I’m happy to share this interview with Jason Adams, an artist who is involved in a lot of great stuff in Los Angeles and shows no signs of slowing down. Currently, he keeps himself busy as a sound engineer, composer, one-half of uneasy techno duo, Chollas, and finally, the brains behind beloved monthly DTLA experimental music series, Late Breakfast. It would seem incredibly daunting were it not for Jason’s clearheaded approach to all of it.
When you have your hands in as many projects as Jason does, you really have to be intrepid and curious - intrepid with regard to making mistakes, and curious in order to look at how those mistakes might shift or create relationships between your efforts. As Jason notes, it can be hard to draw a linear trajectory through different creative experiences, but each of them is crucial to where you end up.
I asked Jason the same questions I ask everyone - I need to know what people are afraid of and how they deal with their hangovers! - but also touched on his experiences within both electronic and classical music realms. I’m grateful to be able to share my discussion with this creative powerhouse with you. Enjoy it, and visit the embedded links - the cello sketches are especially gorgeous.
KP: What can you share about your creative trajectory? How did you get to your current creative life and who/what are your biggest influences?
JA: I work as a sound engineer and composer, so I'm lucky that my job informs and is part of my creative life. Over the years I've worked in recording studios, television & film, radio, live venues, and a label & artist management company. Tracing a trajectory between all of those is a little daunting, but whether they felt like it at the time or not, each of those gigs and jobs was crucial to getting to where I am now.
Some positions helped me hone the skills that I use for my career and my creative pursuits, others taught me how to do ancillary work such as social media or promotion. Most importantly, every single one has connected me to incredible and talented people who I look to as influences (and close friends). But my biggest influence right now is minimalism - the more I pare things down, the better the end result. (...maybe I should try that with interviews, too?)
KP: Can you talk about time you were afraid to fail (with regard to creative efforts) and/or a time that you did? How did you bounce back?
JA: On one of my early gigs as a composer for a short film, the director gave me some artists as reference points that I considered to be...uninspired. So I ignored her guidelines and set off to do something completely different. I obsessed over it, worked all night for a few days in a row until I came up with something I thought was unique and great, and finished the whole score in that vein without checking in. And the director hated it. I had to redo every single cue in a third of the time I would have had otherwise. The upshot is I learned four huge lessons from a single project: don't get attached to your first ideas, give multiple options at once, check in frequently and early to see if you're going in the direction they want, and pay attention to what they're asking for. I applied these to my next score and finished it with a lot less stress, a lot more sleep, and a much happier director.