Ahead of his opening gala gig for the inaugural Singapore International Jazz Festival 2014, jazz crooner and songwriter Jamie Cullum sits down (a rare thing since he's always in Momentum) to answer a few questions from us at Spin or Bin Music. Aside from the fact that he and his band goes onstage without a standard setlist, he gives us a boozy answer as to why he's always so active on stage, and how fatherhood has changed the way he tours now.
How do you find being a dad these days, being away from the family to traveland play for crowds? Is it difficult to keep up?
I think any parent has to find that balance between work and home life no matter what job you do. I am working hard to find it! Of course it is difficult, being away is part of my job but it is hard to leave behind my thriving family. I try hard to be awayfor no more than a few days at a time. It makes my touring life very different.
Which also leads me to my next question: I’ve been to both your concerts in Singapore in 2007 and 2013, and both times you were jumping around the stage, or jumping on the piano, or even jumping down into the crowd. Now that’s a lot of jumping… Where do you get the energy to do what you do in each show?
Food, whiskey, adrenaline and momentum.
Let’s keep the Momentum going by talking about your latest album of the same name. It’s a lot more jazz influenced this time round, is there a reason you went in that direction when composing?
It’s funny - a lot of people say the opposite! I think with this album the soul of this album is of the jazz musician, but it’s dressed up with a lot of sounds from the current era of music. I wanted to make something that could only exist in this day and age but with a bunch of great musicianship behind it.
Which is your Favourite song on the album to play live?
Probably Save Your Soul. It seems to be the song that has touched most people from this album.
You have played in many venues and various settings (loved the time you performed at St Pancras by the way), both intimate and live with orchestral backing or a band. What is your ideal performance atmosphere that you will be able to vibe off the most?
It would definitely by one where we, as musicians, are able to bounce ideas off of each other spontaneously and freely. For that you need a good crowd, a good room and the stars in alignment.
I wanted to compliment you on finding the most ingenious methods of taking mainstream pop songs and jazzing them up. Will our Singaporean audience be lucky enough to hear another one of those this February?
I don’t have a setlist so who knows! But I’m sure I can squeeze more than a few in.
Speaking of cover songs, you reinvented the song Love For $ale by Cole Porter with a more grim, sonic overview on the subject matter, and a web film that was actually quite touching. How did that cover come about?
I have loved and played this song in a more traditional manner for over 15 years. I had a good think about the lyrics in recent years and it reminded of a lot a of the rap music I listened to growing up. Rap music was where I discovered jazz. I decided to try and do something which brought together those two worlds without it being too corny I hope. The film was devised by two filmmakers who have worked with Kanye, they are fearless movie makers. And that is what the song needed.
You are also helming a radio show on BBC Radio 2, how has that experience helped you musically?
Massively. It is inspiring to hear even more new music than I normally would and get to interview my heroes. It is also quite nice to have a regular job!
Any future plans?
Grand Theft Auto V.
You have been to Singapore at least twice now. What do you think of the audience reception here and what are you most looking forward to this February?
It was incredible last time. If they even match half of the excitement we got last time we’re in for a good night.
P.S: Can I make a tiny request to hear you play When I Get Famous/ Edge of Something in February? So excited!!!
Catch Jamie live at the inaugural Singapore International Jazz Festival on 27th February at Marina Bay Sands Theatres. Tickets available from Sistic.