With Return of the Space Cowboy, his second album, JK blows our mind again. JK from Jamiroquai is on the ceiling.
He's just flown with ease from a three-foot-high box onto the 15-foot high rafters of a London photographic studio.
"Give's a banana" he's shrieking, his legs wrapped, baboon-like, round the beams, before leaping off again and
landing with perfectly bended knees. From here he shoots down the middle of the floor, shimmying, doing the Moon Walk,
tap-dancing forwards and backwards with an invisible Fred Astaire cane, before gliding through the air once more onto
a windowsill to stare out at the north London horizon. The man's a flying squirrel. He doesn't so much move as dart.
Darts like he weighs nothing at all. All this from someone who, 45 minutes ago, blustered through the door nearly
two hours late and threw himself face down on the floorboards with a howl of "how could you do this to me?"
He got to bed at 6am, spending the night on a go-cart track sparkled out of his brain on spliff.
It was a Sony Records affair, and he cuffed the opposition to the trophy : a statuette of himself with his big hat on from last year.
Today, he's not wearing the big hat. He's wearing a little one.
He's wearing what he calls, correctly, "a tea-cosy". He looks like a sort of youngster you'd open your door to and he'd chirp "want your
window cleaned, mate? Cheapest deal on the estate!" And if he had any more energy he'd block out the bloody sun.
Jason "Jay" Kay may be many things : sullen pop star with shades on in the corner awaiting your "audience" he is most assuredly not.
Rarely has a brand-new pop sensation affixed himself to the national psyche as instantly as Jason Kay in the summer of last year.
Blanket press coverage. Libraries of quotes from Jay on the governments of the world and how they'd collectively ruined it.
With more cursing than the worst case ever recorded of Tourette's syndrome. Fucking probably. He called his album Emergency On Planet Earth, it went straight to number one and has now sold two million copies. He called his singles When You Gonna Learn and Too Young To Die and Blow Your Mind (all right, so the last one's a love song, but then everyone's allowed to go soft once in a while).
He gave seven per cent of his merchandising income to Greenpeace (and still does).
The backlash started before the LP was even out. He was "naïve".
He "stole" his jazz-funk music from its black "owners". He owned two classic cars, had a 100,000 eight-LP Sony deal and was there-fore
an ecological hypocrite and a "closet capitalist". He took his critics on, said he criticised himself more than they ever could,
and he was "just a greezer doing music and doing my bit to change what I can". In the end none of it really mattered :
he had talent, his intentions were sound and at least he had a personality.
In the last year he's toured America, Canada, Japan, all over Europe, written a new album, and is about to do the same again including Australia and possibly Brazil. He's back. And he's turned into a proper hippy. He still shouts - a lot - but much of the defensive paranoia has gone. Maybe he has less to prove this time. The new album's called Return of the Space Cowboy, the first single Space Cowboy.
So, where's JK's head these days, one wonders? It's on the moon, that's where. And right now it needs "a big flat spliff",
which it doesn't get just yet because a chap's gone off with your reporter's A-Z to pick it up. Jay, like a child who's done too many enthusiastic circuits in his Nobody buggy, is now officially "knackered". He flops down on the preposterously spongy set-tee which evvelopes you from all angles and we are nigh horizontal already. Jay has this effect. Sitting up straight just wouldn't seem right.
Space Cowboy is a celebration of the joys of the "big fat spliff" itself.
Once again, he's doing his bit for what he believes in : the legalization of marijuana. Jay loves his spliff : he can relate to it.
And it helps his work. "You can like the music straight," he muses in his hyper, high-pitched Ealing squeal, but if you don't like it stoned,
then there's something wrong with it. Spliff lets you see right through things.
"It's cheeky, isn't it?" he grins of the single. "I like the fact I'll be able to go on Top of the Pops going [sings] 'Cheeba cheeba!'
with people out there not really knowing what cheeba cheeba is and going 'cheeba cheeba' anyway heh heh."
