits it was like “ugh.” But now it’s good because we did so much work and created so many pieces of a puzzle.
HIP: Dave, I know you are involved with other films, how involved were you with the Platinum Weird film?
Dave: I was hands on involved. I was like rallying them all the time and being creatively involved. It’s our pride and joy kind of project.
HIP: Had you known each other before writing songs?
Kara: I knew of Dave but we worked on one project independent of each other with Anastasia and they were raving about him.
HIP: Dave did you know about her?
Dave: Jimmy Iovine [President of Interscope Records] told me there was this whirlwind girl. He rang me up and told me he was sending this spitfire—which is his nickname for her. She arrived in England looking like she came out of a hurricane flying from L.A and we started writing a song within five minutes. We couldn’t write for anyone else, it kept on turning into Platinum Weird music all the time.
HIP: When did you decide it’s for Platinum Weird or another project?
Kara: Well it’s because it’s so evident when it wasn’t for the Pussycat Dolls there was no urban beat and the lyric was kind of adult. But that’s something that happens when you get in a room with someone and you write one type of song and you can’t write another type. We loved writing together so we didn’t want didn’t want to put it out because it wasn’t the right kind of song. That’s the way it started evolving because we were writing an album without knowing it which is great because you don’t have the pressure.
HIP: With all this stuff that was going on did you think that it would outshine the music or that it would be an enhancement?
Dave: Kara and I are very confident in that. First, you have to make people know you are making music, but once they hear the music and the sound—they like the music.
Kara: I think we wanted to get the attention of people and then once we have their attention hopefully the record will grow on its own.
HIP: When I listen to the album I hear a lot of singles. You could probably make a bunch of money? [We all laugh]
Kara: It was funny when Jimmy heard one of the songs and he said maybe you guys are a band, but you know they were very special songs and they weren’t songs that you placed with other artists and that was strange because I’m always writing songs for other artists.
Dave: I’ve never been very good at writing a song for an artist. I’ve mainly collaborated with people. When Kara came along I just felt I was collaborating with her immediately. It just felt like a band. When jimmy came Kara was freaking out because she thought “shit, I’m going to have to pay him back for the trip.” Fortunately he listened to them and said, “wow you’re a great band an then there was the deal and we signed.”
HIP: It’s interesting that you go into doing a song and you end up keeping it.
Kara: I think when you write a song that you aren’t suppose to be writing you can make the decision “oh it’s not a good song” or if it’s a great song you go with it. We would try to write those songs but each time we came up with something much more centered.
HIP: Kara, was working with Dave something natural?
Dave: It’s hard to explain. When two people get together you have different dynamics. What happened with us instantly was we had the same sense of humor and had fun but every time I heard a chord and she sang a note that kind of made something unique a Platinum Weird song and immediately sounds like Platinum Weird. I’ve not had that many times with people. But this was so strong and each time it just sounded like it. So it was like we were a band and now we are.
Kara: When we each went through the list of songs that we individually wrote there wasn’t one song that didn’t sound like us.
Dave: When we write something separate they are someone else’s songs and when we write something together they sounds like Platinum Weird songs. For some reason I keep getting drawn onto twelve string guitar.[Laughs]
HIP: Kara, are you still writing songs for other people?
Kara: It’s become more of a fun task. It’s pulling from a different side of me. One side is Platinum and the other side of me is a writer.
Dave: Well it’s basically like she goes to work everyday but she comes home to me. [Laughs]
Kara: What’s great is that I can really bend. I don’t need to be as present in my co-writes in terms of my experience. I can base it off of my artists and what to make them better. In some ways it makes me a better co-writer for them.
HIP: I didn’t see any info on shows—what’s the plan?
Dave: We weren’t doing any shows because we’re going through the process of trading all the stuff. The reason why we’re doing this is because we want to do this live. Kara is one of the best rock and roll girl performers I’ve ever recorded and played with. When she performs them live she puts so much into it.
+ Charlie Craine