I guess the thing that defines A Man Called Adam, whether that’s reliving your Balearic past or trying to make sense of the present tense, is that good music defies any timeline. And while it may be easy to tease out reference points from here and there it’s the plain fact that you could only be listening to this particular duo that really counts. I love the breathless touches of Disco, Jazz and beyond that ignites the joyous combination of songs, chords and moods which accumulate on Farmarama. The beautifully breezy, Ou Pas ( Vinaigrette) makes the point perfectly as French cinematic atmospheres get expanded via Bootsy styled bass and delicious, sultry vocals. Then on, Top Of The Lake beats are dropped in favour of a haunting, rolling ambience that stands alone. You will also have heard the chord progression which adorns Michael a thousand times but that still doesn’t stop their sheer funkiness strutting its stuff all over the stereo, while Jazzy horn licks taste just like they should. In ways, however, it’s the tempting craziness and weird soundscapes sculpting Spots of Time / Ladies Of Electronica/ Sally’s Ladies Rerub that I can’t get quite enough of. Avoiding the word Disco, for a moment, the music combines in surprising ways referencing not only the wonderful Daphne Oram, but irresistible drum-breaks alongside luscious, deep bass – in other words, heaven in ten plus minutes.
Welcome to Magazine Sixty, Sally. Let’s begin with the exciting news of a new album from yourselves after over a decade: Farmarama. The obvious question is why has 2019 felt right to return?
We did a few live shows a couple of summers ago – we had a new way to perform the music, new machines, we started sampling our own records – it was fun but didn’t satisfy because there was no new material there. We’ve done so much musically since we last released an A Man Called Adam record, we wanted to make something that brought all these new techniques and ideas together with the good things from the past. It just took a while for us to get a whole album together.
One of the things I love most about the album is the way it plays with senses and sensibilities grooving between styles and moods. Who were the most important influences for you when creating the music?
Well I hadn’t thought of it but I guess we’ve made a lot of experimental music in the last few years – creating atmospheres for radio plays or museums or whatever. Steve attended some fairly serious improv workshops in Paris and brought that to our work. I DJ’d a lot and brought the dancefloor to the tracks. John Cage meets Eddie C?
The production sounds wonderfully rich. What would you attribute those qualities to?
We build things up then break them down, refine them then shake them up again. Right at the end you have to get the chaos back into them, they have to have energy. We’ve overproduced things in the past so all that improv and experimental ‘see what happens’ type music we’d made helped us with that. We also worked on some of the tracks with our friend Paul Smith – he’s jazzy and riffy – so for us it was a perfect trinity. Steve = bonkers art music, Sally = beats n’ rhymes, Paul = catchy riffs and jazzy licks. We’re good friends and working together is a lot of fun.
In broader terms how do you feel about Dance Music and culture in general? What would you say has most noticeably changed (for better or worse) since you began A Man Called Adam?
Well I feel the responsibility of being a woman in dance music more than I ever have. I’ve had little girls come to my DJ gigs with books to sign (Girls who rocked the world) or older women saying they’ve never seen a woman headline – and I feel that. My friend Lucy Williams, a brilliant young DJ, came up to me after my NYE DJ set at Outlaws and said ‘I’ve never seem a woman DJ the midnight slot on NYE before’. I mean think about it, it shouldn’t be that way – so I’m conscious of that influence and want to do right by my girls. I’m a producer, a DJ and an educator – and I want all women to feel those possibilities are there for them. And musically there is so much ace new stuff around, plus all that obscure catalogue to dig around in. It’s the best of times.
One of the standout tracks for me is: Spots of Time / Ladies Of Electronica/ Sally’s Ladies Rerub which blends hints of Kraftwerk, intense breakbeats and vocals, alongside a memory of Daphne Oram. Can you talk us through where the original ideas came from, how the track was created and some of the synthesizers used?
Steve was really busy doing his PhD and I was itchy to do something so I made a little EP under the experimental alias we’ve used ‘Discrete Machines’. Ladies of Electronica was on it as a little Afro-breakbeat thing but I always felt it could be better with Steve’s input. And the tiny amount of people who heard it liked that track. It’s like it wouldn’t go away. There are iPad apps, Ableton packs, live instruments, Steve’s MAX MSP patches on there – my own voice is the bass on the Rerub. Spots of Time is a live improvisation, a sonic experiment. They all segued nicely together. And it pays respect to the women who did so much for the development of electronic music. It’s a hymn.
You recently road tested music from the album live at Outlaws Yacht Club in Leeds. How did you recreate the music in a ‘live’ setting and how did the night go?
Yeah it’s cool. We set up all the kit and play the songs. They were composed and produced to sound as they would live so hopefully it sounds like the record – but with a lot more jeopardy! Outlaws is our home crew, they’re always there for us, and they give us a place to try things out.
2019 looks like an exciting year for music. What plans do you have for the year?
To re-boot the label (Other Records) and keep writing and recording and collaborating with great people. We have Prins Thomas and Carrot Green on the first remix ep and both are amazing, generous, gifted artists. Nothing but love and respect for them both – more of that please. And gigs, loads of gigs!