Q and A with Jacques Villeneuve Speaking to his official website, Jacques Villeneuve confirmed that he is about to release his debut album, Private Paradise and explained his motivation and the process behind putting it all together…
Jacques, tell us a bit about where this album came from...
Well, it came from loving music to start with and you can't get into music or making an album if you don't love music. Well, some people do but it always comes out in the end. I bought a guitar in '96 when I started racing in Formula One, and started writing some songs. Finally last year I decided to rent a studio and to record them properly and professionally to see how they would sound and then of course the goal was to release it. The only way you can do something properly and get the right people involved is if it is ultimately going to be released.
This isn't just a passing interest - you buy thousands of CDs and you really know your music. Explain a little bit about that and also about the challenge of becoming as good at music as you were at motorsport...
I am stupidly passionate about music, it has become a bit of drug. I buy tons of CDs - and some of them are not that good, I spend days listening to each and every one of them, putting notes on every song to know which songs are good and which songs are bad so that when you do your little MP3 collection you know which songs to put on and so on. It makes my wife crazy, but you know it's cheaper than buying watches or stuff like that! It's not a passing interest, you either love music or you don't, and if you do then it remains.
My career has been racing and I don't plan on music being a career, because a career brings a lot of obligations and a lot of stuff that you don't actually want to do. You kind of have to be slightly politically correct, you have to bend over backwards to please people here and there, and other stuff that you don't want to do. So the plan is to keep it as a professional hobby! If I can reimburse my investment into recording the album, and buying the equipment from the studio then that would be good enough. Of course, the more sales, the happier I will be. The more you put your soul, time and effort into a project, the more you want it to be kind of successful.
How did the release of the first single go and how have things gone so far?
We released the first single at the Canadian Grand Prix last year. It was a French-Canadian song called 'Accepterais-tu?' - not a song I wrote. It wasn't a full release, we had it for sale in Newtown, my restaurant, and on iTunes, because I'd been talking about releasing the album, we needed something out for the Grand Prix and I was hoping it would accelerate the launch of album. It was very well received and so I was quite happy.
It all happened extremely fast. It was a bit of a surprise to see how slow the music industry moves compared to racing and so we kind of made everyone work faster than they were used to, which was kind of fun and a bit of stress! In the winter I was so busy with racing and focusing on the coming of my child that I put the album project on the side-burner for a while. It was completed, but I need to look at things like the distribution and the less fun parts of it, so we decided to wait until the baby was born to get into it again. We will have another single out soon but the big news is that the album will be out on the 19th of February.
Can you give us some details of the album?
The album is called Private Paradise and it has 13 songs on it, four in French and nine in English. It's coming out on the 19th February in Montreal. We will do the release at my restaurant Newtown. I wrote six tracks on the album, and another track was co-written with my sister Melanie. That one is a song about our dad - she started to write it after his death in the early '80s and then I finished it a few years ago.
That's a very special moment for us on the album, and it's the only personal song on there. The other half of album is songs from friends and people that I like that I thought should be out there. Actually, when I heard the demos I hid them so nobody would get their hands on them! There's also a cover on there. I always wanted to do a cover of a great song that comes out that people haven't heard much and I think it deserves to be heard, so we chose an easy one to start with!
Then there is a French-Canadian song written by another artist. There are a few duets, one with my sister Melanie, and two others with two young French-Canadian artists called Ely and Emilie Vay. I also got my little 14-year-old sister Jessica to sing a small part on one of the songs.
There were a couple of really special moments making the album. The first thing is that over the years, partly because of the 24hr charity ski race in Villars, I became friendly with Steve Smith from Dirty Vegas. When I got in the studio he was so excited that I was recording this album that he quickly jumped on a train to Paris where we were recording and helped us out with backing vocals, instruments and basically any ideas that we had. He's got a great talent and it was a big help.
The other things was a really special moment when we were recording. We went to England and recorded something with the Tenebrae Church Choir. My producer Fred and I were sitting in the church with tears in our eyes - it was an amazing moment and very moving.
You performed some tracks from the album at the 24hrs of Villars, is performing enjoyable or just part of the process?
I didn't get into music for the live performances. I really like writing and then working in studio and seeing how a song can come to life, and performing comes with the music. But I'm not doing a lot of it, mostly for charity and the launch of album and things like that. I'm not a singer and I don't have the training, so it just has to remain fun, like a jam session. I don't really get nervous when I get on stage because not being a singer allows me to make mistakes!
Tell us about your life over the last six months, it's changed dramatically hasn't it?
The only thing that has mattered these last months is the birth of my son, Jules, and taking care of him and my wife. Nothing else was important and there hasn't been time to do anything else. Everyone told me how time consuming a baby was and I didn't believe them, and everyone also told me how great it was, and it's even greater than I could ever have imagined.
What are the highlights of lowlights of fatherhood according to Jacques Villeneuve?
It's amazing how much love a little thing can give you. The tiniest thing like the first time you get a little smile or he lifts his hand or grabs your finger, it's like nothing else exists in the world. You see other people do that when you don't have children and you're like 'give me a break', but once you step into it yourself, your life changes and your priorities change. You live only to make sure that your son has a future and that everything is perfect.
Family has always been important to me and I wanted to build my own family, so making sure that my wife and baby are well has become the priority. The bad bit is the lack of sleep! If you want to be present and a part of the baby's life, you can give up on your ten hours of sleep a night - when you get four you're quite happy! You quickly find out that you can get rested in a short period of time, and when you get five minutes you close your eyes to get that rest!
Do you sing the album songs to Jules?
I'm actually embarrassed singing along like that in front of my wife so I don't do that!