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Think of legendary Australian band INXS and you think jazz right? No? They did release an album titled The Swing in 1984 and the title of their 1982 record Shabooh Shoobah sounds a little jazzy doesn’t it? Well vocal stylist and multi-instrumentalist Cam Giles has found a neat little connection and released an album called Cam Giles – A Jazz Tribute to INXS. Actually the INXS association is not as random as it sounds. Cam worked with the band during their Kick period and even recorded a yet to be released song with Michael Hutchence at the time. Cam is a massive fan of the band, a great jazz singer, hence the album idea.

Cam chats to Australian Musician’s Greg Phillips about A Jazz Tribute to INXS.

Cam Giles had met the INXS members at the peak of the band’s existence while he was working on his own music at Rhinoceros Studios in Oxford Street Sydney. INXS were there too working on their Kick album, which went on to become a global chart topper.
“I was doing some demos in down time,” Cam tells me, reflecting back on the period. “I was going in at ten o’clock at night and going through to dawn. They happened to be recording at the same time. The engineers there played us this stuff, saying the INXS guys recorded this the other day, have a listen. It was Need You Tonight and I just thought wow, it was amazing. I’d never heard a pop track so good. All of those guys were just so friendly. I was so young and they were so street wise and so worldly. They’d been on world tours and done so much. I had toured throughout Australia but I was only 22 and they had limos parked outside but they were so humble and so nice to me and happy to have me around showing me this gear and that. Michael was so wonderful to work with, such a nice guy. I was programming stuff on an old keyboard that had a sequencer in it and he’d sit down with me, we’d bash out the drums together. I remember singing some backing vocals with him in the studio and I was doing some ad libs on a track we’d mucked around with and he’d say yeah sounds good, I’ll come in and do some more with you.”

The track which Cam recorded with Michael is called Nail It Down, which he hopes to be able to release at some point in the future. It was created by Cam, his writing partner at the time Kirk Godfrey, and of course Michael Hutchence. The INXS synergy doesn’t stop there either. Cam also found himself in the UK at the height of INXS’ success at the band’s famous Wembley Arena concert in 1991.
“I went over to England on the whim of some friends at EMI, who said come over and do some writing and stuff,” says Cam. “I was there for about a year and then they came through with this big tour, so we went to the Wembley concert and it was amazing. I actually did a demo there in a studio called Air Oxford Circus, I think it has gone now. I did this demo in there and I think it was the same room that they mixed Kick in but that concert was amazing. It was just building and building. I think Hothouse Flowers were on and Debbie Harry and a few others but when they came on and played New Sensation, it just went mental.”

In Cam’s musical world, anything is possible. With an eclectic taste in music which has been influenced by everything from Bowie and Peter Gabriel to the Sex Pistols, Neil Diamond and Sinatra, his new album A Jazz Tribute to INXS makes perfect sense.
“Look, I have done all sorts of stuff,“ he tells me. “I have done pop when I was younger. I love big rock bands and especially INXS. They were just so young and happening. But I also liked Tony Bennett and Sinatra. Mum and dad use to play Sinatra all the time, Neil Diamond. My mum liked Gordon Lightfoot, I wasn’t into him. Over the last ten years or so I’ve really got into Bill Evans and Tony Bennett’s creations, those piano one on one things. It’s a difficult thing to do. I have done a few gigs like that with just me and a piano player and it is hard to sustain, you really have to know your shit. A couple of years ago I was playing at summer jazz festivals and doing all the classic stuff and thought, let’s mix this up a little. I used to muck around with singing Need You Tonight and it just fitted, so I did that and a couple of others and we decided to do a few more and it fell together like that.”

In regard to song selection, Cam was not as Laissez-faire and was careful to choose songs which were suited to the project.
“It’s a tricky one,” he explains. “Need You Tonight was just an instant winner for me but one of my first picks was Not Enough Time, which was produced by Mark Opitz. That was more later on in their career. Mostly they were from that ten year period, 87 to 97. The stuff before that was a bit too rocky to reinterpret. I mean I could do it but the ones I picked just fell together. We did try some other ones but we nailed it down to ten. In the end I picked my favourites really. I also liked the lyrical content of the ones I chose too, the way the sentiment in the song works.”

