Initially part of his local scene in Hertfordshire, the producer gained first national then international fame, smashing through genre lines in the process.
Now working as one third of The Acid, Adam Freeland recently returned to the decks for a special set at Sacred Ground Festival in Germany.
The English artist explains:
"As Ry and Frank had intended, Sacred ground had a lovely family/ intimate vibe to it. A welcome sidestep from the 'Banners And Bangers' formula of many festivals. This was more like the techno village fete. A great soundsystem, contained in a farm courtyard in beautiful little village north of Berlin. It's rare these days to be on a line up where the programming flow was so carefully considered and I enjoy each act. Having been focused on The Acid rather than DJing, it was really touching to feel that I still have so much love from the dancefloor realm. It definitely felt like I rocked the party. And then... David August blew my mind."
A special occasion, Adam Freeland's set was recorded for posterity. Clash has first spin - check it out below.
The Acid came together after a peyote ceremony. Adam Freeland, one-third of the electronic soul transcendentalists, had just arrived in L.A. from a pilgrimage to the Bay Area, where he’d ingested sacred cactus under the ritualistic guidance of Native American elders.
Suffice it to say, the Brighton, U.K., DJ/producer was feeling recharged.
“I’d spent 16 years touring nonstop,” Freeland says, before The Acid’s soldout October show at Hollywood Forever’s Masonic Lodge (their first L.A. headlining set). Despite a diverse career, the London native was previously best known for producing breakbeat.
“The ceremony capped off a yearlong break,” he adds. “I had my energy back and was ready to make music again.”
Freeland dialed longtime friend, beat producer and composer Steve Nalepa, a member of Team Supreme and linchpin within the Low End Theory network. Booking time at Nalepa’s Mount Washington studio, the pair planned to record new material and rekindle an unreleased film score composed years earlier.
Serendipity struck several days later, when Freeland bumped into Ry X (née Ry Cuming). The Australian-raised singer with a seraphic tenor lived in Topanga Canyon at the time, but had spent the summer in Berlin, touring behind the success of “Howling,” a collaboration with a German deep house producer, which became a surprise overseas smash.
“We’d met five years earlier, but I didn’t even recognize at first him with the heavy beard,” Freeland recalls, himself lightly hirsute, with a rakish crest of brown hair. “We jammed a little, got a vibe going, and figured we should get in the studio.”
Until they entered Nalepa’s space that afternoon, the trio had never been in the same room. But creative embers immediately sparked. They recorded four songs in four days — the entirety of their self-titled EP, which they anonymously floated to SoundCloud. The name came from Freeland squinting at a row of art books and misreading “ABCD” for “Acid.”
“It was the best name that had never been taken. You expect to see The Acid on a bill with Led Zeppelin,” Freeland jokes. “We initially felt like it didn’t fit the music because it’s neither acidic nor psychedelic, but it’s so strong that the juxtaposition worked.”
While not overtly psychedelic, the songs flicker with a disorienting otherworldliness. Ry X possesses a bruised, insomniac wail. Nalepa and Freeland’s beats are spectral, minimal and ominous. It’s what you’d expect to hear during a candlelit séance inside a crumbling mansion. Analogs include James Blake, late-period Radiohead and Darkside — or a bewitching-not-boring Bon Iver.
Soon after the trio set up a SoundCloud page, the labels came calling.
“We kept changing the location of our SoundCloud page. We were from Chile, then Norway,” Nalepa says. “Goldenvoice messaged us saying that they had an office bet on where we were from. They asked us, ‘What will it take [for you] to come to L.A.?’ We read it in L.A. being, like, ‘Well, uh...’?”
The Acid ultimately signed with Infectious in Europe, and Mute domestically. Since its July release, their full-length debut, Liminal, has been a playlist staple on European radio and KCRW.
“Life can make you pretty numb,” Nalepa says. “We’re trying to capture that idea of crossing the threshold and recapturing the sense of wonder.”
“If we can remind people that we’re sitting on a rock in outer space and we have no idea how we got here, then the music has accomplished what it set out to do,” Freeland adds. “It’s not trying to be poppy. It’s not singing about how my woman left me. It’s just trying to tap into that greater mystery and sense of awe.”
2014 Artist Survey: The AcidAdam Freeland, Steve Nalepa, and RY X on the Missing Malaysian Air flight, the Ferguson Shooting, and Bullies
For Under the Radar's 12th annual Artist Survey we emailed some of our favorite artists a few questions relating to 2014. We asked them about their favorite albums of the year and their thoughts on various notable 2014 news stories involving either the music industry or world events, as well as some quirkier personal questions.
Check out our Best of 2014 print and digital issues for answers from alt-J, Camera Obscura, Chromeo, The Dears, Death From Above 1979, Deerhoof, The Drums, The Flaming Lips, Glass Animals, Hookworms, Sondre Lerche, of Montreal, Ought, Owen Pallett, The Rosebuds, Strand of Oaks, Teleman, Sharon Van Etten, The War on Drugs, Warpaint, Woman's Hour, Wye Oak, Zola Jesus, and others.
