Ara Adams Interview

Tuesday, December 11th, 2007 | Interviews
Ara Adams Interview

Hey Ara, It’s nice to get a chance to talk with you so thanks for taking the time man… I’ve seen you in action from afar as well as up close over the years, whether its been performing onstage or organizing things behind the scenes you pretty much do it all from what I gather… So i’m going to start with the usual questions to catch up those who aren’t as familiar with your history, and then maybe we’ll go a little bit deeper… Sweet?

Where did it all start? What did, has, and still does inspire you?

Where did it start aye? I would say it started when I was a kid just being around my dad and uncles when they use to have their (ahem) ‘many’ guitar garage parties which always mysteriously ended up at our house. Haha. Good times when we were kids. Music was kind of ingrained in me from then. I didn’t actually pick up a guitar though until I was at college and that’s when I was doing kapahaka hard out so I was the guitarist for our group. I always wanted to play bass since I heard Ardijah back in the 80’s but I didn’t get one until I was 20 which was in 1995. I was content to just jam away with a few mates until I went to see the EAGLES live at Western Springs 25 November 1996. I was brought up on the Eagles and seeing them live lit the fire inside me to aspire to be a professional musician. From that night forward, thats all I thought about. Not long after I joined Katchafire, and that shot me far beyond what I ever thought I was capable of achieving. Realising that I could reach places that I thought was only held for the lucky, or selected few, I decided to quit Katchafire and continue my quest for learning and growing, and doing it all over again!! Some might think Im crazy – I can confirm that I am. I fully believe that I can do it all over again and Im loving the ‘freshness’ that I am now bringing to my own music. Something that I felt I couldn’t do while staying in Katchafire. So now Im putting in the hard hours learning, growing, jamming and I am so keen and eager to get back out on the scene starting from square 1 again. Yeeah that’s what keeps me amped. Ask my wife – she’s sick of hearing about it hahaha!!

You played bass for Katchafire for 6 years as well as taking a central role in management and organization of the group. Katchafire has built up a massive following in so many places now, and have toured around all corners of the world. Must be a pretty amazing feeling after starting out as a Bob Marley covers band on the New Zealand scene eh? How did that unfold?

Yer it was a massive feeling to go from a straight covers band to playing mostly originals. It unfolded because we could all see that people were still vibin hard on reggae music even though there was really nothing out in the charts or on radio. Once you can see people vibin to the music the boys started writing our music and slowly intergrated it with our covers sets to see what the reaction was. Every now and again we would play at festivals and road test our originals on the public and it was bumpin. We got told by radio directors that reggae music was a waste of time if you wanted radio airplay cause no one listens to it. Fortunately Mai FM believed in us, they jammed the tracks, and the next thing you know we won a NZ Music Award for the highest selling single which proved that people wanted to hear it. After that came our first album REVIVAL, and the rest is history… The management side of things was really a Labour of Love. I worked tirelessly on our bookings, finances, website, etc…. while Mai FM worked on the distribution, radio and tv airplay, and between the two of us we managed to get the profile of Katchafire to decent place. Both parties have now moved on though but it has been rewarding to see the fruits of your labour appear.

I understand that you have recently left Katchafire to pursue your own musical path. Whats your new passion? what led to your decision to choose this new path, and how did it feel leaving?

My new passion is to do it all over again!! Play live at all the cool clubs, at all the cool festivals and bump some new sounds. Yeeyah. Luv that shit!! The reasons behind my decision to leave was a lot of reasons! In a nut shell it came down to ‘it was the right time.’ It was a mixture of spending more time with whanau, needing to move back home to Paraparaumu, personality differences within the band, different priorities for me, and the fact that my musical taste and ambitions were different to where the band wanted to go. Ultimately I knew on 17 June 2006 (Im good with remembering important dates haha) that I knew I had to leave the band to have a shot at fulfilling my potential as a musician. I knew staying in the band wouldn’t allow me the room for me to grow so the decision was quite easy in the end. When I left I felt free again – free to start all over again and free from the world that we had created when I was in Katchafire. Life while in Katchafire was massive, but when you start havin kids, and your kids don’t wanna know you when you return from 6 weeks overseas, that really fkn sux!!! So while it is an awesome lifestyle for most people, I had changed and therefore I needed to change my surroundings which saw me depart from Katchafire.

You’re involved in the business side of music as well as writing & performing right? What exactly do you involve yourself in on the business side (booking, promoting, marketing, labels) and was your involvement by choice or necessity?

Good question. Yer I am involved in the business side of music while I continue to work away on my own material. I am involved as a booking agent and my clients include Katchafire, House of Shem, Opensouls, Cornerstone Roots, Unity Pacific to name a few. I actually don’t mind this suit of work as it keeps me in touch with a lot of venues and festival organizers which I am hoping to use when I am ready to hit the stage again. But YES, the decision to do this is by necessity. I have to somehow pay my mortgage, feed my family and pay the bills so I do this work while I chip away in the studio. I am very very grateful that I could leave Katchafire, and still make a living in this NZ music industry. I work hard and I jam harder so as long as I can keep that balance its all good. If there does come a day when I can give away this music business side of things I will. I wake up excited in the mornings to make music, not to ring up to book gigs, but its still a great job nonetheless!!

