Hidden in the rear of the stage, behind the drums, lies a fundamental piece of Jamiroquai's foundation and key to their unexpected future - Mr. Derrick McKenzie. Joining the band in 1994 for the band's sophomore studio release, The Return of the Space Cowboy, Derrick has seen Jamiroquai through a 'number' of tough times, but more importantly a mountain-full of wonders that include touring internationally, gaining respect from fellow artists, winning awards, and interacting with the most dedicated fans on this side of the space galaxy. The veteran drumologist has also seasoned his skills collaborating on musician projects around the globe. As Jamiroquai adds another chapter to their illustrious 15+ year career, Derrick sits down with Jamirotalk for an exclusive fan interview where he discusses everything from personal current happenings, being FREE from Sony, what's playing on his iPod, and how the beginning roots of Jamiroquai have never left his soul.

Deesha Dyer

 

 

Meike: Dear Derrick, welcome to our exclusive fan-interview! I had to choose from over 80 questions which we had collected from the members of the jamirotalk.net forum some time ago and hopefully I prepared an interesting range of topics to discuss with you. Thanks for making this possible! It means a lot to us fans to get information right out of the mouth of a Jamiroquai family member. Let’s go!

Jamiroquai fans have always been ultra-dedicated, from the homemade clothes and numerous bootlegs to buffalo man tattoos. What are your feelings towards the fans, in particular your willingness to interact with them via MySpace and international fan meetings at concerts like Lovebox 2006?

Derrick: My feelings towards the fans is that without them I would not be where I am right now talking to you and doing the gigs, I have a lot to be thankful for as I know that some of the fans have now become good friends and we will remain good friends!!!
It’s great to see them at gigs and have a chat with them either online or via myspace. I try my best to answer all the questions and hello's that they all give. I am looking forward to  meeting them all back on tour in the near future!!!!!!!

Meike: Talking about touring... Do you have a ritual before every live performance? Something that keeps you in the 'mind set'?

Derrick: Yes I warm up!!!! This takes about one and a half hours and I do drum exercises and playing parts of the songs I am going to play and stuff, also this is like practicing as well. I have a quiet kit back stage where I can play as loud as I like so to speak. It’s all good fun!!!!!!!

Meike: Can you tell us of a performance where you made a major mistake, but no one really noticed, but you?

Derrick: If I make a mistake everybody notices, it’s not as if I can hide it to be honest. It’s such a drum based gig that if it goes wrong it goes rrrreeeeeaaaaallllllyyyyy wrong and all I can do is laugh it off!!!!!!!!
ha ha ha ha haaaaaaaaa!!!!!!!!!

Meike:
What are songs that the band has never performed live, but are on your wish list to play?

Derrick: Bullet is my main track – that track is just kick ass, the groove the horns the lyrics everything is just kicking in that track!!!!!!!

Meike: Absolutely agree!
Being a longtime member of Jamiroquai, how do you honestly feel about the basic decisions being made by one person? Is it more of a relief that the overall pressure and publicity is off of you?

Derrick: It’s ok to be honest, Jay has to make the decisions because he wants to, so ultimately if all goes wrong he can learn from his mistakes.
I am quite happy to go unnoticed in the street, but also I do get noticed on the other hand and I get to meet some very lovely cool people.

Meike: So, it seems to be the right dose of stardom.

Meike: The last track that you publicly collaborated on is Destitute Illusions on Synkronized. Is there a reason for the absences in writing on A Funk Odyssey and Dynamite?

Derrick: Well the reason for that is because a lot of the last two albums was mainly programming and it was all about  keeping up with the times and dealing with the record company of course.  A very hard choice for Jay to make to be honest, but it’s just one of those things that  when it comes to live you just prove your point and play the hell out of the tracks when you do the gigs.

Meike: Will you be involved in the writing processes for the next album then, now that you are free of the previous record company?