Here are some answers from Adam Freeland, Steve Nalepa, and RY X of The Acid.
Top 10 Albums of 2014
1. Flying Lotus: You're Dead!
2. Caribou: Our Love
3. Aphex Twin: Syro
4. Daedelus: The Light Brigade
5. Dream Koala: Earth. Home. Destroyed.
6. Fatima Al Qadiri: Asiatisch
7. Lone: Reality Testing
8. Deru: 1979
9. Taylor McFerrin: Early Riser
10. Wild Beasts: Present Tense
What was the highlight of 2014 for either you personally or for the band?
Steve: Playing Splendour in the Grass down in Byron Bay, Australia was up there. This whole year has been a highlight, truly thankful for the warm reception of our album and the opportunities provided to travel and share our music.
What was the low point of 2014 for you?
Steve: Pain in the world. Loss of some legends.
What are your hopes and plans for 2015?
Steve: Create new music, share it, visit places we haven't been to yet.
U2's new album was downloaded for free into millions of users' iTunes accounts without their permission. Was it a wonderful gift to music fans or an invasive action that devalues music? Also, which artist, other than you, deserves to have their album automatically downloaded to half a billion people more than U2?
Steve: It was an invasive gift. Be nice to see everyone with Aphex Twin's Selected Ambient Works Vol. 2installed on their phones.
Did you take part in the ice bucket challenge? If not, why not? Grimes declined due to animal testing issues, was the grief she got for that deserved?
Adam Freeland: No. No one challenged me. Although it's a great idea for a good cause, it's in my nature to shy away from such things when they become so mainstream. Grimes had a point. At least she took time to look into what it was all about. I liked Matt Damon's one. Very clever and a good point.
The shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri opened up a new national dialogue on police shootings and racism in America. Do you think anything will actually change because of it?
Adam: I do. Things are already changing. It's more than just racism that seems to be the issue here. We are seeing that post-Iraq all these regional police forces being armed to the teeth (with the aid of Halliburton, etc.) with all this military gear, tanks, and crazy weaponry and there's under-trained police forces (dare I say, trigger-happy rednecks) just loving it. But people are getting really scared of the police in America. More importantly white 'voting' people are now getting really scared, not of the African-American community, but of the police. And rightly so, guns are being put in their faces for forgetting to put on a seatbelt. It's ridiculous, it's too much and I think there will be a backlash and these forces will have to tool down and train up.
What's your craziest theory for what happened to the missing Malaysian Air flight?
Adam: There were some great alien abduction stories. I got quite into it for a while and the theory I heard that seems most plausible is this: didn't you think the Chinese government seemed unusually perturbed about the loss of that flight? Like more than they normally would about such a disaster. They were freaking out. Well...there is a tech company from Texas called Freescale Semiconductor who have some really game-changing new semiconductor technology. What you should know about Freescale is that it's so important that it was bought by the Carlyle Group, Blackstone (aka Rothschild) and TPG and Permira for $17.6 billion in 2006. One of the top 10 biggest tech buys in history. 20 of the key players from Freescale were all on MH370 (this stuff so far can be verified as fact, not theory). It is also mooted that four of five of the patent applicants (all Chinese) for patent US8650327 (http://www.google.com/patents/US8650327) were amongst them on the flight. So the theory is that "powers that be" mind-controlled the pilot (or something of the like) to do that clever thing he did-he clearly knew what he was doing, by going under OneRadar system at exactly the right point, up over the other and disappeared into one of the largest uncharted sections of earth Kamikaze style. Taking them all with him. All the other patent holders dead, the patent then was assigned to Freescale apparently just days later. So Freescale appears to have suffered much 'loss' but in the bigger picture it loses the patent applicants and it (Rothschild/Carlyle group, etc.) wins. Those firms are major players profiting from the global war machine so it could be argued the "moral dilemma" in taking down a flight full of innocent people is no biggie for them in comparison to what they sponsor every day already. Anyway these are all "theories," but worth looking into.
Mark Kozelek was criticized in 2014 for insulting his audience (calling them "hillbillies" for talking during his set) and for making fun of The War on Drugs when their sound bled over to the stage he was playing. What responsibility do performers have to be respectful of their audiences and fellow bands?
Adam: I think respect needs to run both ways. There is nothing more infuriating than a crowd who are talking really loudly when you are baring your soul in an intimate moment onstage. It happens to us all the time and it's never nice. If you gotta chat, people, go to the bar! You ruin it for half the crowd and the band. If you want to come hear the music then do that. However, it's hard to address this issue with the audience without coming across like uptight pricks. No one likes to be told what to do, especially if they have bought a ticket, and no band wants to come across like pricks. Clearly Mark could have handled it more tactfully. At least he got this conversation going, though. He's got a good point!
"Weird Al" Yankovic was back in a big way this year. If he were to lampoon any one of your songs, which one would you want it to be? What would the "Weird Al" version's lyrics be about?
Adam: "Creeper." It would be about creepy perverts. Oh...hang on...
Which common criticism of your music do you most agree with?
