Ahead of his Bahrain National Day gig, Murray Garrard caught up with the Finley Quaye to talk success, regrets and the Greatest Hits that was a massive miss
Time Out Bahrain staff
A decade ago, Finley Quaye was at the top of his game. Aged 25, he’d won a Mobo for Best Reggae Act, beaten Robbie Williams, Elton John and Paul Weller to a Brit for Best British Male, and had released Maverick A Strike, one of the most celebrated albums of the decade. His place in music history seemed assured. Four years, several rehabs and a conviction for assault later, and even optimists were predicting death throes. But with the release of a Greatest Hits last year marking his return to the touring circuit, the Scottish maverick is back on track. We caught up with him at his LA hideaway. In 1997 you were one of Britain’s most successful recording artists. Ten years later you had all but disappeared off the music scene. What inspired you to break back? I didn’t feel very welcome on the scene in the UK especially within the media. I worked a way out to come back without having much to do with the media. Things had calmed down a bit on the TV as far as telling the public to be vigilant and that if they see anybody who looks like me who is not in an office during office hours to call the police. Stuff like that was going on and I couldn’t be in the UK during that period of time. It’s changed now and I feel things are starting to get back to how they used to be, more eclectic and less tribal, less patriotic. Remember I am mixed race.
You recently released your Greatest Hits. Where do you see your career right now? The greatest hits sold about two copies, hardly a comeback! Sony dropped the ball. There was absolutely no promotion and it was not even properly distributed. It was never made available in the US, nor was made available in other countries as well. My EP Pound for Pound, which came out after the greatest hits, has been selling briskly around the world and has been warmly embraced by critics as well. My new EP Pinnacle will be out worldwide in early December. But my career is on track, based more in the US these days where my culture and especially my music are made most welcome.
You were successful young. Did success come at a price? I don’t know about that, my success was based on spreading an awareness, I succeeded in doing so just at the right time. The right signals were received by the right people in my mind. Magic! Of course it came at a price, I sacrificed a lot to do that. Any regrets about the early years? Not really, I did my best. You learn by your mistakes, you only get tougher and wiser.
Which song written in the past 50 years do you wish you’d written? ‘Up From The Skies’ by Jimi Hendrix
Who has been your greatest influence musically? My father Cab Kaye in the sense that he gave me the most important advice I ever received about what I do. Best gig ever played? Princess Street Gardens Bandstand in Edinburgh to 8,000 people with my grandparents on a sofa on the stage with a pot of tea...
Have you played in the Gulf before? No, I have never even visited, but have been curious to go for a long time!
What do expect from a Bahraini audience? It’s going to be quite something, I know they like to dance and no doubt party but I have a feeling they know good music when they hear it. We’ll no doubt have a bit of a sing song, I know we got some die-hard fans out there so hoping very much to meet up with them. You were born in Scotland, spent the past few years in Berlin and have until recently been based in Powys, Wales. Where’s home? I have been living in London, across the street from the British Foreign Secretary David Milliband, who went to school near my school too, in Primrose Hill. That was during the summer, very nice indeed. I am in California now because I hate UK winters, working from here. I was in Wales last winter chopping wood everyday and cooking on a wood burning stove, so this makes a welcome change. I can function here!
What is the one thing you want to be remembered for? My ideals and principles. Finley Quaye will be headlining Bud Music... Live! at Coral Beach Club starting from 2pm on Thursday December 17 in celebration of Bahrain’s National Day. Other acts include The Legends of Ska, Easy Star All Stars and Jacsharp. Tickets are FREE! For more information call 17 312 700.