by Alex Teitz
Adron’s music is like a breeze from the ocean filling the senses. It is primary Tropicalia but has elements of dream built in. It is walking on the beach on vacation. Her album Water Music comes out August 17 on Tribo Records. Her newest single is “Be Like the Sea:
FEMMUSIC: What was the biggest challenge making Water Music?
A: Well, honestly, making the album was a joy. Everything that happened inside the studio was good. Hard work, definitely, and often frustrating, but good for the soul. Finding a way to release the album was a near-heartbreaking struggle that dragged on for years. We made use of the time, taking opportunities to re-evaluate and polish the tracks as my ears matured… but outside the studio it felt like the music world kept building brick walls in front of us, one after another. I lost track of how many deals we started with labels and investors only to have them fall apart when people either break their promises or stop communicating altogether. The music industry, at least the industry most independent artists encounter, is incredibly fickle and flaky. I can’t even begin to describe the feeling I’m having, finally getting this record out. Let’s just say… the word “release” carries extra significance for me right now.
FEMMUSIC: Tell me about pre-production on Water Music. How was it different from you other albums?
A: I came into this project having built a really strong musical rapport with my main collaborator, Colin Agnew (drummer, percussionist and co-arranger on Water Music). For the previous record, Organismo, our approach was much more along the lines of, “throw it at the wall and see if it sticks.” This time the songs were mostly full-grown adults by the time we brought them into the studio, and we had a much more articulate plan for how they’d sound. There’s a whole lot going on in these productions; stacks and stacks of instrument tracks on these sessions. But I’m proud at how coherently and confidently it all came together. We were reaching for the studio sound of the mid 1970s, thinking always of records like Joni Mitchell’s “Court and Spark,” and Roberta Flack’s “Feel Like Makin’ Love”… records with a broad palette of sounds but always clear, crystalline, communicative. Never letting sonic opulence drown out the actual song itself. Shout out to Martin Kearns, producer and engineer on Water Music, who devoted countless hours to realizing this vision with us.
FEMMUSIC: I understand you worked with ATL Collective on Water Music. Tell me about the Collective and what they contributed to the album.
A: ATL Collective is a loose group of badass musicians who unite to put on cover shows, usually presenting an entire classic album, front to back. I’ve performed with them tons of times, doing Stevie Wonder, Joni Mitchell, Crosby, Stills and Nash, Billy Joel… more than I can name. It’s great fun for the audiences (which grow with every show!) but I don’t even know if they realize how much it does for the artists, just to be a part of these shows. The experience is incredibly strengthening and educational for a growing artist like myself. Imagine getting up in front of a packed audience to sing Marvin Gaye, to people who don’t know who you are, but are fiercely devoted fans of Gaye’s music. It can be terrifying. If you survive it, you’re a thousand times stronger than you were before. These are great bonding experiences with genius players, and I can’t imagine how many other fruitful collaborations have come as a result of Collective shows. So… I met many of the genius players on Water Music through ATL Collective shows, including bassist Robby Handley and keyboardist Rhett Huffman, who I still play with as often as possible.
FEMMUSIC: You’re signed to Tribo Records. Why did you sign with them? What benefits have they brought to the project?
A: Tribo is owned by my old friend, Rafael Pereira. He’s a brilliant musician and a hardworking businessman, and pretty much everyone in Atlanta loves him. I can’t overstate the importance of working with people you trust, who understand what you need, and what you mean to say with the music you make. Tribo is helping me finally get this album out of the studio and into the world, something I couldn’t do independently, on my minimum-wage income, and needing to compensate the investment in time and energy of other partners who worked on the record. The relationship with Tribo feels like a mutual blast-off, both of us strengthening each others’ radius of influence in the world with a record we’re all really excited about.
FEMMUSIC: Can you describe your songwriting technique?
A: I can try! I’ve been trying to harness the muse in a more deliberate way over the last couple years, because in the past it’s always felt sort of accidental. I’m sitting there, screwing around on guitar, and suddenly kablooie, there’s a song. But I want to be more communicative. I want the person listening to understand me. That’s actually pretty rare these days, I think! I want to tell a story, and have the person listening be like “Omg same.” But at the same time I want to articulate weird, squirmy feelings and experiences that don’t get nailed down in songs very often. So I’m taking a much more considered approach to lyrics these days. And letting music kinda summon itself up around the story, which, now that I’m a more seasoned writer, happens more and more naturally these days. Melody and harmony is pretty second nature to me now; what I want to master is communication.
FEMMUSIC: What song (not your own) has had the biggest influence on you and why?
A: Holy shit, how do I even answer this question?!! I really can’t isolate one single Caetano Veloso song, but I can’t overstate his influence on me. Same with the Beatles. Same with Marcos Valle. I’m just gonna sidestep all these colossal figures in my musical life and cherrypick this one song: “Grilos” by Erasmo Carlos. It’s perfection. It’s a desert-island, can’t-live-without-it song. I might never write or record anything that perfect, and I’m okay with it. Go listen.
FEMMUSIC: As a woman in the music industry have you been discriminated against?
A: Sure. We all have. Sound engineers, when I’m on tour, still offer to show me how to wrap my own cables. I do my best to shrug it off, because my energy is better spent elsewhere. The thing that actually bugs me more, though, is when I’m asked to participate in festivals and showcases that are aggressively female- or female-identifying-only. I don’t feel like my music has all that much to do with my gender, except that my voice is pretty feminine and I make the most of that. I don’t like to perform in contexts where male listeners either don’t feel welcome or don’t feel like the event is relevant to them; I don’t feel like that’s germane to what I’m about as an artist, and I think it’s often harmful to the genuine pursuit of cross-gender friendship and community. I think for different groups to make peace, we need to spend time together. I.e., no one has ever become less racist by isolating themselves from other races, right?
FEMMUSIC: Whom would you most like to collaborate with, or tour with? Why?
A: Caetano Veloso, because he might be the single greatest influence on me as a songwriter besides maybe Paul McCartney. I suppose a part of me just wants to show him what I’ve done, and offer it up to him. Because I feel like a part of it all belongs to him, and I like to think he’d appreciate it. I also think we’d make a terrific double bill, and I’m pretty certain if we ever sang together it’d be gorgeous.
FEMMUSIC: What one thing would you like to change about the music industry?
A: Another tough one! I suppose I’d like to see music labels get braver, and try harder to discover new and developing artists whose styles aren’t easily definable, or don’t have a clear formula for how to market them, and take bigger risks with these types of artists. Put money into it. Let’s try to make the next generation of standout artists really, truly memorable. Fewer colossally expensive spectacle acts, more memorable, cherishable songs from passionate artists.
Posted in Interviews Tagged with: Adron