‘Everything I now do is based on the waltz’ - rave legend Adamski tells us how he’s fallen under the spell of ¾ time…

Jim Ottewill
  • By Jim Ottewill
  • 5 Feb 2015
  • min read
Adamski is one of the godfathers of British electronic music. Releasing his first record as an 11 year old punk rocker, he made his name during the early years of acid house as a much in demand DJ and producer of huge number one hit Killer (written with fellow raver and vocalist Seal).

Since those heady days, Adamski has been a constant source of musical inspiration, a producer and songwriter striving to find constantly reinvent himself and his sounds. His music has taken in all forms of dance music as we know it before he landed in Venezuela and discovered a passion for the waltz.

Over the last two years Adamski has rejected all other time signatures, focusing his entire musical energies on 3/4. He’s now on the brink of releasing his new record Revolt, where - with the help of Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry, Congo Natty and David McAlmont - he’s showcasing this new obsession. We caught up with Adam to find out how he’s fallen under this musical spell…

How did you begin making music?

It was punk rock. But I was fascinated by pop from an early age. My first school book has got pictures on it - you did a drawing and told the teacher what it was. Mine is of me wearing a wig on Top of the Pops. I was really obsessive, a real popophile.

I got a guitar for my birthday when I was about nine and learnt some chords. Then punk happened and the hype was that anyone could do it. It didn’t feel that precocious to start making tracks with my brother and friends, even with my limited knowledge. I saw the Sex Pistols play Pretty Vacant on Top of the Pops when I was about nine. It just sparked my imagination.

How did you fall in with electronic music?

I made this record when I was 11 on Fast Product Records. It was run by the Human League manager of the time, Bob Last. Being on this label opened me up to electronic music. With the money from that record we bought a secondhand piano and I taught myself to play that. That coincided with 2–tone, the first kind of dance music I loved, shortly followed by electropop and cheap casio keyboards. A mate of my brothers made me a synth from Maplin components. There was just so much happening with music every few weeks, some shiny, sparkling new sound.

I didn’t aspire to be a virtuoso. I just thought I needed to stick chords together like Lego. I was still playing with Lego when I had a record played by John Peel. It overlapped. Now I find music making, using modern digital work stations and lots of samples, it’s really like Lego. I was equally obsessed by Lego and pop music.

What do you remember of acid house?

It was a tailor made scene for me. It reminded me of my love for Sigue Sigue Sputnik in the mid-eighties and their manifesto. They were just so minimal, raw and exciting with those simple throbbing, rockabilly basslines and samples flying all over the place. It wasn’t really dance music. But I loved their manifesto of really embracing the future and technology and making it a bit nasty. Acid house for me was their vision but done in a way that connected people and people could dance to it, it made more sense.

But acid house wasn’t just acid and techno. It was all these sounds all mixed up with everything. You’d be dancing to acid, then next moment it’d be the Gypsy Kings. It just opened my mind to a lot of music and stopped me being ageist about music as I’d been conditioned by the rock press to think that anyone over a certain age had to be shit.

Revolt is your new album - what was the thinking behind the project?

Everything I now do is based on the waltz rhythm. I was spending a lot of time in Venezuela and the indigenous folk music is all in 3/4 time. I was on this tropical island and decided to try and make some of that music. I started trying to emulate these basslines, using my own sounds or just using contemporary sample libraries – anything at hand. I found it quite easy and it became another obsession.

I now actually point blank to refuse to do anything not in 3/4 time. Friends of mine think I’m sabotaging my own livelihood but if I really believe in something I have to go with it and do it my own way.

Lee Scratch, David McAlmont and Congo Natty all guest on this new album - how did you hook up with the collaborators?

Congo Natty used to be Rebel MC and we used to be on the M25 circuit back in 89. We’d run into each other at raves and hang out. David McAlmont I just ran into in Soho and asked him if he’d be interested in making music. I was using the pseudonym Adam Sky and we went for lunch as I sent him some music - a version of the Last Waltz with me singing on it which wasn’t very good. We were sitting chatting for about an hour before he realised I was the artist Adamski. He just thought I was this guy Adam Sky which was quite flattering - he wasn’t meeting because of my past success. It was on the strength of the music. I love things like that.

What’s your take on the current health of electronic music?

I don’t really know. I know EDM is massive and they’ve got DJs playing stadiums but I’m not into that sort of music. I stopped following electronic music two and a bit years ago when my new year's resolution was to turn down any gigs where I couldn’t play in 3/4 time. There isn’t much of this music in that time, so I have to make it predominantly myself. Now when I DJ I play about 95 percent my own music. Hot on the Heels by Throbbing Gristle from '79 is a seminal techno track in 3/4. I can’t really understand why there isn’t loads of music in this time. People dance when I play. They aren’t all tripping over themselves. It’s got a fluid, groove but you can’t really mix it with 4/4. A lot of lazy DJs just won’t get it as you can’t mix it.

Visit Adamski’s website for more information.