JOSEPH ‘Amp’ Fiddler has a theory that conversations are the dynamic for change in our lives and I’m with him all the way.
How true this is when you’re speaking over the phone, I’m not so sure. Surely you need to be close enough to be able to see the whites of their eyes to really have a chance to know what’s going on in someone’s head?
It’s a shame not to meet the guy in person. Fiddler cuts a striking figure. Tall - well over six feet when you take into account his hair, which fluctuates between dreads and an impressive afro – distinguished, and a snappy dresser to boot, Amp resembles nothing so much as a latterday funky Malcolm X, stepping out to an afterhours jazz den in his wraparound shades, polo neck and leather raincoat.
But he’s in France, midway through a lengthy European tour, relaxing before tonight’s gig and I’m in the UK, midway through production day, not relaxing before the magazine goes to press. We’ll have to try our best.
Thinking about it, it’s unlikely I’d be able to see the whites of Fiddler’s eyes anyway one, he’s on tour so they’re probably a little red around the edges (“we’ve been having a lot of fun,” he drawls) and two, he’s rarely seen without sunglasses, even indoors.
Fiddler, however, has been in this game a lot longer than I have and he fields my questions like the seasoned pro he is, his rich, melifluous if, occasionally, a little croaky voice booming over the line from Lyon.
The tour is going well. A native of Detroit, Michigan, he “most definitely enjoys the European way of life” and only wishes the weather was a little better, “but it’s okay. I been having a great time.”
Roughly half of the people in his audiences have already heard his astonishingly assured debut solo album, Waltz Of A Ghetto Fly he estimates (well, he actually recorded his debut for a major label at the start of the Nineties, but it wasn’t a happy or rewarding experience); the other half haven’t but, “our show is very dynamic, so if people don’t get it by the middle of the show, they definitely get it by the end. But,” he adds with a chuckle, “most of them get it in the beginning.”
Old enough to say “record” when he means “CD”, young enough to know who Dizzee Rascal is (he recently bought Rascal’s album for his son Dorian), Fiddler is also polite enough not to mention it when I get the titles of his songs wrong or interrupt him, mid sentence. He doesn’t let things bother him. He’s playing a long game. He turned 46 last week but isn’t unduly perturbed: “The older the fiddle, the better the tune.”