Signed, sealed, delivered. Back in the spotlight and on a funk odyssey, jamiroquai's jay kay refuses to
slow down or sit still. Ann Dexter Jones plays catch-up with the soul man.
Four years after the video for "Virtual Insanity" racked up nine MTV Video Award nominations, the image of Jamiroquai frontman Jay Kay fluidly gliding across the screen in a cartoonishly oversize floppy hat remains burned in pop-culture consciousness-and his 16-million selling records remain club favorites. Jamiroquai's much anticipated fifth album, Funk Odyssey, showcases a wide variety of musical styles, from supersonic disco to sweeping orchestral soundscapes, as well as the anthemic, funk-driven first single, "Little L," which has already claimed its place
on dance floors around the globe. NYLON could think of no one more perfect to interview the high-flying, outspoken, and charmingly
mischievous Jay (who is quite particular about the clothes and favors Prada, Gucci, and Hugo Boss) than fellow Brit Ann Dexter Jones.
While she modestly refers to herself as a "rock'n'roll wife" (to Foreigner's Mick Jones), and is often recognized in NYC gossip columns as
the mother of DJs Mark and Sam Ronson and T-shirt designer Charlotte Ronson, Ann is an interesting character in her own right.
A writer (for such publications as Tatler and W), she is also famous for her parties, where Michael Douglas and Al Pacino might rub
elbows with Yoko Ono and Jann Wenner. Ann is full of great stories, from her down-to-earth insider observations on celebrity to having survived
a plane crash at age 11, and bursting with a passion for music. The two met in Central Park on a scorching New York afternoon.
Nylon... Your bodyguard Mark and assistant Diane seem very protective of you.
Jay Kay... They have worked with me, like a lot of my inner circle, for about eight years. They are like family, I stole Diane away from
my record company, and Mark got me out of a jam, so to speak, in a London nightclub where he worked security.
That's how I hire people: Loyalty and kindness are important requirements on both our sides.
Nylon... The english tabloids love your exploits. Are you still a wild child?
Jay Kay... Well, I don't do coke anymore.
Nylon... Is this a moral decision? Any role-model advice for your fans?
Jay Kay... My doctor advised against it. I make a point not to preach; my lyrics voice my opinion only.
Regarding drugs, I suggest people think hard and use their common sense in these matters.
Nylon... Your lyrics suggest passionate and original thoughts. Do you write about what you read or what your experience?
Jay Kay... I am comfortable with what I know and experience, and don't take too much notice of what I need.
Although, while everyone was celebrating the arrest of Milosevic, I thought of some footage that I had seen of the desperate plight of the refugees returning home. At that moment I looked up at the sky and saw a black crow flying low overhead and wondered what
he might make a such events, hence the track "Black Crow" on the new album.
[Suddenly, Jay hops up and skips along the dusty park path, Throwing out his arms, he spins and dances and, as if magnets were attached to the soles of his feet, runs up the side of a stone wall. All this while singing his new song, "Feel So Good." Five minutes later, he returns.]
Nylon... You are so quixotic and entranced in your dance steps, and your costume changes are almost magician-like.
The world "matrix" comes to mind.
Jay Kay... I like that. Perhaps it's the goat in my Capricorn sign, but even as a child, I never walked-I skipped and hopped.
I would not be comfortable on stage in jeans and a T-shirt. The whole concept, from the music to the choreography to
the video to the clothes, is mine alone. I feel the need to give my fans the best show that I can.
Nylon... Why the name Jamiroquai?
Jay Kay... The name was chosen as a mark of respect for the great qualities of the Iroquois
American Indian tribe, and their respect for the land. It is also a play on Jay Kay.
Nylon... I noticed that only your mother is ever mentioned in your bio.
Jay Kay... My father abandoned my mother and me when I was 13 days old. I met up with him again only two years ago.
He's Portuguese, and a professional musician who plays amazing guitar.
I can only tell you the name of his band off the record, for fear of the tabloids doing their thing.
Nylon... Did you have a religious or spiritual upbringing? From your lyrics I derive a hint of you being a nature spirit.
Jay Kay... I am spiritual, but had no religion growing up. My mother was a professional jazz singer, and touring the world with her, I learned that to survive requires very hard work. Yes, I am a nature spirit. She also taught me all about culture and environment, hence my love of nature and animals. I can name them all. My home is a virtual wildlife sanctuary. I own two German shepherds and a Pomeranian, and once proudly held
a bald eagle while touring in France. I also performed a fundraising concert for [wildlife conservation organization] Tusk Force.
Nylon... Have you ever visited psychic?
Jay Kay... No, but I had a strange psychic experience when I moved into my new home. A dark presence entered my bedroom, its shadow held me down, and I was struggling for breath, It was like a dream. The atmosphere had an electrically charged aura, but I wasn't frightened.
I felt that they were playing with me and letting me know that they were around.
Nylon... So tell me, do you now own the requisite rock manse?
Jay Kay... I bought a home built in 1086 by William the Conqueror's brother. When I saw it, I knew it was special- so much land and very peaceful. It houses my recording studio, and I grow my own organic vegetables, although I am not a vegan. It inspired my new song.
"Corner Of The Earth." I love to feel free in the wide outdoors; I hate to feel confined. My home is my complete paradise.
Nylon... I would like to challenge you on the world "complete." My instinct is that you still sound a little wistful, especially when I hear
the recurring bossa nova beat on your albums. Perhaps you are looking for a beautiful Brazilian soul mate?
Jay Kay... Busted! (laughs) I am ready and willing now to commit to the right lady and have kids. A Brazilian would definitely fit the bill.
Nylon... What would be your dream job?
Jay Kay... To be a high-performance Rally test car driver, though I love what I do now,
I love cars and own a cobalt blue Bentley and a silver 1963 300 SL roadster.
Nylon... What was your worst day job?
Jay Kay... Packing bean sprouts for Safeway, the English supermarket chain.
[Once again he speeds off, dancing in 360-degree twirls, then back up the stone wall, before he returns.]
Nylon... How is life on the road?
Jay Kay... Touring isn't a problem. I love having friends visit backstage. I love to go out and party, have fun wherever we go. Music is my life.
My desire is to bring in a diverse audience and to see people the world over enjoy and dance to my music.
Nylon... What was your most embarrassing stage moment?
Jay Kay... My pants split, revealing the family jewels, while performing on stage in Denver.
Nylon... Are you affected by critical reviews and the opinions of record company "suits"?
Jay Kay... I truly don't read reviews. I am a control freak; no one can influence the direction of my
music but me. It's direction evolves in my head before I even get into the recording studio.
Nylon... Do you have any privileged info to share regarding your next production? Is it dervishly swirling in your brain yet?
Jay Kay... Actually yes, it will be different in that it will be recorded in the studio-all instruments, very organic, no computers.