RY X: I think it's valid to listen and credit all thoughts on music and art creation, as long as it is constructive and comes from a place of trust. If one of my friends and peers that I respect would have commentary for me on The Acid, I will always work to listen and uphold the space to receive the information and grow from it. There have been many things I have found constructive, from mix notes, video edits, live sets, etc. Mutual respect can move something from criticism into constructive information.
What's the most uplifting or heartwarming fan interaction you've ever had?
RY X: I have been receiving a lot lately. People sharing life stories and speaking of the change music has helped create or instigate in their lives. It is very humbling. Music and the arts have a lot of power for positive change, and I think it's part of our job as creators/art makers to lead that movement. There is not much greater heartwarming than hearing music has inspired someone through dark to light, or from fear to love.
What's the topic no one asks you about in interviews that you wish they would? Conversely, if you could get journalists to stop asking you one question, which would it be?
RY X: For me, I don't feel the role of in-depth journalism is being upheld in perhaps some of the ways it could be. There are so many generic interviews and questions given as a mass package to any artist. How do we get to know the fabric of people, or their makings if we only ask surface questions? I would wish for more research, more thought, more heart in the interviewing process. And for the latter: in The Acid we always get the question "how did you meet?" With any thought or research, interviewers could see that we have shared that answer first in every interview, it's there for them to find.
Who from your youth (such as a former bully, an unrequited love) do you most hope pays attention to the fact that you're now a successful musician?
RY X: I personally don't like to draw a divide between successful, in the realm of art, and otherwise. We feel blessed and humbled to be receiving recognition in the work we are making. If that's touching people, or getting through to them, that's all that matters. And I have a lot of compassion for a bully in school. Probably didn't receive the love he/she needed in some ways. Hopefully they have found it now, and are passing it on.
Combine the production skills of Steve Nalepa and Adam Freeland with the vocals of Ry X, and you get The Acid, a group with the potential to change everything you thought you knew about music. Releasing their debut album, ‘Liminal’ on 4th July, they’ve created a hypnotic 11-track body of work that can’t be pinned down by genre. With tasters of the album in the way of ‘Creeper’ and ‘Fame’, the three accomplished professionals prove their level of genius in the field. Overcome with anticipation and curiosity, we grabbed some time with Adam to discuss how it all began and why this project is particularly special.
Hi Adam, how are you? Great! It’s a lovely, sunny day in Brighton.
In your own words, can you describe who The Acid are? It’s Ry, Steve (Nalepa) and I trying to make something interesting. It feels like it’s something beyond the sum of the three of us. It seems to have pulled us together; we didn’t plan it, it felt like some kind of entity that had its own agenda. It sort of happened without a thought.
Would you call it luck or fate that the three of you happened to be in the same place at the same time? I don’t know if I really believe in luck, but it was some kind of weird synchronised happening that you couldn’t have ever manufactured, which is what feels special about it. A certain magic happened… if that makes sense!
The result is the 11-track body of work, ‘Liminal’. With each of your backgrounds and The Acid EP to go from, were there expectations of how the album would sound? I think that was the beauty of it – we never really had time to have expectations. We didn’t have a plan, we just got together and got weird really, that was kind of our motto! What’s been really refreshing about it is that it wasn’t trying to be anything. It was the opposite to how I’ve written anything in the past. We just wanted to make something that felt good.
With the three of you, how was the production process? Ry does all the singing – I do a little bit of backing vocals, but very little [Laughs]. Ry is the voice, y’know and has a lot of experience as a songwriter. Steve’s like a studio nerd, he’s an amazing technician and very fast. And… I’m a bit of a studio nerd [Laughs]. We’re all quite accomplished in our craft which I think if we’d met at an earlier point down the line, we wouldn’t have been able to create so quickly. Malcolm Gladwell’s book, ‘Outliers’, talks about how magic things happen and a lot of it is a combination of knowing what you’re doing and that magic factor of being in the right place at the right time, and when those things combine, that’s what makes it really interesting.
Being so accomplished and experienced, was it difficult to work with two individuals that were just as involved in the music? There were moments where egos were challenged, for sure. But, there wasn’t a lot of time to mess about and argue. We had a rule that if two of us liked it, it stayed, and if two of us didn’t, it didn’t. That was how we were going to do it.
The sound you’ve created is atmospheric and really pulses through your body. If the sound of ‘Liminal’ was a world, what sort of world would it create? Oh my God, that’s a big question. ‘Liminal’ is the sort of space between things, where one thing ends and another begins. It’s in this liminal state where the conscious and the subconscious meet. It would be a world in another dimension, that you couldn’t really see and there’s nothing tangible about it, you could just feel its presence.
As someone that toured non-stop for over a decade, were you keen to have a project to get your teeth into? It was interesting because I took some time out, I’d been touring a long time as a DJ and I felt like where the scene was going was quite different from where I wanted to be. It was getting harder and noisier and there were shorter attention spans. To honour my own authentic creativity I just wanted to take a step back from touring and DJing and juts recalibrate. It was quite a gamble to do that – people were telling me I was crazy for backing off from a career I’d worked so hard on building. But the time I had was the best thing I ever did. I found a more interesting place within myself and was falling back in love with music again. It was after a year of not going on aeroplanes, which was a big deal! To meet Ry at the moment I did two days after I’d booked the studio with Steve, it felt like it was right. You couldn’t have planned it and to have tried to do this in the headspace I was in before, it would have been very different. I don’t think it would have worked.
