An Interview With Singer-Songwriter JOHN ADAMS ON His Newest EP ‘No White Lies’ and More!
Posted On 30 Apr 2019
John Adams is a Singer/Songwriter/Busker hailing from Aberdare in the South Wales Valleys. With a reach in his tone to match Sam Smith and James Blunt he draws influences from the likes of honest songwriters such as James Morrison, Damien Rice and David Gray. John’s acoustic approach and atmospheric piano accompaniment compliment his unique and impressive vocal ability as he earns the undivided attention of the listener by addressing them directly with emotive and heartfelt narratives.
A truly homegrown talent, he began his career busking on the streets, using the money to pay for his first release, fittingly entitled “The Pavement is My Stage.” After the album reached No.7 in the iTunes Singer/Songwriter charts in 2016 he took a leap of faith and left his job as a Mathematics Teacher. That gamble paid off and John has gone on to support household names such as Take That, Lemar, T’Pau and Katherine Jenkins. His hard work and impressive live performance has built a strong following of 50,000 online followers, over 6 million views on YouTube and a steady 300,000 monthly listeners on Spotify.
Eager to show his progression John released his album “You Never Know Who’s Listening” in 2018 which combined his live organic sound with a minimal electronic production to make a sound that is satisfyingly different from the usual guitar wielding Singer/Songwriter. The album was very well received by fans and the music industry alike and has already accrued over 6 million plays on Spotify. All 4 singles were playlist by the BBC and Spotify editorials with “See You Again” and “Dandelion Wishes” becoming Radio 2 favorites. He spent the year up and down the country performing at the UK’s largest festivals such as The Isle of Wight Festival, Great Escape and Victorious Festival, and his headline tour sold out in just two days from release.
Not showing any signs of writers block, John has built on the momentum of last years success by releasing his EP “No White Lies” this year and embarking on his largest UK tour to date. “No White Lies” comes from a songwriter that sounds older, wiser and a little more aware of life around him. John has continued to marry easy melodies with strong digital rhythms to create a collection of songs that arrive at a sweet spot between today’s pop and the traditional evocative folk he was raised on. To celebrate the release of this new record, John Adams is excited to reveal ‘Million Lives’, the visuals for his brand new single which addresses the theme of searching for something that you have an unexplained connection with.
Learn more about John Adams in the following All Access interview:
Thanks for your time today! Where does this interview find you?
I’m currently on the M4 corridor (Where I spend half of my life. lol). I’ve just finished my UK tour and I’ve been promoting the new EP since the beginning of the year so I’m now doing a bunch of co-writing in preparation for the next wave of music, hence the trip to London. I’m already feeling that these are the best songs I’ve written to date.
Now that we are well into the 4th month of the new year, how has 2019 been treating you so far? What are some goals that you have for this year? How are those New Years Resolutions going?
2019 has been great so far! The EP got to number 2 in the iTunes Charts and the tour was my biggest and busiest to date. Some of the being upgraded to larger spaces or even selling out 2 nights in a row. 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. On top of that I’m trying to lose weight, just like everybody else in the world. Eating well whilst on the road is almost impossible but I’ve made a concerted effort to prepare meals before leaving and I’m feeling much lighter and more energetic. I’ve even noticed a slight improvement in my voice.
Growing up, how important was music in your life? Can you recall the moment when you decided that you wanted to be a musician? Was it an easy or difficult choice to make?
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 realize 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 has been the biggest surprise so far about making music your career? What has been an unexpected or welcome challenge to it all?
I think my biggest surprise was 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 actually make music in amongst all this.
How do you think you and your music have been influenced by your hometown and where you live now?
I was born in a small village called “Cwmaman”. Not a lot goes on there but it’s actually where The Stereophonics were raised. They were starting to be very successful in my teenage years and it showed me that you can be successful from such a small valley and it created a whole music buzz in the area which I loved as you can imagine. One thing you can always count on is the support of the welsh. They are very patriotic and proud of anything that gets success from a wider audience.
Let’s talk about your newest EP, “No White Lies.” What was it like putting this collection together? Did anything surprise you about the overall process? How would you say these songs show your growth as a musician over the years?
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. For a long time 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 enjoy.
Were you surprised when it quickly landed at the #2 spot on the iTunes Singer-Songwriter Chart the day it was put out?
Very surprised. I expected most people to have moved over to streaming services and no longer download and purchase music. It’s so surreal to see your name amongst everybody you idolize and a screenshot I will cherish forever.
What was the inspiration for your single “Million Lives”? What was it like making the music video for it?
I’m not sure if it’s worldwide but in Wales there’s a wives tale about Robins. Many people say that if you see a robin then it’s a long lost relative paying you a visit. There are some real heartwarming stories of comfort about the same robin hopping on to a gravestone or singing at a meaningful time. I love the idea and when I started to think who I’d visit when I become a robin, the lyric “If I had a million lives, I’d find you a million times” was born. It’s actually quite a nice exercise if your feeling thoughtful. To form the verses I’ve drawn on a few of my favourite memories from this life that will hopefully mean something to those that I plan to visit one day. It seemed fitting that all my family and friends were in the is music video and unluckily we chose the coldest night of the year to film. It was minus 2! The performance in the woods was real good fun. My family and friends came down and in-between takes we did a few songs and it felt like a campfire sing along, minus any form of heat of course. lol. The torches made the evening feel quite magical and it will be a beautiful keepsake to look back in a few years and see how badly we’ve all aged.
What are some other songs on this collection that you are excited for people to hear?
My favorite song to perform is “Flames”. It’s really driven and refreshing compared to the storytelling acoustic guitar led tracks and really injects some pace into the live show. It also uses a fair chunk of my vocal range and when I’m feeling fresh it’s a great track to open up those lungs and sing like nobody’s listening.
What has it been like keeping up with your social media accounts and all of the different platforms? Is it hard to stay up to date on it all? What would you say is your favorite way to connect with your fans now?
Social media gets a lot of bad press but I really enjoy it. I love engaging with people and having a bit of a nose what my favorite artists are up to. My favorite 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 favorite 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.
Who are some of your favorite artists or rather, what musicians have continued to inspire you and your music? Who would you absolutely still love to work with in the future?
I’m a huge fan of the way Passenger tells a story and I’m a sucker for a real good voice such as Sam Smith, Emeli Sande and James Bay. 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.
Where can fans see you perform next?
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!
If you had an unlimited budget and your schedule was free, what would your dream music video look like?
Hmmmm I think I’d recreate my wedding so that I could do it all over again. It was such an incredible day to have everyone you love in one place. All the songs I ever write are about those people anyway so it would fit any of them. lol
If you were going to be stranded on a deserted island, what musical item would you take with you and why?
I’d take my guitar. If ever I find myself in a tricky situation that’s my only escape so I guess I’d need that. It also floats if push comes to shove. lol
If your music was going to be featured on any TV show that is currently on right now, which would you love it to be on? Or if you prefer, what is a movie that you love that you wish your music was featured in?
I’m a huge movie fan and it would be a dream come true to be a soundtrack. My music is very mushy so it would have to be a romantic story line. I’ll choose “Star is Born.”
At the end of the day, what do you hope people take away from your music?
I guess I just want people to relate to the content. They are all really honest emotions that I’m sure everyone else experiences. I often take comfort in a song putting exactly how I feel into the perfect sentence so that I can make sense of my own emotions. Writing these songs acted as therapy for me and I’d hope to offer the same to the listener even if its just a 30 minute distraction.
Would you like to share anything else with our readers about your music?
Just a massive thank you to anyone that supports me! Before I was a musician I was a Math 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. I’m 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!