Interview & Mix / A Man Called Adam

Not content with knocking everyone out with their latest long-player, Farmarama (their first in over twenty years), A Man Called Adam have an E.P. of remixes ready to go for Record Store Day 2019. 

AMCA themselves strip the title track back to a Jazz of looped keys. A Dub-Disco extravaganza of Paradise Garage proportions. Bold brass dynamics. A House of loved-up pads. A reverie. Somewhere safe and warm to hide yourself awhile (eleven minutes) on a packed 3 to 5AM dance floor. Carrot Green re-imagines Ou Pas as an Eastern-tinged bouncing-bass-lined, Acidic jacker. In the hands of Prins Thomas, Paul Valery At The Disco becomes even more Cosmic. Sally inviting you to lose yourself, while Prins surrounds you with twelve minutes of live percussion and Italo-esque synth riffs. Like Joe Clausell at his most Kosmische. Full of intricate reverb-ed detail. Spiraling into tomorrow. The original track was a tribute to David Mancuso. Throwing dice with the tides.

“The constant rocking of the reckoning.”

It`s now, fittingly, a potential future Loft classic. 

The overwhelming positive reception for Farmarama clearly demonstrated the love that`s out there for the band. The loyalty of an audience that`s jived with them to Acid Jazz. Followed them Barefoot In The Head, through House to experimental sound design. I asked Sally Rodgers and Steve Jones a bit about the new record, the remixes, and if they were taken aback by all the renewed acclaim. 

Sally also very kindly did me a brilliant mix…..

What does Farmarama mean? 

Sally: We wrote and recorded that track at a house we rent in Cornwall. The room where we set up studio has big picture windows that look out over this beautiful rural landscape down to cliffs and the sea beyond, and especially at sunset it all looks so vivid, almost unreal. We were saying it was like something you could select in a list of computer simulations – the Farmarama. And in the song, and on the album, I sort of extrapolated that out as a metaphor for life, a sort of hi-definition, Westworld-like simulation that you dial up everyday. 

“A futuristic theme- park, meant to make you grow.”

I also liked the word, and it made me think of Roxy Music’s Pyjamarama. 

Where was the cover photo taken? I have to say it`s not very glamorous and neither of you look particularly happy. Do all the slot machines signify the lottery of life? 

Sally: That’s an amusement arcade in my hometown on the North east coast. We weren’t unhappy, we’d just been out shooting pictures on the beach in the freezing cold – it was snowing that day! Prisca Lobjoy took the photograph. She knows us very well and always catches some kind of truth about us. It was un-styled, no make-up etc… just as we are. Jonathan Waring our designer and art director chose the picture and did some amazing detailed work on it. I think he just thought it was confident, it seemed to say ‘we are who we are’ and that worked with the record. We trust the talented people around us. 

Steve: Talking to Prisca, she thought when she was taking the pictures there was a cinematic reference. Like a Jim Jarmusch film, there’s a story but no story. You`re left to imagine what’s going on outside the frame. 

farmarama cover shot

On the new record, Was it hard to find the right balance between the old balearic AMCA, and the new more experimental yous? 

Sally: Not really. We haven’t made any music for dancing for a while, so it was fun to do that, and the sound design and experimental work we’ve done has just helped us evolve. We’re more spontaneous, more confident in our ideas now. We also co-wrote some of the tracks with our friend Paul Smith. He’s lighter, jazzy, and that connects musically with some of our older tracks. 

Steve: Hopefully the experimental and the Balearic sides complement each other, instead of drowning the other out. We tried to keep that feeling of improvisation when writing new material. Working fast and loose, rather than spending ages ironing out all the imperfections. 

Sally: Ahem, I spent ages ironing out the imperfections! 

Were you deliberately referencing your past? 

Sally: We’ve both studied a lot in recent times and I think the nature of our research – about technology, music and lyricism – was about finding out where we sit, as indiviuals, in the continuum. Connecting the dots in the long history of electronic music to find out who you are. If the album does reference our past it’s probably because we’re still doing that. Always will be now, I think. 

Steve: One of the best things about getting older is being able to draw on past experiences and references. And part of studying is getting a better understanding of your self. Why you do certain things.

