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"The Jamiroquai singer Jay Kay talks about how fatherhood has changed him
Michael Odell

In the spring of 2007 the Jamiroquai front man, Jay Kay, was travelling in a black cab down Whitehall in central London when a glance through the windscreen changed his life for ever. He saw a woman whose face he vaguely recalled. The cab pulled over and they got chatting. “I recognised Maria’s face from a little skirmish we’d had abroad years previously,” Kay says with a louche curl of the lip. By skirmish, he means a fling.

The pair exchanged numbers. In 2015 Kay became a father for the first time. “Our meeting again was a real Sliding Doors moment. I’ve always wanted a family, but I’d reached 45 and wondered if it would ever happen. I’m a touch late, but it’s brilliant.” His first daughter, Carla, is two, and five months ago they had a second daughter, Tallulah.

For years Kay was a hard-partying pop star with a cocaine habit and a love of supercars (he has an enviable collection, including classic Ferraris and Porsches) and high fashion. There had been well-publicised relationships with, among many others, the TV presenter Denise van Outen (which ended in 2001), but he wouldn’t settle down.

Meanwhile, one of the most recognisable figures of his generation and the face of the early Nineties acid jazz scene had been enjoying platinum-selling albums, world tours and had even won a Grammy. And now, after a seven-year hiatus, it is business as usual. Jamiroquai have returned with a new single, Automaton, a slice of dystopian disco warning of the dangers of modern technology. Kay’s fears that his erstwhile fans might not get it, or have moved on, have proved unfounded. Not only has it been received extremely well, but tickets for his comeback show at the Roundhouse in London sold out in one minute. A new album (also called Automaton) has just been released, and his world tour will start later this year. There are, however, subtle differences in his music. It has a more electronic sound — and the track Carla is a love song to his elder daughter.

He may be a proud dad, but today he still looks like a raffish pop star, enjoying a lunchtime beer in a swish London hotel bar. “I’ve been rehearsing for four days and I miss my children like crazy. Last time I went home I got a cuddle that lasted 20 minutes. Do you know how amazing a 20-minute cuddle feels?”

After this tour, he says he might retire. “After the last album I was on a treadmill. I can’t do it for ever. And I don’t want my daughters seeing me on TV when they’re growing up. I don’t want them seeing the bad side of this game. I want to be there.”

He gets out a phone and scrolls through photos. “Of course, when Maria told me she was pregnant I asked myself, as any man does, ‘Is it a boy?’ But my friend [the TV presenter and actor] Charley Boorman has two girls, and he told me it works out really well in the end. Girls are a bit more mellow.”

Becoming a father is a huge turnaround for Kay. Some of his previous resistance to commitment was simply down to a love of the party lifestyle. “This job is not conducive to long-term relationships,” he says with a twinkle. “But the weekends in Ibiza partying with Russian oligarchs, comparing chunky wristwatches and gorgeous girls looking bored on yachts . . . I’ve done all that.”

Some of his reluctance to settle down was lingering insecurity from his early life. He was born to the Sixties singer Karen Kay and a Portuguese musician, but his identical twin, David, died a few weeks after birth. His parents split up, and he didn’t see his father until years later. It has made him, at times, an anxious loner; at others, a party animal with a gargantuan appetite for excess and a persona he calls “the wolf”.

“The wolf is a wild part of my personality. When I come off stage in, say, Columbia and I’ve got an amazing hotel room, it seems a shame to just go to bed with Horlicks. I can party harder than anyone, leave ’em on the floor.

“But I am totally serious about my missus and kids. My biological dad and my mum were adopted, my identical twin died and my parents split. There’s a whole history of insecurity there. And so this is it. I am the dad for my girls. For ever. I don’t want them calling any other man ‘Daddy’. They’ve got me for life.”

His mother remains a crucial influence. She is overjoyed at being a grandmother, vindication after a violent intervention in his life 15 years ago. Kay was snorting a lot of cocaine and getting into brawls with paparazzi. “She came to London, got me by the throat and was screaming into my face, ‘You’re going to f*** it all up and lose everything!’ That’s all I needed. One of the problems was that I never really knew what I was creating all this for. Now I have two good reasons. I don’t want to be a lonely old man bumbling round a manor house. I want to hand it all on to the people I love.”

Let’s hope Kay’s daughters like moving around. He flits between an 80-acre Buckinghamshire manor house with grounds designed by Capability Brown and homes in London, Scotland and Devon. He achieves this via his collection of 40-odd Ferraris, Lamborghinis and Mercedes, and a private helicopter.

Kay takes a lot of criticism for his personal toys, especially because he has sometimes commandeered disco to express his dystopian concerns about the future of the planet. It was the success of his debut album, Emergency On Planet Earth, that allowed him to start collecting fast cars. He is aware of the irony.

“I do get criticised for the cars, but people would be surprised how little I drive them,” he says with a sigh.

Occasionally, despite his 11-bedroom pad, Horsenden Manor, Kay sometimes camps in a tent in the vast grounds. “When you are alone with an egret or a kingfisher, you are connected with something amazing. I want my kids to know that. We have a little robin that sits on your hand and eats. We are f***ing this world up so much I’m worried they won’t see things like that much longer.”

Slightly less eco-friendly is his “heli-camping”. Kay is a qualified helicopter pilot and in January he took his Robinson R-44 four-seater (registration: G-JKAY) to France, where he landed on a plateau in the Pyrenees and pitched a tent. “I brought along the wrong sleeping bags, so it was f***ing cold, but it was a true wilderness experience. Give me a soaring buzzard over a tray of cocktails any day.”
Automaton is out now. For details of the tour, go to jamiroquai.co.uk

Jay Kay’s perfect weekend

Reality TV or period drama?
I am really enjoying The Crown

Beyonc? or Blur?
Shostakovich or anything on Classic FM

Local pub or red-carpet do?
My local, The Whip

Pilates or personal trainer?
Neither — a long country walk

Matcha latte or builder’s tea?
Builder’s tea

I couldn’t get through the weekend without . . .
An outing in my vintage Lancia"

Да, возможно, последний альбом и тур.
У меня была теория насчет второй дочери. Раз для одной он записал персональную песню, то придется выпустить еще один альбом с песней, посвященной второй, чтобы ей обидно не было)))
Вторую дочь назвали Tallulah. Зараза, хитрый)))))))))) Laughing

"Интересно, кто-нибудь видел ненормальную, которая кинула колготи на сцену? Это же ужасно!" © 2011, ViFly
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