All debut albums are personal. All the best music is personal full stop. But there’s an extra layer of gravitas granite in Adred’s brutalist drum & bass rock face. And it’s best understood on his debut album for Metalheadz.
There are many geological musical layers that have brought the New York-based artist to this current height. Years of dabbling with hip-hop and r’n’b, a techno release on Marcus Intalex’s Birdie label, garage-inspired breakbeats on Doc Scott’s 31, a long tenure as a promoter, importing the most respected D&B artists into the Big Apple. But the bedrock of Adred’s musical make-up is of denser substance; his father, Kim, who passed away when Adred was just 19.
The ultimate force and inspiration behind everything Adred (real name Adam) does musically, Kim can be heard on every record he releases. He can be heard in the lulling, emotional ambient ebbs, he can be heard in the heavyweight, undiluted futurist flows, he can be felt in the tidal wave that is this album.
Featuring the likes of Commix, DRS, Robert Manos, Strategy and more, Kim is Metalheadz’ first LP of the decade and it lands just months after Scar’s scorching long’un High Fives & Devil Eyes. Ranging from blistering breakbeat seminars to tense, eerie vine-outs, it’s another example of how consistent Headz is for serious, thoughtful and moving albums and how consistent Adred’s been with his output since his first D&B releases that came our way in 2016 on another thoroughbred, agenda-setting label…
I know you’ve been on this in other musical realms for much longer, but the Soul:r Fourfit EP was the first time I became aware of you…
It was for most people. 170 Untitled, one of the tracks on that EP, was the first D&B track I made and got signed! I’d actually had something out on 31 as Eastern District which was more of a garage/breakbeat vibe I was dabbling with. Then Marcus came over to play, I told him about it and how we were both on the Scotty’s Future compilation and he asked me to send some stuff. I did and he said ‘where’s the dnb?’ I thought ‘oh shit. Now I gotta step up.’ So I wrote 170 Untitled and he signed it. It was meant to be part of various artist Fourfit EP then he said ‘fuck it’ and took a risk on me. That was the best news I’d ever heard and it all kinda worked out from there.
Worked out all the way to the album… When did you start it?
I probably finished it about a year ago. I was on a serious tear and made 30 songs. Goldie liked every track I sent him.
It was a serious tear. I was writing a tune every couple of days. It didn’t take more than a few months to write the music and now I have so much stuff in my Headz folder we’re trying to work out what to do next.
Nice to have that much ammo
Absolutely. They’re signed off, too. He wrote to me in all caps – ‘love this, don’t send to anyone.’ So now I’m working on more new things, still learning and sounding better with each track. I’m stuck I have a lot of ammo.
Back to the album. It starts with a proper headbutt of an intro track. Did you play with the arrangement a lot to get to where it is now?
Thanks man. I can write really good intro and outro tunes so it was a case of filling in the middle. I exhausted all my resources and I left it to Ant to work out the order. I drove myself crazy with it. At the end of the day people will pick and choose their favourites and listen to different tracks in different orders and ways so for me that classic ‘whole album’ experience didn’t feel so important.
The story is much more important. This is a really personal album isn’t it? You’ve named it after your father…
Yeah he died when I was 19. He was a brilliant musician. A great guitar player and singer. I grew up being in a household of people always playing music in bands. Amps and quarter-inch cables everywhere. That was my childhood. He taught me guitar and a few songs and opened the door for me. Back then I was a bit crazy, I couldn’t focus on one thing. I always knew I wanted to do music but didn’t find my purpose until I heard D&B. I started writing music a year after he died. I found his fender Rhodes in storage, I didn’t know anything about musical equipment, I knew about a Rhodes sample but then realised this was the real thing. It’s become the most important thing for me. It’s in every song. Even if it’s just a little twinkle or some reverse chords. A piece of my father is in every song.
That’s beautiful. Did your dad make records?
He had his demons and he could just never take that next step. He played out, he always performed, he was always the best guitarist in the room. But he never took the next step to become a recording artist. People get in their own way in life. So, for me to take what he did and take it to the next level, was the mission. To get signed, to write an album, to do what he wanted to do.
When you started writing, was that you working through your grief?
Absolutely. For my father’s legacy I wanted to take that next step and make something of myself. It’s deep man. Forget about everything else that can fulfil you from this life, I do it because he’d be so proud and he’d have loved what I’m doing. He died when he was only 49. That gives me the ultimate motivation to do this. Not for any type of fame or fortune, just my own satisfaction knowing I can do it and I have done it. He may not have taught me how to write music but I feel like what I experienced being around him made me the artist I am.
