LWE Interviews Adam X (Traversable Wormhole)

That Brooklyn’s Adam Mitchell might actually need this introduction is a reflection of the often fickle and fashionable nature of techno. Now based in Berlin, he ran the legendary Sonic Groove record store in his home city in the nineties before eventually founding a record label bearing the same name, pushing harder and darker techno sounds. At the turn of the millennium, Adam turned his ear towards industrial and EBM music, fashioning a techno-industrial fusion that was all his own. Unfortunately, loud and banging techno quickly went out of style and Mr. X was left with dwindling sales and a floundering record label. But with the prominence of the Berghain and its label outlet Ostgut-Ton, Mitchell found solace in the club’s preference, for, of course, loud and banging techno.

Then he had an idea. Inspired by what he heard at Berghain, Mitchell produced a number of dance floor-friendly tracks, and released them anonymously as Traversable Wormhole in a vinyl-only series, much like his contemporary Shed as EQD and WAX. The tracks were picked up by big-name techno DJs and the fires of hype spread quickly, proving that at least part of what you need to succeed in techno was obscure your identity. Now at the tail-end of a prolific and inspiring reissue campaign on Chris Liebing’s CLR label, and riding an immense wave of positive publicity directed towards the Traversable Wormhole project, Adam X is ready to be just Adam X again. Adam’s is a fascinating story of identity politics, personal reinvention, and career resuscitation, and he sat down with LWE for a revealing and surprisingly relaxed interview to explain the whole thing.

Thanks for taking the time to do this with us.

Adam Mitchell: I was doing a couple of written interviews in the last two weeks and they really get on my nerves because it takes me like seven hours to figure out what the fuck I’m going to say.

I know. They’re bad, they’re not fun.

Yeah, they’re not fun at all. And then you wind up saying the same thing in every one. I’m like, ‘Let me copy that and put that down.’ So yeah, feel free to ask what you wanna ask, and see if I won’t answer it.

So, speaking of saying the same things over and over again, I’m going to ask you a few general questions. First, just for background, how did Traversable Wormhole come about and what is the significance of the actual name?

Well how it really came about — I started to work on some music that I thought would work in the Berghain. I would go to Berghain and hear Marcel Dettman play and Ben Klock and the music I was making at the time, I didn’t really think a lot of it would fit in there. I was going so many times that I really wanted to do something that would play in this club at like seven in the morning, so I went home and I started working on some tracks and I got the first two tracks done. I think one of them is on number three — “Superliminal” was the first one that I did, and then “Tachyon” on volume two. Then I actually went to Function from Sandwell District; I mean he’s a close friend of mine for 15 years — I’m actually a roommate with him now in Berlin — and I was like ‘Check these out, maybe you’d be interested in doing this with the label.’ Now, I really didn’t know, Sandwell District was still building up at that point to, so it wasn’t clear if they were keeping it just to themselves or if they were going to put other artists on the label, but they wound up not really going for it. I had also played those tracks for Dasha Rush, ’cause I was supposed to do something with her for Fullpanda and she wanted to do it, but she didn’t have the money right there and then to put them out, and I was like, ‘Nah, I want to put these out now.’

I didn’t really want to put them put them out as Adam X because I thought people would just stigmatize me as usual. They’d be like, ‘This is hard rhythmic noise, EBM shit,’ you know? I really thought, ‘I gotta come up with another name’ and I think at the same time I was just reading some stuff on quantum physics and I saw the name Traversable Wormhole and was like, ‘Wow, that’s a pretty sick name.’ First thing that came to mind was, ‘Let me look this up on Discogs, because maybe Dopplereffekt used this on a track,’ [chuckles] because his stuff is always on quantum physics titles. But nothing came up anywhere. So then I thought, ‘Wow, this is cool, maybe I should do a white label thing,’ because at the same time I was playing in Scotland a bit. I was in Rubadub, the record shop, and I saw those Seldom Felt records and I was like ‘Wow, this looks cool,’ and I was trying to get the information on who did them and they wouldn’t tell me. I was like, ‘Whoa, this is some old school shit, some old school, white label, UK breakbeat shit from back in ’91 when everybody was doing white labels.’ But you know there were only a few things I saw like that — and maybe the WAX records — and I thought, ‘This could be a cool way to sneak into the scene without people realizing who it is.’

