Brandon Adamson is a modernist indie songwriter and artist who has been recording and releasing experimental pop music since 1996. He draws inspiration from the beatnik and mod music of the 60’s as well as the disco era. Brandon recently released 10 new singles along with a minimalist video for his song, “Feeble Screams in Fever Dreams.” We got to know him and his music a bit better in the interview below – enjoy!
Entertwine: Could you tell us a bit more about your musical background? Who or what led you to begin writing and recording music? You are involved in a number of different creative projects as a painter, poet and writer (your book, SideQuests, as well as the many websites you contribute to: http://stepkid.com/,http://randombrandon.com/, http://forcefields.net/, http://gumdrop.net/) and you also have your own record label (Uncharted Records), correct?
I started writing and recording music around 1995. I bought a 4 track and would write songs about shows on tv, like “Melrose Place” and “WKRP in Cincinnati.” I’d give cassette tapes to people and mail them out to labels, magazines etc. It was just part of the weird indie music culture of the 90’s. The songs were terrible, and I had no idea what I was doing. I was just a young kid experimenting. While attending “music business” class at Scottsdale Community College in 1998, I gave a tape to another student who was a musician. He thought it was really bizarre was so intrigued by it, that he wanted to start helping me with production and recording. He’s a producer now living in Portland, and I actually still work with him for mixing and production of my songs. I lived in los Angeles briefly in the late 90s-early 2000s.
As far as other creative stuff I’m involved with, I’ve been a profilic writer and poet since high school. I’m a much better writer than I am a musician. I tend to write about edgy philopsophy, old movies, music, retro pop culture stuff, etc. I’ve had a lot of poems and a few articles published in popular magazines and journals. I manage a number of small to medium online blogs where I can just write about whatever I want. As far as art, I’m very into futurism, abstract expressionism, minimalism etc.
Uncharted Records is a label I started in 2003, and everything gets released through that. Another guy helps me with it.
What is life like in Phoenix, Arizona? What is the music scene like in Phoenix? Are you involved with other painters, musicians and/or other artists who call Phoenix home?
I don’t really involve myself in the local music scene here, or at least haven’t for about 10 years. It’s a growing scene, and there are a lot of interesting people. I’m just fairly reclusive and doing my own thing. I have a few long term friends that I hang out with sometimes, that are basically my connection to the music scene. Most people just aren’t interested in the same things as me, so I have to look further out to work with people. Due to it’s history though, Phoenix does has a large community of mid-century modern art ethusiasts, and I’ve sold quite a few paintings.
What experiences and events led to the writing and recording of your ten new singles (‘1978’, ‘In This Town’, ‘The Jewel Is Gone’, ‘Total Sound’, ‘Feeble Screams In Fever Dreams’, ‘Dreams Like These’, ‘Aliens’, ‘Club Chief’, ‘?’ and ‘?’)? Could you tell us about each of these compositions? Was the writing and recording process similar or different for each release? How do these songs expand on or differ from the music you wrote and released in years past?
The main thing that differentiates these songs from earlier stuff I was doing is production. I used to try to do everything myself, which was stupid. So I started hiring other people for mixing and session musicians to add certain things to the recordings. I also have more authentic vintage equipment, like old 70’s synthesizers and vintage guitars, etc. Recording equipment has improved a great deal. In the old days I just had really cheap keyboards which I tried to make sound “indie” or mod…but it was a huge fail. My singing and musicianship I have worked hard to improve
My writing process is always the same. I write songs and record while watching old movies and tv shows for inspiration. “1978” was basically my attempt to create a late 70’s TV show theme song, similar to ones from classic shows like Charlie’s Angels, Vega$, Battlestar Galactica, and Hart to Hart. The Jewel is Gone was inspired by the old Pink Panther movies, especially Return of the Pink Panther and Curse of the Pink Panther, both of which which I’ve seen hundreds of times.
When I was at The Beauty Bar in Austin for SXSW back in 2010, there was some DJ there who used a breakbeat in one of his dance songs, where the music would halt and it would just say “zombies!” That was where I got the idea, for “Aliens,” and the lyrics are kind of based off “The Martian Chronicles.” Basically it’s a song where the humans are the aliens, and there are a few holdout martians defending their world. The samples were from an old Intellivision game called “Space Spartans.””Total Sound” is a reference to the surveillance state and multinational corporations collecting data on everything you do and using it to endlessly market products to you. It was brought on by current events and inspired by spy movie, “The President’s Analyst,” where “The Phone Company” becomes totalitarian.
“In This Town” is just a poppy, futuristic song. There’s nothing behind it other than my general abstract interest in futurism.
What was the inspiration behind the music video for your song ‘Feeble Screams In Fever Dreams’? Was there similar thinking towards the music video for your song ‘Club Chief’?
The idea for “Feeble Screams in Fever Dreams” came about a few years ago after being sick for a few days. My friend and I had been talking about having great “fever dreams” while we were sick. The song is basically a metaphor for how messed up the world has become, but there’s not much you can really do except offer some mild resistance(let out a feeble scream) which will have almost no effect.
“Club Chief” has a similar theme but is actualy a song about gambling. The title of the song has nothing to do with “being the chief of a night club” or anything like that. Club Chief was a brand of slot machines from around the 1950’s. I guess the song relates to how people gamble as a sort of escapism. I’ve traveled to Las Vegas many times. It’s my favorite city.
What does the rest of 2015 hold in store for Brandon Adamson? Do you have any upcoming performances? What are the two other singles (other than the ones listed in the questions below)? ‘Apricots and Afterthoughts’/’Moving Day’/’Bright Colors That Fade’/’Alternate Ending’?
The two other *new* singles are “Popsicle Stand” and another instrumental song. Both have been completed since last fall, I just haven’t gotten around to putting them out yet…mostly because of my being lazy about making the covers and all that stuff. After releasing those new singles the rest of 2015 will mostly be spent writing books. Musically I have a few new songs as well which will mostly be of a 60’s mod style.