Adem is currently touring his second solo album "Love and Other Planets" and we caught up with him at the West Yorkshire Playhouse where he was playing a headline slot as part of the Fuse Festival.
It's steamy and far from relaxing in the echoing confines of the West Yorkshire Playhouse's dressing room which isn't helping Adem feel any less tired. He's no-one to blame other than himself, opting to tour manage as well as play the gigs and do everything else besides. The small bed in the corner of the room continues to catch his eye and he apologies up front if he is short on witty quotes.
Congratulations on "Love and Other Planets". On first play it struck me as a more positive album than "Homesongs", do you think that's a fair assessment?
I think it is more up and more outwardly poised. It's kind of a hopeful record, all my music tends to be hopeful but actually with Love and Other Planets if you listen underneath it there is a slightly less happy ring to it. The basis of the record is hope but the problem with that is that although it's our greatest asset it's also our worst folly because instead of actually getting up and doing something about the problem we'll hope something else will sort us out, like some greater power or external force. I think that's great but it's also a bit pathetic. I think Homesongs was a sad record but at the end of each song there was always a little ray of light. I was aware when I was producing Love and Other Planets that I wanted to give it a wider open sound or wider vista.
The idea of it being a concept album might make people think of 70's prog.
Absolutely and I'm perfectly happy to challenge that and I'm perfectly proud to say it is a concept album. But then I think a lot of people's albums are about something. I don't think it is anything to be scared off. Especially when you say you are doing a concept album about space all those 70's prog ideas immediately spring to mind.
So where did the idea for basing the album on space come from and did it come quite early on?
I started writing songs and I noticed several themes were coming out. When I noticed I was talking about cosmic things I started to look back at some of my earlier work and I noticed the same themes speckled throughout them. Even on Homesongs you've got "These are your friends" which has the line "You are floating in space, you are cutting the chord". I noticed that throughout, this theme of looking at the night time sky and I think that is part of the atmosphere I seem to want to court.
So in your own words what are hypnagogic shapes?
Hypnagogic ah... you know when you rub your eyes and you see all those geometric shapes appear... that's hypnagogic.
Ah right, I now have another fact to bore people with.
It's going to be one of those questions I get on my website, like what is the twangy thing at the start of Statued?
[For reference it's an autoharp played by bouncing a pencil on the string - so now you know]
On the theme of "Statued", it is used in the film Dead Mans Shoes which is quite a brutal film. Was it a surprise to have it used in such a way?
Well they approached me and asked if they could use it. They had been using it in the edit room and said it was really perfect for what they wanted to do. So I asked to see the film first to make sure I wasn't adverse to it. I thought they used the music really well and that's the thing it doesn't matter what it is over as long as they use it well. I think they should be congratulated on just trying it on those sort of sequences.
Some people will know you more for your instrumental routes [Four Tet, Fridge] but now you are on your second album is the singing something you are more comfortable with?
Well I'm certainly better at it. I think I can call myself a singer now where as I couldn't at the start, as I was just someone who was singing. I think having toured for over 2 years and working on it a lot more, watching other people do it I feel a lot more comfortable. But equally I am working on a new Fridge album at the moment which is just as important to me.
In terms of the 2 projects, Fridge being part of a band and the solo work, what are the big differences in your mind?
Fridge is a post-rock band effectively and I think it's a pretty good one. I think the fact that there are 3 minds working on it who each have very strong ideas and concepts means it all adds up together really well. The ideas are all tempered by each other and sometimes when I am recording on my own it's quite lonely and you get the thing where you are thinking 'is that any good?' and it can take 10 days before you realise that it's rubbish. But when you are in the band someone can just say 'that's rubbish Adem don't waste your time' or the opposite and be really supportive.
I guess it can be nice to go back to that. The people you surround yourself with now in the band, are they people you've worked with before?
Yeah they're old friends and friends of friends and just up for a fantastic adventure. They are all multi-instrumentalists and all very talented and they all sing very well and of course have great tempers.
Throughout the two albums there are lots of organic sounds. How do they come about? Is it just a case of picking things up and giving them a try?
The one thing that is most important to all this is knowing what you want. If you can have your musical imagination working well then the rest follows. A lot of people say I need a rhythm track and therefore I must put drums on, so they get a kit and add a beat. Whereas I will try and think what sort of rhythm do I need. If I need a low end punch then what sort of thing makes that boom noise, yes a kick drum will do that but so will me hitting a pillow with a wooden spoon or close micing me tapping a balloon. Then you can build it up from there. It's just a case of not taking things for granted and just thinking what sound would be good. It can also be a case of walking down the street and hearing something really good and then trying to replicate it at home. Most importantly it's about knowing how not to record things and being prepared to break the rules.
When you take that out live, how do you go about translating what's on the record to the stage?
It's interesting because I start off with an idea of what everyone is going to play but because I surround myself with such great musicians it's good to get someone else saying why don't we try it this way or change it to this instrument. One thing I do when I play live is not replicate the album. There's nothing worse than seeing band play live and they play the album in order just like it is on CD. So what I want to do is play completely recognisable tracks but so that they sound completely different so you can get another view of what I'm saying.
Do you like touring then?
I do, it's very stressful but I love meeting people and seeing new places. We've had a great response on this tour and some lovely feedback.
So finally what's next for Adem?
Touring for a while, going to America, summer festivals, a bit of Europe and recording a new Fridge album in June which I'm very excited about. Then more adventures.
And any chance of a holiday?
Adem just smiles as if I'm speaking another language ... "at best a long break".
Adem's album "Love and Other Planets" is out now on the Domino record label.