Heart to heart

Round & About

Rufus Wainwright, musician, dad and all-round superstar, chats to Rachel Wakefield ahead of his UK & world tour

Rufus Wainwright has sung jazz with Robbie Williams; crooned ballads with George Michael; created dance music with Mark Ronson; sung Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah to The Queen, and, if further approval were needed, Elton John has stated: “He’s the greatest songwriter on this planet.”

Rufus has also been gifted with a rich musical heritage: he’s the son of acclaimed folk singers Loudon Wainwright III and Kate McGarrigle, and is brother to musicians Martha Wainwright, Lucy Wainwright Roche and Sloan Wainwright.

So, you might expect this American-Canadian singer-songwriter to be somewhat aloof. He’s not. “Oh, I’m the biggest prima donna when it comes to the recording studio,” he exclaims, but on stage, you’re only as good as your last performance. I’m excited to be coming to the UK,” “I have a special core fanbase here who follow me from concert to concert. It’s all very innocent.”

Rufus has recorded eight albums of original music and numerous film soundtracks. His work ranges from melody-driven pop to highbrow opera to piano torch songs to super eccentric stuff, even setting Shakespeare sonnets to music. “Oh, I frustrate! Marketing can’t put me in a box!” laughs Rufus, who is 44. “At my age, I’m no longer flavour of the month. And besides, when I try and pose for pubicity shots, well it’s a disaster: what I think is sexy and sultry, I often look angry and confused.”

Rufus is very driven. “With music, it’s the melodies that remain, not the personalities,” he states. “You listen to hundred-year-old operas, and they are fresh and present. This is my aim. Never to be defined by the media , always the music. I believe this has been my saving grace. My voice is too unique and my musical sensibilities are too sophisticated to capture. So, my ability to evade capture, has captured my audience’s loyalty.”

For his All The Poses, 20th Anniversary Tour, Rufus has picked 11 dates for the UK. With just a handful of dates, you do have to wonder if there is an ulterior motive to the choice of venues, which begin at Basingstoke’s The Anvil moving to Kenwood house, London, with a few smaller venues, including Whitley Bay and Bexhill-on-Sea.

The short visit may have something to do with being a dad to his seven-year-old daughter, Viva, whom he co-parents with childhood friend Lorca, the daughter of Leonard Cohen. But, Rufus reveals: “I’m writing an opera about Britain, which will be published in October, it’s got Romans and Celtics and that’s all I can tell.” He gushingly adds: “I love the nomadic differences with each town here. The mystical qualities of the landscape awestruck me as a child, touring with my father. I get lost in ancient dreams at every turn.”

Please visit www.rufuswainwright.com