Jamiroquai: British Funk Revivalists

MTV NEWS: If even lounge music can make a mini-comeback, you know that seventies style disco, in all its glitter-infested glory can’t be far behind. In fact, it’s already here, courtesy of Jamiroquai, an English band that not only attempts to replicate the classic dance floor sound of Stevie Wonder, but actually succeeds, no small accomplishment. The group recently completed a quick in-and-out U.S. tour, and John Norris caught them in Los Angeles.

JAY KAY: Jamiro–quo? Jamiro–cry? Jamira?

KAY: And when you’re called Quamira-jojj, you know, you’re screwed.

JOHN NORRIS: Actually, that name is Jamiroquai, and far from being ‘screwed’, these funk revivalists have become a hot property overseas, selling seven million records since 1992. And although Jamiroquai is a five-man band, eleven, when they’re touring, it’s dominated by its front man, singer and songwriter, Jay Kay.

KAY: Personally, myself I’d like to see disco and funk and that sort
of stuff come really back in. Purely, just cause of the party element, its such a good feel good element, that kind of music.

NORRIS: Jamiroquai’s first two albums established a small but devoted following here in the States, but still a far cry from their masses of fans in the U.K., Europe and Japan. Still, the band is clearly hoping third time will prove lucky, especially since America appears to be warming up to English bands.

KAY: People like Oasis perhaps opened it up a little bit for us. But not if they keep being rude. Cause that’s naughty and nasty, and Oasis will get a smacked bottom if they keep being rude, on England’s behalf.

NORRIS: Which is not to say Jay hasn’t had his share of criticism from the English press. They’ve gotten on him, either for being no more than a Stevie Wonder knock-off, or for his outspoken opinions, for instance, Jay on the often-imitative music business…

KAY:
Let’s make 25 bands that all sound like that, and work the same, and churn it all out, and I, I think that’s pretty gutless.

NORRIS: ‘Traveling Without Moving’ is Jamiroquai’s third album, and first to enter the U.S. charts, and it’s a pretty fair description of what Jay appears to be doing in the video for ‘Virtual Insanity’.

KAY: I’m standing here, here’s the back wall, here’s the front wall, here’s the camera. The camera’s always on lock off right? You push the camera that way, and I’m still standing still.

NORRIS: But the floor appears to be moving, how does that…

KAY: Because we’ve unlocked the sofas now, (snaps fingers) are you being dumb again or what??? Don’t you get it??? Look, we’ll talk about it another day.

MTV NEWS: Jamiroquai will be sharing the stage with actual disco relic Diana Ross at the upcoming “Brits” awards in London, and will return here in the spring
for a more extensive tour.