We were lucky enough yo catch up with ADAM BROOKES following the brilliant release of ‘Lonely Life’ (feat. Compa Cut). Read the full interview now!
Hi Adam, what is your songwriting process?
In good times it’s not unlike a sausage press. I take in everything happening to and around me, good & bad parts, let it process through, and out comes the sausage. The best sausages become demo ideas or memos; then, I start cranking them out in the studio to see what they might taste like.
Any finished song idea has usually gone through several different incarnations, different genres & arrangements and ends up in whatever category best suits it. If you try to force one thing to be something it’s not, it probably won’t work. I’ve only recently discovered that sometimes the secret sauce can, in fact, be another artist.
Tell us about your latest release, ‘Lonely Life’?
‘Lonely Life’ came together recently at a time when I was facing a lot of personal change, both expected and, at times, unwelcome. More or less, walking away from a decade with Dangermaker, seeing less of some friends, more meaningful interactions with a few others, and thinking about family and being a new father. It can be a very isolating change to go through.
Once Covid happened, that isolation was greatly magnified, and many songs I’ve been working on lately took on a whole new meaning to me. When I first began work on the track, it was a very new production process for me under different circumstances than songs I’ve worked on before. I was hired to produce some instrumental electronic music for The North Face to use, there were specific constraints I wasn’t really used to, and I had to deliver pieces in about a week. Very fast, deliberate songwriting.
After a few all-nighters, it turned out to be an eye-opening process out of my comfort zone, but something I’ve always been interested in doing, stemming from a longtime love of electronic music and film scores that has changed the way I approach my own songs now. I never planned on turning any of those ideas into actual songs as I was still active in Dangermaker at the time; none of those ideas would work there anyway, but some stuck with me, so I kept working at them for the hell of it.
‘Lonely Life’ is one of those ideas, very hip hop leaning from the start, so I kept it that way and asked my friend Cut if he was into doing a verse. The final track here is the result of taking all of this and properly producing it, which has been a huge learning experience, but I’ve had some time on my hands.
‘Lonely Life’ features Compa Cut; what sparked the collaboration?
Cut has been a friend for years; we used to work together at a design shop here in SF. I always knew he was making music, and he always knew I was, too; we’d joke about doing a song together, but our styles were so so different then. When I started working up these newer ideas, I ran a couple by him, and he was into it; he came over to try out some ideas, and it just clicked. Exactly what this song needed.
What’s the music scene like in San Francisco?
Interesting question. During Covid, we’ve mostly been physically isolated from each other, which has been a real blow to the family feeling that existed before. I’m grateful for virtual ‘festivals’, streams, collaborations and the like to keep us together; I feel as if a core group are really fighting to keep it alive. Venues are in danger of disappearing, which would be detrimental.
Pre-Covid, I would say there was a lot of camaraderie between artists in like genres; we have to stick together and support each other to survive these days. It’s a very expensive and difficult place to live at times and make art simply for the love of your art, so when we support each other, it means we can survive more than ever before. I hope to still see that camaraderie going forward.
Who are your musical influences?
That’s a big rabbit hole that goes on and on and on. I will say my biggest heroes are artists who manage to cross over genres successfully – David Bowie, Damon Albarn, The Clash, Prince, Daft Punk – they are few & far between but mean so much. I’m not saying I sound like any of those artists, but I greatly admire their work and conviction and aspire to reach that level as well.
What are your non-musical influences?
Space and time. Life, death & rebirth. ‘Normal’ people. Real people. Being anonymous and insignificant. Good design. Art. Seeing what technology has done to us. A certain time of day at dusk when it’s not quite dark yet, but all the city lights are on. Really hard rain walking home alone at midnight. A nice whiskey, a doobie & good company. Good potato chips. The guy sleeping on the street. Seeing my friends struggle forever and then finally start to make it. Wild animals are running around in the city. The crazy woman is yelling at no one outside my window sometimes. The death of my father. The birth of my son. My family. My love. My dogs. My real friends. Maybe you.
What do you think are the biggest obstacles for bands/artists today?
Time & money. And an objective ear. That’s really it. With that, you can do anything.
What advice would you give to other bands/artists starting out?
Learn all of the rules and then choose to ignore them or not. Don’t forget to have fun; everything shouldn’t be so serious all the time. I’ve made that mistake and been around others who have as well. But know when it’s time to get serious. You’re probably not the next ‘it’ band; forget that sh*t. Who cares. But as Brit Daniel told me, never underestimate the cool factor. Never lose sight of why you love music in the first place; that’s who you are. Remember your passion. Try to embrace failures and learn from them. Build on it and get better. Harder, better, faster, stronger, really listen to Daft Punk’s ‘Giorgio’ by Moroder; it’s a road map for the future of music if you’re ready to go there.
What are your hopes for the next two years?
I am dying to release a full-length solo LP; it’s almost done. It’s so different for me. I think it’s going to be good. I just need a little more time & a little more money.
FV Music Blog March 2021
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