Interview with Jules Knight, of crossover group Blake
PUBLISHED: 01:16 01 October 2011 | UPDATED: 20:05 20 February 2013
Jules Knight, who grew up in East Sussex, sings in classical boy band Blake. A university contemporary of Prince William and Kate Middleton, he performed with his band as part of the Royal Wedding coverage.
You grew up in East Sussex. Can you tell us about your childhood and where you spent it?
I was born in Hastings, and lived in Robertsbridge, near Battle. I went to Vinehall School down the road, until they realised I had a voice and recommended me to train as a Cathedral chorister, which meant moving schools to Pilgrims in Winchester. I have the fondest memories of long, hot summers in Robertsbridge, and I loved living in the idyllic countryside. When I later went to Eastbourne College, I lived between there and Battle, Seddlescombe, Hooe, Hawkhurst and Benenden. We took a while to decide where we wanted to live! As a result of all that moving about, I feel like I know the Sussex country lanes pretty well.
Do you often get back to Sussex? Are there any places you make a point of visiting when youre here?
I often go and stay in the Grand Hotel in Eastbourne, take walks up to Beachy Head and have dinner in the Hungry Monk. Revisiting Sussex is like coming home. Id like to think that I may move back when I have a family.
Youve been performing since childhood, winning a music scholarship to Eastbourne College. Can you tell us about your time there, and how it influenced your later career?
Id been singing at Winchester from the age of 7, and when I left, the natural progression for me was to get a music scholarship to my next school. Id already decided that I wanted to go to school in Sussex, and Eastbourne took me on as a music scholar. At Eastbourne College I discovered my passion for acting and really learnt how to perform rather than just sing. At Winchester I hadnt had the time or opportunity to be in plays or musicals, but that changed when I got to Eastbourne, and I started to think seriously about following my ambitions as a performer professionally. Most choristers actually dont go on to pursue their singing professionally and I hadnt considered it either until I got to Eastbourne. It was a good school and they allowed me to do my thing.
As a band, youve very successfully fused the worlds of classical and popular music. Whats on your own iPod?
I have a very eclectic taste in music; everything from Faur to Fleetwood Mac. Dire Straits are my favourite band. Im a lover of Eighties music.
As a band youve harnessed social media in your rise to fame. Can you tell us about your Facebook reunion and the subsequent formation of the band?
Ollie and I used to sing together when we were 8. We stayed in touch over the years and after Id left the Central School of Speech and Drama we put the group together using Facebook to find the other two. Wed sent out messages and posted on group pages, and eventually found two others who were keen. We met up a few days later at the Guildhall School of Music and had our first rehearsal. Two days later we signed a 1m record deal with Universal. It seems we knocked on their door at the right time.
Do you have a dream musical collaborator? Have you met any of your musical heroes?
Id like to sing with [Michael] Bubl. Hes got a great voice. I could definitely see a Beach Boys/Blake collaboration working too! Shirley Bassey has been a great friend to us and shes just incredible. A living legend. We sang at her 70th birthday party and that was quite a night.
What has been your proudest professional achievement to date?
Winning the Brit award was a definite highlight. Its nice to have one of those. I actually think our fourth album, which we are making right now, is our best musical achievement yet. Its out early 2012.
Youre playing two dates in Sussex this October. What are you most looking forward to about playing in your home county?
Its great to return to the place where you spent your young life. I have the best memories of my life in Sussex. As a family, we had some amazing times. I think it was where we were happiest. To return to Sussex to perform is certainly a homecoming for me.
You performed your song All of Me as part of NBCs Royal Wedding coverage. As a university contemporary of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, can you give us your impressions of the day? How did it feel to be part of the celebrations?
It was very sweet to see two old Uni friends getting hitched. It felt very romantic actually. They are very much in love and we were all incredibly happy for them. It was great to be asked to sing our song. I think as an artist part of our job is to capture the feeling of any given moment in time. We felt that the song helped people celebrate what was a very joyful occasion.
What can audiences expect from the live show? Do Sussex audiences differ from those elsewhere?
Sussex audiences tend to be very friendly and vocal which we love. The show is very light-hearted at some points and quite emotional at others. Its powerful, uplifting music and we have a lot of fun larking around on stage. Id recommend people come and see it. But then I would, wouldnt I?!
An Evening With Blake comes to Eastbourne Congress Theatre on 12 October and Clair Hall, Haywards Heath, on 14 October