From her trailblazing years as a member of the ’80s girl group the Go-Go’s to her equally impressive solo career, Belinda Carlisle’s impact on popular music has been nothing short of legendary.
Though stories of her wild youth and struggles with substance abuse have followed her throughout the years, the singer — and her music — have endured.
In March Universal Music released Icon, a collection of Carlisle’s greatest hits, which includes “Sun,” her first U.S. single in over 15 years.
As she gears up for the Go-Go’s 2013 summer tour, the well-loved artist spoke with The Advocate about the current state of popular music, overcoming addiction, and why she’s head over heels for the LGBT community.
Are you completely comfortable with being labeled an icon at this point in your career?
It’s actually kind of a weird word, but I guess I’ve been around for a while. [Laughs] I would say the Go-Go’s are pretty iconic, but don’t know if I’d refer to myself like that.
And how do you feel about being known as a gay icon?
It’s the best! I’ve been blessed from the very beginning with the large gay audience and I’m flattered. They always have the best taste anyways and are at the forefront of fashion, music, and style. So I’m really happy about that and very flattered. It’s a good following to have because it means you’re doing something right. It goes back to the Go-Go’s early days, but in the past 10 years [my LGBT following] kind of exploded. But I love looking out in a crowded theater and seeing a sea of gay men.
The new song on Icon, “Sun,” is reminiscent of your classic sound, but it also has a strong dance influence. Is a future Belinda Carlise dance album out of the question?
I don’t know about that. When I recorded “Sun” I wanted to do something with more of a modern sound. I’ve never done anything like it and it was fun for me to sing, but I’m not really a dance person per se. However, I would love to hear that song in the club. I think it’s a really good dance song.
Would you say you’ve always been accepting of the LGBT community or was that something that evolved for you over time?
No, I’ve always been. In high school my best friend was gay — in the closet, but gay. In fact, most of my friends have always been gay or lesbian and I have a gay son — I can’t imagine that being any other way. I can’t imagine having a straight son. So it’s something I’ve never really thought about.