Fourteen years after he first brought acid jazz to the masses, Jay Kay of Jamiroquai talks about Ibiza,
the US and Scissor Sisters, new 'Nolans' direction...
He's the cat in the hat, the man who made walls move in 'Virtual Insanity' (which bagged him a Grammy) and the artist who's well known for his love of fast cars and even faster girls. Paradoxically, he's also known for wearing Indian head-dresses and reminding us all that we should look after the environment. Which has understandably led to some critics denouncing him as hypocritical. And not little cocky on occasion, too.
But JK is unrepentant in almost everything he does. Asked if he regrets anything.
Jay replies that he's sure he's had the odd diva moment, "but I can't remember any of them now." And why should he worry? In a career that's spanned seventeen years, soul/disco don Jay Kay has toured the world, sold milion of records and helped define the single coolest moment in 2004's underground hit Napoleon Dynamite, when the hero took to the stage to the sound of 'Canned Heat'. It's the record that ensured his music was loved by a new generation. In fact, twenty thousand of them watched him strut at this year's Lovebox festival.
Not everyone loves Jay Kay, mind. The paparazzi love to win him up, as countless bloody pictures in The Sun and The Mirror will testify,
Pop snobs may dismiss him as "hairdresser music" but he's won the respect of jazz and pop legends like Quincy Jones and Roy Ayers.
But most important of all is his searing honesty. Everything we ask him was answered candidly, from his disappointment at
Scissor Sister's latest single to his attitude towards America, Ibiza and, inevitably, the press.
Mixmag... You always said you'd never release a Greatest Hits collection - and now you're doing it! What happened?
Jason Kay... My label said 'your peeps need you to put out a Greatest Hits, it's time, they want it!' So we struck a deal.
I said if you want to put it out, it's not going to be called 'Greatest Hits' and we'll put a couple of extra tracks on it. And then you can knock
an album off my deal. "The first two albums were nowhere near as popular as the third, which was our crossover record.
So a lot of people like what we do but they don't realise its been going on for so long."
Mixmag... You've sold over twenty million records. Do you steel feel pressure?
Jason Kay... All we want to do is make a good record. These days you have to give the record company something that they'll believe in and something that they think radio will play. And as anyone who's been in the music industry for more than 15 years will tell you, after such a long time you get slightly out of touch. I'm not the kind of artist who wants to go veering off at crazy angles, I'm not going to tell the band
they need to start sounding like Razorlight or Kasabian or whatever happens to be popular at the time.
Mixmag... Surely you don't feel old?
Jason Kay... I feel reasonably young but I'll be 37 in December. When you're 26 you're happy to leap around but ten years on, you want to
sow down a bit. But it's not the end of the era, it's the end of a stage. And I still haven't made the tune that I want to make.
Mixmag... David Morales's club mix of 'Space Cowboy' is a perennial disco classic. But you're not that keen on it?
Jason Kay... When I did 'Space Cowboy' so many machines were being used that I was bang into having a live band, and doing time changes and keeping it live. So I was kind of against it in a sense. I didn't see the value in it. But people were coming back from Ibiza telling me
it was played to death. At the time, I wanted to know why they didn't just play the original!
Mixmag... Do you still enjoy going to Ibiza?
Jason Kay... When I go, I have a great time and I have a dawn good boogie. It's a totally different world - it's where you go to take some time off. I've had some fantastic times at Space with a bloody great indian head-dress on fucking off my nut and I thoroughly enjoyed it.
Erick Morillo was playing but to be honest I can't remember much more about it! My favourite time was the year Alan Braxe released 'Running'.
I thought that was fantastic. He's just done a blinding mix of [new single] 'Runaway'.
Mixmag... Do you still go clubbing?
Jason Kay... When you do what I do, your social circle isn't massive and going out on your own isn't the form.
Last time I went out I ended up popping a journalist in the mouth.
Mixmag... How do you feel about the paparazzi?
Jason Kay... I'm doing them a huge favor, I'm earning them money. I'm on a five year caution now so I'll have to keep my head down and shut up. But when you've had a few, what can you do? What you don't see is them having a dig at me and deliberately winding me up.
There's one or two who want to pull the tiger's tail. I'm a nice target but it keeps them in a living, doesn't it?
Mixmag... Napoleon Dynamite gave 'Canned Heat' - and you - a new lease of life. What happened there?
Jason Kay... Someone said there's a film coming out and they want to use 'Canned Heat' and I said "alright!" I didn't really know what the film was about. The bottom line is that it's exposure for me in America, although to be honest, I can't be arsed any more.
In South America we play to 35,000 people a night. If we go to the States, we're lucky to get 3-4000 people. My wages are paid by Europe, Japan, South America, Australia and Canada. So I don't really care what they do over there. They want homespun American trash.
Mixmag... But you must like some hip hop?
Jason Kay... I like some of it. Every time I bump into Pharrell he says he wants to work with me. They wanted to do stuff with us years ago - Timbaland as well. But the bottom line is, they're pricey. I worked out we'd have to sell 16 million records to break even!
Pharrell always says, 'whenever you're ready'. He does some great stuff - but these guys ain't cheap.
Mixmag... What do you think about Scissor Sisters?
Jason Kay... I'm quite disappointed with their new single. It reminds me of The Bee Gees and The Nolans.
Some of their stuff is fantastic, and their first record was far bigger than my first record, it was huge.
That's second album syndrome and pressure from the record company to make the same thing. It's very difficult.
Mixmag... What do you want Mixmag readers to think of you?
Jason Kay... I'd like them to think I'm the fella who's done some reasonable stuff. And someone who can still do it live.