It just felt like the time was right. I don’t know what it was, but I just knew that doing this, the time was right and I had enough material that I could come up with a couple of records quite quick to bam it out in people’s face, so that’s what I did. The first three records came out within four months. I also felt like it was easy to do it this way because the last stuff I was working on in the previous years was all album material, so I would sit down and I’d work on an album for several months at a time, but working on two tracks is easier, it’s just easier. I can do that in the space of a month. And that’s even a long time in today’s standards, I know people who can make tracks in a fucking day. But me, I like to take my time. So yeah, I had it pretty much all planned out. I have to say the whole project was probably the best planning I’ve ever done on anything, it really worked out 100% exactly how I wanted it to.

So you said you made them with tracks in mind instead of albums. Would you say the Traversable Wormhole more dance floor-oriented than Adam X albums, then?

Um, I would say a bit. I think as I was going on with them I had it in mind — though the broken beats tracks I really feel are good stuff to listen to at home as well — it’s a little more like mind fuck shit. I was never doing it with the idea of an album in mind. Then the CLR thing popped up and then I thought, ‘Wow, I could definitely combine all these tracks, there’s a theme to this.’ So, it was definitely different working in the studio compared to when I was working on the albums, which tended to be a little more conceptual. I would work on an album and I would be like, ‘Alright, let me make something a little bit deeper for the intro part of the album.’ There was a lot more thought process, maybe do a little more tracks with vocals – this was a little more liberating. I didn’t have a lot of pressure to really try and squeeze this in on anything. I just was going for a more of a stripped-down sound to what the Adam X sound is. I don’t think it’s far off, like Traversable Wormhole is definitely not far off from my State of Limbo album as far as sound design. It’s just a little bit more stripped – that’s how I would split up the two projects.

Why did you choose to make it vinyl only? Weren’t you worried that it wouldn’t get out there, or were you not concerned with that?

Well, you know what it is? Digital’s a weird market, first of all, because if you do something anonymous digitally it’s really hard for people to pick up on it, like via artwork. You can’t do any special packaging that grabs people’s attention. I do a lot of my shopping on Juno and there’s just so many releases on there. I like Juno because you can search for vinyl and digital at the same time so I like to see what’s digital and what’s vinyl. Even though I sound like a hypocrite and I’m definitely hypocritical ’cause years ago I had a totally different view on the digital vs. vinyl market, but now I feel like the digital market is so flooded that 90% of the good stuff is gonna come out on vinyl. If it’s not on vinyl, you’re probably not going find the same amount of good stuff on digital – it’s just not going to happen.

I think, before, people were struggling to put out good techno records, distribution companies didn’t want to carry proper techno because minimal was the market. I had this problem with Sonic Groove. I would try to put out records by Kim Rapatti from Finland, who’s been around for twenty years, and I can barely get any money to make any copies of it because it just wasn’t the sound at that time. Everybody wanted minimal techno, the distributors, that what’s they wanted to push, that’s what they were comfortable with selling. They didn’t want to sit on any records that they thought wouldn’t sell. So it forced people like me to put out digital only releases. I did some stuff from REALMZ, who’s a guy from Pittsburg, digital-only. I, as a DJ, definitely went digital in 2004 ’cause I really couldn’t find harder-edged techno music [on vinyl]. People were like, ‘How can you play digital when you owned a record shop for 15 years?’ Well, these distributors don’t want to support techno and this is my way of saying, ‘fuck you’ to that. I’m going to play music from the industrial scene in my sets that I think is very techno-oriented, and I’m gonna have an edge that other people don’t have using Serato with this kind of music, and that’s what I had to do. So I kind of stuck to the digital thing for a while.

