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03 June 2023

Rufus Wainwright On Working With Chaka Khan

Rufus Wainwright
Press/Tony Hauser
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Rufus Wainwright has spoken about his new album, Folkocracy, in an interview with Variety.

Folkocracy is a star-studded album of folk music reinventions that sees Wainwright joined by a spectacular collection of friends, family members, and other special guest artists that also includes Brandi Carlile, David Byrne, John Legend, Sheryl Crow, Chaka Khan, Andrew Bird, ANOHNI, Susanna Hoffs, Van Dyke Parks, Madison Cunningham, and many more.

When asked how covering material is different to recording his own songs he replied, “They’re such different animals. I’m a three-headed monster, one being a composer who writes operas and I’m composing a requiem and so forth, so I’m more in the classical genre or the musical theater world. Then I have my work as a singer-songwriter, which is just about writing songs about my life and “the Wainright experience.” And then thirdly, I’m a singer who interprets all sorts of material and they’re very unique and they all kind of ignore each other and compete.”

When asked how much of his creativity comes from emulating his influences, Wainwright replied, “I’ve always been imitating people that I adore. And I actually feel that in a strange way, because I was so influenced by so many people and was always had my ear out to latch onto something, therefore made it sound like me. It was amalgamation of so many disparate musical movements, whether it was Kurt Weill who I’m singing now, or opera or my folk roots or what was going on at the time with Sonic Youth and Nirvana. I never discriminated between musical influences and that therefore, I think gave me my own proper sound because I was creating this Frankenstein of music.”

Wainwright went on to talk about his collaborators on Folkocracy, singing out one singer in particular he was thrilled to work with, “Certainly Chaka Khan. I’ve known her for a few years, but I’d never worked with her. So that was super exciting and completely heavenly. I’d always made the joke with her like, ‘Oh, Rufus and Chaka Khan back together again.’ And this was it actually happening. So that was fun… I’ve worked with Brandi [Carlile] a couple of times. That’s always a thrill.”

Folkocracy tracklisting:

1. Alone (Feat. Madison Cunningham)
2. Heading for Home (Feat. John Legend)
3. Twelve-Thirty (Young Girls Are Coming To The Canyon) (Feat. Susanna Hoffs, Chris Stills & Sheryl Crow)
4. Down in the Willow Garden (Feat. Brandi Carlile)
5. Shenandoah
6. Nacht und Träume
7. Harvest (Feat. Andrew Bird & Chris Stills)
8. Going to a Town (Feat. ANOHNI)
9. High on a Rocky Ledge (Feat. David Byrne)
10. Kaulana Na Pua (Feat. Nicole Scherzinger)
11. Hush Little Baby (Feat. Martha Wainwright & Lucy Wainwright Roche)
12. Black Gold (Feat. Van Dyke Parks)
13. Cotton Eyed Joe (Feat. Chaka Khan)
14. Arthur McBridge
15. Wild Mountain Thyme (Feat. Anna McGarrigle, Chaim Tannenbaum, Lily Lanken, Lucy Wainwright Roche, & Martha Wainwright)

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