Adam Tinley – mostly known to the music lovers as Adamski, has had the status of being a legendary artist for a few decades . Adams took his first steps in musical business during his childhood years, when he formed a kinder-punk band ‘The Stupid Babies’ with his brother. They were noticed and supported probably by one of the most well-known UK radio presenters, John Peel, and were aired on BBC Radio 1. In his teenage years Adam turned his head to electro-punk sounds and played in the band, Diskord Datkord.
At the turn off the 80’s, like most of the open-minded youth, he was charmed and hypnotized by acid-house. That was a time when Adam picked up his most recognizable moniker Adamski, dedicated to UFO enthusiast, George Adamski. Being one of the first artists who started to play electronic music live, which he did by setting up his portable keyboard, helped him to become a serious figure in a quickly developing rave scene. Adamski became a welcomed guest in Ibiza’s super clubs like Pacha and Amnesia and big illegal raves in Britany. In 1990 he released a track ‘Killer’ alongside singer Seal, which became a multiplatinum hit and helped him to gain international fame.
During the 90’s Adamski released many successful tracks and did a lot of exciting collaborations with cult artists and massive pop-stars like Nina Hagen and Elton John. In the 2000s Adam rebranded himself and picked a moniker Adam Sky. Under this name, he released a lot of electroclash music that was in trend at that time, with labels like Turbo Recordings, Kitsune and Exploited. A few years ago he took back his good old moniker Adamski and started to work on a new and unusual musical concept – Future Waltz. The idea of Future Waltz is to give a new breath to old-school musical forms like the waltz. The result of taking a waltz ¾ rhythm structure and combining it with different forms of modern music from house and techno to rap, grime and trip-hop was an album “Revolt”, that was released in 2015.
At the moment, Adamski is still enjoying playing sets that mostly consist of his classic house and techno tunes during big events in the UK and Ibiza and has a brand new artistical alter ego, Sonny Eriksson. Sonny Eriksson is the ultimate psychobilly at the start of the 21st century. His music is psychobilly with elements of punk and strange electronic music.
Finally, All-Andorra had a chance to talk with this charismatic and legendary artist. Adam told us memorable and funny stories about his past, opened the curtains on his future plans and talked about his favorite trips and views on the possibility of coming to perform in Andorra.
Interview: Dmitry Tolkunov
Hi Adam, thank you for finding time to talk with us. It seems that you have many different and interesting projects that you are working on. What are you mostly involved in now?
Like Adamski, I’m a serious and focused DJ spinning old school classics and a lot of my own work often re-edited and mashed up in ways that would be possible in the 80’s and 90’s. And as Sonny Eriksson, I come out of my shell singing and playing a spectacular silver Gretsch guitar psychobilly style and having the best hair, shoes and sunglasses on the planet! It’s kind of schizophrenic, especially when I’m booked to do both performances at the same event.
Is Sonny Eriksson your artistical alter-ego with a strong base?
Sonny Eriksson is my fantasy childhood rock’n’roll star and all the most exciting musical inspirations of my life amalgamated into a one-man show.. it’s time-traveling music with a reimagined 1950’s rockabilly mixed with contemporary sounds.
I remember how I was standing in front of a mirror with a tennis racket like a guitar, imagining that I was Elvis Presley. And finally now when I’m a grown-up, I can stand on a real stage with an amazing guitar, in a psychobilly outfit and give real rock-n-roll. Sonny Eriksson is dedicated to all the heroes of my youth, like Alan Vega, The Cramps, Sigue Sigue Sputnik, Stray Cats, Ziggy Stardust and many others..
How did the idea of this telephone name come up?
It came accidentally and just in time. I was sitting and thinking of the name for this project and suddenly my eye caught an old model of a Sony Erikson cell phone and I realized that this name sounds very 60’s. If you check the rockabilly records of that era you notice that nearly half of the artists of that era were called Sony. Sony Erikson sounds like a perfect rockabilly name and it’s timeless, aesthetic and it’s vibe is very close to me as it is the essence of this project.
What’s new in the Sonny Eriksson world?
I have an exciting show as Sonny next weekend. It’s the Alternative Miss World at the Globe Theatre (Shakespeare’s) in London.. It has been going since 1972 and has involved people like Leigh Bowery and Brian Eno, my idols basically. And Sonny Eriksson is also bringing out a new EP, called “The spirit of Sonny Eriksson” with a track featuring Nick Turner from Hawkwind and remixes from Boys Noize and Housemeister.
Sounds like an excellent plan. Starting with ‘Killer’ you have had so many exciting collaborations with great artists from different scenes. What are the most memorable episodes?
Hanging out with Elton John was quite surreal as he’s one of the most famous people on the planet and I don’t really move in celebrity circles. I was at that moment an acid house punk rocker sucked into another world.