Then the digital market just got so flooded and I was really having a hard time just sifting through everything, especially on a lot of websites. Everybody putting their digital stuff up that’s not even mastered, I downloaded these tracks I thought sounded good then they’re not even mastered, they sound like shit. I noticed that a shift to techno started to come back, and I was like, ‘Maybe vinyl is the better way now, because it’s less people and the people who are doing this are more passionate about it from an artistic point of view. To see 300, 500, 700 records, that’s not really a lot of money, so the people that are doing this are really doing this out of a passion for this ‘art’ thing. I just thought that Traversable Wormhole would be cool to come out on vinyl-only. I didn’t really have intentions of doing digital, I just kept the door open with it, but I didn’t want to do it right away. It feels a little hypocritical because of my stance and what I went through before, but now I think when I see everything, when I go shopping on Juno and I’m looking at all the vinyl, I’d prefer to see all the vinyl stuff without the digital. And then I listen to everything and I’m like, ‘Wow, there’s just so many better records out now, the market’s not just flooded with a lot of garbage.’ I can go through a lot of techno on Juno and find a lot of good music pretty quickly. It’s something I couldn’t do five years ago.

I don’t think it’s hypocritical. When the times change, you have to change with them.

I guess that’s true, but I’m hypocritical in the sense that I still play with Serato. So if I was a Traversable Wormhole and with Traversable Wormhole I would have to probably buy the vinyl… I mean, I’m not even that good at ripping vinyl that well. I never get it to sound the way I really want it to sound. I usually get my other friends to do it for me. That’s where I’m really hypocritical ’cause I’m not really buying vinyl. I’m not hypocritical, ’cause I have 10,000 records in my collection, I haven’t sold my records off. I think I’ve sold enough vinyl in my life that no one can bitch me out about it. I’m still supporting the vinyl, and I’m still supporting the movement with Sonic Groove and by pushing the label and pushing vinyl records on every release. I feel Serato is actually, using the turntable with the pitch control, keeping the turntables around. I’m not a beat-mapping DJ, it’s not my thing. That’s where I’m at with all that, the digital and the vinyl.

So how did the project build momentum, and were you surprised to the reaction that came about?

Yeah, it’s been really exciting even up until now, it’s still amazingly exciting for me. I kind of predicted a little bit that it would do well. I really felt, especially after the first one, that it would work. Now my friend, Dietrich Schoenemann, who does Protyotpe 909, he presses my label. He presses Sonic Groove and Traversable Wormhole. He was like, ‘Well you’re just going for this industrial ticket.’ I was like, ‘Listen I have this plan with Traversable Wormhole. We gotta do this, I want to do three records, we should start with 200 copies each and we see where they go.’ When the first one sold out straight away he pressed more. Number two was crazy, there was a hype on it by the time it came out, I wasn’t really expecting it to move that fast. Then it was number three, people went back and bought more of number one and number two. I was pretty shocked. I was a little confused about how quickly to reveal it was me. I definitely wanted to reveal it was me. I never had a plan to stay totally anonymous. For me it was more of a joke in a way. I just wanted to catch people off guard, all the people who kind of slept on me over the years.

When I saw this thing on Twitter, I was doing a Traversable Wormhole Google search and I saw Chris Liebing was talking about the records on Twitter, so that’s what made me approach him in Berghain. I know Chris and I haven’t seen Chris and I said, ‘Hey man, I hear you like these Traversable Wormhole records.’ He’s like, ‘Who’s doing these fucking records? They’re amazing. I don’t even play vinyl and I had to buy all four of them from Juno.’ Under my breath I’m laughing and I’m trying to keep a straight face. And then he turns around and says, ‘Why are you asking me this question? You haven’t seen me in years and this is what you’re asking me? Is this you?’ Then I tried to deny it, but he got it out of me and then he was like, ‘These are amazing, why haven’t you put these out on your own name?’ ‘Because people like you wouldn’t play them.’ And he’s like, ‘No, that’s not true. I play your industrial stuff.’ ‘No, you played my industrial stuff, but I don’t think you play that stuff now.’ That’s how it all came about.

