Hello Jamie, good to have you on duranasty.com, thanks for taking the
time to do this interview.
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?
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
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?
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
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
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?
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
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?
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?
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?
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
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?
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.
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 www.nymchambermusicfestival.org 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!