[Part 2 of 2] Part 2 of the interview with Adem.
Prefix Magazine: In terms of Fridge, when can we expect the next album to come out?
Adem: We’re working on it when we have time. We’re about two-thirds of the way there and hope to release it in the spring. We’re going to also try and do some live shows to back it, which is something that we’ve never really done before. We’ve done a few live shows before, but not many.
PM: Regarding your solo project, did you ever worry that people would immediately compare it to Four Tet?
Adem: I knew I wouldn’t get a single review or interview that didn’t mention Kieran or Four Tet. It makes sense because this is a member of Fridge that has gone on and made a solo project and then another member of Fridge goes and does a solo project. It hasn’t done me any harm. Four Tet is a fantastic project. It’s inspired so many people, including myself. To be associated with that, I’m extremely proud.
PM: You recorded the album at home and at night. Was this your intention from the start?
Adem: After the first two tracks, I realized there was this thing coming through, there was this whole home-friendly theme, this whole coziness. Coziness was what I wanted to get away from. Almost like a concept record, I wanted home to be a central theme. Home not necessarily as bricks and a roof, but as a place you can return to when troubles arise or people you can come to — a place that’s safe to come back to. As soon as I made that decision, I knew I had to record this all at home, no matter what the pitfalls are.
PM: What led you to pick “These Are Your Friends” as your first single?
Adem: It was so difficult. Homesongs was written as an album. Tracks were written because I knew other tracks existed. I wanted the album to work really well as a consistent entity on its own, so to take one of those pieces out of its home — excuse the pun — to take it out of its background was really bizarre for me. “These Are Your Friends” made a lot of sense; it had that catchy little bit and stronger percussion. So I asked my friends what I should put out first, and generally they said “These Are your Friends.” It did well and got lots of radio play.
PM: How has it been playing the album out on tour? Has it been difficult trying to recreate the sort of intimate setting that people get when listening to the album at home?
Adem: It has been difficult in some shows to get that intimacy, but when it works real magic comes through. A really special thing happens, and when you get it just right and you get a relationship with the audience just right, everyone comes away thinking something special happened. Right from the start, I felt really lucky that people were digging the stuff. It feeds back. As soon as people in the audience start enjoying it, you give back more. This feedback just grows out of control. But playing with some bands it’s hard to get attention, because some people are there just to see that other band. Luckily, the average Explosions in the Sky fan loves music and is really excited to listen to music — specifically melodic music with intimate layers, which is similar to what we do. So we’ve had great response from the Explosions audiences.
PM: I read somewhere you were approached to cover a song by either Tim or Jeff Buckley. What was that process like?
Adem: I mean imagine, you can cover either one song by either Tim or Jeff Buckley. It’s really difficult. My first impression was do something by Tim Buckley — at first I was going to do “Song to the Siren” because I thought I could do good version of that and I love that song. But then I got a call from the label, and they said, “Everyone is doing Tim Buckley; can you do Jeff Buckley?” It sort of rescued me, because when I was younger I listened to Jeff Buckley; I didn’t know who Tim Buckley was when I was twelve years old, but I knew who Jeff Buckley was. So immediately I was like, What’s a really unknown Jeff Buckley song I could do? Then I thought, What’s a Jeff Buckley song that meant a lot to me when I was younger? What did I love?
“Mojo Pin” really meant a lot to me, so I decided to work on that. I wanted to do a full-on mad production, with glockenspiels and layered voices with bells and whistles. At the very beginning I did a demo to see where I should pitch it, where my voice could reach, ‘cause with a Jeff Buckley song you have to know your limits. I went back to that and it seemed to be more touching the way Jeff Buckley’s stuff was. Although the production on Grace was really exciting and perfect when it came out and it made it so millions of people love that record. I loved all the stuff he did on demos and at home. I just did these acoustic demos for myself, one take, live. There are mistakes in it and it’s really grubby, but in the spirit of it seems to make sense to me. It should be out next year. I’m going to try and stream it on my Web site.
PM: What are your thoughts in general on the music industry?
Adem: It’s crazy. You’ve got a bunch of old men making money off little girls. Strange weirdos that are sometimes talented and sometimes not. It depends on what you mean by music industry. A lot of times the big business is all about first week sales…
PM: What are you listening to nowadays?
Adem: As I’m sure you can tell, a real wide spread of things. Homesongs wouldn’t exist without Aphex Twin, John Coltrane. It just couldn’t, because those are such huge influences on the person I am and my musical thinking. This year I love Sung Tongs by Animal Collective; that was wicked. Joanna Newsom — I was curator of a festival in London this year and had Smog and Joanna Newsom playing. Juana Molina. Bert Jansch, who used to play in Pantangle. Genius Gruff Rhys from Super Furry Animals. Beth Orton.
What really excites me is that a lot of my friends are making fantastic music. All these bands are doing fantastic music and they just to be my friends. But also classic records like Blue by Joni Mitchell, which just makes me want to give up sometimes. You just know you’re never gonna reach that.
PM: What’s something that you haven’t yet done that you’d like to do?
Adem: There’s stuff that I’m working on that I would like to do more of. I have a project called the Assembly, which is a mass-ensemble-improvisation project where I invite loads of friends and friends of friends. I just e-mail people to get together in strangely high-profile places, then we make up music. We have between fifteen and twenty people and one authority or one guide who sort of tells everyone what to do. So we had big pads of paper and pens, and then the audience would draw pictures or words, and I’d hold them up and on my mark they’d play the picture. If it was a zigzag line, everyone would play a zigzag line. If it said “Just the girls,” just the girls would play. I want to do more production as well. I’m really excited about doing other peoples’ production.
PM: If there was one act you could produce, still alive, who would you produce?
Adem: Bjork. I’d love to produce a Bjork album; that would be amazing.
PM: I just wanted to go back to a few things we spoke about earlier. Prior to the interview, you were talking about how you were pretty anal. Do you mean you’re obsessive-compulsive?
Adem: Kind of. Some things I’m lackadaisical to a fault. I don’t want to deal with things. But when it comes to listening, I listen very particularly and very obsessively, which helps, because you have to concentrate on certain things.
PM: So, if I went to your apartment, would I be able to tell? Would your closet be color coordinated?
Adem: No, you’d say, “This person doesn’t know how to tidy up.” You’d say, “What is this mad scramble of wires?” And I’d say, “This is my house.”
PM: The other thing that came up was the talk about smoothies. Do they have a lot of smoothie shops in the U.K. or something?
Adem: No, but I just get fruit and put it in a blender. Tastes so good. Loads of stuff like that, it’s so much better to do it yourself. Instead of going out and getting a smoothie, go out and get some fruit. Same thing with soup or gravy.