My London: Baz Luhrmann

 (ES Magazine)
(ES Magazine)

Home is…

Right now? The Gold Coast. But my [and my wife Catherine’s] main home is in New York City. We also have a place in Paris, so I’d say we get around. But Australia is really home. What time is it there in London?

It’s 8am here.

Oh, I’m never up at 8am in London. I have a philosophy which is: dream in Paris, dance in Brazil, work in LA, get lost in Tokyo, live in New York but have fun in London.

Where do you like to go out in London?

London is all about clubs. I make a lot of music — mainly in London. When we were doing the Romeo + Juliet soundtrack, me and Nellee Hooper, who’s a great friend of mine, would be recording and we’d go to Browns [the club]. The bottom floor of the club would be the cool kids, then the middle floor would be more sophisticated, but the top floor was like Kate Moss and everyone hanging out together. There was a lot of cross-fertilisation between the high and low.

There’s nothing that attacks the loneliness in the heart more than feeling seen

What was your first memory of London?

I was in London with the Strictly Ballroom play which was in 1988. I saw one of the very early runs of Les Miserables and remember how impressed I was. But that was Thatcher’s England, and it was friggin’ cold and miserable.

But in the early 90s London was just so cool. It was so happening. Johnny Yeo (the artist) and I grow old disgracefully in London. I would’ve seen Portobello Road back then and gone wow look at all these crazy fabrics and colours.

You don’t need someone to tell you you’re an artist to be creative, you look at the world around you and you go ‘this is what I’ve got’. We all just want to be understood and get what’s inside of us out. Art just means doing things well.

We live in a global metropolis where what you express will be seen. There’s nothing that attacks the loneliness in the heart more than feeling seen. And if being seen is something that you make, that’s doubly being seen.

Bringing it back to London slightly…

Back to drinking gin in London. I can’t believe I pour my soul out to you and all you want to know is where the great pubs are! I definitely grow old disgracefully on the dance floor. I was at this club and there was a young crowd having a birthday party, I said “look away you don’t want to see this!”

What about the best meal you’ve had?

Ugh, lists. I just really avoid lists. It’s like asking, what’s the best movie? I love the 1930s film Top Hat, but I also love Apocalypse Now. There’s sushi and there’s roasts. So I’m not gonna say it’s the best because I’ve had some pretty wackadoo meals in London, but I do like the tiny cabin at the Chiltern for two people only, near the fireplace. You pull up a little door and the barman sticks his head in and pours you in a drink. I usually have a tête-à-tête in there with my pals. I always say the Chiltern is like the lovechild of Claridge’s and Chateau Marmont.

Who do you call when you want to have fun in town?

Johnny Yeo, Nellee Hooper, oh God I’m going to get in so much trouble. Florence occasionally, the list is so long — my long list of friends!

What would you do if you were Mayor for the day?

Only one day? Doing anything significant can’t be done in a day. Rome was not built in a day. I don’t think anyone should be the mayor of anywhere unless they truly live there and they truly are of the people.

Dream in Paris, dance in Brazil, work in LA, get lost in Tokyo, live in New York but have fun in London

If you could buy any building in London and live there, which would it be?

Hmm. I have a few friends with big buildings… but I don’t think big is key. I would buy a building in Shoreditch. There’s a lot of young energy there. I’d get an old ware-housey thing and make a creative space.

What are you doing for work at the moment?

I don’t work, I live. There’s no line between my creative life and my personal life. That’s why I’m working with Bombay Sapphire: they can really get communications out there on the world wide web. And the message I want to send is that I was in a very isolated, small country town, and I needed a way to express myself. No matter who you are, whether you’re a mother of two in London or you’re in some faraway country that has no resources, you only have to stare down the obstacles that stand before you. Inherently, we all are creative.

Most iconic Londoner?

An Australian, actually. I’ve always had an enormous admiration for the time and the journey of Leigh Bowery. He was an Australian from Sunshine [a suburb of Melbourne], but he was hanging out with Boy George and Michael Clark. That is when clubbing was at its most artistic level. Leigh would get up at 6am and spend two days getting ready to go out to the club. Because he saw not only club life as an art form, but himself as a piece of art.

Baz Luhrmann has partnered with Bombay Sapphire for the ‘Saw This, Made This’ campaign (