Was the recording process a cathartic experience? 

Sally: Yes. 

Steve: It was mostly a joyful experience. Except when it wasn’t. 

Sally: Haha! What Steve said. 

The lyrics, to me, suggest that you`ve gone through some difficult times – loss of some kind – and that you are trying to project hope. Is this the case? 

Sally: Like everyone, we’ve experienced our own losses and sadnesses – in “Daily Ohm” speak, “transformative pain”,  or something like that. Because somehow you have to believe those experiences have meaning, and music is the way we try to find that meaning for ourselves and hopefully, sometimes for listeners. 

It also sounds to me like the lyrics have been cut up, rearranged, maybe to at least partly mask their deeply personal nature? 

Sally: They’re not really cut ups, just abstracted. The way the music is, It’s a sort of technology-led lyricism. I’ve always done that I guess. We want people to find their own meaning in the songs, so the personal is abstracted to become universal. That’s the idea anyway. I realised there’s a clue, a kind of key, to the lyrics in Mountains and Waterfalls. It says,

“Something like a metaphor, something like a sound. That has no shape and forms inside the mind of the receiver.” 

What can you tell me about Paul Valery? And can you explain how the track Paul Valery At The Disco is linked to David Mancuso and The Loft? If, as Valery wrote, “The wind rises…..We must try to live”, do you still go out dancing? 

Sally: When Dave Mancuso died I read an article about his party philosophy. The three bardos of Buddhism. The calm before the storm, the crazy circus, the re-entry in to your normal life. So we went for a Brainticket, tripped-out kind of guided mediation over a thumping Disco track. And I dropped a bit of Paul Valéry in there. That’s my favourite of his,  

“Listen, endlessly hear…”

There’s a lot about sonority on this record I guess, about “hearing” the world instead of seeing it. We also tried to make it like you were doing poppers, all fizzy and chaotic – haha! And yes, we still go out dancing. It’s part of our life, our relationships, friendships, our work. I can’t imagine stopping. 

The album has been very warmly received by everyone. Were you surprised by the size of the positive response? Have you sold out? 

Sally: It’s been so lovely. Really. We just wanted to make something decent. Something relevant. So when these amazing producers and DJs and performers liked it was so great for us. Now it’s out in the world and we’ll see what happens. 

Steve: Making this record there were no expectations. We had nothing to lose. But the response has been a genuine surprise. Maybe we have sold out (laughs).

What do you think of the remixes? The Prins Thomas one is pretty special. Are there any more in the pipe-line? 

Sally: The Carrot Green mix is an Acid monster, I can’t wait to hear that on a big system. And yes, Thomas’ mix is the bomb. I loved the Haxan Versions album he did last year, he’s so respectful of the material, but brings his own gifts to the table. An amazing producer. He asked for the stems of four different tracks, and we had no idea which he’d choose – we didn’t care! So it was a wonderful surprise to get the finished mix. And we feel lucky to have worked with both him and Carlos. And yes, new remixes have been commissioned but we’ll keep schtum about those for now. 

Steve: I must admit to blubbing when I first heard the Prins Thomas remix. How he made my iPad sing out. 

Sally: “How he made my iPad sing out” Haha!

How were the gigs at Phonica and Giant Steps? Are there any more live shows planned? 

Sally: Totally ace. We have history with Phonica and lot of our oldest friends, some we hadn’t seen for a long time, came out for that gig so it was pretty special. Giant Steps was less raucous – it was a wet Sunday lunchtime in deepest Hackney Wick – but the sound was just superb, so at the beginning of a long Summer of gigs for us it was just a treat to play there. Amit and Aneesh have my other favourite venue, Brilliant Corners, and their attention to detail is what sets their spaces apart. And yes, we have a Summer of gigs unfolding.  

Steve: It’s been great to hear the tracks on big sound systems. A big big thank you to everyone who came out to support us. 

You can order a copy of A Man Called Adam`s Farmarama directly here. The Remix E.P. will be in all good vinyl emporiums on Record Store Day, Saturday, April 13th. 

a man called adam record store day

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