THEAUSSIEWORD.COM meets UK singer/songwriter John Adams.
How and where did it all begin for you? What drew your interest to the music industry?
Unfortunately music wasn’t a part of my childhood. I was very much raised with the motto “Get good grades and you’ll get a good job”, so all my focus was on education. I did well in school and it wasn’t until I became a Math’s teacher that I started to realise that a “good job” wasn’t the key to my happiness. As I slipped deeper into the 9 to 5 with less and less time to do what I enjoyed I became more and more disheartened. I’d always enjoyed music as a past time and I started busking for a break from my profession. The response I had to performing was so inspiring and quickly allowed me to resign. It felt like such a crazy gamble but I knew I needed a change. It was hard to give up on so many years of training but easy all that the same time. No regrets so far!
What motivates or influences you in your quest to make great music?
I’m a huge fan of the way songwriters such as Passenger, Damien rice and Paul Simon tell a story and I’m a sucker for a real good voice such as Sam Smith, Emeli Sande and James Bay. I think my initial drive came from listening to all the music I enjoy and wanting to recreate something as special. I think over time my drive has shifted. I’ve had so much support and there’s so much excitement for new music that I now feel like I owe it to the listeners to make sure the music is the best I can create and the live show is a great night out.
What are your biggest goals you hope to accomplish as an artist?
My goals are continuously changing. Initially I just wanted to make a full time living doing what I enjoy and I’ll be grateful for every year that that’s still the case. My goal for this year was to tour the UK. I’ve just finished and it completely exceeded my expectations. The tour was my biggest and busiest to date. Some of the venues were upgraded to larger spaces or sold out 2 nights in a row. I’ve completely got the buzz for live shows and I can’t wait to get back on the road even further afield.
What can we expect from you in the coming months? Any plans to tour?
I’ve just finished the tour so I’ll be taking a little break but I’m just booking in some festivals for this summer. Oh and I’m also playing with Toploader this summer. Cant wait!
Tell us a bit about your latest release and how would you best describe your music?
My new release is called “No White Lies”. On the last two releases I’ve been experimenting with combining organic elements with minimal electronic production and I feel I’ve finally got the right amounts of each. The melodies are more cleverly constructed, the digital rhythms are stronger and the lyrics are more mature. For the first time I feel like I’m writing music similar to the music I love. In the past I have taken a long time creating tracks and by the time of release they felt out of date and almost as if they were written by someone else. I guess it’s a bit like choosing an outfit or a style to wear in two years time. I’m sure we’ve all looked back at a picture and wondered what the hell we were wearing. It can be a bit like that! This EP was actually all written, recorded and released within 10 months so I’m pleased that these songs are a good representation of how I’m feeling at the moment and it makes the release and the pride I have in the body of work a bit more honest.
Give us an insight into your creative process. What gets you writing songs?
Every song is written differently. Some start with a lyric, some start with a melody, some start with some music and if you’re really really lucky all three of these can fall out of you simultaneously as if you’re just feeling out loud. I’m continuously making notes and voice recordings so that if ever I’m a little uninspired I always have something to get me started.
Is there a hidden meaning in any of your music?
I make sure I always write about feelings that are my own but if the situation or circumstance is too specific to me then I try to keep the lyrical content a little vague so that the listener can attach their own situation with the phrases. I did this on track one of the EP called “First line”. The song is written about a friend that got caught up in drug use but lines such as “I should have seen it coming from the first line” can be heard in a different way.
Success, what is the secret to it?
I think my advice to a new artist would be to do it yourself and don’t wait for someone else to do it for you. The industry will be more likely to help you if you’ve already demonstrated some drive and If help never comes it doesn’t matter because you’ve already done it yourself. Also we all know the rule about the 10,000 hours so you’d best get on with it.
What has been your biggest career highlight so far?
The steps are all going in the right direction for me so I think my career highlight is right now. The tour was outstanding, the EP reached number 2 in the iTunes Charts, I have 300,000 monthly Spotify listeners and people seem genuinely excited about my future.
Are there any new projects in the pipeline?
My goal for this year is to do a little more writing for others. I’m really enjoying writing in different styles and genres and it’s great to observe how a track is being received without the personal connection of it being my own. I’m also writing for myself throughout the summer and starting to work on then next release.
What is your favourite and least favourite part about this line of work and why?
I think the worst part of the industry is how much judgement you can receive when you start to perform publicly. I completely expected to be judged on the music I make but didn’t expect there to be so much opinion on the things you do and the way you look. I think that’s been born from reality TV talent shows. I was also shocked by how many roles you can have as an artist. It sometimes feels like you need to be your own sound engineer, booking agent, videographer, PA, social media manager, stylist and a thousand other jobs. Sometimes it’s hard to find the time to do the aspects of the job that you love in amongst all this. When I dreamt of being a musician I thought I would just practice all day and perform all night.
Name a few of your favourite Australian artists.
Easy! Angus and Julia Stone. Just beautiful!
The shape of the music industry has changed significantly over the years, including the use of social media, how do you feel about the industry as a whole and what does it mean to you in getting your records out into the public eye?
Social media get’s a lot of bad press but I really enjoy it. I love engaging with people and having a bit of a nose what my favourite artists are up to. My favourite part of the tour was getting to finally put faces to the Instagram handles etc. The support online is overwhelming and it’s so exciting to know that people are waiting to hear the music you’re about to release. I think my favourite way to connect at the moment is the story feature. You don’t have to make sure it’s strong content and you can keep the conversation going.
How do you plan on cracking the international market?
If I knew I’d already be there lol I’m hoping to reach out for some help this year but the Spotify analytics suggest I already have thousands of listeners all over the world.
Do you collaborate with others? Who is on your wish-list?
I’d love to collaborate with Passenger. Not just to get a great song but I relate to his lyrics so much that I just know we would be best of friends. Writing with him would be a dream come true but I’d settle for a cup of coffee and a chat too.
What advice do you give for someone wanting to follow in your footsteps?
Like I said earlier, DO IT YOURSELF! START NOW!
A message for your fans. How do you best interact and respond with your fans?
Just a massive thank you to anyone that supports me! Before I was a musician I was a Maths Teacher. I’d trained for years to be in that position but I just knew that I needed to take the leap of faith and pursue a career in music before it was too late. Im now able to do what I love full time and the amount of support is overwhelming. There have been so many people that have taken my dream as seriously as their own and there’s not a day goes by that I’m not appreciative to be in the position I am. I know how hard it is to arrange babysitters or travel to come to a show and how hard you need to work for the £10 people use to purchase my album so I’m beyond grateful for anyone that helps fund my music. I’m also unsigned so I don’t have a huge marketing budget but I can always rely on my fan base to share the new music and this year they pushed the new EP to number 2 in the songwriter charts. They’re the best!
Any last words?
Thank you for helping me reach a few new ears. Hopefully I’ll see you down under soon.
Apple Music: John Adams on Apple Music
Spotify: John Adams on Spotify