After a lengthy promotional campaign throughout the greater Los Angeles area, the new EP from Adonnis, Love Is Life, comes out May 20. A prominent act in the Los Angeles music scene, his songs have gathered media attention and airplay throughout college radio and various markets around the world. In an exclusive interview, AXS sat down with Adonnis to discuss his new EP Love Is Life.
AXS: Adonnis, congratulation on the release of your new EP. Where did the inspiration for this one come from?
Adonnis: Thank you. Inspiration comes from all around and I see myself as a highly-concentrated source of inspiration. I do a lot of meditation and immerse myself in introspective thought to make sure the music I put out is a good reflection of who I am and what I want to share with the world.This EP not only represents the first taste of an upcoming full-length project that I've had in mind for awhile but it also represents a lot more than that for me personally and that's why I had to get it out there. I wanted to go in a new direction with my music. I hate to use such a corporate term but it really is like the launch of a rebranding effort for me and I feel a lot more comfortable with the direction I'm going. The whole process has made me a lot more eager to put this music out that I feel represents who I am. I've put a lot of work into these songs and I'm proud of the resulting material. I'm very excited for people to hear it
AXS: What was the process of making Life Is Love like? Do you just go into the studio and freestyle or is everything written out?
A: I write everything. Sometimes I write to a completed music production or just a drum beat or even with no music or just a melody in my head. Very rarely will I record a freestyle unless I'm capturing a melody that I'm going to rewrite the lyrics to later, usually for a demo at the end of a session for another song. I'm really efficient with my studio time and I'm a fast writer so sometimes I'm writing in my head while working on the music production or I might write on the spot in the studio if I'm collaborating with someone for their project but I usually go into the studio knowing what I'm going to work on with a detailed plan of how I'm going to bring it to life. Once I know I'm going to commit something to a recording I take it very seriously because a recording represents a moment in time that's captured and reproduced forever, once it's out on a fixed medium there's no getting it back. When you hear Tupac, Elvis or Michael Jackson on the radio those recordings aren't changing. Each of those recordings represent a moment in time that was captured when they were in the booth, even though physically they aren't here with us anymore those recordings are here forever. It's kind of existential when you think about it. I might throw away over half of what I write and release less than half of what I record but when I set my mind on putting something out it'll be here long after I'm gone . . well that's the goal anyway. Writing is the way that I communicate best. Even if I were to freestyle it would be extensively premeditated because most of my thought, even mentally, takes place in a written format. If I'm talking to you I'm already thinking about how I'm going to say bye to you. For me it's always a lot easier to greet someone than to say bye, I don't like finality. It's like that for a lot of people, it took me a lot to learn how to be in the moment, because this moment now is really all we have.There's a quote by George Carlin where he says “I used call to myself a performer who writes his own material, now I’m a writer who performs his material.” and I really identify with that.Once my mind is set on putting something out I do make sure that it meets a certain standard on a basic communication level, I want it to be perceived well by a listener. You walk the line of finding a happy-medium between what's effective and what's concise but I think that's just the basic processes of songwriting where you're finding a marriage between lyrics and music. I've always looked up to those who were the best with it, Paul McCartney, Max Martin, Prince, Tupac, and Mac Dre
AXS: Tell me more about your style of production. How do you make your beats?
A: The only time you'll hear me refer to beats is when I'm listening to Dr. Dre headphones or talking to one of my clients, because I write songs for other artists too. Some of them you know but I'll never say who they are, I'll take that to the grave with me but when you talk about beats you're really talking about the drums, and that's the start of the track. Once you get beyond that into the bassline and the strings and the keys then you're talking about music. Once you add the lyrics all of these elements come together to make a song and the genesis of it is usually a melody in my head. I've always been hands-on with the direction of my music, even when I've collaborated with other producers but for this project I wanted to be hands-on with the actual production and that's why this whole project is self-produced. In music business terms that makes them controlled compositions because I'm responsible for both the lyrical and musical composition. I had access to a lot of old school synths and drum machines, so you won't just be hearing heavily tweaked Roland 808s on this which is the sound of today. If you listen closely you'll also hear some sounds from the LinnDrum machine. That's pretty much the sound of the 80's, Roger Linn is a genius. You can hear the LinnDrum machine on Madonna's "Lucky Star", Cyndi Lauper's "Time After Time" and "Girls Just Want to Have Fun" , Frankie Goes to Hollywood and of course throughout Prince's work in the 80's. Everything was tracked through ProTools, there's a nice hybrid between analog and digital instruments and it makes for a nice sound. In the past my work has been very lyrically driven, I'd write a piece of the lyrics first and make the music to fit them after. When you do it like that it's almost like working on a posthumous release where you have the recording from the artist and you have to go back and do the music now because it's unfinished. Once I write something and record it I really step away from it and put on the producer hat. With this project I can say, and hopefully you can hear, there is a better balance between the lyrics and the music. It's more musically-driven than my previous work. The music was never an afterthought and that's where you get that harmonious relationship between the two. There has to be unity
AXS: Will we see a music video from one of your tracks on this EP?
A: You should, I'm quite sure of it. With this release the response to the material has been so overwhelming that fans have even volunteered to send in fan-made videos and I love the idea of that. One listener got in contact with me when she stumbled on my music while searching for K-Pop, I have no idea how I came up but she told me she wanted to draw me and animate a cartoon. I'm very excited to see that. The way this EP is designed it's just four songs but it's really like a collection of four singles. They could all stand on their own as individual singles and they'd still be worthy releases but I wanted to introduce the material for my upcoming full-length LP and I didn't want to put too much stress on my distributor, Kobalt. They've help me coordinate the release and really helped me put everything together. I'm still independent. I still own my masters and my publishing but they just help me get my music out to retailers. Whenever I come off stage after performing a new setlist I have a good idea of what songs I should film a music video for so I'll have a better idea of that soon
AXS: Are you planning any shows or a tour this summer?
A: We'll see. I'm still finishing up the LP so there's a lot of work to do in the studio but I've been getting a lot of booking offers around the Los Angeles area so we'll put something together soon
AXS: Where can people find your music and a list of upcoming shows?
A: You'll find the Love Is Life EP for just $3.99 on iTunes, Google Play, Amazon, etc. It's available on any digital music store and all streaming sites, Spotify, iTunes, TIDAL, all of it. You can find anything about me or what I'm doing at adonnis.com and then adonnis.net will lead you to my Soundcloud which is soundcloud.com/adonnis
AXS: Adonnis, thank you for taking the time to speak with me.
A: Likewise. Thank you for having me
Learn more about Adonnis on his website here.