Jules Knight interview

We speak to singer in classical vocal quartet Blake

Interview, Hot seat, The Knowledge

What are you doing in Dubai?
I’m here on holiday. A friend of mine works here and he gave me the keys to his apartment in Jumeirah 3 – I thought I’d come out here and enjoy some sun and some parties.

What have you been up to during your trip?
The nightlife scene here is very interesting. I went to Mahiki and met some friends – Lady Victoria Hervey and Nadine [Coyle] from Girls Aloud. It was a really good party. Also, The Walk at JBR is a sight to behold – it’s amazing to see all those sports cars. I had some sundowners at Nasimi, and I went to The Dubai Mall, which was incredible – the aquarium was so impressive. Dubai is a paradise for consumerism. Everything is here, everything you want; it’s a fun place.

How is your band, Blake, doing at the moment?
We’ll be five years old in April, and 2011 was the best year yet – we did 90 gigs across the globe in places we’ve never visited before. We have a new album coming out in the summer, and David Letterman has signed us to his label in the US.

Tell us about the album.
For the first time it’s all original material, and it’s very poppy and contemporary. Every classical element of what we do has gone. Singer Michael Bublé is taking some time off to have a baby, so we used his band and recorded it in three weeks in Peter Gabriel’s studio in Bath. It sounds like a mixture between the Bee Gees, Take That and Boyz 2 Men.

Aren’t you scared of alienating all your fans by ditching the classical element?
It’s a departure, and any jump or leap forward will always leave you thinking, ‘Is this the right thing to do?’ But you have to evolve, and that’s what we’ve done with this album.

You were the first group to be branded a ‘classical boy band’. Is this a tag you endorse?
If you say ‘vocal group’, people think you’re a barbershop quartet; we’re not an operatic group because we don’t sing any opera. When someone said ‘classical boy band’, it conjured up a certain image. We’re a man band now.

You were famously dropped by your record label, two albums into a five-album deal. Were you close to splitting?
Yes – that’s why Dominic [Tighe] left. It was a scary time. The record industry was beginning its slow decline and we were probably not the easiest people to deal with.
It took some time to decide to stay together, but we’ve shown now that we can do it alone.

It’s often said that Prince William is a fan of yours…
That’s all speculation. We met when we both studied history of art at St Andrews University in Edinburgh. We were good friends – I knew him and Katherine [Middleton] well – but I haven’t seen them for some time. I’m hoping they’ll come to one of our shows this year.
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