It was really trying to remove the stigma around me, and for me it was kind of a running joke as it was getting bigger. All of a sudden places that I wanted to play that I couldn’t get booked in, people were starting to contact me via Myspace to book me and they don’t know it’s me so I’m pushing them off to a booking agent. A few people knew the whole time, like Hard Wax, the guys from Rubadub and Function. People who are very close to me. But everybody kept it very under wraps, nobody ratted me out. I’d say around number four, number five, I started wanted to reveal myself, but even Philipp from Pullproxy, he was telling me, ‘Nah nah, just wait it a little more, just keep ridin’ it, keep going with it.’ Then at number five, I thought the time was right. At that point it was time to come out and reveal myself. And it worked perfectly with the way I did it, ’cause I didn’t want to do a flashy announcement. My friend Finn, who writes for Resident Advisor, wanted to do this Playing Favourites feature on Adam X and I figured I would make a subtle mention in the RA feature that it was me. I swear within an hour of it being posted it was already listed on Discogs. So that’s how that all built up and it’s been a good ride man, it’s been fun.

Do you think it was successful because of the anonymity factor, or because of the timing? Do you think it could have been as successful five or six years ago as it was last year?

Um, no it definitely wouldn’t have been as big five or six years ago. The time wasn’t right, man. I mean Berghain: I’m very vocal about Berghain because I live in Berlin, I’ve spent a lot of time in that club and I really, I haven’t been to many clubs in my life that I feel have changed the sound of music. They open people up to something different. People were going to Berlin in 2007/2008, going to all the minimal parties, and here you have this club where they play house upstairs and when you’re downstairs they never play minimal and the experience of going to this club and hearing techno in there, even if you didn’t like techno so much where you were into minimal, it could easily convert you very, very quickly, just the atmosphere of this room.

For me it wasn’t very far off from my roots of what I grew up with. They were playing industrial sounds in there with techno, and they play a lot of classic techno, a lot of music which used to play back in the ’90s. I think this was a turning point for the techno scene and because of that, and because minimal was dying out, it was just the right time for all of this and people were looking for something new. I believe the overly hyped imagery of these top DJs who are acting like rock stars and not really putting out great music anymore.  These people know who they are, I don’t need to mention names. These artists used to be on top of their game but they gave it up for the big money for their DJing rather than sitting down in the studio and making some proper new shit. I think the techno people got sick of that, and now that they were seeing a lot of these anonymous records coming out and a lot of the people that were buying these records, probably a lot of them were back from the old school and were intrigued by this. Maybe it was the… I can’t really even explain it in words. It was like a renaissance period. That period, when Traversable Wormhole started coming out and all these white labels were coming out, it was like it was in the early ’90s when it was sort of faceless and there wasn’t a lot of information and the music sort of spoke for itself. That’s been lacking in the music for a very long time – there’s too much information about music and now anyone can out information on an artist or a release in a touch of a keystroke.

It seems that techno’s been a little more defined and everybody’s doing their own thing. My label, you have a lot of new guys that come onto the scene. Not new guys, but people that are really getting it like Perc, and Lucy from Stroboscopic. There’s a lot of people, but I like it ’cause everyone’s a family right now, everybody is working with each other – it’s a really community-based thing that’s going on with techno right now. For me, personally, it’s probably the best it’s been in 15 years for the scene, for techno music.

Do you feel like the new market for this dark, booming techno, the old school techno as you call it, is a resurrection, or a necessary re-route?

I don’t really feel it’s a resurrection as much as it’s something new. I think for a lot of people it’s probably new. I mean, there are people who haven’t been into it for 15 years. I think it’s a natural progression to hear harder music in a night club. I never really figured out how minimal got so big, man — that’s not music for peak time in the night. For me that was always after hours music. For me that was music that I wanted to make for my morning sets, I never really understood how the minimal thing came back. And I think this techno thing is coming back because people want to dance together. I dunno, maybe people want a little bit more of a full-on experience when they’re out. Even with something like ketamine, and K is not a big drug anymore, I don’t know. [laughs] I don’t really know how the minimal thing got so huge for so many years and hard techno went into the cracks. It’s 2010 now and I think techno is back and I don’t think it’s going anywhere anytime soon, and I think there’s a lot more passion with the producers that are making this music. It’s going to be here to stay for a while.

