Adam Jay has been in the Indy scene for over 13 years. He is one of the headlining DJ’s at Mojostock this year and will be gracing us with his live PA set. His resume includes 5 continents, 18 countries with at least 60 releases to his name. I sat down with him to get an idea of what makes one of Indiana’s prolific tech producers tick.
Q: What attracted you to electronic music in the beginning?
Adam: “My sister, who is 9 years older, went to Earlham College in Richmond, IN and was a radio DJ playing mostly industrial music. I would have to say that it was industrial music that got me into electronic. I was in a couple of bands playing bass when I was 15 or 16 and had gotten frustrated with having to rely on other people, so with electronic music it was like I could do this on my own and not have to rely on anyone.”
Q: What were some of your early influences?
Adam: “The artists that were the father or grand-father bands of Seattle like Mother Love Bone and even Green River were my early influences. As far as industrial there was Nine Inch Nails and Skinny Puppy, they were more of an influence later on. I really didn’t have that much time to be influenced by industrial before I was already into techno. One of the first techno records I bought was this record called “Flower Child”, that was in ’97 and it was made the year before. It wasn’t like I listened to industrial for 5 to 10 years and then techno, I found techno pretty soon afterwards.”
Q: When did you transcend into production?
Adam: “Well I started DJing when I was 16, so 1997, and then started to dabble in producing around 1999. It wasn’t until 2002 that I would say I started to have success with producing music.”
Q:When do you feel like you became an “accomplished” DJ/producer?
Adam: “I started my own label Azure around ’99 but we didn’t release anything until ’00, and I didn’t do anything of my own until ’01-’02. After that I started to send tracks out to other labels and getting good response on them. In 2003, I was asked to travel to Australia and do a live PA and some other DJ gigs. That was pretty much the beginning or the start.”
Q: What, in your mind, is your biggest accomplishment today?
Adam: “Wow, that’s hard because I’ve always just looked at all the little accomplishments as equal, there hasn’t been one giant thing. I was really surprised when this club in Tokyo asked me to play every other month, in 2008.”
Q: How did you get that residency?
Adam: “In 2005, I did a record for a German label called Monoid. That label got me a gig performing a live PA for a promoter in Japan, which coincidentally ended up being the last time I performed live PA. Then, a few years went by and the same promoter called me up and asked me to DJ every other month for a club called Studio Cube 326. It surprised me because at the time I hadn’t written any music for a couple years and wasn’t traveling much. It was nice and really refreshing but I got to be honest, after doing it a few times, the 60 days went really fast and just going over there for one show started to wear on me a bit. It reminded me why I slowed down with traveling.”
Q: You’re performing your live PA for the masses at Mojostock, what goes into your live PA?
Adam: “The main difference between a DJ set and live PA, you’re not just mixing tracks. My live PA has evolved over the years and now I approach it totally different. What I’ve basically done is deconstructed the music that I have written since last year and broken them into pieces so I can play with them on a microscopic level. I’ve broken my tracks into 8 to 12 pieces themselves so I can go in and fine tune these tracks. On top of that, I can compose new drum rthyms and new synth work, it’s kind of like live remixing. Some of the tracks that people might be familiar with, for Mojostock, these tracks will sound similar to the way they were produced originally but there’s going to be extra parts and some parts removed, basically remixed on the fly.”
Q: What is the difficulty level of performing a live PA set?
Adam: “It takes a lot more preparation. If I need to go DJ in an hour, I’ll be fine. With a live PA, it’s something I’ve been thinking about all last year and then really sinking my teeth into since last winter. In some ways it handicaps you because you don’t have as large of a catalog to pull from if you want to direct the crowd in a certain way. If you want to have that versatility, you just have to prepare that much more. Then the hour or hour and a half I spend performing it while I don’t have to worry about beat matching like a DJ would, I’m focusing on things that are more technical. So day in and day out doing a live PA is more mentally exhausting.”
Q: What are your thoughts on the surge in the local electronic scene?
Adam: “I’m really happy to see a lot of new people, I feel like Indy has always thrived when the ones promoting the events weren’t just DJ’s. DJ’s are always going to be throwing parties, but to be honest, the DJ’s and creative types aren’t the best promoters. I can say this about myself, we usually procrastinate and don’t have the forethought to do something on a monthly basis. For me, the best promoters are the ones from the pure promotional/social side. They want to see it grow and want to see people come in that wouldn’t otherwise be there. Bringing people from the outside in. I think the last year has been a good building year and I think the future for the Indy scene is bright. I’m curious to see where it goes from here.”
Q:In your opinion, what needs to happen to keep it going or make it more prominent here in Indy?
Adam: “Better sound systems. When we had Therapy, a lot of DJ’s that came from out of town enjoyed playing there because it was a good sound system. No one likes to go to another city and play on a crappy system. As a venue owner, you need to respect your listeners more. The sound should never be so harsh that you need to put ear plugs in, which could be fixed with better EQ’s or acoustic treatments. Lot of places are under powered or have contracts with sound guys that feel under paid, so you throw a party there and they just don’t care as much. Promoters and venues need to work together to make the product sound better in the end. For a long time it was just getting people through the door, now your getting the numbers, focus on the quality. People will dance if it doesn’t hurt your ears. They need to feel that low end in their chests and the highs are not so loud you have to scream in the ear of the person to have a conversation on the dance floor.”
Q: What advice do you have for the newer or other DJ/producers out there?
Adam: “For the DJ’s, just understand that your never going to get the amount of respect you think you deserve here in Indianapolis. That’s just the way it is so don’t dwell on it or demand it. Do what you do and if it’s good, you’ll go to other cities and get that respect. For producer’s, make sure the next track you do is better than the your last, and everything else will happen around that. Don’t force it and concentrate on the music.”
Here are some of Adam’s upcoming releases; May 24th-“Negative Drag EP” on Poland’s Stereophonic Recordings, June 14th-“Weight of the Hammer EP” on Brazil’s Different is Different Records, and June 16th-“Waiting In The Wings EP” on Seattle’s MHR-HRD Recordings.You can also catch a taste of Adam Jay’s live set at Daedalus on Friday, May 21st in the main room of Tru. This will be his live PA debut in Indy. I know I’m looking forward to it!!! Check out his fan page and join the addition!!Adam Jay’s fan page.