Prior to the album’s release, the public have been able to hear ‘Creeper’ and ‘Fame’; what has the reaction been like? I think it’s been good, amazing! I saw this as some kind interesting, underground thing. I wasn’t expecting it to connect on a bigger level. Because it’s kind of weird music!
Is that because of audiences’ styles and tastes changing? It’s a combination of things – a zeitgeist. Although we weren’t trying to do it, it definitely feels like the right sound for this moment. It’s been nice because we haven’t pushed it – it was up on Soundcloud for eight months before anything, we didn’t tell anyone. In a world where everything’s crammed down your throat, we’ve gone the opposite and trusted it and let people discover it. Seeing the reaction from the live tour, people really love it.
Where have you toured so far? London, Paris, Hamburg, Brussels, Berlin, Amsterdam – we’ve literally done seven gigs ever and they’ve all been in the last couple of weeks. This summer we’ve got a lot of festivals around the UK and Europe, and we’re coming to Oz for Splendour In The Grass in Byron Bay and we’re doing Sydney and Melbourne sideshows.
Our favourite track has to be the opener, ‘Animal’ for its rawness and melancholy. Do you have a personal favourite track off of the album? I don’t know; I really like ‘Clean’, but it changes. It’s hard to be objective on your own music.
Do you do the music for yourself? Who do you make it for? We just want to make art. I’ve tried making music to meet other people’s expectations in the past and it’s never worked. You have to create for yourself. My career as a DJ started by playing music no one was. There was no market for it, I just played records and I saw a demographic that dug it. When I became successful I started making things I was supposed to and they weren’t as good. I had that realization that you’ve always got to create for yourself. You can’t fake authenticity, that rawness. Also this record was written really quickly, so we didn’t have time to try and be something.
What was the length of time it took? We did the EP in 10 days and then the rest of the album in about five or six weeks. It doesn’t happen like that – I’ve spent five or six weeks on one track before!
If you want to be pleasantly surprised, don’t bother doing the research. Flaws to this strategy include: skiving all of your uni seminars and lectures then proceeding to write an essay the day before the deadline and getting 20 marks off a pass and performing interviews. However, with music and most other artistic forms it works quite well. For example I’d never heard of The Acid before I received their debut album Liminal in the post. I now know that they are a trio consisting of folk singer-songwriter RY X, DJ Adam Freeland and producer Steve Nalepa. All I had to go on though, was quick listen to a track called ‘Creeper’; which had me expecting something cold and maybe a little snoozy.
Liminal begins with ‘Animals’, which unfurls with drowned out guitar melodies and distant voices, eventually breaking into solitary, crisp vocal that sends a haunted aural shiver. It’s like the XX took one too many pills and invited Thom Yorke over to do some guest vocals. It should really be a sleepy concoction but it’s not, rather a pulsating beast that is very much alive. Intricate, minimal, electronic sounds teeter above a sonic chasm, allowing RY’s vocal to enter and dominate at any time.
There’s a familiarity to the vocals – Zulu Winter type swoons and melancholic, almost-spoken phrases, all channelling lo-fi ambience. ‘Fame’ could be the mechanical, post-apocalyptic grandson of Bowie’s classic, with an almost spookily similar intonation of the word throughout the track. From the opening bars of Liminal to the final euphoric synth crescendo and beating heart of closer ‘Feed’, everything feels slightly familiar, yet never tiresome or remotely cold. Surprises are the best.
Liminal is the debut album by three piece ‘The Acid’, consisting of the UK grammy nominated producer Adam Freeland, Californian polymath Steve Nalepa and Australian born artist/producer Ry X (also of The Howling).
The album is beautifully layered with minimal trip and a primary focus on Ry’s voice, as Freeland explains “I think the human voice is the most advanced technology there will be.”
The soft RnB vibes teamed with heavy reverb and perfectly placed samples, layer Ry’s voice wonderfully. The samples are quaint, catchy and totally asymmetrical, making everything super interesting and addictive. Each song brings different elements to the album, it’s a perfect blend of delicateness and density. We promise it will cover all your musical needs from guitar heavy tracks like ‘Ra’, to the almost Bon Iverish melodies behind ‘Basic Instinct’.
If you’re a fan of later Radiohead, James Blake, How To Dress Well, or good music in general, then this is a definite album to add to your record collection. The boys are playing this Friday at Splendour in the grass and have side shows lined up in Sydney and Melbourne.
Best served with: a cup of herbal tea and those headphone moments.