100% man. That’s amazing. Can we go back to the first time you heard drum & bass and knew that was the music you needed to write? Was it a classic epiphany moment?
It totally was. I was in Florida and my cousin Jesse took me to an illegal rave. It was in a skatepark and I took acid for the first time. The main room was fascinating. It was trance music and lasers and everything. It was cool and totally different to any other music I’d ever heard. But then he took me in the side room and holy shit that was me done. It was packed. Everyone was going crazy, there was a big Rastafarian MC on the mic, and I was like what the fuck? I’m getting chills talking about this now.
YES. Who was DJing?
I was like ‘this is the shit right here!’ It was rough and rugged and had all these things I couldn’t quite explain. Things that I still can’t explain why I love it now. It just grabbed me. The DJ was just a local guy and I couldn’t find out much about him but the internet was the only way I could find out more. Things like Pirate Bay and Napster were happening and I guess I kinda worked things out from there.
Club-wise you had Konkrete Jungle in NYC, right?
I didn’t go out to the city until I was 18. That was the first time I went to a show in New York and Ed Rush was playing. It wasn’t until I was 21, legal drinking age, when I was going out regularly. There was a night called Direct Drive. Every week we had guys like Commix, Logistics, everyone. This was 2003/4. A booming era, all these artists were coming through regularly.
By now I imagine you were deep into production?
Yeah I met a good friend Cory who working in a record store selling D&B. We hit it off, we’re from the same town and I said I wanted to learn production so he invited me over and he showed me what he knew. He’s a techno producer but when this album came out I said ‘I don’t give a shit what you say. You have to come and write some D&B and be on the album!’ It’s an important part of my journey. He showed me how to write music.
He had to be on it
Yeah man. And now he’s all excited and we’ve written four songs. I’ve pulled him out of his techno shell. It’s really awesome.
Has he ever brought you out of your D&B shell and got you writing techno?
Oh totally! The first song I put on record was on Marcus’s Birdie label. I was playing around with something and Cory helped me with it. It was a funny time. I had techno on Marcus’s label, dubstep on Doc Scott’s label and what I really want to be doing was D&B.
Now you are. Sometimes with guys like Commix, DRS, Jamal. Are you a collab man?
It’s about 50/50. I love collaborating, I love writing on my own. All these collabs came about through a kinda confidence thing. I’m this dude in America, who the fuck knows about me but I’ve got some amazing friends, I wanted them to be on the album. Robert is a good friend, he had to be on it. He’s part of it. I just told him to pick a tune he wanted to go on and knew he’d make the right choice. Whatever he puts his vocals on he makes better.
A lot of these friendships you made through your night Natural Selection, right?
Yeah exactly. That’s how Commix and I made friends. It’s expensive getting artists out here so I’d convince the agent for the artist to stay with me. I got a spare room. It’ll save me a few hundred bucks which is often the difference between making money or breaking even. Doc Scott was the first guy happy to take me up on the offer. Then one by one all these guys came and stayed. When Commix came he mentioned the music I was doing for Marcus and asked about a collaboration. For me that was a no brainer.
Marcus plays a mad role in your career doesn’t he? Like he did for many artists…
Yeah he took a massive leap of faith in me. That means a lot to me. I’m not an emotional guy, it comes out in my music but when Marcus died I hadn’t cried like that since my father. He’ll never know how much he did for me.
I love the remix he did of you. One of our favourites of last year.
He remixed that and sent me that about 10 days before he passed away.
Oh man. That must have taken a while to return to?
It was hard to listen to a lot of his stuff. That in particular.
Do you still run Natural Selection now?
No I’m resident at Betty Ford now and help curate the line-ups. I’ve lost so much money over the years promoting, I booked everyone I wanted to book. I played some great shows, I made some good friends, it ran its course and I wanted to move on to become a recording artists. When Ant suggested making an album I was juggling a regular job, life shit, night clubs, something had to drop. I needed to be selfish. It was hard though. We felt we had a responsibility because no one else was booking these DJs and we wanted the sound to continue in New York. But we were losing money and I needed a new challenge. I loved doing it. I contributed to the scene here and created these opportunities for people to come and enjoy these DJs and I made some good friends.
You get what you put into this, right?
Exactly. And being over here it’s hard to do that. A lot of people said to me if they didn’t know me then they might have overlooked my demos but they’ve listened to them – and signed my music – because we’ve made a personal connection. That’s led us to here right now…
Adred – Kim is out now on Metalheadz
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