WATCH: Yoko Ono Talks New Album, Marriage Equality, and the Election
Yoko Ono is a woman of few words and many ideas, a groundbreaking and under appreciated pop culture icon, and she seems to find new ways to make her music and outsider art relevant and inspirational decade after decade. For the past 10 years, Ono, now 79, has been meticulously reinventing select songs from her vast catalog for 21st-century dance floors, working with contemporary producers and artists (such as Basement Jaxx, Bimbo Jones, and Roberto Rodriguez) and bringing even more LGBT fans into her camp. Her new album, Onomix, offers 30 of her most ambitious contemporary remixes, including the gay favorite "Everyman/Everywoman," a reworking of "Every Man Has a Woman Who Loves Him," which first appeared on her Double Fantasy album with late husband John Lennon. The new version offers lyrics supporting same-sex relationships and marriage equality, making it a fitting track to listen to on Election Day, when four states are voting on exactly that.
The Advocate: It's fascinating how you're reinventing songs for 21st-century dance floors. It's a great way to stay contemporary. What moves you about electronic dance music?
Yoko Ono: Dance chart music has its own unique format. I am fascinated how it changes the old song into good dance music.
You've been an artist so long, from revolutionary outsider to now electronic dance music's reigning matriarch. Do you get more respect now then you did decades ago?
I don't know if "respect" is what we are trying to get! I just like the fact that people are dancing with my music, looking very happy.
Your son Sean told Bust magazine years ago that once you were with John, you couldn't get respect for your art and that even feminists don't realize that you produced some of these amazing albums, like Imagine and Plastic Ono Band. He said, "People never fully acknowledge my mom for what she's done." Do you feel that way too?
I am just thankful for whatever I am still getting in terms of the appreciation of my work and how it touches people. Does any singer-songwriter get more than that?
One of your most popular songs is on the new album: "Everyman/Everywoman," which supports same-sex relationships and marriage equality. What's been the reaction to the song?
It is a song that has a place in some people's hearts.
You've said in the past that you’re upset that gays can't get married. Can you tell me more about that?
I'm really saddened that fair treatment is not given to gays. Why can't they get married, if they wanted to?
Would your late husband, John Lennon, have supported marriage equality?
Definitely. John hated any injustice.
You've always had great gay artists around you, like Andy Warhol and Keith Haring. What about lesbian or transgender artists?
I wasn't counting my friends on their sexual preference. So I don't know.
You recently helped create the group Artists Against Fracking to oppose hydraulic fracking. How critical will the presidential election be to environmental issues like fracking and climate change?
I think it is still very hard for politicians to try to get winning vote and at the same time put forward issues that are important but not very known to the voters. Let them first be the person who can swing the right things.