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Jamiroquai making it big with retro '70s sound

Jamiroquai August 11, 1997
Web posted at: 11:16 p.m. EDT (0316 GMT)

NEW YORK (CNN) -- If the name Jamiroquai doesn't ring a bell yet, it will someday soon.

The British band just received 10 nominations at the MTV Video Music Awards, more than any other band or artist nominated. And their distinctive sound and look is beginning to gain a foothold in the United States.

Jamiroquai (pronounced jah-MEER-ihk-why) is headed up by Jason Kay, JK to his friends. The band's name stems from Kay's interest in the Iroquois nation. He stuck "Jam" on the front to name his band, whose retro-'70s sound is hitting it big in Britain.

The band first appeared on the British club scene in 1992, and almost immediately attracted attention in a club scene that music fans had abandoned en masse. Kay's uncanny vocal resemblance to Stevie Wonder didn't hurt the band's success either, although Kay doesn't make much of the comparison. "My mum's a singer, and any voice I get I got off her," he says.

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By the end of 1992, Jamiroquai had snared an eight-album deal with Sony Music. The second album, "Return Of The Space Cowboy," went platinum in the United Kingdom, selling well in Europe and Japan, as well.

Expensive tastes

The band's European success allows Kay to indulge his tastes in exotic cars; his collection includes an Aston Martin, a Diablo and a Ferrari. The band also gets to indulge in elaborate videos.

Some of the videos feature Kay's auto collection: the "Cosmic Girl" video from Jamiroquai's third album, "Travelling Without Moving," shows off many of his cars.

The video for "Virtual Insanity," also from the "Travelling" album, bucks the car theme, but remains unique. By mounting a camera on the wall of a room on wheels -- director Jonathan Glazer's brainstorm -- viewers get the impression that either the furniture is remote-controlled or the floor is moving.

It wasn't an easy shoot. "I got quite confused in the middle. Everything is moving. I didn't know where I was, you know?" Kay says. In the end, Glazer told him where to stand, line by line.

But Jamiroquai's next video, "Alright," goes back to their former pattern: exotic cars, Kay and his trademark SuperFly hat, and a '70s dance sound. Why mess with a winning formula?

Correspondent Mark Scheerer contributed to this report.


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