The name Jamiroquai is synonymous with that of fast cars and funky disco grooves but they are a band that has created a sound unlike any heard out in the music industry today. With confusion to those unfamiliar with their music, people often assume that the band’s front man Jason “Jay” Kay IS Jamiroquai. Perhaps they’ve seen a few of their videos and one can easily make that assumption but the fact of the matter is that they are such an influential band musically and artistically.
Jamiroquai is a derivative of the word “Jam” and the Native American Tribe “Iroquois” mixed together as one word but there is a much deeper meaning to the band’s name as they commemorate the tribe in a few of the songs from their first couple of albums. The centralized Native American theme is a representation on the subjugation of the Iroquois Native American Tribe as a “people” as well as the respect for “Mother Earth”, and overall the demise of what people know today as their modern culture of society.
Represented by the iconic “Buffalo Man” silhouette, this ever famous logo is prominent upon all of their albums. With the most recognizable albums consisting of Emergency on Planet Earth, The Return of The Space Cowboy, and Travelling without Moving (the latter being their US breakthrough album.) Many of their tracks can also be heard on various movie soundtracks and compilations. Films like Center Stage, Napoleon Dynamite, and the animated film Titan A.E, all feature tracks from the band; Canned Heat being one of the most recognizable songs due to the success of the cult comedy Napoleon Dynamite and its famous “De’Kwon’s dance routine”.
Jamiroquai has always been a personal influence and inspiration to myself as well as many people around the world. I think their infectious grooves and strong political messages hit the listeners with such a presence, that one cannot help but listen to what they have to say. Their trademark Acid Jazz sound came about in the mid-90’s right around the time when bands like The Brand New Heavies were making their mark on the music scene. Coupled with the celestial bass lines from the band’s early bassist Stuart Zender, the smooth Rhodes piano from Toby Smith, and the classic drum riffs of Derrick Mckenzie, Jamiroquai definitely came into a sound of their own. By interweaving the Aboriginal instrument the “didgeridoo” played by Wallis Buchanan, fused with turntablist dressings of DJ D-Zire, the band’s sound became atmospheric and was quite simply “auditory bliss”.
After the first three albums the band’s sound took a dramatic change filling the air with more of an electronic approach. While the core instrumentation evolved, the vocal dynamics definitely remained prominent throughout Jamioquai’s career. Jay Kay attributes his vocalization from the inspiration of his mother (Karen Kay) who was an accomplished jazz vocalist. Many even tout his vocal style with the likes of artists like Stevie Wonder. But one can definitely identify Jay Kay’s unique and soulful falsetto on tracks such as “Half the Man”, and “Space Cowboy”.
Aside from his vocal skill, Jay Kay is often seen on stage and in music videos dancing like the dickens! His unique dance movements are right out of the pages of the urban underground realm of the Hip Hop and House dance scenes. He creates an energetic pulse to the music bringing it even more to life with his movements. “Virtual Insanity” won many awards for its style and artistic back drop with the famous “moving floors” dance routine.
Without a doubt Jamiroquai has created new layers into the music scene and continues the trend till this day. Selling out shows worldwide in Europe, Brazil, Spain, Italy, Japan, etc. they give their audience a spiritual experience all while making one think subconsciously about the issues of the world. Over the years of listening to their music I can attest that Jamiroquai has connected myself with people around the world and as a DJ/Producer/musician they have given myself and others an opportunity of a lifetime to spread that love through their recently announced remix contest.
The track “Too Young to Die” was released in 1993 and is breathing new life to the next generation because of this contest. Jamioquai’s music is able to stand the test of time because of it. Check out my remix as well as others on https://soundcloud.com/batman333/too-young-to-die-jamiroquai.