Jamiroquai may be hard to spell but he's very easy to listen to.
Jamiroquai's 'When You Gonna Learn' out now through Acid Jazz Records is a slice of solid 90s fusion,
steeped in a firm jazz tradition 'since time', (his mother has travelled the wolrld as a jazz vocalist for more than twenty years).
It's not often you stumble upon someone at the very chrysalis of his recording career that relates and communicates in such a passionate and reasoned voice. 'When You Gonna Learn' speaks loudly of government misinformation, racism,
and all manner of human failing, reaching out to listeners with some of the souliest, jazz tinged yet 90s street-based grooves around, epitomising all his influences and rolling them together to forge his sound.
He's very guarded and protective of what he calls 'the funk' and has much to say about the state of music generally.
"Music is something I've always had around me, and well, I just love it. Through my background with my mum who has been a really big influence on me, obviously, I went everywhere with her from doing Las Vegas where she was working in clubs doing three shows a
night with the last one finishing at 5 in the morning, so yeah I've been around music always and music's always been around me."
Jamiroquai has been a steady clubber over the years and still frequents a few places regularly.
"Yeah, I still go to clubs but the criteria is that they have to be funky. Places like Talkin Loud at the Fridge, that kind of thing,
with people like Femi DJing and Norman Jay, I really have huge respect for Norman because he's one of those DJs
who's always been true to the music. He isn't some kind of fashion victim like a lot of DJs that are around.
That's something I really can't handle about people and the way they are about music.
For me music is a passionate thing, it's a vibe, it's something I believe in and over the last few years I've started seeing a lot of fickle attitudes to music almost like a style thing. I like people who stay true to their roots. It's like back in 85-86 everyone was just getting onto the funk thing and it was happening, then house came along and a lot of people left the scene, and I saw that as abandonment.
All of a sudden they went from the house thing and a lot of people are turning up at gigs again that I find myself wondering
what they're doing there, and I know why they're there, because they think it's trendy or fashionable,
which is just an insult to the people who never left it. The way I see it is if you left it, you can fuck right off."
When you talk to Jamiroquai about the music you can't fail to see his commitment. He admits that his heroes,
people like Stevie Wonder, Roy Ayers and Gill Scott Heron can turn him to jelly with the slightest whisper of their voice.
"Lyrics are incredibly important to me, which is probably why I feel so little towards a lot of the manic rave stuff that's been going on.
But it isn't just about lyrics. People like these guys could sing the most sloppy stuff, and just because they've got the vibe, the emotion and the real solid roots in the music they've got you eating out of their hands. I love that. With music it's something you feel,
it's individual, and from an artists perspective if you're not feeling it, if your heart isn't into it, you're just wasting everybodys time."
So far he's completed six live gigs, the first was at Brixton Academy in front of 5,500 people which was by all accounts completely awesome. Asked now he felt about it he enthuses... "I was there, I was there all the way. I had to do it to DAT tape,
which I wasn't into at all. But people noticed that I was with the music and I got a load of good reaction.
I was playing along with this band, and not just an average band, they were a band that kicks it.
A band that where each man looks at the next man and goes... BOOM, we're going this way. It was wicked."
Turning the conversation around to DJs in particular, I ask him what he thinks makes a really good DJ. "I've never DJ'd, but I'm listening.
I think if I was a DJ I'd be really good at it, because a good DJ watches a crowd, and say you're talking about a funk night,
they should start off with something jazzy, play a little bit of everything from all different categories. So you can go from jazz, into funk, into hip hop even a bit of good house stuff. But don't just play the same stuff all night because I'll just be bored out of my skull.
When I hear DJs like that I can't help thinking 'you're a fraud man, you're bogus', there are little kids out there mixing with three
decks and cutting mad shit up, and there you are with your 2 decks, the same beat all night... nah, nah, forget it man,
every knob up and down the country is doin it. I'm not interested. You try mixing it up for me. Try coming out of 'Fantasy'
Johnny Hammond and dropping into a mad hip hop tune, then I'll be impressed, but at the end of the day I think part of the problem
is the focus everyone puts on mixing. You know a DJ comes off at the end of his slot and the emphasis is on his mixing.
Everyone's talking about how great the mixing was, but what about the records?
Doesn't anybody care that the tempo never changed, that the vibe didn't change, that's where it loses it for me.
It's something you get to realise about DJs, too many think 'Oh, well I can't stop it there'. But you can just stop it and stick the other one on, by the time the second beat comes in on the second record if you know your tunes, everybody's going to be into it straight away."
We carry on the conversation and move into the area of clubs themselves. What does Jamiroquai think about clubs?
"If I walk up to a club and I get a lippy bouncer, it's like... later, and I'll leave. If I ever get any trouble I never go back.
If I get bouncers that want to nick my braw, then I'm out of there and I'll never go back.
That's one thing about the Sandals club night that I really enjoy.
There's no problem about your puff, they play good solid funky stuff, the DJs are into tunes, the decor's different every week and the vibe is positive. But basically, guys only go to clubs because girls go to clubs. I think girls are getting out of wanting to end up sweaty ten
minutes after they walk in. There's nothing attractive to me personally about a girl who looks like she hasn't had a bath for a week.
I get really distressed by the rave scene as well. It's not the drug thing. It's like, I went to a party out in Lewes in Sussex, and everyone was saying how brillant it was, all groovy, peaceful, happy and wonderful, and at the end of it, when everyone left, the place was a fucking disgrace. Like they all pile into this really clean, beautiful place in the countryside, and fuck it up in one night.
That's just not on, I can't stand people who have no respect."
Not one, as you may have already guessed, to hold back on opinion, Jamiroquai looks at me in a perplexed fashion.
"What's the matter?" I ask.
"I don't know. I'm just thinking about music and all that." "What." I jest. "Just for a change?"
he looks at me not too sure whether I'm talking the piss or not and with a naive, endearing almost embarrassed face, he says,
like a man possessed . "I can't help it." When he graces the stage 15 minutes later, he has them eating out of his hand in minutes,
they can't help it either. Compelled, riding on the vibe he's giving off on stage, the place goes off big time - and Jamiroquai, like his heroes, turns the tables and let us experience his hero experience by turning the entire audience to jelly, with a vocal command, dripping with emotion and a funky strutting stage presence. At the beginning of his set we winessed a star in the making but
by the end of it the star was completely made. 'When You Gonna Learn' is out now on Acid Jazz Records.