Do you feel that the reissue series on CLR adds anything to the Traversable Wormhole story or narrative?

Do I feel they fit? That’s a really good question. If I had to break them down, I would say Function’s remix is the closest to the Wormhole sound, and Surgeon’s remix, ’cause they’re both really deep and they’re mental. But I have to say that I really like what James Ruskin did with “Tachyon.” He really used a lot of the original sounds and he warped it out, it trips me out when I listen to that remix. I dunno, they all are kind of special. Marcel Dettmann’s mix was killer, man. It was ferocious.

It’s great!

Yeah, it’s so intense. That’s more like an Adam X thing, you know. I mean, I like Peter Van Hoesen’s mix of “When 2D Meets 3D.” It’s really kind of spatial. I think everybody came through; Tommy Four Seven definitely kept the original intact. Fixmer’s mix and Brian Sanhaji, I mean I really like all the mixes. The only one that I felt really strayed away from my sound a lot was Kevin Gorman. It doesn’t sound like anything from me, but it’s a really good song, it’s really well done. But if I listen to it, I can’t really tell what he remixed from me. That’d be the one that was furthest away from the project, I would say. The rest, they’re all good.

So why did you end the series with an album? Isn’t that a contradiction to the white label vinyl-only releases?

Well, I’m sort of an album artist, so it was like, I like putting out albums. There’s a different market for that, and also, really, I want to make sure that the industrial people and the EBM people who have supported my last albums are aware of this project. I had my other project, ADMX-71 that’s done very well in the industrial scene. The album called Luminous Vapours on Hands is really like a downtempo album of Traversable Wormhole [tracks]. I did the music before Traversable Wormhole, but if you listen to that album you can definitely hear where the birth of Traversable Wormhole was coming from, along with the album I mentioned before, State of Limbo. I wanted to get this into that scene, and the industrial scene is a very album-oriented market and that was really my main goal with it. Initially I was talking to some friends in the industrial scene about releasing it as a CD in the industrial scene. It was something that I had in mind for the whole time actually.

So it’s safe to say that you’re a believer in the techno album, then.

Yeah, man. I believe in the album format still. I dunno if it’s something that could be really be pulled off these days. I think the only way to only pull a successful album off online is to market it at a cheaper price. If you go on sites like Beatport and Juno, I mean I wouldn’t quote me on the albums because I don’t really look at full-length albums, as of recent. I think if you want to download a 12-track album, you’re paying 13-14 dollars, or 10-11 euros to download an album for just digital files. If you do an album, it might be cool to market an album like 12 tracks, like 6 euros or 7 bucks and make it affordable so that the people buy the album as a package and listen to the album from beginning to end as it’s designed by the artist. We used to buy a CD or vinyl record, you’d listen to it even if you didn’t like one of the tracks, you’d still want to check it out as a conceptual thing. I think when it’s digital-only these days, they’re taking the tracks they like and are missing the whole album, the artistic album point. You know? This is a problem in this day and age if you want to sit down and write an album. It’s tough. You don’t want to write something and have this whole conceptual idea and then people are like, ‘Oh I like track two and track five,’ and they never really give the rest of the tracks a solid listen. I think that if the digital sites made a cheaper package, it would work. I guess I ‘m still a little old school in my way of thinking with all that.

Why end the series on CLR and not your own label Sonic Groove?

