Posted On 08 Oct 2015
Adam Stern is a promising LA-based musician. His songs are about hope and peace. In the following All Access interview, Stern opens up about his “organic pop” sound and what he hopes listeners take away from it.
He calls it “music that draws from the diversity of genres that have shaped my experience: folk, singer songwriter, hip-hop, rock, funk, roots reggae, various world rhythms, and electronic…as they refract through the prism of my heart, soul, and imagination…my dreams and beliefs.”
Thanks for your time! So, what’s a typical day like for you lately?
My pleasure. Thank you! There’s nothing typical about my days. Every day is genuinely different.
There are a few constants:
Copious walking and cuddling with my dog Moses Blue.
I’m always writing and working on a song in one way or another.
I play guitar or sit at the piano at least an hour a day. Creativity and dexterity are muscles that must be consistently worked and nurtured. Inherent catharsis aside, I don’t want any room for atrophy.
Can you describe what exactly is Organic Pop? How do you think your sound is different than anything else out there today? What do you think separates you from other artists out there?
I do a little bit of everything and stylistically it’s multi-genre. At the heart there’s always a classic pop song. The song might be funky or rockin’, perhaps something more mellow, jazzy or singer-songwriter oriented, yet at its core it will always have a pop song structure: catchy hooks and some classic arrangement. I love a good pop song, it’s my North Star, my cornerstone. Sonically, whatever organically pops up that I feel is right for the soul of the track is where I’m gonna take it.
What separates me from other artists? They’re not me and I’m not them? I don’t know, we’re all making music and that’s wonderful. I will say that I think I stand out most when I’m performing live.
What musicians have consistently inspired you and your music? Who would you love to work with in the future? Who would be a dream collaboration partner?
Lately I’ve been hyped on collaborating with visual artists, directors and choreographers. I’m interested in exploring music more visually.
My dream collaboration partner is a 3 part tie:
Rick Rubin. He’s produced some of my all-time favorite records and gotten the best out of all the artists he’s ever taken on. He’s a legend. Working under his wing has been a lifelong dream.
Fiona Apple. My praise for her artistry is endless. I’m particularly moved by her lyrics, melodic instincts and rhythmic sensibilities. Writing and harmonizing with her would have me over the moon.
Ben Harper. As a performer, the way he leaves everything on stage for you as an audience member is remarkable. His career trajectory and the eclectic nature of his work has given me courage at many junctures on my path to stay true to myself as a writer, performer and a person. Having him produce me or just sitting down with him to play or write some songs would be a dream collaboration for sure.
Generally, where do you get the inspiration for your music?
Inspiration hits me at all times of the day and night in all kinds of places. I just try to be ready and open to receiving the ideas as they come. I get hit a lot on dog walks, doing the dishes, in the shower, late at night, outside staring at the sky, driving in the car. Thankfully now with the iphone, I seldom lose an idea, a bassline, a beat, a lyric. When a song comes I can capture the essence and lock it in right there in my memos.
Typically I get inspired from every aspect of being alive. I draw from love, lust, heartbreak, boredom, despair, dreams, euphoria, sickness, loss, issues of social consciousness as well as cosmology. It’s all fair game. There’s no shortage of places to find inspiration.
Growing up, have you always wanted to be a musician? Has your family always been supportive of your music career? Is there anything else you could see yourself doing?
Undoubtedly yes. Most gratefully yes. And emphatically no.
What can fans expect from one of your performances? What do you think makes a perfect show?
You can expect me to rock the fuck out.
I don’t know that there’s such thing as a “perfect” show. I feel that a lack of perfection makes each performance perfect in its own way, unique and special. Prior to autotune, the vocal imperfections often times were what gave a performance such character. I think there’s a big difference between striving for perfection and for precision. I’m down with precision. Perfection feels like a waste of energy and something perhaps not human.
What makes a “perfect” performance for me though is when I see an artist fully committed, mind, body and soul to whatever it is they’re sharing. It’s not something you can quantify per se, yet it’s a palpable sincerity, a nakedness, a thoughtful rawness you can sense, taste and feel.
Do you have a favorite memory so far in the studio, performing or elsewhere?
I have so many memories live, in the studio and elsewhere that I cherish.
One special memory I can share happened when I was working on my sophomore LP, Cosmicology, which is a concept album about our interdependence, interconnectedness and the fact that you, me, everything and everyone we know is made of the same stardust. I was tracking vocals for a song off that record called, Gonna Come. I was having a rough go of it. I wasn’t happy with the quality of the vocal I was giving or getting. After tracking it almost a 100 times I was at my breaking point of frustration and starting to lose it. My longtime best friend David Noily (Elevaters), who produced Cosmicology, my forthcoming record Sunspots (2016) as well as a grip of my other tracks and singles said, “Ok, stop. Get in the shower, get it nice, hot and steamed up, take a long shower, put on your bathrobe, then just chill for a sec.” My studio is located in my house in LA for clarity’s sake.
My other best friend from childhood, Todd, a master mixologist who runs a popular food and drink website (http://honestlyyum.com/) had gifted me this really nice bottle of aged spiced rum. I’d sort of been saving it for some reason. Side-note I no longer save stuff for special occasions, life’s too damn short and nothing’s guaranteed. I digress. I stayed in Cuba one summer when I was 19 and developed a real soft spot for rum. I’m kind of a pirate like that. It’s like warm caramel down your throat and in your belly. Rum has a crafty way of getting you out of your head and into your body real fast. Needless to say that’s what happened.
So upon getting out of the shower, adorning my comfortable, magical (I think), and as my friends call it, my “warrior” bathrobe, I come out into the dining room to find David has popped open this crazy nice bottle of rum and filled one of those huge red wine glasses practically to the brim. He goes “start sipping!” So I do, and about five minutes later we head back into the studio and nail the track on the first take. I couldn’t be happier with how the song turned out, and couldn’t be more grateful for my brothers who powerfully support and inspire me with their love, wisdom, talents, instincts and friendship.
Where do you see yourself in the next 10 or even 20 years?
Touring incessantly and making records.
I’d just like to share how deeply I appreciate your support – listening, buying or stealing my music, coming to shows, watching my videos, telling your friends and sharing the music, your tweets, comments, likes – all of it means more than I could ever express. I thank you with all my heart ’cause man, I’m not tryin’ to make music in a bubble and want nothing more than to share it with you. So your connection to this music, with me, means everything.
ALL PHOTOS COURTESY OF Chase McCurdy and Julian Walter
For those fans in Los Angeles, be sure to catch Adam playing at the intimate Los Angeles venue, Hotel Cafe this Saturday October 10th!
For more on Adam Stern, check out his sites: