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Live in Abu Dhabi

Jamiroquai are in the UAE to perform at the F1 Yasalam after-race concerts. tabloid! managed to get to grips with their enigmatic frontman Jay Kay

  • By Nathalie Farah, Staff Reporter
  • Published: 00:00 October 29, 2009
  • Tabloid

  • Image Credit: Supplied
  • We always put 100 per cent into our performances so it should be memorable, says Jay Kay.

The arrival of the Formula One Grand Prix to Yas Island, has caused the city to become breathless with excitement. For some it is because they will have the chance to witness some of the finer points in motor racing. For others, it's because of the after-race concerts and the amazing line-ups.

Among those who have been signed up to entertain us after watching the adrenaline pumping races is Jamiroquai, an alternative/acid jazz/funk/soul/disco band from the UK. In case you aren't quite sure of how they sound, here is a small reference. Many of their successful singles from Cosmic Girl to Deeper Underground, are still played in heavy rotation by radio stations.

At the moment, the band is in the midst of putting together their latest album, the seventh to be exact. But their lead vocalist and founding member, Jay Kay, managed to squeeze some time in their hectic schedule to chat to tabloid!.

"This isn't the first time we come to the UAE. We've played a gig in Dubai and spent a bit of time out there. We also went driving out on the dunes, which I loved obviously!" Jay Kay, famous for his love of fast sports cars and faster driving, says. "It's the first Abu Dhabi Grand Prix and the last race of the season so there's no way I'd miss that. Hopefully I'll get to enjoy the weather — it's getting cold in the UK. But I'm working on my next album, so won't be able to hang around for too long," he added.

They have visited many venues globally, and have left their mark on every single one, and Jamiroquai has plans to make sure that all who attend their concert on Yas Island will not be disappointed.

"They'll hopefully go away with a smile on their face. I like to think we've got a pretty good reputation as a live band, so I think most people who are into live music will enjoy it. Something for people to dance to, sing to, even rock out to. Sometimes you listen to an album and you're not sure if the band can ‘do it' live. Well trust me — we can." Jay Kay says. "We always put 100 per cent into our performances so it should be memorable," he added.

It should be — other than the amazing beats, Jay Kay will also be whipping the crowd into a frenzy with his energetic dance style and funky head gear.

"I guess people expect it when they come to a Jamiroquai concert. I've always worn hats, they've just changed and mutated over the years, like my music. It was about both recognition and anonymity. The association with the buffalo hat was part of my pop star persona and meant I could have an identity outside of the music. And the dance moves just come out naturally — I couldn't do a show without them!" he says.

Hit records

The band has come a long way since their humble beginnings in 1992 with their first single When You Gonna Learn. Its success had executives from Sony BMG Music Entertainment knocking on their door with an eight -album record deal contract. Now, nearly 20 years later, with many hit records and albums under their belt, Jamiroquai switched to Columbia Records before finally settling with Universal Records. Now, they are in the process of completing their seventh album, details of which still remain top secret. However, it seems that it is set to be released in the near future.

"I think [our music] definitely evolved in quite a natural way. It will always be anchored by my vocals and great grooves but people who say it hasn't evolved obviously don't have ears. My early stuff had a more organic soul/rare groove feel, before moving towards a disco sound with more programming, and eventually developing a harder, rockier edge on tracks like Deeper Underground and Feels Just Like It Should. The next one, which is out next year, will be different again," Jamiroquai's lead singer explained.

Another interesting aspect about the band is the global-warming, save-the-environment messages in their songs and albums. They began their efforts to highlight these issues way before they became the pop culture references they are today. But make no mistake; while it is still an important subject, the band members are now focusing on other topics.

"Well, yes a lot of stuff, particularly from our first and second albums has kind of moved up the agenda. If we helped that happen — then great. But I feel like I said what I wanted to say about all of that back then, so I don't feel the need to repeat myself too much or become some kind of spokesman for anything," Jay Kay says.

Despite the band's ups and downs over the years, there is one thing that Jay Kay is adamant about: he wouldn't change a thing, even if given the choice.

"Nope, no regrets. Life is too short. To still be doing what I'm doing almost 20 years after I started out means I must be doing something right! You learn from your mistakes too, so no wouldn't change a thing."

Jay Kay's take on:

The inspiration behind the band's name: I just like that it's an unusual name. It's a cross between the name Iroquai, which is named after a Native Indian tribe, and Jam, as in what we do when we play live music.

The name of their logo: He's called the buffalo man. He's been around nearly as long as the band I just wanted to have a visual representation or a logo that was instantly recognisable, without even having to write our name.

His influences: Earth Wind And Fire, Chic, Stevie Wonder, Gil Scott Heron, Marvin Gaye, Roy Ayres. I also like some more contemporary dance—based music like Basement Jaxx.

Who he would like to collaborate with: I don't spend too much time thinking about who I would like to collaborate with or indeed listening to other people's music, especially when I'm working on my own material.

Jamiroquai in five words: Hard funking good time music! Because that's what we do…

Get there
Jamiroquai will perform on Friday 30th October as part of the F1 Yasalam after-race concerts on Yas Island. The post-race concerts are exclusive to F1 ticket holders.

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