Marketing, getting it out to more people. I want my voice to be heard. I’ve been struggling for my voice to be heard for a long time and people were kicking me to the curb, kicking the man down, stigmatizing me. ‘Oh, he’s not into techno anymore, he’s into that industrial stuff. He’s probably wearing black eyeliner or black nail polish or some shit.’ I mean, some of the shit I heard from people! I was going more to industrial parties, I didn’t want to go stand around to minimal techno music, and because of that, people started to stigmatize me. They’d see me around a lot, they’d see me wearing black all the time. ‘Oh, he’s not one of these happy people.’ I guess I felt like when I was with the label and I wanted to put techno records out, no one was listening, so this was my way of making people listen. I had to do what I had to do, doing it anonymously and having Chris put it out I thought was a great move for getting my music out there more. I want some recognition for what I’ve done for 20 years on the music production level. People have always given me respect for having the shop and doing the label but I don’t want to be one of these guys, ‘Oh yeah back in the day, these guys they were the shit.’ Sometimes people come up to me and they’re like, ‘You’re a legend’, and I’m like ‘A legend of what?’

I don’t play around the world, I’m not playing out every night of the week. People aren’t writing about me innovating the techno scene. I’ve been around 20 years, it’s been cool, but ‘legend’ is a little over the top. For me, I just want to get a little more recognition for my music production ’cause I felt I’ve never really had that recognition. A lot of the other people who grew up with me, all the people who I’m friends with, people who just came up after me go and for me, this is why I did this this way and I’m happy with it. If I die tomorrow and go to my grave, at least people finally heard my voice through my music. That’s the plan.

Do you feel like with this last series, that you have a bit more recognition than you do before, with new fans and new narrative surrounding yourself?

Oh yeah, this has been absolutely the pivotal moment of my career on the music production tip. Did I play more gigs in the ’90s? Probably. At that point in the late ’90s, the U.S. rave scene was booming, then I was going to Europe and I was playing multiple times a week. I haven’t gotten back up to that point yet, but to be honest with you, I don’t know if I even want to do that. I don’t really like traveling all that much, I like doing gigs but I like doing really good gigs and you know, I don’t have to travel two times a weekend. It’s just, it’s for me, it’s just getting the music out there and having more people hear my music than ever before, that’s what’s most important to me. It’s not about money, it’s just about getting my art out to more people, I really look at what I do as a really creative artistic thing. Like my painting graffiti for 25 years, I like my graffiti to be seen as well. It is what it is for me when it comes to doing my art. Just getting it out there for people to hear or for people to see.

So are you going to be Adam X solely from here on out?

I’m not going to reveal any information on that, but there was a volume six and seven on Traversable Wormhole right? I’m also focusing back on Adam X as well, it’s time; and then I’m also going to go back and do another ADMX-71 album, because I think for me that was actually one of the most liberating and exciting projects I’d ever recorded. I felt so unconstrained writing that album that I just made what I wanted to make and I want to do that again ’cause that was a lot of fun. Traversable Wormhole gets a little a stressy. If I make the next one, you know, there’s a lot of pressure to make sure that next one is good, right? I also want to do some other stuff where there’s no pressure. But there should be more Traversable Wormhole coming.

Did Traversable Wormhole influence your sound as Adam X at all, because I feel that your release on Prologue is different from the other Adam X stuff, it’s more techno as opposed to the industrial EBM kind of stuff.

I think in general, I’m making a little bit more of a techno comeback. I don’t think with that one, I don’t think it sounds anything like Traversable Wormhole, maybe the B-side a little bit but the A definitely not. The A is very industrial and reminds me of some old EBM stuff, like some of the drums and stuff. I don’t think that the 12″ on Prologue is really that much different from the State of Limbo stuff I was doing. Yeah, I mean it’s a little bit, but that’s also me as a producer getting better with using digital stuff. Just getting a cleaner sound, you know? I’m definitely more about a cleaner type of sound these days, but that’s just part of the natural progression. You look at the Prologue record and then six months prior, I had the record out with Ancient Methods. The Ancient Methods that I did with them is definitely in the industrial rhythmic noise vein that I was doing before.