Derrick: Well, I am much more involved in the writing process now, and we are doing the whole of this album live so there is no machines involved at all, how funny that is  – one minute machines are in, the other they are not needed at all, but it just goes to show can’t beat the real deal at the end of the day!!!!!!!!

Meike: Jay has given a glimpse into the Jamiroquai future by hinting that the band will return to its musical beginnings with horns, strings and an overall acid jazz element. Although the style has dramatically changed over the past 15 years, what are your personal feelings about revisiting the roots?

Derrick: Ok to be honest, Meike, the roots of the music have never left me for one minute. It was actually the business side of the band that left me to be honest, like I said previously the drums are an integral part of the band and we have always done our own thing when it comes to the music. I have no feelings at all about revisiting, it’s always been there, I feel that the band slightly lost its way and will get back on track through this album – we will go in the right direction for the future of jamiroquai, I am sure!!!!!!!!!!

Meike: You have seen the band go through many changes, from musical styles to band members. Why do you believe in Jamiroquai so much to have dedicated the past 14 years of your life to it?

Derrick: First and foremost I love playing the drums in this band and I can express myself without people telling me what to play. When we record as a band it’s so much fun, but the past two albums admittedly was hard work to deal with as the machines kicked in and it was a bit of a wierd feeling. I really love being part of a family and this has been a real big family for the past fourteen years I have been in the band which has been a great joy. Yes, I have seen people come and go but you know what, I still speak to those people and have a laugh when I see them!!!!!!!
In short: it’s bloody worth it as far as I am concerned!!!!!!!

Meike: We fans are all excited to know that you guys have already started writing and working in the Chillington studios for the new Jamiroquai album – without Sony breathing down your neck.
There is a number of songs you are currently working on. How is is going so far? Will the new album be full with brand new songs or are you also planning to revive some older yet unreleased material as well?

Derrick: At the moment, guys, we are just working on totally new material and none of the earlier stuff has been revived yet, for all we know it might not be revived, who knows. With Sony not being behind us does mean a lot more freedom to write and do what you like, also we will have  better story to tell at the end of it and our own personal involvement with this album. So far we have ideas and nothing has been put down properly yet as we are still plugging away at doing new stuff!!!!!!!

Meike: Where do you see Jamiroquai in 5, 10 or even 15 years time?

Derrick: Only time will tell my dear that is a difficult question to answer so as it goes and I am not gonna start predicting the future!!!!!

Meike: Fair enough, Derrick!

Meike: We know that you've had a few projects over the past few years (Francis Lalainne, Audrey, Sophie Delilah). Can you tell us of any musical endeavors you have in store for the future?

Derrick: For the future I would like to continue to write with other people and do collaborations also, I have been working with a band from Australia called Nude Continuum – they are great, it’s James and Lija who are the members and I have done a couple of remixes for them which will go on a remix album later on down the line, Lija has sang on a track of mine, called j'T Adore which is on my myspace page now!!!!!!  Also they have a new album coming out – check their website to see all the details.

Also I have just done a remix for another artist from Australia: her name is Karen Morales a new singer with fantastic voice and I am really hoping she will go far, we are hoping to do another track together very soon and I am writing a new track now as we speak!!!!!!

Meike: Am gonna check this for sure, sounds promising!

Derrick, before I let you enjoy the rest of your evening, I have two short last questions before we finish the interview:

What's your favourite Jamiroquai studio album?

Derrick: Definitely Travelling Without Moving

Meike: And what is currently playing on your iPod?

Derrick: Aretha Franklin „Rare and Unreleased“
It’s such a fantastic album, so many tunes!!!!!!!!!!
Oh, also I am listening to Classikhan which is an album of cover songs all sang by chaka khan with the london philharmonic orchestra. It’s totally amazing!!!!!!!!!!!!

Meike: Derrick, thank you so much for your time and passion for doing this great interview!

Derrick: It has been fun doing this tonight. Thank you so much for still doing this with me after so long.

Meike: The pleasure is all mine. Thanks, on behalf of all Jamirotalkers!

   


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