JAN WERNER: I AM WHAT I AM (2002)
A lot of people have had a lot to say about Jan Werner Danielsen at some point. A lot has been written a lot about him, but the man himself has started to not give a fuck what people think. He knows who he is.
I don't think I'm the only one in this country who's been wondering about where the rumours around Jan Werner as the new vocalist in Queen came from, and more importantly: Are they true?
- These Queen rumours came before I knew anything about them. I was on vacation in Gran Canaria to do a show with Dissimilis, and all of a sudden I was called by a journalist in VG who said ‘It's so great that you're going to be in Queen!’ and I didn't understand anything.
What had happened was that Brian May, guitarist and the leader of Queen, was in Stockholm when Five released 'We Will Rock You'. He had been watching TV in his hotel room when Werner was singing on 'Boomerang'.
- Brian May then called my management and asked who I was and if I would be interested in auditioning. I knew nothing of this until I got home and when I did, it had already been written about in VG. People came up to me and congratulated me for being a part of Queen, and I went, ‘Yeah, right!’ but understood where it all came from when I was told Brian had called.
The only thing that's really happened is that he's been in London and sung to Brian May, and that Mr. May liked what he heard.
- To begin with I was meant to do a role in the new musical called 'We Will Rock You' in London, but I couldn't do that, as I already had something going on with a show in Toensberg all summer".
For a while there was a rumour that Robbie Williams was going to be the new front man in the group, but when that started circulating, Werner was told immediately that it wasn't true.
- They called me directly when there were rumours about Robbie Williams, and denied them. If they ever do a new tour or a record, I'm a possible candidate. This hasn't been something that I've wanted to brag about, I didn't want it to look like I was being a gold digger while the rumours were going on and thought it was going to be this big deal. I've never thought I was going to be a singer in Queen, but there has been direct contact between me and them, they have heard me sing and that makes me really proud. They don't have any current plans to do an album, so well see if I’m contacted again if they do something in the future.
Is this something you'd like to do?
He looks at me as if I asked something as trivial as to whether or not a wheel is really round or not.
- Yes, of course, if they want to do it, yeah! My God! I've been a huge fan of Freddie Mercury since I was ten, so of course I would. But I'd never go around thinking I would, and it annoys me a little that I've been a celebrity in Norway for so many years, and people think that this Queen thing is something I think is definitely going to happen.
- I'm just unbelievably thankful for the trust and for being asked in the first place. Freddie Mercury is, after all, one of the best singers the world has ever had, and I'm also aware of that even though people think I've had an extra part time job or something. It’s just so silly, because people think I think of this as something that happens every day.
This summer he, Corey Conradi, Benedicte Adrian and Lisa Stokke do a show that contains musicals people have seen before and are familiar with – The classics in Toensberg. We can expect to see scenes from Phantom of the Opera, Mamma Mia, Les Miserables, Jesus Christ Superstar, Miss Saigon and Chess amongst others. The show will go on for approximately two hours.
- I saw the last performance of the show today, and as I'm also a director in addition to being a part of the show, I think it'll be a good concept. It’s a big stage, big orchestra, big choir, lots of musicians from Toensberg, Vestfold, Oestfold and the surrounding areas. Corey is an amazing guy, everybody knows what Benedicte stands for when it comes to musicals and Lisa appeared in Mamma Mia! in London.
The idea came from Jan and Haldor Legereid. They wanted to do something together, so they did a musical potpourri in Tromsoe where they sold almost 19,000 tickets in a week. Jan was also supposed to have the lead role in Les Miserables that will come to Norway later on this autumn, but at that time he will still be doing his own thing.
- I also want to see new sides of producing things. I've been singing for many years, but to go into it with money and sponsor things, I haven't been able to afford until the past 2-3 years. To be able to control more what I want to do in a show, and knowing I've done a big part of it on my own is great. Lately I've wanted more and more to do something that comes from my own head, than what somebody else tells me to do.
He did a number of various types of songs, but why these particular songs?
- It's taken a lot of time to choose these songs, because I've been in a situation where all those who have believed in me and sponsored me for many years were here: the whole record company, the whole management, all those an artist has around him. All the time they've heard from others whether they think it’s good or bad, but never seen a whole live show that I've done all by myself.
- This has been the most expensive pleasure I've had for a long time, because I get no money back. I've invited about a hundred people and outside that, 250 people have bought a ticket, but that was the whole plan. The people will have a chance to see where I'm at now. The road from Talentiaden as a 16-year-old up till now when I'm 26 has been unbelievably long and full of prejudice and bullshit. People may think whatever they want, but today I've been on that stage as the person I am, and it was important to me to have the possibility to say it".
Personally I was left with an extremely good impression after a lot of jokes and self-effacing comments on stage.
- It's not that I haven't been able to laugh at things before, but I've always been so insecure about myself and just looked down and left. I've always had bad self-esteem, been afraid of making a fool of myself, being disgusting and stupid with long hair etc. I also realised that Michael Bolton was unpopular because of his long hair years ago, but that's the way I like waking up and seeing myself in the mirror every morning. That's the only basis I have to who I've been.
- I know I'm a good person, but I want to do myself down if someone says they like what I do, but on the other hand I know I can sing. It's taken me a really long time to understand that I'm really worth anything, if you know what I mean?
I understand completely.
- Personally when it comes to prejudice and things like that, now I just think 'It's ok that you have a lot of shit to say about me, but right now I'm grown up enough to understand that it's more your problem than mine'. The concert tonight was about telling people that I may look strange, I may behave in a strange manner, but I can get things out and that's the whole point.
Last, but not least, I'm interested to know a little about his upcoming album that will see the shops in October/November
- We've worked a lot with Andrea Bocelli things. Not his songs, but people around him and the same material - classical pieces, like "Air on the G-string", that we've put lyrics to. We've taken songs that people know in a classical setting and done them with a pop sound. So it will be a symphony-like album in a pop-ish way with lyrics. And some nice, cheesy ballads, he grins.
- I've had everything from fantastic to crap reviews on my albums, so now I just do what I want to do. This is really what I feel I know best: doing the big things that makes you shudder and cry a little, he says before he has to go meet the rest of the "specially invited" who yet haven't had the chance to greet him.