I wanted to do a record for Prologue, and he asked me about doing something for them and I didn’t want to do a Traversable Wormhole thing, but I didn’t think I could do something as hard as what I did with Ancient Methods. I was actually going to do something deeper than that and then I heard the Dino Sabatini records and I was like, ‘Mmm, this is really industrial. I can make some shit like this, this is cool.’ Clean techno, industrial sounds. Dino Sabatini’s shit is amazing. He’s got a record coming out on my label next, I love his shit. It’s great. So when I did the thing for Prologue, I would definitely say his records were a little bit of an inspiration.

So what kind of sound are you going to be pushing with Sonic Groove? Will it be any different than before?

I never like to pigeonhole the label. In the past, I was always doing very different stuff, you never knew what to expect. You’d do an electro record, like a proper electro record — of course not that electro house garbage. You’d do something, maybe I’d put out an old school classic with remixes, or you know, put out a a solid techno record, or an industrial record. Right now I think I’m going to stick a little bit more to what I’m playing and what I’m really into at the moment, which is just really solid, hard industrial techno. What I’m doing now is what I wanted to do four years ago, but I couldn’t. If you ever go online and listen to digital only releases from REALMZ, that’s on Sonic Groove, you could see that I actually wanted to do this stuff before, but I couldn’t get any distributors to take it. This is kind of what the Berghain sound is right now.

Now that people are into this sound I can actually do it now on Sonic Groove and it’s working. I can do it on vinyl now. This is why I put the REALMZ record out this year. That was his first vinyl release after doing three digital things for me. So I’m definitely going to stay in this vein for a while, I’m not really listening to a lot of other stuff right now stylistically. I’m very happy right now. If techno met industrial, it’s where I want to be and it’s where I’ve wanted to be for 10 years. I’m going to stick in this kind of arena right now, that we’re kind of in.

Do you dislike the trend oriented movement of techno, or is it just the way it is for you? Do you accept it?

For me, like I’ve said, I’ve been pushing the rhythmic, noise, industrial techno shit for 10 years. So for me, whatever’s happening now might be a trend for other people, but it ain’t a trend for me. While everyone was playing all the little minimal gigs and making all their little money and running around every weekend, and I was stuck at home because I couldn’t get any bookings because I was sticking by my guns and I was putting out vinyl records, like you know, “Europa Power Electron Industries,” which is straight up techno, the hard shit that’s coming out now and people were not paying attention. Now people pay attention.

I think for some it’s trendiness, but to be honest with you I notice with a lot of people who are making music like Perc and Lucy and people like Surgeon and Regis, a lot of these people have industrial backgrounds already and I mean, they’re into it not as a trend. I feel like a lot of the producers who are making this stuff, Dasha Rush has got an industrial, experimental, noise background. They’re all very passionate about what they’re doing, so I don’t think from an artist’s perspective that a lot of the people who are hot on the scene right now are doing “trendy” yet. I think a lot of people are going to jump in this scene, but I think the people who are doing it right now will know what’s up and won’t really support that, actually.

What role do you think the Internet plays right now, especially in your previous success over the past two years; do you think the Internet played any role in that?

Oh yeah, mnml ssgs was definitely very good for me. They put a Twitter message out asking if anybody knew who I was. The people of Rubadub relayed that message back and I emailed anonymously. When they put that mix up for me on mnml ssgs back in July of 2009, that did huge things for the project. That made a really big dent, that really opened up a lot more people to it. I think all these blogs — such as you guys — and all the stuff, it’s great, it’s been a great movement for techno because again the industry was very controlled not only by the distributors, but by what the magazines said. The printed magazines, they were dictating the scene for so many years and the blogs like you guys and mnml ssgs in Australia, and all these blogs in different regions have really helped the music out immensely. It’s a source of information if you want to find out about new stuff or you want to find out about artists that you like. So it’s a major, major role.

I know you’ve had problems with record sales, just due to not being able to sell music in the first place because it’s not fashionable; how do you feel about file sharing on the Internet? Do you think it impacts the music negatively, or it’s just the way it is?

