Adam French, despite being somewhat of a youngster, has paid his dues and more to get to where he now stands. His first album, released on 8th March, ‘The Backfoot and the Rapture’ is the gutsy, indie rock recollection of a 4 year journey that saw French grow up, leave home, leave the country, embark on an independent African tour and return with perspective that far exceeds the norm for one so young.
The fickle music industry will, no doubt, try to pigeon hole the singer by labeling the themes of his work, but I get the feeling that the boy will have other plans for the first chapter of his life as an artist.
I got to catch up with Adam on the day that his debut album dropped in the UK and talk about everything from his mum to mental health, counterculture to condiments and music to his mannequin sidekick…
What does it take to be an individual in a digital age?
Shit loads of oranges.
How and where should your album be played?
I’d like to think different songs lend themselves to different environments, ‘weightless’ is great for crying in the bath, whilst ‘more to life’ would work in the gym… I don’t know definitively, I’ve obviously never been to one.
The whole album explores loneliness and mental health…what prompted you to discuss and share about such a taboo and notoriously sensitive subject?
These things aren’t going to vanish if we don’t talk about them, everyone at some point in their life faces some form of mental health issue, whether mild or severe it’s important to know that you’re not alone. Anyone that doesn’t like that is lucky enough not to know what I’m talking about.
What would you tell the 4 years ago version of yourself?
Avoid a few of the bad eggs I’ve encountered since then. I’d probably give him some lottery numbers as well.
Your mum “badger” recently described you as “The most annoying twat of all time,” how big of an influence is family on your music and the themes that you choose to share not only with your lyrics but also with your social media and public image?
Family is everything, badger is one lovable loose canon. I’m the same version of myself regardless of who I’m with. I think of both of my parents as close friends, and they’ve influenced who I am massively. I’m lucky to have them both.
What would you put in my oatcake?
Now we’re fucking talking. A LOT of cheese, streaky bacon, an egg, a sausage and healthy dollop of brown sauce, although ketchup is perfectly acceptable as an oatcake condiment.
I have to ask… what’s with the mannequin in The Only Living Thing?!
I’m so glad we made that video…my label hates it. I just love videos that depict complicated love stories in a way the world hasn’t seen a thousand times before.
What inspired your trip to Africa in 2013?
Basically my dad and his partner were out in Botswana educating health services on blindness prevention, which is a massive problem out there. To cut a long story short, my dad met a couple of radio DJs through the work they were doing and gave them my demo and they started playing it on national radio (RB 1 & 2) a few weeks later another guy who owned a couple of basic jazz bars got in touch to see if I’d be interested in coming over to play some gigs as he thought he’d be able to fill the rooms with the tracks being on the radio. It was an incredible couple of weeks.
Have you seen the NYTimes top 25?
I have, literally just now…
What has been left off the list?
For some reason they’ve forgotten to put ‘weightless’ in there… very strange.
As I wrapped up my interview, I was still trading messages with Adam late into Sunday evening. For all the effortless cool and well considered, mature thought that had been injected in to our earlier conversation it showed me a different side to the artist who, just days ago, was being tweeted about by both Brit and Grammy award winner Dua Lipa and pop heavy-weight and all around icon Kylie Minogue.
10 THINGS TO KNOW…
What band name alter egos have to tried out on your musical journey?
The Rittz, Killed in New York… Bands I was in as a teenager, who doesn’t love a dodgy band name?
What is the most embarrassing song in your music library?
Well I’ve just had to listen to barbie girl for you lot, so that’s in there now. (listen to 60s of Adam attempting to cover ‘I’m a Barbie Girl’)
How do you handle a fuck up on stage?
His name’s Jake, and he isn’t a fuck up, he’s my best mate and bass player… but you handle him with care.
Who or what is your ultimate influence, musical or otherwise?
I think Hans Zimmer! A whole lot of respect for that man.
What scares you most in the world?
The idea of being in a loveless marriage with 3 kids who all look like my best mate.
If you were a superhero, what would your super power be?
Time travel. I’m obsessed with Sci-fi, particularly films about time travel.
Where and when would you travel back in time to perform?
Thom Yorke’s christening.
If I gave you an elephant where would you hide it?
In the room, next all of the conversations I never want to have.
Who wins in a fight, a grizzly bear or a giant squid?
I dunno, bears are hard as fuck but I really like calamari.
What is your greatest vice?
As we said goodnight, I happened to ask, ‘Do you know where your album is charting at?’ His response? ‘I have no idea. I heard vinyl and cds sold out from my store, which was nice.’
Interview written listening to Adam French’s debut album, “The back foot and the rapture.”
Most repeated track, No.11, “Wanna Be Here.”
Daisy Sells | WRITER