June 9, 2009

Jamie Cullum - New album, The Pursuit, is noisy, fearless and more rock 'n' roll!

By Lennat Mak

Jamie Cullum, the crossover boy wonder of jazz/pop, is turning 30 this year. Despite the perceived notion of adulthood (he's also getting married to his model girlfriend Sophie Dahl in 2010), Jamie still remains quite the playful musical imp when it comes to his passion for music. He might no longer be the twenty-something catching tales of old soul jazz with a modern touch of yesteryear, but the current Jamie is definitely going to up the ante once again on his forthcoming album, The Pursuit.

You announced your new album title, The Pursuit, at the Music Matters conference in Hong Kong last Thursday (June 4, 2009). Do tell us a little more of the new album coming our way?

I'm still putting finishing touches to the record, mixing the final tracks and just making sure the order is correct and everything is right. I'm really proud of this record. I wrote and came up with 20 new ideas and record 20 new songs! I'm only putting it down to 12, so it's quite hard to choose. No singles just yet, we are still in the process of doing that. But it's a noisy record and it's much more fearless than anything I've done before.

Fearless? Does that mean more experimental sounds and less jazz?

Sonically, the sounds I've used on this record are less traditional. The drums, bass and piano sounds are heavier. It sounds more like a record from today, than anything else. It's no less jazzy but it's also more rock 'n' roll!

Producer-wise, are you still working with Stewart Levine?

The new album is mainly produced by Greg Wells and he has made albums with Rufus Wainright, Katy Perry, OneRepublic and Timbaland. I've know Greg for four years and we have written some songs before for other artists. Greg is a multi-instrumentalist who plays bass, drums, piano, guitar - he plays lots of instruments like I do. I want to be in a situation where we could sit in a studio and not have to have lots of people in there all the time. We basically played a lot of the stuff ourselves. On quite a few of the songs, I played bass, piano, guitar - just lots of instruments on the same tracks. It's fun to build tracks that way.

Was there more of a "playful" vibe to be in such a creative environment?

Yes! It's very playful. It's very unhinged and it's not a polished record. It's pretty freewheeling!

Any reason why the long break between albums?

I had a little break. After Catching Tales, I needed a little time to regroup and sleep in my own bed for a little bit! I've played in some other people's bands and I wanted to make sure if I were to make an album, I wanted to be really ready for it and do something that's really creatively different and "moved on" from previous records.

Do you think The Pursuit will be a bigger crossover hit than Twentysomething and Catching Tales?

You can never expect what's going to happen on the record. I do think this record will really excite people. It's really fun and it doesn't sound like anything that's out there so I think it's really cool.

After doing your thing for so many years in the music scene, what do you think is the spirit of jazz or rather, the spirit of music?

I think the spirit of music is as strong as ever! The record industry is changing, but people's love for music has not changed. That will always be the case, from the cavemen days till now. I'm still a big music fan as ever and there is still great music being put out there.

You are currently doing a couple of dates around the world. How is like playing huge festivals versus small venues?

It's different wherever you are. When you play live, you connect with the people you are playing to. It could be harder in a big venue than a smaller venue. It's very hard to compare. But I think it is fun playing small venues. If you are connecting with a big audience, that's fun too. We are doing a handful of festivals this summer. Just to, you know, kind of get into the zone and get in the mood. We will be putting out the album in late September this year and then we will be back on the road. I'll be coming to Asia to do some concerts and I'm looking forward to it! It's very important to us, coming to Asia. We've been so well-received by the fans over in Asia. We will be back without a doubt!

You've been Twitter-ing and keeping your fans updated. How are you embracing this new media of connecting with your fans?

That's exactly what it is. It's another way to interact with your fans. I can do it from my phone. And it's like texting all your fans at one go. It's an amazing thing to do. I enjoy it. It's really fun. It's certainly the most connected I've ever felt with my fans. I see and meet them at shows and occasionally post on my forum and things like that but I do feel this is the most direct way to interact with your fans. There's no record company or manger - I do it from my phone! I'll text my girlfriend, I'll text my mum and maybe I'll send a Twitter to the fans about the songs and the album.

It's been reported that you are getting married in 2010. How are the preparations coming along?

We haven't have time to get it together yet! We are working on it at the moment and we are trying to pin down a date and a place. It's like planning a big party, you know? So it's going to be fun!

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