Opening for Alt-J both nights are British ambient electronic purveyors The Acid. Comprised of DJ and record producer Adam Freeland, professor of music technology Steve Nalepa, and Australian artist RX Y, The Acid offer a slow burn of beats topped with Thom Yorke-like vocals. Brooding recordings of lo-fi sounds are craftily mixed with scuttled thuds and scratches, then topped with passive, pulsing throbs that provide an easiness that creeps up on you throughout the night. Little is known about their recent forming but reviews point to an excellently constructed album (below) and an even better live performance.
The festival officially kicked off on Friday with Tkay Maidza ripping through a blistering set of hip-hop bangers early up on the Mix-Up stage. The young lady from Adelaide whipped the crowd into a frenzy with her hit ‘Brontosaurus’ that had everyone stomping their feet like said dinosaur.
Other highlights on the Mix-Up stage included a captivating set from The Acid. Comprised of producer Adam Freeland, Australia’s own Ry X (aka Ry Cummings) and producer Steve Nalepa, the group hypnotised the audience with their weird indie-dance.
Producer, musician and DJ Adam Freeland and his wide-ranging musical palette take over the Clash DJ podcast, with a mix of electronic moods including tracks from Scuba, Trentemøller, Ramadanman and SBTRKT.
This year, The Acid - a previously mysterious entity - revealed their identities while bringing to life their superb debut record, ‘Liminal’.
Since then, life’s stayed central to the road for Ry X, Adam Freeland and Steve Nalepa. They’ve landed in London for a handful of gigs, but ‘Liminal’’s taken them worldwide, too. Footage from Tom Clabots has emerged of the group playing Ghent’s Big Next Festival back in September - a video documenting the journey (titled ‘A Day In The Tour’) can be seen exclusively on DIY below.
Alongside clips of the band playing ‘Animal’ and ‘Ghost’, they also discuss their music in detail.
“All of us have had different experiences in our musical and personal lives, so we’re bringing those experiences into the collaboration,” says Ry X, of a project that began with spur-of-the-moment sessions in LA last year.
“There’s a tension that’s there, and at the core of it is a central calm, even though you’re on the side of a cliff looking into a dark cabin - it gets really intense sometimes,” agrees Nalepa of the band’s music.
Watch the interview and live footage from live on the road with The Acid, below.
Their tour continues with a run of US shows alongside Alt-J this autumn. ‘Liminal’ is out now on Infectious Music.
Prior to joining up with Aussie singer-songwriter RY X and veteran DJ Adam Freedland to form electronic supergroup The Acid, Steve Nalepa had a pretty interesting background. As his career has taken many interesting turns that include working as a DJ, teaching at a university for a number of years, as well as providing tech support to big name producers. Add to that his other day job is assisting with the live setup for artists like The Weeknd and Drake.
The Acid are currently touring the UK off the back of their critically praised album ‘Liminal’, that was released earlier this year. Steve chatted to Figure 8 over the phone from Los Angeles, where he is based. Steve proved to be quite the talkative interviewee, managing to cover the creative process, alongside his other projects in some detail.
Compared to some electronic acts you play everything live, when did you decide to take this approach?
Steve Nalepa: In January we went down to Australia, RY is from there. We had actually spent time together in Los Angeles where we made the record at my place, and had been in England together with Adam, and it was kind of nice to go to where RY was from. His dad has somewhere surrounded by 20 acres of rainforest, and we were basically holed up in the jungle. We talked about how we were going to do this, and we had gone out and researched and watched other artist’s shows. And there’s a lot people who just do an Ableton playback and have people playing back on top of that, and we didn’t want to do that. And we were much more inspired by watching artists like James Blake and Radiohead who are actually playing things live. Because we had our drummer Jens, he actually is the reasons why we are able to do it, because he is actually an incredible drummer. Some of these more 4/4 type songs, the first instinct would be to play it back so it’s sort of mechanical, and kind of like a solid, steady 4/4 beat underneath things, but he can actually play that. His timing is so solid he can hold it down and it almost sounds like a drum machine on stage. Him and RY have been playing together for five years and they formed a solid backbone under which it enabled us to do it. So it was a conscience choice, we really wanted to do it live as a band, and there’s lots of guitars and singing on there, so obviously there’s lots of electronic elements, but we don’t necessarily think of ourselves as an electronic act per se. But it’s more about using weird sounds to try and fit the genre.
We seen a couple of artists (I won’t name names) but we watched a couple of shows, and it was clear that you could tell that there was a lot of stuff coming from the stage that they weren’t actually playing. So we figured out how to strip the songs down, the good news was that our songs were fairly minimal to begin with, so we didn’t have to ditch too many of the elements in order to actually play the stuff live. I have a lot of experience in terms of helping other artists setting up their rigs for their live tours, so it was a nice challenge for me to apply my knowledge to the problems we were facing with trying to this, and divvy it up with the four of us. Yeah, it was fun; it’s been going pretty well. We’ve done fifteen shows – hard to believe we’ve done fifteen shows, I think we counted them up. It feels like we’ve crossed into a point where everything is gelling when we play live together.
You mentioned about ‘Ableton’, didn’t you work for them at one time, promoting it to people in the industry?
