Jamiroquai guitarist and funk legend visits ACM London

The Academy of Contemporary Music (ACM) recently welcomed Jamiroquai guitarist Rob Harris to its London campus for an exclusive masterclass. Covering his secrets to writing a killer guitar riff and lots of performances along the way, questions were welcomed throughout the exciting class.

Kicking off the session with a short introduction to his career, Rob soon picked up the guitar for a performance of Jamiroquai’s ‘Cloud 9’. He then went on to explain his process for writing guitar parts. Often asked to play in the ‘style of Jamiroquai’ when doing session work, Rob shared that the trick to writing a successful guitar line was to find a hook that doesn’t interfere with the vocal. He also told the students about the importance of layers in a recording as they really help to develop a song – adding that he’s even done this by simply scratching a pencil on his guitar strings. On his signature Jamiroquai sound, Rob shared that he achieves this by doubling up guitar parts an octave higher than the original. He also shared that the key to a good guitar riff was “keeping it simple”.

Moving on to the topic of practice routines, Rob revealed that he practiced for eight hours a day when he left school, and talked about the importance of practicing everything until it’s second nature reminding them of the need to keep their routines up – “as you’ll soon forget everything otherwise!”

After a performance of ‘Hot Property’, Rob discussed life in the recording studio as a working musician. A student asked Rob about nerves to which Rob replied that he used to be scared too, and that “you just have to remember that everyone makes mistakes from time to time.” Sharing that he takes a few different guitars to sessions to ensure the best sound, Rob urged the young guitarists to remember that gear isn’t the be all and end all of getting a great sound, and that it’s the way they play that really makes the difference. He then showed everyone his Kemper amp, saying that whilst analogue gear can be fun, most people can’t tell the difference, adding that he even recorded some of the Lego Batman soundtrack through it in his house – the producers were thrilled with the result and it was used on the film.

Before the session drew to a close, a student asked Rob to have a look at his home-made guitar. Rob was clearly impressed telling him it’s incredible before having a jam and playing a final song on the student’s creation.

The students left feeling inspired and eager to put what they had learnt into practice in their own work at ACM. Rob finished pleased to have passed on his knowledge to the talented ACM students and said “This is my first time here (ACM London) it looks really great, a nice bunch of students. It’s a great facility and a really exciting place to be.”

If you want to learn your craft from those that live and breathe the music industry every single day, book onto an ACM Open Day now: https://www.acm.ac.uk/open-days/

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