This was Jamiroquai’s US debut. We first became familiar with them in the very early 90s when they released the “Too Young To Die” single on Acid Jazz. Very quickly, they were signed to a major deal on Sony in the UK. This was first artist we worked with from the “acid jazz” scene that really garnered major label interest. You had the Brand New Heavies before that, but this was huge – it was a massive, massive deal.
The album came out in the UK; it was a double album called Emergency On Planet Earth and it went straight to number one – #1 in Europe, #1 in Japan – massive. Keep in mind that before this all happened, the type of music we were all promoting was underground and not mainstream at all – but this was total mainstream.
With that said, it was then time for Jamiroquai to come to the US. Leading up to the show, the band came out to the states a few times to do bits of promo, and each time they’d come to the club and hang out with us; we got to get to know the guys pretty well.
When it came time for the US debut, we were the people to speak to. Jamiroquai’s agent was Cara Lewis; She was also the agent for people like Tribe Called Quest, Brand New Heavies, and Gangstarr – so I knew Cara very well. At the time, we were doing Giant Step at the Supper Club, which held about 1000 people – it felt like the obvious venue for the show.
The show was part of our CMJ marathon, so the night before we’d done a show with Groove Collective and Ronny Jordan at SOBs. For the Jamiroquai show, the record company bought a lot of the tickets; there was huge hype around the show and I remember everyone was trying to get in. There was just a lot of anticipation about how the band was going to do in the US given how big they’d made it in Europe.
We had Gilles Peterson as the DJ who also happened to be one of the founders of the Acid Jazz record label, and then split off to set up Talking Loud. It was quite cool to have these two British heavyweights on the bill.
It was a great show, really really good show – definitely measured up to all the hype. They had their original drummer, original guitar player – it was the first version of the band. It wasn’t until the second show we did that they got their fuller band together. This was a big deal, though – one of the biggest things we’d been a part of at the time.
Also, looking back: I think Columbia were ultimately the wrong label for them in the US at the time – they were very “hits” and radio driven – and this was not a radio band. This was a band that really needed to go out on the road and tour and connect with fans in order to grow.
And although Jamiroquai were very popular within our community, it took until the third album, Traveling Without Moving (which included “Virtual Insanity”) and also a change of label for the band to really take root and properly break in the US.
All said, great memories and we are proud to have been part of it all.