In Conversation with Engelbert HumperdinkMusic
The legendary pop star will perform at the DoubleTree by Hilton Jakarta Diponegoro in March. Ranjit Jose spoke to him about trends in pop music and some of his inspirations.
As with everything else in the world, pop music has changed over the years. What are your thoughts on the current incarnation of the genre?
It seemed that it used to be such a wide variety on mainstream radio back in my day. Today you have to jump from station to station or create your own playlist to get the same experience.
I like the fact that you can discover any type of music with a quick search on the internet. It opens you up to music you might not have discovered but I still miss the touch of a needle on a vinyl. There is nothing like putting a great LP on and just listening without doing anything else but soaking it in.
What are you most excited about with regard to your upcoming performance in Jakarta?
I always seem to have a wonderful reception in Jakarta. The audience has a great appreciation for lush arrangements and songs that they can sing to. I am just putting my show together now so I have your audiences in mind while I pick some classic songs that may not have been heard in a while and give them a fresh arrangement while still bringing back memories.
I have some wonderful material from my last two CDs that I will want to share with you too.
Over 52 years of music. I am so lucky to have a great many choices of songs from wonderful writers. It can be hard to choose just a few when putting my set list together. So, you can expect a full show with many musical colours.
What keeps you going given all the changes in the industry today.
A loyal fan base who travel all over to come and spend two hours with me, many times a year. I also get antsy in my easy chair if I stay home too long. Also, technology has opened up so many new listeners for me. For instance, 100,00 new listeners on Spotify recently. And I’ve had some music placed in movies and TV shows. My latest CD, “The Man I Want to Be” brings to life a great deal of my life through new songs and some contemporary songs done with my stamp but in a very NOW sound.
If you could curate a selection of songs for the modern generation of pop fans, what would you choose?
If you mean a selection of songs by other artists, I’d probably go way back and let the art of letting a song lyric breath and linger and sink in. There is a difference between getting lost in the words and getting lost because so many words.
“When I fall in Love” by Nat King Cole
“All by Myself” by Eric Carmen
“I can’t stop loving you” by Ray Charles
“Sweetheart” which the BeeGees wrote and I recorded. But anything by them is timeless.
“For all we know” by Karen Carpenter. Anything by the Carpenters. If velvet had a sound it would be her voice.
Who are you inspired by?
I’m inspired by creative people who know how to write for themselves and for others. I’m inspired by people who turn one career into many avenues.I’m inspired by people who know SHOW-BUSINESS. Smart and savvy but sensitive and creative. I admire and was inspired by Dean Martin. Plus, he was the first person to bring me to America and put my name on a billboard in Las Vegas. That was inspiring to a young man.
Los Angeles is your current home and you’ve made your work there, but describe the feeling of going back to your hometown of Leicester.
I just returned from my house in Leicester and the town where most of my immediate family still live. There is nothing like it. But it all breaks down to breaking bread with family. I love home cooked meals and I also love curry—Leicester knows how to make curry! I love a good home town brew and a good game of darts. I even like the weather! I love the sound of the morning radio and the DJ’s that have been on the air forever. I love the morning paper and reading my horoscope and doing the crossword. I love the fields of green and the old historic buildings and the Clock tower in the middle of town where I would meet my wife and stay for hours. (Back in the late 50’s)
Any favourite musical eras that you wish you could relive today?
Big Bands. I drive to a station that plays all that. Jimmy and Tommy Dorsey, all the greats.
I’d like to relive the 70’s and get the big writers that I have since met to write for me in that era. Jimmy Webb, Elton John, Kris Kristofferson.