With the release of his new free mixtape, eclectic producer Jack Adams returns to music after a two year hiatus. We spoke to him about his new all-hardware approach to making music, the emergence of a loosely defined scene centred around Keysound Recordings and why his live show channels the spirit of ‘Jeff Mills drum jams meets golden era grime’.
Attack: You’ve taken a bit of a break from making music over the last couple of years. Was that purely because you felt a bit burned out? What have you been doing in that time?
Mumdance: Yeah, I think there was definitely a stage where I got a bit a bit burnt out. I was doing lots of touring and I just didn’t really have any time to myself. As a result of that my music was becoming more mechanised and I think I just felt I needed a little bit of time to just work out where I wanted to go next. When you’re travelling around a lot it really plays havoc with the rest of your life. It’s great for inspiration, being exposed to a lot of culture and new experiences, but I don’t really get on with the whole producing on the move thing. I prefer to sit down in one place for a few days and really get into the zone. It’s hard to do that when you’re travelling – the best you can do is snatch a few hours here and there in your hotel room or on a plane, but it kind of feels like when you’re reading a book and you keep losing your place.
Another factor was that the dance music terrain is constantly shifting and a couple of years ago I wasn’t really identifying with a lot of the stuff that was coming through. I thought rather than try to change myself to fit into something that wasn’t me – you can spot it a mile off when a producer tries to do that – I thought it would be more beneficial to take a bit of time out and develop myself as an artist and try to find my own way of doing things. I wasn’t too worried about going off the radar and being forgotten about. I’d rather take my time and make something I’m proud of. I’m a firm believer that if you make good music it will find its way.
I was still writing music the whole time I was away, it’s just been a bit more behind the scenes. I went out to Brazil for a bit to do some writing for a few bands out there and spent some time in Mexico writing. Also in the UK I was doing a bit of songwriting at these crazy massive pop studios just outside of London, just trying my hand at different things I guess. Then for my own stuff I was just spending time experimenting, trying to improve as a producer and push the boundaries of my sound.
A couple of years ago I wasn't really identifying with a lot of the stuff that was coming through in dance music.
Did you feel pressure at the time to continue making music simply because that was the path you were already heading down and the life you were committed to? There must be a sense that once you’re releasing music and DJing you have to churn out a remix or a single every couple of months to keep things ticking over, regardless of whether you’re actually motivated to create?
I definitely did feel that pressure and there was a time when I was putting out a ton of music, remixes and mixes all the time. It’s quite hard to sustain that while keeping the quality at a premium. I pride myself in trying to make all my music sound a little bit different each time and trying to progress my sound with each track I make, but it can be really difficult sometimes to keep things fresh. It probably would have been more beneficial for my career for me to churn out 100 tracks that all sounded the same, but from an artistic point of view it would have killed me. I’m feeling really good about music at the moment, though, and I feel I’ve developed a style I want to explore so you’ll definitely be seeing a lot more music coming out from me in the near future. I’m kind of feeling like I want to do another album already!
What inspired you to make music again?
I think my main inspiration has been completely switching up my production process and the way I work. I literally started again from the ground up. I basically looked at everything that I had got too comfortable with and then tried to totally refine it. More often than not that meant doing the exact opposite of what I did before. It started with the actual physical technology – my first mixtape album Different Circles was written entirely on a computer on pretty cutting-edge music production software, so for Twists and Turns I made sure it was written entirely out the box on vintage hardware. I wanted to impose a number of new limitations on myself and the sound of this new album is a direct result of me struggling with these old technologies, which in turn forced me to totally rethink my approach to making music. It’s just ultimately about keeping things interesting for both myself and the listener.
You mentioned in an interview when you released the Mum Decent EP that you didn’t think you were where you needed to be yet as an artist. Do you think you’re closer now?
I think there’s always room for improvement but I’m definitely a lot happier with my sound and abilities now. Taking some time out to really work hard and hone my craft has paid dividends in terms of my skill as a producer but also in my mentality and vision. It’s just like with anything – if you put in the work then you’re going to get the results.