I’m probably as guilty as the next person [laughs]. I think we’ve all stolen something online, whether it’s watching some movies that you’re not supposed to be, you know, and I mean, I’d be a hypocrite to download a movie and say, or you know, a director made that movie but I just fucking downloaded it, he’s not making his money. I think it’s evil where people that never want to spend money on music at all. You know the worst is the people who download all the music for free that always want to get on a guest list for a party. That’s the worst. If you’re downloading all your music for free, at least pay the promoters to get in so the promoters are making the money so they can continue to book underground artists — especially in the techno scene, where it’s a really small scene and the promoters are really not making a lot of money. If the people would just go out and support the parties by paying to get in, it would really help all the artists get gigs more. It would help more parties. Then maybe the artists wouldn’t be so grumpy about their music being downloaded for free, because I think most of us are more interested the gigs than really worrying about making a shitload of money on the downloads. It’s a really tough debate. It’s a hard debate because I definitely think [purchasing music] helps, which is another reason why I like physical formats. You know there will be always the collectors who really appreciate it. Even if I ever had children, giving my kids like, ‘Hey, here’s my hard drive of all my music from when I was young.’ I don’t see anything special in that. It’s a tough debate on that one.

It’s complicated for sure. I guess my final question for you is just what’s happening in 2011, for Adam X?

2011. I live day-to-day man, I dunno. [laughs] You know, I’m the guy who loves techno in the future, but I think as I’ve gotten older you don’t really want to look into the future as far ’cause you feel like there’s not so much future left. [laughs] So you kind of just enjoy every day like your last, in a sense. I don’t really think too far in the future. I can think a few months at a time, but I don’t really think super far in the future. I think I let the music do that. When I write futuristic music, I’m not thinking about me in the future, I’m thinking about the future of the world, but when it comes to me, I’m more day-to-day. Maybe next month, two months, but not long-term. I’ll definitely be making a lot of music. Under what names, one’s an anonymous project I might be doing. [laughs] I’m definitely going to be doing a lot of music production, I mean I’m always working on stuff. And you know, playing gigs and doing that. The same as I’m doing now, pretty much and hopefully more, you know. We’ll see.

You said you might do more anonymous releases. Do you feel the fact that you might have to do anonymous releases, or that it works in the way it does, are you cynical about that at all, or do you enjoy doing that? Is that just part of the fun?

I think if I was to do another anonymous project, it would probably just be the music I’d want to do, that I don’t want anybody to know… it wouldn’t be the way I did it with Traversable Wormhole. It’d be more like, put some music out that isn’t really relevant to what I actually produce, because I write a lot of different stuff now. I’m always making different types of music. I mean I like so many styles of electronic music from over the years. I’m sitting on a lot of really cool broken beat electro tracks that I’ve never done anything with. And maybe I would actually not even put it out anonymously. I might just make another name up and say it’s me, I don’t really know. It depends, sometimes I go back to some of my stuff from a while ago, and I’m like ‘Shit, I never put this out, this is really good, maybe I should do something with it.’ So you never know.

Michael Walsh  on January 26, 2011 at 2:11 PM

Great piece! And Adam, your method worked.

petesrdic  on January 26, 2011 at 6:00 PM

Much deserved success; I know TW releases were certainly some of my most played music over the last year or so, and the CLR mix was a top way to book-end the remixes.
Very interesting insights from Adam, given his longevity in the game, many of which up & coming producers would do well to read and understand.
Techno’s in a great place these days, thanks to Adam and a handful of producers out there.
Keep ’em coming ! (though quality not quantity)

keith  on January 27, 2011 at 1:08 AM

i wanna hear them electro joints. great read.

B  on January 29, 2011 at 12:18 PM

Great interview, love the anecdote about running into CL at Berghain. People, seek out the State of Limbo album – it’s one of the best LPs in recent years. Completely fucking destroys.

Spider  on February 4, 2011 at 8:04 AM

Much respect to you Adam! I used to enjoy your sets at Tronic Treatment back home!


TECH-LA-DI with ADAM X: Misleading Deception « TECH-LA-DI  on March 14, 2011 at 10:39 PM

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