I like the fact that he sees Top of the Pops as a foregone conclusion simply because it is.
Space Cowboy is morning-sunshine-through-the-windows funk crispness with freak-out jazz bass meanderings.
Life is good, it says. And his life would be even better "if you were allowed to go around with an eighth in your pocket.
It would be a moral victory for youth." Talking about marijuana legalisation causes Jay's voice to bounce off the rafters.
"People going from marijuana to heroin?" he shrieks. "Absolute rubbish! Never touched crap like that in my life."
And he's off. Beginning with an excellent impersonation of old blokes in the House of Lords ("Legalize drugs? In this country? Preposterous! Put the blighters in the army! Like we used to!) via the countless millions the government makes a booze,
ending in a double-edged conspiracy theory/Lad Culture synopsis. "Alcohol keeps the nation happy!" he booms.
"Keeps them working - 'Here's your little prize for going to work. Always remember, [adopts creepy patronising boss voice]
start at the bottom, work your way to the top and your little prize for doing that till you're 60 and we give you a
carriage clock is that on Saturday you can go out and get pissed out of your face.
And why don't you have a fight while you're at it?
Leer at you go then!' I've never seen that happen with spliff."
Not that he wants all drugs legalized - hard drugs can destroy people. His old school friend, an aspiring musician,
did a lot of acid and commited suicide : "Really he just couldn't cope with life."
And then there's Kurt Cobain, Jay reckons it was the drugs that killed him. "I mean, that guy took drugs," he says,
"skag and coke and downers and uppers, the odd dash of PCP. That's serious shit;
that's a big problem to get out of. In America it's a real big thing, skag and horrible skag music...
I mean, listen to this..." [Burtlin's compere voice] Laydeez n' gentlemen, I give you... the Isleys Brothers... [Turns up Summer Breeze
on the radio to a billion decibels] That's what America needs now! Aw, listen man, now it's Move on Up! [Massive Grin]
It's a classic a minute, mate! Music like this keeps you going. This isn't your dark-death-fucking-grunge-
skag-stick-yer-needle-in-yer-arm-and-let's-all-kill-ourselves shit - this is inspiring! It's about living."
The new Jamiroquai : less of the evil, more of the good. He's still obsessed with the planer, but these days he views it from afar.
From outer space, in fact. And out there it's beautiful. Man. At home, Jay as a billion books about space ("You name it")
and he spends spliffed-out evenings thinking about space-men who've seen what we've never seen :
"Us down here in that little ball of green and blue - our home!"
He thinks about astrology, about human destiny and how it's shaped by the stars.
"I'm really into space," he beams enthusiastically. "I think about it in terms of our place in the scheme. And it's an astrological thing.
I'm into how our paths in life are set up.
Even what I'm doing now is just following a path. It's a Fate thing. Life is natural roads, with turn-offs here and there, and whatever turn-off you take is up to you." Jay's had his astrological chart done : he's a "Capricorn with Cancer rising",
the Cancerian element making him "emotionally left, right and centre". He loves the moon - one of the LP's songs is called Mr Moon.
He believes in the moon-water theory : that if we're 75 per cent water and minerals how can we escaped the force that pulls the billions of tons of water in the sea? Sometimes he goes berserk in the full moon ("absolutely potters, total confusion") and sometimes it can focus his life totally. "I don't believe in religion," he's saying, "or anything man-made. We're not looked after by anything, we're just pulled.
The power out there is electrical, a swirling power. It's synchronisation, that's what life is about - synchronising.
Going [thumps fists together] pfff! when you meet someone and they take you there and because you met them, you met them and
that's what it's been like for me, definitely, all the time I've been doing music. That's my view. That's what keeps me going.
I bloody literally look to the stars. All that out there and little me here." Come on down!
Jay is appalled that people live their lives seeing as far as the end of their noses. He thinks we should all transport ourselves, mentally,
onto the moon and gain some proper perspective about what's important : "Beauty, nature, people, justice." You should try it.