In my experiences, some crazy things go on when your touring, some great, some not so great… anything come to mind when I say that?

I remember falling through the roof once at a venue in Napier and being knocked unconscious… Crack up when you think about it now!! Yer there are bad times, but all I choose to remember is all the fun stuff. The jamming on stage, the awesome people you meet, the different cultures you encounter, meeting famous people. I mean, I NEVER EVER thought I could go to the UK or HAWAII without paying a single dollar – in fact they give ME money to jump on a plane to jam in front off them. That’s crazy to think that people thought that highly of you and your music. I’ll remember those euphoric moments on stage – that’s what you live for and that’s what I’m striving for again. Those moments of magic where everything and everyone is connected thru this thing called music. Luv it!!

I’ve spent the good part of my life in Aotearoa (New Zealand) watching such a beautiful array of solo artists and groups spawn. For me, I’m talking about Che Fu & the Krates, Trinity Roots, The Black Seeds, Otautahi Allstars, Fat Freddy’s Drop, project nRt, Salmonella Dub, Cornerstone Roots, Bic Runga, King Kapisi. There are far too many to mention, but if I have missed a few who you wouldn’t have… who would they be? And who are the new kids on the block to look out for?

Definitely Kora, Shapeshifter and Opensouls! The sounds of kinda changing here to with this electronic/jazz/soul/funk vibe thing. Of course NZ music can never be one genre as we like to mash it!!! But there are sooo many good NZ bands out there on MySpace its inspiring! Check out The Constituents, Harbour City Electric, Bluevibes to name a few. Mark de Clive Lowe is a huge inspiration to me too as he is one person who is doing what I want to do. He jams a whole lot of loop based stuff, and layers all the parts in live, then drops different things in and out, and that’s exactly what I want to do. I didn’t even know there was anyone doing it till I started searching and then Blam – there he is!! So check out Mark’s video’s on MySpace if you into live loop based jammings.

With all of your success and I suppose happiness so far, what’s the next dream for Ara? and what are you doing to turn your dream into your reality?

Bro, I’m a big dreamer…. And I’m big on making them come true too. I’ve already said it above but I want to taste the success again of people vibin your music live again. From the smallest coolest club in NZ to Japan, UK and Europe!! I also want to get to a point where I can live off my music and get that free hold beach house. Not a day goes by that I am not doing something to further my music. I am into learning and researching magazines and websites for tips, I jam a lot in the studio and with other people, and I listen to a shit load of other peoples music that inspires me. I love to think ‘outside’ the square a little and experiment and try other shit. I’m really getting into this whole new electronic/jazz/soul vibes right now.

Are you a musician or an artist? Back it up brother.

I suppose I would say I am both. A musician is someone who can play music, an artist is someone that can create pieces of art (music, paintings, sculptures, ete…). I suppose you would therefore say I am a Music Artist. Sounds pretty anal aye…”Hi Im Ara and Im a Music Artist.” I don’t know bro, Im just a Maori brutha with visions of big dreams in Music. Call me what you want haha!!

We know you play bass… what’s your approach to the new album. One man band, collaborations… how will it play out?

Definate collaborations. I don’t really find too much joy with it just being all about me. I love to feed off other peoples energy and vibes. As long as we are on the same wave length its massive seeing where things can go and how things change when working with other like minded people. I play bass, keys, guitars, sampler and I get my bro to jam drums over the programmed drums…. Its makes the beats sound even fatter when combing those two elements. I really want to work with singers and lyricists that feel have a Soul and a Vibe about their voice which has emotion in it. If you can infuse that voice into the music that’s the shit right thurrr!!!! Man I wish I could sing…..haha. I also want to work with other like minded musos – anyone who feels they get into a huge sound of a melting pot filled with reggae/jazz/soul/funk/electronic give me a call!! So if you jam or you sing holla at me on myspace.com/bastionafro .

I really want to make my name is a Live Artist first and foremost. If albums and all that comes then that’s all good but I really want to be a Live Artist first. You cant beat that energy and vibe when its happening live.

Cool cool, all of the crew at Very Good are looking forward to hearing your new sounds. What we’ve heard seems to be very diverse with a mixture of influences and styles and it’s going to be a welcome break from the norm. Cheers for taking the time and the best of luck with everything.

Cheers for the interview and sorry for my long ass winded replies. Now its off to my studio to jam…..

www.myspace.com/bastionafro

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1 Comment to Ara Adams Interview

benji and joel madden
December 29, 2007

benji and joel madden…

Man i just love your blog, keep the cool posts comin…..

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