SN: I used to have a job, I got hired back in 2003. I started working for a company called M Audio, and we distributed ‘Ableton Live’ and ‘Reason’, and I got a hold of the program a month before I got hired. When I got in there and started working in tech support, it was brand new to them, so I was actually one of the people who knew it best, because I really drove in it and knew it inside and out. So basically I was in the position where I was teaching our sponsored artists, these bigger producers who worked with Michael Jackson, and Madonna, and really big name people who had Grammys, and all that. I was coming in to teach them this new working environment, because it’s different to ‘Pro Tools’ and ‘Logic’ what most people are used to, like timeline based things.
I spent five years working there and doing a lot with that, and then I taught for five years at a university, and two years at an online school called Dubspot, made a bunch of ‘Ableton Live’ tutorials that get a lot of views. It’s funny sometimes, like when we do our shows and we get the fans coming up afterwards, I always get a lot of the nerdy producer guys who want to come and ask me ‘Ableton’ questions, or ask me about some new plug-in, you know. The rock n roll lifestyle (laughs), probably for the best because I’m married that I don’t get the girls saying “of my god”, I get the nerdy dudes who want to ask me about side chain, this thing and adding all the fancy tricks in ‘Ableton’.
So I’ve been working with tutoring and helping other artists with that for many, many years now, and have had a close relationship with them. That was one thing I was able to really bring into the project, is a way for us to use it where we’re still basically doing everything live, we basically created technical setup for our audio and visual situation, that we were able to do this performance which is a completely live and synesthetic live audio visual show. So every night the visuals are different depending on what we do, and they are completely reactive to what of all four of us are playing on stage.
It’s so much more fun. For years I’ve done shows on my own where it’s a more of a DJ situation, or kind of an electronic show where you’re playing things, and you’re turning knobs, buttons and faders, and things. But when you play keys and you’re playing parts and there’s no safety net, its one thing if you try and filter too far, or something, but then it’s completely different if you hit the wrong note on something. It’s just been a real thrill to actually play live music like that. You know, it certainly helps having RY, he has done so many live shows, he’s got so much experience with that, he’s such a great presence up there as a front person and the way he engages the crowd. Each of us have experience doing arenas; Adam has performed for millions of people at all the different DJ gigs he’s done for the last 20 years. He’s in new territory too playing in a band where’s he’s got to sing, play live drums and play keys, and usually all three at the same time, and he’s risen to the challenge, but its all pushing us into new territory. It’s been fun; it’s been a lot of work.
So you’re saying it’s been a bit of a baptism by fire.
SN: Yeah, I’ve got a background playing keys, when I grew up I took organ lessons as a kid, so I’ve always been playing my whole life. But playing and tracking things in the studio is much different than actually playing particular parts in a live setting. You know, I’m able to go in with synthesizers over the years, and I’ve always recorded things, I play all the parts in, you go through and mine the best bits and get rid of the mistakes. But there’s no room for making those mistakes when you’re playing in a live setting. You know, it was different for all of us; because there’s a different dynamic than each of our other projects have had, and what not. It’s been an experience of growth and learning, but we have really good communication between us, and it’s just managed to translate really well into a live thing.
When we were writing the record, it really became an exercise in stripping things back and having each song have as minimum amount of elements in there as possible. You can’t go too far because then you’ll lose that tension. Less is more is definitely a concept we applied in the making of the record, and I think that actually enabled us to translate it to a live arena very smoothly, because there’s not a lot of parts. We have Jens on drums, he can – I’ve seen him playing a real drum set playing jazz gigs and its insane what he can do, he’s a Berkeley school of music trained jazz drummer. So I feel like he could play our songs one handed with his eyes closed and he’d have no problem. These are simple parts compared to what he’s used to and a has been trained how to play.
How did Jens react to playing these really simple 4/4 parts?
SN: He jokes about it occasionally, but he’s a funny guy like that. But there’s definitely stuff you got to do, when he learns the patterns, it’s there and it’s ingrained and he can do it and it’s not a problem. He actually was involved in a couple of tracks on ‘Liminal’, and he’s going to be much more involved in the writing on the new record. I mean he plays keys, and I mean he plays in both RY’s other projects, in The Howling and also with RY X. With RY X, he’s doing drums, and he’s got one hand playing on a drum pad situation and one foot playing a symbol, one foot playing a kick drum, the other hand is playing bass lines and chords. It’s a real ambidextrous kind of situation, when you watch someone playing an organ and they’re really going for it, they’ve got both hands and both feet moving a million miles an hour. There’s something about it, that restraint. It’s definitely a fun thing, although I know we’ve already got some ideas for the next body of work we’re writing. We got a load of stuff we started working on and definitely looking to mixing it up with some complex things for keeping our percussion section happy.
You said earlier about your previous work helping acts like Drake with their live set up. How has that inspired or helped The Acid’s approach to playing live?
SN: It’s definitely something where – there’s a couple of different ways of setting up shows. Sometimes artists like to work- depending on the lighting and video configuration they have set up, sometimes they would like to have a playback situation with time code, that all the lighting and visual cues are based on this time code strip, leaving not enough room for improvisation. You have to go to a click, then you’re really locked in and if you have a lot of backing elements that are coming out of the computer, out the box, then it kind of makes sense. Everyone has their in ears, so they hear the click and what not.