Once Cam had selected the songs to tackle for the album, he set about moulding the best possible versions he could create. With Never Tear Us Apart, he gives it quite a sombre vibe to begin with before breaking out into a more cheerful groove.
“I wanted it to be darker at the start,” he says of his version. “Those chords just fell together. I did have a beat behind it but as you say, I thought it would be nice to have a sombre mood behind it at the start. It’s a love song … about missing someone. I like it when it kicks in and gets going too. That was probably one of the trickiest ones to do. What do you do with it because the rock version has that string thing going all the time and I thought I would stay away from that but still have a nice introduction.”

New Sensation obviously has a completely different jazz feel but Giles still manages to maintain the song’s energy. “I’m so glad you like that, it’s one of my favourites,” he says. “I love doing that one. I love the bass line that we put into that and the drumming on that is incredible, the horns. It has a real energy to it, it’s like rock jazz!”

Beautiful Girl gets a Latin treatment. “A little bossa nova, that’s right! I happened to be working on another track at the time and had this great bossa nova track up and I thought, I’ll just pick up the bass and play a few lines and see if I can come up with something. That bass line just glued everything together and the chords just popped over the top of it no problems. With a couple of tracks I tried to keep the phrasing the way that Michael did them in a way. You could literally chop Michael’s vocal out and place it in for some of them, especially Beautiful Girl.”

As well as singing on the album, multi-instrumentalist Giles contributed the bass tracks too but brought in musician friends to lay down some other parts.
“I organised it all on a program and then I’d get the guys to come and jam with me, “He explains. “I played bass and some keys, did some strings arrangements and played piano on some of it, all the backing vocals, mixing and mastering. The bass is an old 60s Jazz bass, and then I have another modern one of those with noiseless pickups. I have an old Precision bass and I’ve got a Music Man. I just used the old Fenders on this record with flat wound strings. Brett Rosenberg and Daniel Robertson are playing piano. They’re very responsible for chordally helping me to get it right. I would get it up and running and I’d pick a day and say you guys come and help me and we’d try different inversions of stuff. Some of it was done on acoustic piano but most of it was through Keyscape, it’s a new digital piano done by the Spectrasonics guys, which is really, really good. It was recorded on Cubase, I’m a Cubase guy. I have been using it for so long, mainly for composing to picture. I have done a lot of that and I find it fantastic. I have Pro Tools as well. I have a big HDX system as well for mastering and stuff, so I use both really. With the microphones, over the last 3 or 4 years I’d done a few records and the stuff before this was more traditionally based jazz. I got onto Ben Sneesby and Beesneez. I used an Arabella Beesneez mic going through an ADL600 with some special old valves in it and I just love the sound of that. Anyone could sing through that and sound great. It’s an amazing microphone. I can’t thank those guys enough, the vocal sound we got was great. Australian made too!”

With the album out, Cam hopes to put together some shows and maybe embark on a tour up the east coast of Australia. He’s currently in the process of organising a launch show too.
“Yeah, we’d love to do some shows. We have a bit of a launch coming up on the 20th of October and we have Brett Rosenberg on piano, Lachlan Davidson will be there on horns and Ryan Menezes on drums. We’re still nailing down bass players yet. I can actually play bass and sing at the same time but I can’t perform the way I want to doing this, so I’ll get a really good bass player. I’d love to do a nice little club tour up to Sydney but I have some other things coming up. I am working on some new tracks and rebuilding my studio in the city and doing some more gigs but I’d like to focus on this for the next couple of months.”

Cam Giles – A Jazz Tribute to INXS is out now via Sony Music in all good music stores in Australia.

Visit Cam at and on Facebook at

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