Name: Barry Adamson
Occupation: Musician, composer, writer, photographer, filmmaker
Current release: Barry Adamson's Steal Away EP is out via Mute.
If you enjoyed this interview with Barry Adamson and would like to find out more about him, visit his official homepage to start your yourney into his work. He is also on Instagram, Facebook, and Soundcloud.
Where does the impulse to create something come from for you? What role do often-quoted sources of inspiration like dreams, other forms of art, personal relationships, politics etc play?
All of the above and also being ‘given’ ideas. You start to recognise that an idea is coming to you as you wander the earth with a metaphorical butterfly net, catching those ideas.
Ideas can come both from emotional pain and relief. I’ve often found that happens. Or the subconscious is pulling away at what’s really going on for me and I will trust what’s happening and maybe years later I will understand why that beauty or folly was being unearthed for the sake of expression and entertainment.
For you to get started, do there need to be concrete ideas – or what some have called a 'visualisation' of the finished work? What does the balance between planning and chance look like for you?
This is where it gets good. You become like a detective following leads and threads and there goes the flutter of wings! Something not heard before or something all too familiar and then by chance you stumble across it … The thing you hold of value which these ideas must stand against to be worthy of presenting.
Do you have certain rituals to get you into the right mindset for creating? What role do certain foods or stimulants like coffee, lighting, scents, exercise or reading poetry play?
From the minute I start we are ‘in process’ and the ideas are saved as ‘in progress’.
What do you start with? How difficult is that first line of text, the first note?
That’s the thing that gets you reaching for the notebook, the tape recorder this is the bit you have to get down. In this movement it could be the start of great things so you must be ready.
Once you've started, how does the work gradually emerge?
I believe it is already there, like sculpture in a block of clay or marble. My job is to try and see it as it is coming along. Water and feed it, if you like, then cut away what is not needed as the idea takes shape and begins to flower.
Many writers have claimed that as soon as they enter into the process, certain aspects of the narrative are out of their hands. Do you like to keep strict control over the process or is there a sense of following things where they lead you?
Back to the detective and ‘trusting the process.’ There is something very exciting about losing ‘control’ over the work and other times ‘steering the shop’ in an assertive direction, based on knowledge and experience.
Often, while writing, new ideas and alternative roads will open themselves up, pulling and pushing the creator in a different direction. Does this happen to you, too, and how do you deal with it? What do you do with these ideas?
Follow them. Even if they lead nowhere. There’s a reason for them all, even if to gather experience of what doesn’t quit work and to learn to spot it quickly.
There are many descriptions of the creative state. How would you describe it for you personally? Is there an element of spirituality to what you do?
Definitely I’ve heard it said that the work massages the suffering of the person that makes it.
With that in mind I feel I’m given the job to give away what is helping me to get through tough times, hard times and good times .
Especially in the digital age, the writing and production process tends towards the infinite. What marks the end of the process? How do you finish a work? Once a piece is finished, how important is it for you to let it lie and evaluate it later on? How much improvement and refinement do you personally allow until you're satisfied with a piece? What does this process look like in practise?
To answer both…
You know the end is in sight and you almost gallop to the finishing line, spurred on by victory as everything you were aiming fit has been hit hard and you feel a sense of completion. (This takes time; many a time I have simply started again for fear of failure.)
With practice, you know. You know you are ready to ‘let go’ of your previous idea and send it out into the world.
What's your take on the role and importance of production, including mixing and mastering for you personally? How involved do you get in this?
Totally involved in the mixing and I use a trusted mastering genius who never fails to take it to a new and wonderful place. Production for me begins immediately the idea is being drafted.
After finishing a piece or album and releasing something into the world, there can be a sense of emptiness. Can you relate to this – and how do you return to the state of creativity after experiencing it?
I’ve learned not to fill the emptiness but to embrace it and take time out and pretty soon an idea comes flapping its wings and off we go again.
Creativity can reach many different corners of our lives. Do you personally feel as though writing a piece of music is inherently different from something like making a great cup of coffee? What do you express through music that you couldn't or wouldn't in more 'mundane' tasks?
I don’t really see it as a ‘task’ like making a great cup of coffee. I think I’m trying to express something that can resonate inside the soul and communicate something of the human condition in order to feel connected to other humans, so that they can too in some way.
All while drinking one damn fine cup of coffee!