Jamie Cullum, The Eighty Eight
This morning we join singer/pianist Jamie Cullum to find out about his week; not because the Journal is taking a new turn towards music coverage but because he is a keen magazine fan and has the rather fine second issue of his own magazine, The Eighty Eight, out now.
Where are you today?
I am sitting in my studio in the garden at home. Facing the wall where all my records, books and magazines are.
What can you see from the window?
Are you a morning or evening person?
This is something I have been unable to choose for some time. I have two young children who are definitely morning people! Also - my main job as a musician requires me to be an evening person! Out of choice? I would be an evening person, there is still romance to me about late nights soaking up inspiration for projects and making them happen. I’m probably remembering my life pre- responsibility here!
What was the first magazine you remember enjoying?
I was always a fan of the physical format of both the magazine and the comic book. As a child and as an adult I devoured the more bleak and interesting comics, from Sandman to Watchmen and Judge Dredd. But I was a magazine freak too. All kinds from films to computer games.
But what made me fall in love with the possibilities of a magazine was Straight No Chaser. It was jazz (ish), black and electronic music magazine - placed squarely in the musical zone I was interested in. Crucially though it’s overall design concept, overseen by Ian ‘Swifty’ Swift gave it a feel unlike any other magazine I could pick up at the newsagents. The copies I have still feel like works of art.
What’s your favourite magazine this morning?
If I had to choose - Delayed Gratification. It has a unique approach in every sense - editorially and design wise. I devour it from cover to cover.
And your favourite track?
Atomic Bomb by William Onyeabor. A Nigerian Musical maverick from the late 70s and early 80s.
Why the name The Eighty Eight?
It seemed like a snappy title and looked great written down. I am continually fascinated by how certain words look when they are written down. Part of my university degree was in Typography where I was able to indulge this further. There are eighty eight keys on a piano too - so I think you can see the links!
The publication started life as a tour programme, but issue two is a full-blown magazine. What drew you to publish a magazine?
Not so much a tour programme, more like tour ‘merch’ I guess. It was however always meant to be a proper, standalone magazine that I made, that I happened to sell at gigs. My manager pleaded with me to make it more directly appealing to my fans but it was only ever meant to have a gentle link to me as a musician.
It was a chance for me to indulge a cornucopia of passions - design, writing, stories, comics, paper stock, printing, fonts and magazines themselves. I love to write myself, I am married to a writer, my best friend is a playwright, and between as all, we know a lot of good people. Also I happened to have grown up with two people who have had long careers in the industry. We pooled our resources and made something for the pure joy of making it. People really responded to it and it became clear it had to be something more than a one off. It is an utter joy to put it together.
Are you very hands on with the choice of content and visual approach?
Yes, at every stage. There is no point otherwise! I have great faith in the designer Kate Monument (above) whom I have known since school and luckily we share similar tastes. But I also wanted her to do things that she would not normally do for a client and really experiment. Content wise, we sat down as a team and I scoured my notebooks of writers I liked, people I knew, or wanted to know and we came up with a wish list of content. I am lucky to have got to know a few interesting people in my career as a musician and was able to get the musician Ben Folds to agree to an interview for the magazine which is now, not only a gorgeous, illustrated piece in magazine but something I can cross off my bucket list! He has been a hero of mine since I was 15.
What’s your favourite article in the issue?
The piece by Rosa Rankin-Gee about the bat. It is beautiful and laugh out loud funny.
Who, other than your fans, do you picture reading the magazine?
I truly believe anyone, who loves great, quirky writing, superb design and has a passion for beautiful objects will love this magazine. I am as proud of it as anything I have ever done.
What are you most looking forward to this week?
Going dancing with my wife on Friday!
What are you least looking forward to this week?
Taking out the bins
What will you be doing after this chat?
Picking up my youngest daughter from nursery.