He talks about these things like a big-eyed 10-year-old who's just been given My First Big Book of the Planets, and his
enthusiasm is guenuine. He talks about seeing the clouds from space with a breathy "Woooooow!!" We were all like this once.
He's just held on to it longer. He's still talking, appalled that people can't see how lucky they are, that people don't want to look after what they've been "given". He blames it all on the old folk, especially old blokes, and thinks pensioner genocide may be the answer.
"We wanna get rid of a generation!" he decides. "That other lot, anyone over 55, get rid of 'em.
Those are the bastards that have left the mess for us." Much, if not everything, is known of Jay's universal opinions,
but little is known about is real life. This year he's moved house. He now lives alone in "a little mews house" near Paddington.
It used to be part of some stables and has a split door halfway up the house where they used to throw the hay in for the horses.
He now has four classic cars to his name, a new edition being the old Aston Martin, "the James Bond car, the one with the ejector seat".
He loves his car : "They're my biggest vice." To him they're "works of art, pieces of history.
And I look after them." He loves driving out through the countryside, really fast : "I love speed. Speed as in driving, kids.
Just said yes to driving a hundred miles an hour!" He wishes he had more time for skateboarding - the muscles in his legs have disintegrated. These days he's all but given up meat and has refused to eat the pizza which has just arrived because it has the devil's meat on it. He'll only eat animals that have had what he terms "a life. Fish have had a life. If someone comes to me with a big bit of
Aberdeen Angus from something that's been roaming around the Scottish hills having a right lark for a good few years then yeah!"
This doesn't involve anything to do with corporation meat, food for profite alone, such as Kentucky Fried Chicken.
"They're trying to make chikens in 36 days instead of 84!" he froths, "Gene splitting, chickens born without beaks, it's just DISGUSTING!" Corporation king McDonald's, of course, comes off worst : "You got to the Philippines, who's already been there? Ronald McFucking Satan!" Instead, he eats pasta and spinach at Blah Blah Blah's in Shepherd's Bush : "Proper nutrition. Remember that?"
He doesn't do that much outside of creating his music. Every last note on Return of the Space Cowboy has been invented by Jay
and then parped , by mouth, to his musicians; he can't read or write music. His best friends are the people he works with.
Recently Jay had what he calls "an hour of need". He was disillusioned with the music, didn't know what he or anyone else expected.
"We had a number one album last year," he ponders, "and I was thinking is it gonna happen this year and do I care?
And well I do care, but do I give a shit? I dunno. Sometimes I think it would be bloody nice to settle for nothing."
In this hour of need Jay found himself wishing he had someone he could turn to. His mates are "too close" to the situation.
So's his mum, Karen Kay, the nightclub jazz singer who brought him up alone, first in Manchester, then in Ealing.
Their relationship was turbulent all through his adolescence, resulting in this preference for the streets of London,
living in squats and dope-dealing to staying at home. Last night he had a dream about her and can't bear to talk about it.
"It was," he shudders, "just one of those."
Things are getting much better, though. He still looks to her for guidance - she understands the buisness - and they talk about making hats together. Other than that, Jay's very much on his own in his head. "I'm very self-contained," he says. "I don't need a relationship.
Well, I mean you do get... not lonely so much, but sometimes I do feel like... I have to be a pillar for people.
People's livelihoods are dependent on me doing my job properly, and there's no one to turn round to.
I can't turn round to Kevin [manager]... Well, I can but it's not the same as someone you're really into. A relationship is different.
And that's what you can miss out on, and that's part of the price you pay."
There's a song called Half the Man on the LP, It could feasibly be about his twin brother, who died when he was just six weeks old,
but the maintains that it's not. "No," he says, "it's just a love song." Is it about anyone?
"Not particularly; it's just for people who have been left by someone, which happen to us all."
Jason had a girlfriend this time last year. What happened?
