It's been a crazy 12 months for Jay Kay - he given up cocaine, met his long-lost father and split up with Denise Van Outen.
Sylvia P. discovers a new-found yearning in pop's sexiest funkster.
Jay Kay is flirting. He looks every inch the pop-funk pimp, dressed in neat, straight, white canvas trousers,
a black-and-white-striped shirt and matching trainers, a cool white cardie and a white trilby with a black, shiny trim.
He's putting on something of a floorshow, his deep, dark eyes full of mischief.
He's being photographed in his recording studio and is using his two enormous German Shepherds, Titan and Luther,
as a foil for his flagrant innuendo. "That's a big old tongue," he says, staring into Titan's panting mouth suggestively.
Hands in trouser pockets, he announces, "Pocket billiards... Ooh! I've find the pink one!"
He picks up a white knitted hat that has long flaps like a spaniel's ears with pom-poms on the end thatdrape to his knee.
He wraps them round his face and beams: "Is it 'cause I is Taliban?"
Crude, loud, funny, relentless, it's directed, in actual fact, at one woman from the GLAMOUR crew who Jay deems "very cute. I do fancy her.
Of course, I'm a big flirt, but it's just fun..." Later, mid-interview, he'll abandon his train of thought completely,
stare through a glass wall atthe object of his lust and say, "That's wife material".
He's a one-off, Jay Kay; a romantic dreamer with a businessman's brain, a private soul with colossal opinions,
an idealistic humanitarian with a self-centred self-sufficiency; a cocky, flashy crusader for environmental change,
with a fleetof vintage Ferraris; and a media-savvy verbal powerhouse, who refers to himself, pointedly, as 'the prat in the hat'.
He's a fantastic pop star and we're in his manor in the Buckinghamshire countryside. It's made-up of a collection of farmhouse buildings surrounding a many-floored central house, which has been swathed in scaffolding ever since he bought it for a frugal £1.4 million in 1998.
Set in 70-odd acres of land, it's a rustic retreat, with trout-filled lakes, organic vegetables, babbling brooks with mini-waterfalls and two gigantic geese, performing, it seems, a synchronised 'keep-out' step routine. Sometimes Jay likes to go camping in a tent out there in his very own field.
This is the fifth time we've met since 1992, the beginning of Jamiroquai's spectacular 18-million-album-selling status. In the past he's been energetic and hilarious company. Today he seems subdued, sitting at the mixing desk in his studio, wary and media-damaged after
three years of living in 'tabloid hell' as he calls it, resulting in the disintegration of his three-year relationship with Denise Van Outen.
Last year, he met his father for the first time, a Portuguese , Spanish guitar player who abandoned his jazz-singing mum,
Karen Kay, shortly after the death of Jay's twin brother at six weeks old. In the past he's said of his loss,
"I'm the one who got to live. That leaves a feeling of emptiness, because I always wanted someone to play with. He died, I lived."
He's also given up cocaine, a 'lifestyle problem' he felt had the potential to rob him of everything he'd ever worked for.
In the autumn, he appeared in court over assault allegations on a would-be tabloid photographer [the case was thrown out].
And then, along with everyone else, he lived through September 11 and its aftermath. "I was doing really well up until that point," says Jay, twirling round in a leather seat by his mixing desk, hats off now and his dark, shortish hair wisping in a dozen directions,
"and it just screwed me up. All I wanted to do was get drunk. I needed a shag and to get very drunk, fast. My thing was, 'We're fucked.'"
Despite creating one of the best singles of last year, Little L, and selling two million copies of his fifth album, A Funk Odyssey,
in two months, it hasn't , notes Jay, "been the best year. Not a good year, no."
Yestreday, Jay saw Denise for the first time in ages when he bumped into her in a restaurant. "I sat and had a drink with her and some friends," he says, sipping a beer. "It was no problem. We just wanna get on with our lives." The tabloid rumours of their imminent reconciliation are,
of course, lies. "Well, you never know what might happen," snorts Jay. "But that's the very reason it probably won't happen.
