Hello Jamie, good to have you on, thanks for taking the time to do this interview.

So how you got involved in the making of the new Duran Duran album, how it all started? Did you know any of the band members personally?

Jamie: I know Simon since he and his lovely wife Yasmin started coming to my concerts in London - she bid for me at the Terence Higgins Lighthouse Trust auction in London last year alongside Tracey Emin and the prize was a concert at their houses or venue of choice. I still owe Yasmin the concert! She and Simon are a very cultured couple and I was delighted to see them at my classical concerts. Simon then had an idea to use cello on one or two songs and subsequently I joined him in the studio and the results have come out rather well and I suppose differently than expected [possibly better]. I read your biography and many great reviews about your new album in the english press… you are a great, talented and established cello player, and of course your main production is classical. Was this collaboration with Duran Duran your very first pop experiment? How do you feel about it? Do you think classical can meet pop music easily?

Jamie: Haha - yes, this is out of my comfort zone stylistically as I'm used to recording and performing classical which I've done since I was eight - but I've always had a taste for all styles of music, particularly great British rock and pop. I've done some work for Mark Knopfler for an animation but that's about it. I think we're entering and era of great session instrumentation with pop music again and I feel Mark Ronson is at the forefront of this - look what he did for Amy Winehouse's Black to Black. Rufus Wainwright also incorporates great luscious orchestration in his work so I think it's a perfect marriage [he even used Ravel's Bolero in "Oh What a World"]. Simon le Bon, rather like Sting, has a great ear and is sensitive to the traditions of classical music. In regard of this, did you know that back in 1995 Simon Le Bon sang the classical Duran Duran’s ‘Ordinary World’ with Luciano Pavarotti?

Jamie: Indeed! That's what I love - why should there be boundaries? I thought that was brave of both - rather like Monserrat Caballe and Freddie Mercury with 'Barcelona'. We're all passionate about our art, I feel sometimes the crossing of paths is a healthy meeting place. Did you check Duran Duran’s back catalogue before you first rehearsal with the band? Any thoughts, ever been a fan of any of their songs/albums?

Jamie: I didn't need to - I knew it from my upbringing! Great memories though revisiting the back catalogue and remember it vividly. I went to a boarding school and Duran Duran was the band to play in the dormitory - so we did, loudly and a lot. Despite the image of young classical musicians, not all of us wore side partings and creased trousers. After the strains and stresses of a classical training, we were all too ready to let rip on occasion, and music was the key - all types! Duran Duran has released some great ballads over the years, in some of them cello has been a major instrument… I always loved the dramatic feeling and the emphasis that this instrument brings to the tracks and the way it exalt Simon’s lyrics, can you please talk about the two tracks you have been recording with them?

Jamie: Ah that's a secret! It won't be long before you know but all I can say is that the songs are simply awesome - very strong indeed and one is under the ballad umbrella. They certainly haven't lost their great songwriting gifts and with Mark Ronson in the mix too, I would expect a very exciting record... Were you somehow involved in writing the cello part you were called to play? I mean did you listen to the tracks first and then band asked you to create something around the structure of the songs or your part was already written and you only had to play it like a session player?

Jamie: Ha - what a good question! Being classically trained, improvisation is not something I do naturally - as yet anyway. I listened to the track and played around for a while before actually writing my part, in collaboration with both Simon and Mark who would suggest motifs and melodic structure. In then took off, layering part over part so that it became a chamber group of cellos. Fascinating process to be part of - I've recorded eleven classical CDs and never had that experience! Did you use your 1712 Guarneri?

Jamie: I did - a great band needs a great cello! Were the band and Mark Ronson in the studio the day you recorded the tracks or only Nick Rhodes was there?

Jamie: Just Simon le Bon and Mark Ronson which was fantastic and riveting to watch the organic songwriting and arranging process - I had a great chat with Nick Rhodes though at the Raisa Gorbachev Foundation gala all about Picasso and Prokofiev, Faure and Stravinksy's Rite of Spring debut - he knows his stuff! What would you say if the band would ask you to join them to play live during the promotion of their 13th album next year? Do you think your schedule would be too busy to do such a thing?

Jamie: I would love to and work around it - or at least join part of it [although not during the latter half of August when I run my festival]. Of course, how could I resist? I would work alongside the band to whip up some exciting and original virtuosic arrangements as I know there's a lot more potential there. What do you think of the new Duran Duran material? Did you have a chance to listen what they have been doing while you were at the studio with them?

Jamie: I shall continue to keep secretive about that but I'm excited about the eventual release. They've stood the test of time - for a good reason... On june 5 you played with Simon Le Bon at the Raisa Gorbachev Foundation Party, it was reported that a short set has been played, so which songs you played? Did you enjoy doing that particular performance?

Jamie: I loved that performance - funnily enough we did 'Ordinary World' [works great with a classical twist] - and my own particular favourite: 'The Chauffeur'. Great fun too as one of my closest friends, musician and comedienne Kate Shortt, joined us on the piano - she loved it and it kept making me smile, a useful look when on stage with Simon le Bon! Last but not least, what’s your current project, are you recording a new album? Preparing for summer festivals? Any other Duran related recording/show scheduled? Let us know, the Duran Duran fan base has large views and ears so I’m sure many of us will be interested to know where they can see/listen you over the summer.

Jamie: Yes it's been a very busy time in the studio and three CDs are recorded in the pipeline for release - concertos by Shostakovich and William Walton, sonatas by Chopin, Brahms, Strauss, Saint-Saens etc - it's like a dam bursting since I acquired this magnificent Guarneri! I am also running my festival 16th to 28th August since its sell-out debut last year. I'll be off to Germany to perform shortly after that then recording the Dvorak and Schumann concertos but before that I will pop back into the studio to watch the album being recorded then I'm off to Patmos in September for, by then, a much needed holiday! Thanks for your time.

Jamie: It's my great pleasure. | to order his latest cd release and listen some audio clips




Special thanks to Jamie Walton

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