"Oh. Nah... Yeah." He seems slightly uncomfortable. "There was someone around but I keep all that under cover.
I mean, with what I'm doing, it's hard to commit yourself. One of the things about being a Capricorn is that we end up
doing a lot of things later in life than most people. I'm in no hurry. Maybe I will bump into someone.
And maybe I will want to stay with them and have kids and just chill. Who knows?"
Why do you hide your hair under that hat, J? You're hiding you're good-lookingness from the rest of the world, aren't you?
"Am I?" he smiles and whips the tea-cosy straight off to reveal auburn hair coasting down his back.
Well, it would if he'd washed it and it wasn't stuck to the top of his head with hat-heat. "Getting long now..."
he mutters and unruffles it over his shoulders. "Is that better?" he asks. Frankly, yes. "Heh heh."
Many assume Jay to be the sort of pop-media darling who struts around the cafés of Nothing Hill with a gaggle of supermodels clinging to his sparrow-likes chest. He is mortified at the notion. "Absolutely not." he gasps, aghast. "That's of no value to anything I've ever thought. And what matters is what you are; you don't get brownie points because of what you do." I think you'll find you do.
"Well, if there are girls running up to me saying 'Oh, I think you're great', er, and yeah, that happened,
but I mean c'mon, am I gonna take that seriously? They're not into me; they're into the guy on stage.
People on stage aren't special : they're just doing their job. I'm not a model, man!
It wouldn't suit me at all. Let the models go with the models. I'm no different to the guy who paints room for the living.
I enjoy doing my music and hopefully it'll mean something to someone, and that's all there is to it.
And I have no one's expectations to live up to but my own. It's taken me 24 years to learn that."
He's sliding ever further toward the floor. All this "personal" stuff flattens him. He starts talking about magic mushrooms instead.
Makes one last suggestion for the route to The Revolution. "My suggestion," he declares loudly, "is that every politician should sit down,
take 30 magic mushrooms and watch the end of Planet of the Apes. That'd sort everything out. I have to say that that is sound advice."
He's looking much chirpier. Suddenly, as if a gigantic shot of adrenalin has just been stabbed into his heart,
he springs up on his knees. Now he's back to talking about what he knows best.
"The first time I did mushrooms I thought 'Yeah! Now it makes sense!' I watched the television, the advertisements,
and I was laughing my head off! [adopts voice of US girlie with 17 million teeth]
'And now I use... new tampets! [Starts screaming as he changes brands mid-flow] Waaaaaaaaah! Baaaaaady-fohorm!!' And people think I talk naïve nonsense? Well, turn your television on! That's nonsense! [switching imaginary TV channels] And that's definitely nonsense! [voice of Danny Baker on helium] Forty degrees? Forty degrees? Gets my whites whiter!! FUCK OFF! Vio-kill! Set it off down the toilet to kill all the fishes in the ocean! Vio-kill! Now even more concentrated! Vio-kill! Now with EXTRA DEATH! Domestos! Kills fucking all known things dead!!
We can kill it! Spray the flies! Kill them dead! Pull its legs off! Evil human bastard! Oh look - a fly!"
Jay boings up from the sofa, and takes off around the studio with an imaginary can of killer spray to the fore, making "Psssss! Psssss!"
noises like he's having some demented Basil Fawlty funny turn, his hair flying in the self- perpetuated breeze.
"Now that I have Jif Mousse my life is so easy!" he hollers like a man possessed, careering in ever-increasing circles all over the studio.
"Psssss! PSSSSST!! That's why mum's gone to Iceland! PSSSSST!!"
The Cat in the Hat, The Flying Squirrel, Mystic Meg and right now The Cosmic Comedian keels backwards, leg in the air,
before the crashes to the floor in finest Charlie Chaplin comedy bendy-limbs routine.
Funny little chap. No wonder he thinks cocaine is "unnecessary". No wonder he smokes his spliff.
No wonder he's indisputably back.