Born in Vancouver in 1970 but connected to Italy by a privileged relationship, Bocephus King, whose real name is Jamie Perry, is an eclectic character who deserves to be discovered. In February 2020, when the Covid-19 pandemic broke out, the Canadian singer-songwriter was touring Italy and, after the first lockdown, he came back again for a summer tour. The following summer he returned to his beloved country for a few gigs to meet his fans and to perform the songs from his latest album, The Infinite and the Autogrill vol.1. Recently, Bocephus has also taken part in a project called “Musica Nuova in Cucina” (New Music in the Kitchen), a book and CD in which 15 musicians talk about their relationship with food and cookery and provide their favourite recipe. In it he remembers the first time he had dinner at Andrea Parodi’s house was delighted when he ate Penne with tomato sauce. “The ceremonies around food and music in Italy are, by far, my favourite kind of religion” he stated. (link to the book review: https://marynowhere.com/2021/10/04/soul-kitchen/ )We have had the privilege of interviewing him and from his words, as well as it happens when you listen to his songs and performances, we got the feeling of being in front of a true artist, touched by divine grace, who observes his own and others’ existence with wisdom and detachment, and who is deeply in love with life… and with Italy.
Photo credit: Lorenzo Chiesa
Hello Jamie, and welcome to Art Over Covers. You have been in love with Italy for more than 20 years, since the first time you visited it. Why is this country such a special place to you?
I feel really quite at home in Italy. Obviously Italian food, history, art, architecture and atmosphere capture the hearts and minds of all who visit this country, but for me some of my time here feels destined, as if some part of me had always been always here. I have inherited so many incredible Italian traits, especially the most beautiful traditions around the ceremony of eating together, and I have brought them to the people I know and love in Canada and elsewhere, and I have watched them grow like a garden. My Italian friends are like family to me, and I feel incredibly blessed to have been able to spend so much time here. Italy is a place of living magic. The land itself speaks directly to the soul.
You were touring Italy when the epidemic started two years ago. How did you feel?
I arrived in Italy as the whole situation was beginning and realized that I was going to be in the middle of it. Like in every dire situation, we all have choices. I chose to remain as calm as possible and to investigate every possible source of information, to understand for my own satisfaction what was happening and how to navigate the circumstances. I was in 8 airports in 5 countries as the storm, that the virus was gradually becoming, moved with abandon. I felt as I always feel…. life is fragile. Life is short. Fear eats your soul. So I stayed grateful for all that was still good and the other beautiful souls (Max, Alex, Angie) who continued to tour with me in good spirits as all hell broke loose, until we had to stop touring for some months.
Has the situation of emergency you have experienced in the last two years influenced your point of view about life as an artist?
As an artist who tours and lives a troubadour life, I’m always in the spaces in between others’ realities. Artists often live on little or nothing, except grace. When fear enters everyone’s world in such a way… fear of dying, fear of losing everything etc… I’m already existing in a place where faith is my only possibility as opposed to fear. I keep on believing that the way the story goes is the way the story goes. Whatever happens, I can only control my own reaction. I breathe, I sing, I help whoever comes into my path that needs help. Art is imagination, invention of possibilities. When it’s dark, do not look into the darkness… when you are in the dark, keep looking for the stars.
The cover of your last album “The Infinite and the Autogrill vol. 1” is a tribute to Italy, to your favourite singers and artists. It includes portraits and references to musicians like Fabrizio De André, Ivan Graziani, Bobo Rondelli, Francesco Guccini, Ennio Morricone and many others (you can read the review of the artwork here: https://www.artovercovers.com/2020/08/06/una-finestra-sul-mondo-di-bocephus-king-the-infinite-and-the-autogrill/) How important is the album cover for the success of a record, in your opinion?
Nowadays an album cover usually is seen as a small icon on someone’s phone screen. Maybe it is not as important as it once was. Having said that, I think that it is still important, but mostly in terms of marketing and image. It also does have an importance in itself. I still, of course, look closely at something I think is interesting or beautiful, because I imagine the same art will be present in the songs.
Apart from the cover of “The Infinite”, is there another of your album covers that is particularly significant to you?
The album “The Illusion Of Permanence“ cover is a picture of Shiva. The title of the album, the heart of the songs and the portrait of Shiva all work together. Shiva destroys the world in order to recreate it. Her image reminds us of the fact that permanence is an illusion, so we have to live now.Do you remember which was the first album that you bought, being attracted by its cover?
I spent many hours looking at the “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” album cover of Elton John. Actually, I spent much of my childhood looking at other people’s record and CD collections, but I’m not sure I bought something specifically for its album art.Is there an album cover of another artist you strongly appreciate?
Too many but, some I truly love are: anything on the Blue Note label; “American Beauty” by Grateful Dead; “Chicken Skin Music” by Ry Cooder; “Undercover” by the Rolling Stones; “Achtung Baby” by U2; “Time Out Of Mind” by Bob Dylan; “The Hissing Of Summer Lawns” by Joni Mitchell; “Anime Salve” by Fabrizio De André and, finally, “Post” by Björk (read the review of the artwork here: https://www.artovercovers.com/2019/10/10/la-geisha-techno-immersa-tra-le-luci-di-piccadilly-circus-bjork-post/)What are your plans for the future?
To be happy and have as much fun as possible until I die and then come back and do it again.
Deep thoughts, full of spirituality and wisdom, but also infinite love for everything that existence can give us: this is the man and the artist Bocephus King. We are proud of having the privilege of interviewing him. Thank you so much, Jamie.