Working with dub-maestro Lee Scratch Perry was a memorable experience too. My friend Adrian Sherwood who is a famous dub producer helped me to get in touch with him. I did a track with Lee for my last album as Adamski “Revolt”, that was dedicated to modern forms of waltz music, which I call Future Waltz. I arrived at his house, to his home studio, (he lives in Switzerland, in the Alps) I was dressed in traditional alps clothes – a kilt and a traditional hat. And first thing Lee sad to me was “You have ugly clothes”. That was a really nice greeting and a start. The following days that I spent with Lee recording music, were like a deep psychedelic trip. He made ritual voodoo fires in the studio, he baked my microphone in this fire, trying to get rid of the negative energy of other people that have sung into it. The microphone turned black but still works well. That was really memorable.
How did this idea of Future Waltz come to you and what is it all about?
I like to travel a lot, physically and in virtual space, to discover new things, it helps me to develop and to move forward. Once in Venezuela when I was spending a lot of time because one of my daughters lived there, I started to explore local folk music. I noticed that it had the ¾ rhythmical structure of waltz. As an experiment I tried to adapt it to modern electronic sound and really liked the result. This is how I got into it.
Step by step it became my new musical desire and source of inspiration. I started to dig around for interesting facts about the history of waltz and to research this theme more and more deeply. At some point I discovered that there was a lot of waltz forms in the music of 60’s and 70’s, maybe a little bit in the 80’s, but starting from the 90’s it was almost not used at all. The only electronic track with a waltz tempo that I discovered was “Hot on the Heels of Love” that was released in 1979 by cult industrial band Throbbing Gristle. This band had a huge influence on many electronic musicians but none of them were brave enough to start to use waltz forms in their music. I decided it was unfair that waltz is so disrespected in the modern context and starting from that point I began to compose music only with a ¾ rhythm structure.
Also, besides the fresh musical concept Future Waltz has an ideological base. The thing is that it has much in common with acid-house – the musical genre where I played a serious role. Like acid house, waltz really broke the boundaries among different social groups, aristocrats started to dance with suburban girls on big waltz balls for few thousand in Vienna in the 18th century, which can be comparable to football hooligans, gangsters, freaks and gilded youth ecstatically dancing at illegal raves in Britain in the 80’s. So we can really say that these huge waltz events where Strauss played was a kind of prototype of raves of my youth. And both movements were deeply misunderstood by authorities. The popes called waltz “the devils and the sin dance”, and raves were stigmatized as a dangerous subculture for youth, full of drugs and evil, there was even a special police department in Britain whose only duty was to shut down illegal raves.
So the album “Revolt” that you released a few years ago is quintessential work in the field of Future Waltz?
Yes it is and I don’t really take it as an album in its classical meaning. On digital platforms it is promoted as an album, but I have also made a limited edition of “Revolt” on vinyl. It is a box set that consists of 10 vinyl discs that are in a wooden box, the one like famous Vienna’s cakes are sold in. Besides the discs the box contains merchandise – stickers, badges and a booklet about the history of waltz that is written by me. Each disc is a self-contained musical story, and it is always a collaboration with another artist. And these artists represent absolutely different musical genres – house, electro, soul, hip-hop, trap, grime, dub. I have worked on “Revolt” with people such as dub-inverter Lee Scratch Perry, Mark Stewart from the cult band The Pop Group which is the founder of the musical style punk-funk, famous British soul-singer Dacid McAlmont, Italian movie actress Asia Argento and many others.
Did you spend time with George Michael when he released his version of Killer and how did this idea come up?
George Michael covered my song because he liked it I suppose. He said that any song would fit on my bassline which he demonstrated with his “Papa was a rolling stone” version. That was also surreal because I really hated his music when I was at school and he was the last person I expected to use my music. He came to say hello when I was backstage at a show I did in London and I just remember he smelled of very expensive perfume and leather and had a powerful aura around him.
There is a new version of Killer with a video that was just released by Boys Noise. Compared to all others remixes and covers it looks and sounds like a careful reconstruction of the original track, which somehow brings you back in time and makes you feel the same vibe and magic. Do you like the result of this work and how did it all come together?
Alex Ridha, known as Boys Noize, contacted me and told that he wanted to make a new version of Killer, he wanted to present it to the next generation. I helped him with the authentic sounds because I still have the original synth I used to make them. It was funny when Alex referred to the main synth sound as “goa-trance” sound and I had to explain to him that the Goa crowd were still dancing to Pink Floyd when I made this music.
You have been in many places all over the planet whilst on tour. Do you have some favorite places to perform in?
For me, my favourite cities in the world are Tokyo and Paris. I have been there many times as an artist and tourist. I always feel very inspired by these cities and could happily live in either one of them.
Have you ever had the chance to perform in Andorra? If not, would you like to do it if there was ever the possibility?
I’m slightly ashamed that I have still never been to Andorra and I think I would love it because I definitely enjoy Catalan vibes. I lived in Barcelona for a few years and my daughters had to speak Catalan in school. Also, I have been a regular visitor to Ibiza for 30 years. I’m really open to perform in Andorra and always open to being introduced to new places and people.