For most of the tracks that we’re doing we don’t have a click, there are only one or two songs as we are actually sending midi notes for an arpeggiated part for ‘Fame’, for example. We only have so many limbs; I do wish we could grow a couple extra limbs now and then. With genetic engineering in the future, maybe we’ll have some human octopus playing keys (laughs). But for now we’ve got to deal with what we have, and when we were down in Australia we realised for now let’s just have this one part come back from the computer, this arpeggiated synth part. And then I realised that we had this Moog Minitaur, this analog synthesiser module, that instead of doing it that way, we could actually send out midi notes to it and do analogue synthesis every night, where we’re actually generating the sounds that way.
Yeah I’ve worked with a number of different people; sometimes I’ve come in more on a consulting basis, or they have a couple of songs they need to add to their setup, or live show. Or a lot of projects like, with The Weeknd, with Abel from Toronto, I went up there and took the whole show and built the live performance document, and you have to make a backup plan, and I went out and toured with them and was essentially in the band, it was just a very simple role of what I was doing. It’s really fulfilling now actually being in the position where I’m up on stage playing the parts, and there’s not that sort of track.
There’s just a lot of different ways you can do it, part of what I get called into do with some these artists is problem solving, “ok we this is what we need to do?” – it’s my maths brain. I was a math major in college and I love these kinds of challenges and I love these kind of problems. And so people are like “I want to do this” and “at the same time we want to do this” so I just have to think about it and work within the limits of what it can and can’t do. That’s the beautiful part about ‘Ableton Live’ is that it’s incredibly flexible; you can pretty much do anything with it. I think that’s what’s intimidating for a lot of the younger students I have, who have started writing and working with it. You can do anything you can dream up, so it’s a matter of limiting yourself and starting to make stuff, just diving in there and picking a direction and going with it, as opposed to staring into the abyss and going “oh there’s too many choices and I don’t know what to do.”
But a lot of times with some of the bigger artists I’ve worked with, they have what they need to do and it was just a matter of working with everyone, getting the technical side of things iron tight. Because when you’re playing bigger shows there’s not really that room for stuff to go wrong. If people are paying top dollar to come to a show and you’ve got a huge audience and a stadium scenario, you need a backup plan and you need it to be stable. Because things crap out in the middle of your set and people are not going to be happy, as people have paid a lot of money, they are going to be even less happy. That was a big part of what I was doing, I was bullet proofing their rigs and getting that setup. And so I definitely took that and applied it to what we did, and it’s been a continual learning process, you know. There’s a lot to do and there’s a lot of equipment and were playing in different countries all the time, so there’s different power. I learned the hard way down in Australia, I had a keyboard explode down there, when I was first down there in January. Now I’ve got the rig really solid and it’s not going to happen again, hopefully. Nothing like seeing a power strip on fire and thinking “that can’t be good.” That hasn’t happened since though, I hope that’s answered your question.
I think that answered two or three (Steve Laughs). Ok one last question, you said earlier in the interview that you had some material that has already been written for the next album, what are the plans for getting that recorded?
SN: Well basically where we are now, we have this body of work, and we’re touring through about November, our last shows for this year currently in the diary are for mid November, we’re doing four shows for les Inrocks magazine, they are doing a festival in four different cities in France. After that we’re going to hit the studio. We might have some time before that. We have a run in America in October; we are doing 5 shows on the west coast with Alt-J . Basically we have a month where we’re all going to be here in LA, and I think Adam is going to stick around and were just going to get a bunch of ideas written.
Because basically the way it worked last time, we would get together and we were able to work really quickly. Sometimes Adam and I would work on some tracks and RY would come over in the afternoon, and he would feel something and pull up a vocal track and freestyle some ideas right from the subconscious onto it, lay out some guitar parts on it. Or he would come into the studio with some idea the he had been working on and we’d start from there, it was different every time. But we’ve got a folder with a bunch of ideas which we can have to pick and choose and pull from. Some of it might just end up taking one element from some idea. It’s like when you’re cooking and having a bunch of ingredients around the kitchen, laying around, instead of like having to run out to the store and get it back.
You know, it’s been tricky juggling our busy schedules; we just want to be ready when we do have time to get together, that we can sit down and start writing. There are some times when you’re like “ok we’re kind of hitting a dead end on this idea, what other things can we pull in, and just kind of maybe put this on pause for a second and pull something else in.” A lot of the producers I admire all kind of agree that their best work generally happens very quickly, you write a song in 20-30 minutes, you know you’re onto something, or you know this idea is not going anywhere. Sometimes it’s worth pushing through and adding things and adding things, and then eventually you strip everything away and the most recent thing you just added is what you base a new song around.
