One of the great vocalists of his time and a master of avant-garde pop, Rufus Wainwright can do nothing but gush in wonder and ponder in thought as to his past and his future.
“It’s been tremendous,” he begins of his career these last two decades. “Whether it’s LA or New York or what lies in between, there’s a general sigh of, not relief, but belief!
“I made a lot of sacrifices at the outset of my career to really focus on the music and not be so concerned about what was going on in the schoolyard around me, and it seems to have paid off.”
Soon to make landfall in Australia, for Rufus this world tour is as much an opportunity for reflection as it is celebration. “It’s a combination of several factors, whether spiritual or physical, a timely fashion concept,” he says.
“I do feel in this day and age we’re not in the most golden era of album making. It’s mostly about singles, and fashion [in] sound and so forth, not really the product of a record.
“I think to bring back my first two albums is also a nice way to remind people of that concept that I’m still very much dedicated to. I finished my new record, which will be released in a year, so this is kind of a runway for that next big, fashion show.”
It’s an interesting perspective Rufus has on today’s music market, particularly as he released a single, ‘Sword Of Damocles’, last year.
Was he prompted by the pick-and-choose climate to do so? “I think on one hand it’s important to stand up for your beliefs and convictions in terms of artistic products and be more old-school and make records and work in studios with live musicians,” Rufus reasons.
“I’m very into that. But on the other hand I think it’s important to evolve and be in touch with the systems of the now.
“I didn’t want future gaps to exist between putting out the 20th anniversary celebration and then my next record – I wanted people to be aware I am still engaged in the present time, so we put out ‘Sword Of Damocles’ to offset some of the sentimentality, shall we say.”
Despite being such a naturally colourful character, both on and off stage, and having an abundance of imagination when it comes to the theatrics of his music, Rufus is firm he hasn’t found it difficult to adapt to the changing tides in the music industry.
He’s spent many years adapting, juggling, and working out the best method for his madness. “I’ve always been really lucky because I can get out there alone and play the piano, sing a song, and I’m pretty much guaranteed an audience anywhere I go – it’s not thousands of people, but it’s certainly enough to buy me dinner.
“I know how to boil it down to the essentials – some people I know who had great success, but some ways didn’t translate to it being a working musician. I know how to survive during lean times.
“I’m very thankful for this path I took, for many reasons, but most notably, it’s a job like any other. I got a job. A job I love and a job that brings joy to the world. You can’t top that.”
Rufus Wainwright 2019 Tour Dates
Fri 22 Feb - Adelaide Festival CentreSat 23 Feb - Melbourne ZooMon 25 Feb - Melbourne Recital HallTue 26 Feb - Enmore Theatre (Sydney)Thu 28 Feb - Canberra Theatre Centre