Jamie Cullum, the 37-year-old world-famous British jazz-pop singer and songwriter primarily known as a vocalist and pianist, has visited Hungary to perform at the VeszprémFest music and cultural festival in mid-July. The venue is known for bringing global masters of jazz, classical, pop and world music each year to the “City of Queens” each year; this time, the festival’s brightest star gave exclusive interview to Hungary Today before his concert, which is here for you to read:
Are you looking forward to this concert? Is this your first time in Hungary?
I really have played almost everywhere, and I’m not doing to many gigs this summer, I wanted the chance to come here because I’ve never been before and I hear on Facebook and social media that there are a lot of people from Hungary who wanted to see me play, so I thought it was a good opportunity to come. This festival is 11-12 years old and there are really good people playing here, so I thought: “I’m in!”
Do you know a Hungarian musician or pianist?
I don’t, actually… That’s rare for me, I normally know these kind of things…
I guess you’ve heard of Franz Liszt…
Yes, that’s true (laughs)… Him! He’s the only one I know.
You’ve been in many countries – where do you think you have the biggest fan base, where you go and you know they’ll be a good concert?
I think Spain and Portugal and South America are very lively, but that’s the nature of their personality, they’re very good at showing their emotions boldly. The British are happy, but they don’t always show it. I’ve been very lucky over the years to have a good following in many different places, so it’s kind of more or less the same anywhere I go, which is wonderful.
The whole world is talking about Brexit, and I thought that as a popular musician, your opinion is important. Do you agree with it?
No, I wish we’d stay in Europe. The campaign was not fought fairly, there’s a lot of political unhappiness in our country and I think the people who voted out of Europe chose to use rhetoric and information that was not really to do with whether we left Europe or not, and preyed on those feelings. I think to leave Europe stirs up feelings that are very regressive. I think it’s a real shame – it’s very sad.
Every time you give a show, your music connects very well with the audience. When you’re on stage, what’s more important for you – the show, how the stage looks, the lighting, or the sound or the orchestra? If you have to choose, what’s more important?
Well, it’s probably ultimately the orchestra and that part. You can only do so much with lights, you can only do so much with how the stage looks… I still do concerts in tiny-tiny venues, like 20 people; then I’ll play at a festival to 80 000 people. You try to get the same feeling in both types of concerts, where you just have to make a connection with the audience. My way of making a connection is to use my musicianship and that of the band I’m with, and perform in a gregarious way, but also use creative musicianship to inspire and excite people and take them somewhere they’re not used to going to.
I have two smaller questions: The Beatles or The Rolling Stones?
(laughs) It’s very hard to choose, it’s like to choose between blonde or brunette, but… I’ll go with The Beatles.
Did you watch the European Football Cup? There was a match between France and Germany… Who did you support? France or Germany?
I think Germany, actually. I love France, but there’s something about the way Germans play football that is so… unlike the way anyone else plays football. So calm and so measured, and I think you could learn something from that. I think the play with real outward passion, and that’s like wildness and craziness. The Germans are like: “shhh!”. The British could learn something from that.
Thank you very much!