With us it would be really good to have a bunch of ideas started that we could get moving on. I’m excited about that, Adam and I sat down; we had the day off here in Brighton in his studio by the sea, we wrote a new song together last week. Yeah we’re just stacking them up and so that when we have a break in our schedule and we can all be in the same place and get in the studio together. You know, it would be a good idea to get bunch of rough ideas to start going. Once we get on a roll and we get into the thing and it’ll start becoming clearer what sort of sonic palette we want to investigate, and what kind of direction we want the new record to go into fully. But getting a bunch of stuff winded up that we can play with is going to be very helpful for that.
DOES the start to your day consist of a bleary-eyed attempt at eating cereal over breakfast television?
Yesterday morning hundreds of ravers said goodbye to the mundane and hello to Morning Gloryville – an early morning, pre-work rave held in a Brighton nightclub.
More than 300 clubbers defied the norm and ‘raved their way into the day’ at the Shooshh club in Kings Road Arches.
Featuring pumping music from DJs, yoga, massages and breakfast, hundreds of glow-stick clad partygoers took to the dancefloor from 6.30am for a clubbing experience like no other.
Organiser Jim Mitchell said the event was “all about creating good vibes”.
He said: “It went really well. It was a great success. It’s about getting people together to have a party, get fit, network, and have an opportunity to dance, hang out and have a good time to start off your day.
“We had a real mix of people including a lot of professionals who wanted to dance before work and also families with children too.
“Our talented DJs Adam Freeland, Mojo Filter and Bobby Lost, plus MC Kernel, took care of the tunes and there were yoga classes with Nine Lives Yoga and free massages with Magnus the Masseur.”
Asked how early morning clubbers compared to their night time counterparts, Jim said: “What you find is people are more competent at dancing when they’re sober. They kick their legs up high and really go for it but I think they need a bit more space when they’re sober.
“Everyone was going for it and jumping up and down to all sorts of music like party classics, mash-ups, house and breaks. It was really up-beat and feel good with styles to suit everybody.”
The party was the first of its kind in Brighton but similar events have been held across the UK.
The idea has caught attention in New York, San Francisco, Barcelona, Paris, Sydney and Tokyo.
Clubbers could take respite from pulling shapes on the dance floor with a selection of refreshments.
Jim said: “There were smoothes, Lassi Indian shakes, falafel breakfast boxes and coffee.
“The Morning Gloryville name comes from the idea of having villages in cities that share the morning experience.”
For further details of the raves visit morninggloryville.com
The Acid fuse indie with post-Burial bass music so seamlessly that you forget The xx ever existed. True to the album's title, the trio of global innovators - Aussie cult folkster Ry X, Grammy-nominated British producer Adam Freeland and LA's Drake and The Weeknd collaborator Steve Nalepa - concoct a hybrid of genteel guitar music and urban electronica on tracks such as 'Veda', an evolution from indie torch song to deep house heartbreaker, and the melodramatic chillrave of 'Fame'. The descent into indie R&B anaemia on 'Animal' is less exciting, but otherwise, drenched in field recordings of whisked eggs and jangling bracelets, this album is an imaginative and accessible bout of boundary-crushing. Read more at http://www.nme.com/reviews/various-artists/15431?__scoop_post=cd7c8480-061f-11e4-c817-001018304b75&__scoop_topic=1259923#JJeHUOQGBCpcRqCI.99
Here’s a genuine buzzworthy selection to add to your ever-expanding summer playlist. Comprised of globe-trotting, Grammy nominated DJ producer Adam Freeland, Californian polymath Steve Nalepa, and LA-residing, Aussie artist Ry X, The Acid delivers a stunning debut album Liminal that drops next week on July 15th. As the back-story goes, Freeland and X bumped into each other at a mutual friend’s party in Los Angeles last year. They hit it off, as like-minded musicians often do, decided to collaborate together, and Freeland enlisted his pal Nalepa to add to the mix. It must have been kismet because the result, on stark, standout moment like “Fame” and “Animal,” is truly captivating. Stream it now in its entirety on Pandora Premieres here and catch the video for “Fame” below.
The Acid present their debut Liminal on Tuesday, July 15th via Mute.
It says “pop” up there, but it could say anything really, and if the purpose of a CD review is to describe the music contained within then you’ll have to take this as an apology for the lack of the requisite vocabulary.
Let’s fall back instead on that old chestnut of other stuff it calls to mind: vocally, James Blake; musically, any of the post-dubstep acts who use beats and blips to create music of brutal and brittle beauty; and atmospherically, no less than Talk Talk’s Spirit of Eden, which is the main reason to love this strange and compelling work.
One moment a strummed acoustic, the next the sound of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop. The Acid are DJ Adam Freeland, “professor” Steve Nalepa and singer Ry X if that helps. I salute them.
Sharing your scoops to your social media accounts is a must to distribute your curated content. Not only will it drive traffic and leads through your content, but it will help show your expertise with your followers.
How to integrate my topics' content to my website?
Integrating your curated content to your website or blog will allow you to increase your website visitors’ engagement, boost SEO and acquire new visitors. By redirecting your social media traffic to your website, Scoop.it will also help you generate more qualified traffic and leads from your curation work.
Distributing your curated content through a newsletter is a great way to nurture and engage your email subscribers will developing your traffic and visibility.
Creating engaging newsletters with your curated content is really easy.