Out Of The Game: Rufus Wainwright

"All I really wanted was a certain lightness..."
Rufus Wainwright bw.jpg
Rufus Wainwright is no up and coming artist. Born to folk singers Loudon Wainwright III and Kate McGarrgle, he began to play the piano at age six and by thirteen he was touring with his sister Martha Wainwright, mother Kate and aunt Anna as the McGarrigle Sisters and Family.

His latest album 'Out Of The Game' he quotes as his “most pop album” - influenced by 70s soul music and with Mark Ronson’s vintage production style it glimmers with emotion and contemporary styling’s. The album is gritty, dramatic, POP, and the arrangements are out of this world. Rufus has found a new sound with Ronson’s soulful production; yet he’s still managed to keep it ever so pop sounding.

With a huge musical history not just as an artist but running through the bones of his family, he opens up about the creative process behind his lyric writing, and allows us into his world.

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Mark Ronson has considered 'Out Of The Game' to be the best work of his career. How do you feel about that?
I’m very flattered that he said that. I think that in a lot of ways it’s really, I think it’s a deep personal opinion that he has. And he means it, I don’t think he’s necessarily trying to make everybody feel the same way, I for one think that Amy Winehouse as such a legend so I wouldn’t dare touch that, but I’m very, very flattered.

What was it like working with Mark Ronson and the Dap Kings?
It was very exciting, I’d never really worked with a conglomerate before of musicians, these guys had played together a lot before, and so they knew each other intimately on an artistic level and I felt a little bit intimidating. They were really cool and cute, and very straight, which makes it more exciting because it’s so forbidden!

You recorded 'Out Of The Game' in New York during autumn. Do you happen to find NYC an inspiring City to create music in?
Yeah, I mean I’ve lived in New York for many many years now and it’s always been one of my main sources of inspiration. I would say that no city on earth has that perfect mix of old and new, romantic and modern, it’s such a prism of history and it really can be the perfect place at times but then when you get the check at the end of the night you kinda wanna go back to Canada.

Tender, sad, gritty and warm are just a few words I’d describe your new album. What words would you use to describe it?
All I really wanted was a certain lightness. I wanted it to be a kind of record that you could put on at a party and enjoy dancing too occasionally in between tears of regret; I guess I’d have to say lightly heavy.

Do you care much about what us music journalists have to say about your music or not?
I would like to say that I didn’t but of course I gravitate towards the negative in terms of the press I don’t know why that is but its like a moth to a flame or a curious cat but I think its more of a human tendency to focus on the negative. In truth I should just not listen to what anybody says weather its good or bad but unfortunately I’m not like that.

I love 'Rashida' and I really love 'Song For You'. Which tracks stand out to you as personal favourites?
In the show I really enjoy playing 'Sometimes You Need' because its quite an unusual stamp to take in the middle of a big pop show to suddenly to get very Hollywood and romantic. And you know, “Jericho” is always a blast.

What’s the creative process behind writing your lyrics?
I tend to live a somewhat full life, be it having a child, or getting married, or having crazy days, a decadent life. So I tend to want to experience everything that the world has to offer, you’re going to be affected by that; just good old fashion crazy living.

Would you say you’re a traditional songwriter or pop?
I would like to be considered as a traditional American songwriter meaning that all the great American songwriters were completely unique, weather its Gershwin or Bob Dylan, or Bruce Springsteen there was a real individuality in a real American songwriter. So if I can fit into that little spot into that countdown I’d be more than happy.

Are you looking forward to your UK tour?
Very much so, I love going back, I always feel really appreciated and loved.

'Out Of The Game' is a unique album title. What inspired the meaning of the title?
I think there's several angels one could play with. A lot of the shenanigans in this music industry are just not interesting to me anymore. I’ve got a little grumpier but one could also look at the flip side and say this is a product of the game, I’ve been it for many many years and here is the flower at the end of the stem. I think it’s got several meanings, we’ll see how the record goes.

What was growing up in Canada, Montreal like?
It’s amazing. It’s very French, so its got a European flavour to it, in the middle of Canada, its also very idealic, picturesque postcard Christmases, and also such great songwriters such as Leonardo Cohen, and my Mother was such a great songwriter. So, it’s very bohemian.

Do you ever like to go back and visit?
Yeah, a lot of my family are still there, so I go back whenever I can but unfortunately I’m working a lot of time.

Since your first studio album in 1998 'Rufus Wainwright' how do you feel you have developed as an artist?
I basically tried my best to hone my craft be it with my voice or with my song writing. I have this silly notion that you’re supposed to get better as you get older. Made mistakes a long the way, had great triumphs as well but I’m in it for the long hall.

Amy Winehouse is my musical idol. Did Mark Ronson ever talk about her in his studio sessions with you?
Yeah, sadly she died about a month before we went into the studio so that was a great tragedy. I think one could argue that she pretty much wanted to go. She was not a happy person and that she’s now free and one has to look at it as a little be of bleakness to her passing because she just had such a hard time, so I think Mark felt, though he was devastated at the loss but I also think he felt a certain amount of comfort, and could also look at her career and there time together in a much more positive light because he knew she wasn’t struggling anymore with those really scary demons. And so, I think there a positive aspect that we tried to focus on so one should really do that when somebody dies.

Words by Matthew Daniel

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'Out Of The Game' is out now.

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