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Q&A with Adamski

Exclusive Interview by Karen Beishuizen

Adamski is best known for his 1989 worldwide hit “Killer” featuring singer Seal. The video won Best Video of The Year at the Brit Awards. He has a new EP out: Black Butterfly ft. Robert Owens. Check It Out this one too: Black Star Acid!lack Star Acid

KB: Did you always think you would end up making music?

Yes pretty much. I really wanted to be a musician from as young as I can remember. I was fascinated by glam rock when I was around 5. I was too lazy, and still am, to learn to play an instrument properly but punk rock showed me that that’s not necessary to make uplifting noise… now I’m not qualified or experienced to do anything else. I was a window cleaner briefly when I left school at 16, but I don’t like heights so that didn’t really work out.

KB: You formed your first band at age 11 and John Peel was a big help getting your music out there. Tell me the story.

I didn’t so much form a band as just coerced my 5-year-old brother to sing my ideas over me playing stolen riffs on a toy guitar recording onto a cheap mono cassette recorder in my bedroom. I called us ‘The Stupid Babies’ but really, I wanted to be in a proper punk band like my teenage older brother, so I sent a tape to the hippest independent label in Britain at the time (Fast Product Records) and, unbelievably, they sent me a contract which my nescient parents had to sign as I was only 11. I guess my music resonated with John Peel as he played it several times. I met him many years later and he was very friendly. God rest his sou.

I also met Siouxsie Sioux who most flatteringly told me she used to carry a copy in her handbag and harangue DJs to play it in clubs. I can’t imagine how anyone could dance to it though…I guess people weren’t so much into dancing in those days.

KB: When and how did you become Adamski?

I bought a piano with the proceeds of the Stupid Babies deal (which was £100 between me and my brother, chump change, but huge sum for a little boy in 1979). I taught myself rudimentary chords and idolized and emulated keyboard players like Jerry Dammers of The Specials and Vince Clark of Depeche Mode/Yazoo. I was in a kind of electro punk band called Diskord Datkord in the mid 80s but became enamored by the music emanating from the USA, especially Chicago House (particularly Acid) and Detroit Techno in ‘87, and an early summer of ‘88 visit to the nightclub mecca Ibiza transformed me. I took my name from some dude giving a speech about being abducted by aliens at a UFO conference.

KB: Seal gave you a demo tape and the song Killer was born. Tell me the story.

By 1989 I was performing instrumental live sets of my house/techno/electropop hybrid at many of the seminal parties and clubs of the UK’s nascent rave scene…including Amnesia in Ibiza and Manchester’s Haçienda. One night I was playing at a legendary party called Sunrise 5000 in a giant aircraft hangar in the English countryside when Seal walked in, as I was rocking a crowd of several thousand ravers, who decided he should be my singer although I wasn’t actively looking for one.

I suppose I was intending to do it myself eventually but as it was, I was inundated with bookings and having a fantastic time without any vocals necessary. However, he gave me a demo anyway and I instantly loved his blues rock overtones and as we hung out at the same clubs I thought I might as well get him down to the studio and see what happens. I had this tune called Killer that I had already been smashing it with on the scene and he happened to have some lyrics that fit to it. Retrospectively it was very serendipitous, then it unexpectedly (to me at least) became a massive hit record which continues to be played and covered to this day which blessedly enables me to make whatever music I like, when I like and travel the world meeting and collaborating with fascinating and inspiring people.

KB: If you were to make an album with your 7 most favorite songs: What would you pick and why?

Well as it goes, I have an alter ego named Sonny Eriksson: he plays what I call ‘Cyberbilly’ which is 50’s rockabilly fused with contemporary electronics and sounds and in homage to some of my all-time favorite bands like The Cramps, Suicide and Sigue Sigue Sputnik and I actually am working on an album of covers! I like millions of songs but these are for Sonny Eriksson:

1.Tear It Up – Johnny Burnette (a fantastic call to arms )

2. Raver – Alan Vega (a super catchy rockin’ tune by my favorite singer)

3. Rockstar – Post Malone (such a beautiful and clever melody and lyrics which is very hard to adapt to rockabilly style but I think I’m making it work somehow)

4. Give Me Back My Wig – Hound Dog Taylor (this one is easy to do in rockabilly style and I love wigs)

5. Rid Of Me – PJ Harvey (I find most modern rock music too derivative, contrived and boring apart from hers: She makes stunning, forward thinking music with traditional instruments and this one works well in Cyberbilly style)

6. Under The Moon of Love – Curtis Lee (this song was made famous in Britain by a cheesy revivalist band called Showaddywaddy in the 70s, so people of my age group at London parties are a bit taken aback when I start singing it but I’ve decheesified it with electroclash synths and fat 808 bass drums and I enjoy singing it)

7. The Race – Yello (first time I heard this was in a club in Ibiza in 1988 when I was on LSD and I was entranced. I already loved (and still do) Yello anyway: the sax loop is the best use of sax ever and I have taken cues from Mystery Train by Elvis to cyberbilly it up)

I’m giving away all my secrets here!

KB: Are there any current artists you would love to collaborate with? Who and why?

Nobody in particular that I can think of but I quite like some of those American soundcloud rappers: they’re so much more interesting and creative than British young people and could add a codeine enhanced sugar coating to my beats.

KB: You have a new EP out: Black Butterfly ft. Robert Owens. Tell me about it. Are you touring?

It’s a cover version of a Deniece Williams ballad made into my style of tech-house with some great and popular remixers. I made it for our good friend, Mina Smallman who was the first female person of color to be a minister in the Church of England: tragically two of her daughters were murdered by a psychopath in a London Park a couple of years back and I heard this song two weeks afterwards and it seemed synonymous with the situation … both transitioning spirits and BLM …

I just wanted to make something to give love and support to Mina and her family. Initially I isolated and sampled Deniece William’s vocal from the original and I contacted her and she absolutely loved it and gave it her blessing but the US record company admin didn’t want ‘their’ song associated with either murder or the BLM movement or both and gave me a very firm No, so I was not very optimistically looking for the right girl to resing it when I bumped into Chicago house legend Robert Owens at a festival we were both performing at last year. I first met Robert at a London illegal acid house rave in1988, so we were having a little chat when he said we should work together. I told my wife I was so flattered that he’d asked me and said ‘Black Butterfly’! So that’s how that came about. No plans to tour: I never do tours. I do random shows and DJ sets here and there and that’s how I like it.

Check out Adamski’s website: HERE

Find him on Instagram: HERE

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