Vocalist and songwriter Maxi Jazz is a fascinating figure; a man whose calm temperament and wise lyricism was the unlikely driving force behind one of the last decade’s biggest electronic acts and whose latest project is a complete departure from what he has done before, exploring the sultry grooves of blues, R&B and reggae with new band The E-Type Boys. The group have just released their new album Simple..Not Easy and play live at Band on the Wall in December.
Ahead of the show, we had the pleasure of speaking to Maxi Jazz about the formation of the band, finding his voice and arranging music.
This project may be a stylistic departure from your work with Faithless, but your voice remains instantly recognisable. When did you first realise a skill as a vocalist and did it come via music or other mediums like poetry and writing?
I used to really enjoy reading out loud in class, especially when I learned what punctuation was for! But really DJ’ing on pirate radio in the 80’s was the basis. Once I’d found my ‘radio voice’.
There are flavours of blues, reggae and funk running through the music, matching the broad range of influences you cite. Who are the key artists that have informed your songwriting and how have you discovered them, be it through buying albums, live music or hearing it around the house?
Key artists? Too many to name! But, in my day, it was all about your radio and word of mouth. There were only one or two music shows on TV and in the early days we didn’t even have a TV. Radio was everything.
Where do you record with The E-Type Boys and how import is the environment in which you record to your creative process?
First time I walked into the Studio 1 live room at RAK Studios, I felt so comfortable, it was an instant decision to record there. Fantastic place, fantastic staff and the history of the place seeps out of the walls while you’re playing.
How do you communicate music with the band to form the arrangements? Do you write music on paper or simply play them your ideas and get their input?
The majority of the songs on the album were pretty much finished before I formed the band. I have a studio in Jamaica and, while hanging out with my Mum, I’d arrange the songs there. I can play bass’n drums a little so, aside from the keyboard parts the songs were fully formed. More recently we do it all together in the rehearsal room.
Can you tell us about the guys in the band and how you came to play with them. Was it always your intention to be backed by a large band?
It was my intention to have a band made up of my friends. We’re all big people now and ego issues are broadly behind us so we can just flat out enjoy what we’re doing and support each other when it’s not so nice. And yes, I love a big band! Maybe not the best idea economically but there you are.
What can we expect from your live show in December?
Extraordinary musicianship, enthusiasm, great songs and a great time. Joy writ large.
Pick up tickets for Maxi Jazz & The E-Type Boys at Band on the Wall here.