Because I'm not gonna get back into something unless people piss off and leave me alone. I wouldn't dream of getting back
with somebody if the minute we're together again people start pouncing on it. So it ain't gonna happen."
Little L, written partly about Denise, is about being forced to love someone 'in a leaner, more trimmed-down way.' "It's about...
'I can't give you more.' "Relationships are hard," says Jay. "Sometimes it's the right judgement just to stop it.
Anyway, I don't wanna be known for fucking going out with Denise Van Outen, or anything else. I'm just a singer and a songwriter."
Seems to me you might be looking for someone new. "No, I am not," he says emphatically, "I just wanna be me. Do my thing."
This year, thhome Jay bought as an investment, sanctuary, workplace and as the place he'd bring up a family (he'd hoped it would be with Denise), has become a place of contemplation. He has his own special spot for thinking, down by his lake, Under the stars.
"I've sat there and done an extreme amount of contemplating. I've cried many tears. Just me, the dogs, geese and swans.
All sitting there. Happy little bunch." Meeting his dad, who, he says, looks like Al Pacino, was 'a big thing'.
And he refuses, point-blank, to discuss it. "I won't talk about my father," he says, appalled. His single, working mum has been the
greatest influence on his life, 'without a shadow of a doubt'. Ask Jay which values his mum formed in him and he says,
"I only do what my mum did. She taught me to get off my backside and be a go-getter, not a muppet."
He contemplates the things that are 'missing' in his soul and is visibly perplexed.
"Yeah, there's Something missing." he says, eventually. "Children are missing, I'd say."
Are you... happy?
"Jeeeesus Christ!" he hollers, his beer bottle clattering off the table, "This is turning into fucking therapy! I'm perfectly all right.
I've got no problem." You seem disturbed to me. "I'm not disturbed. I'm just wary of your line of questioning. And I'm me, so I'm on my guard.
I'll tell you what's disturbing: having to talk about things you've already dealt with in your head. To be honest, I've dwelled on all these
things and now I'm pushing forward. Me and my friends don't talk about it at all. Any of these subjects."
Well, shouldn't you?
"No, because they're private," he says, "I'm not disturbed. I've just been... a little morose lately." This is a different Jay, of course, to the one down on the floor earlier, giggling and roaring. "I don't thing I've got a façade,” he says. "It's just me. But in terms of letting everything out,
I'm not American. I don't need to [adopts American whine] let everybahdy know what ah'm thinkin'. Hey!"
When he's not working, Jay doesn't, as you'd imagine, invite loads of friends over.
Does it get lonely here, then?
"Yeah, but I think that's wonderful. Solitude's good for you." He leaps out of his seat and circles round the floor.
"Anyway, gotta look to the future, not the past. I need to get my teeth into Something new - new music, something experimental."
After almost ten years in the business, 32-year-old Jay finds the excitement fading into routine.
"It's become a grind," he admits. "And money," he adds, "doesn't buy your happiness; it brings you a lot of complications. And grief."
Away from music, his favourite experience is walking in the mountains and enjoying his fleet of 15 fabulous cars, including a limousine
once owned by Coco Chanel. "It's a joy," he says. "Very beautiful. Don't thing I'm too unhappy, I can assure you."
This year Jamiroquai tour the world and then, "Everything," says Jay, "will be rounded off. And I've got something up my sleeve."
He beams, suddenly animated. "Tunes you haven't heard us do. Let me get it right and it'll be pukka."
What did you think of your wiggly-footed impersonator on Stars in Their Eyes recently?
"I thought it was really sweet," he says, smiling down at his pom-poms and becoming uncharacteristically coy. "I said to Denise at the time,
'I should send him something.' I thought it was nice that someone was so into my thing. It's a great compliment. Nothing wrong with that at all."