Saturday, 10 November 2012

Rufus Wainwright

Life has never been particularly easy for Rufus Wainwright. Having overcome drug addiction and a notoriously difficult relationship with his famous father, Loudon Wainwright, the songwriter suffered another devastating setback with the loss of his beloved mother to cancer in 2010.

Fastforward two years and the purveyor of melodramatic orchestral pop suddenly seems more settled than ever. His first child, Viva Katherine Wainwright Cohen was born to Lorca Cohen, the daughter of legendary songwriter Leonard. Named for Wainwright's mother Katherine McGarrigle, Rufus could only describe his newborn as “very, very beautiful”.

Just last August Wainwright also wed his long time partner, Jörn Weisbrodt, who he says will act as 'deputy dad' to baby Viva, at a ceremony in Montauk, New York. For this he thanks the recently re-elected President Obama, who oversaw the legalisation of gay marriage in New York during his first term.

“I'm really happy because you can't help but think about the election. I thought that Obama was a little weak on support on a lot of issues but he really came through for us in the end. I was very proud and excited to vote for him”.

A couple of years back it would have been hard to imagine Wainwright in settled in this kind of domestic bliss, and the Canadian-American singer admits he did not forsee it.

“Not quite as completely in terms of marriage, with a child and of course being without my Mom. It's a lot of adult at once. But it's been ok. I feel really supported by my family and my husband and also I've worked really hard on my career, so it's been good”.

At 38, Wainwright still has a sense that he is growing up but with recent events he has certainly turned a corner. Wedded bliss has allowed him to leave his problems behind and for once he feels settled.

“It's funny because I was very much under the impression that nothing would have changed, that that was for other people. But oddly enough, the day after the ceremony there was an immediate shift in my life and that was very interesting. It was more powerful than I expected it to be. But you can never be too satisfied with your lot so I wouldn't get too comfortable”.

If his recent nuptials weren't enough reason to celebrate, his recent (and rather aptly titled) album Out Of The Game was released to a wave of critical acclaim. His seventh studio album was produced by none other than Mark Ronson, who took to twitter immediately after its completion to declare it the best work of his career. Wainwright himself could not praise Ronson's contributions enough.

“It was amazing. He's one of the all round renaissance men of our era. Whether that's in terms of his music, his producing work or his fashion and you know, he's got killer charm. He's the real deal. It was so much fun to work with him and I now consider him a dear, dear friend. And thank God, because he's so handsome!”.

Unusually for Wainwright he took a step back on this album, recording rough demos and sending them to Ronson, who would work on them alone in his own time. It's a move he feels paid off for the two of them.

“Like anything in the world, the hardest thing to do is to let go. I think I've made enough records through the years that I was confident enough to sit back and let the other person do their job. That was just what I needed, without knowing it.
Also I think Mark was in a position where he wanted to prove himself but he also wanted to explore other ideas. So when he had to make an interesting little step he'd come back to me and we'd hammer it out. We're both in our prime, we're in our late thirties and this is what's happening. The world has it's own values but artistically I feel this is the best it could be”.

Rufus also enlisted in the help of a number of musical friends during the recording, including Wilco, Yeah Yeah Yeah's guitarist Nick Zinner and former Razorlight drummer Andy Burrows. They brought a somewhat unexpected quality that Wainwright was looking for.

“I really wanted to bring a certain... and I can say this because I'm gay... a certain manly, straight quality to my my work. A slightly tougher, slightly more heterosexual side. Less precious I guess. I have many precious jewels in my crown so I wanted something a little more down to earth. I think in the end I didn't totally lose my dramatic orchestral sense either, but it was nice to get a little grit in there”.

As Wainwright himself states, Out Of The Game is the most pop orientated record of his career. But it also one of his finest. It's unusual to think of making a pop album as a risky step, but it was one that he hadn't taken before.

“There were several reasons, one was that I hadn't really done that fully in my whole career and it was a good idea to give it a shot. There was a feeling that we'd tried everything else, lets try this now. Let's make a pop record, wow what a concept!”

“I'm still relatively presentable and kind of, ready to go out there and plaster my face all over brick walls and get into some tight pants. I still got it a little bit, I should flaunt it, 'cause I ain't gonna be around forever”.

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