Self-Portrait: Adam Pits

Leeds-based newcomer Adam Pits made a pretty big impression with the release of his debut EP last year on Holding Hands Records. Socket Power / Balance Beam ‎signalled the beginnings of something special, which evidently HH boss Desert Sound Colony had recognised early on when he told Adam that if he made something of quality, he’d release it on the label.

Since then he’s gone from strength to strength, following up his debut with STAGGA, his second EP for Holding Hands, as well as a contribution for Berlin via New Jersey label Wex. Aside from his solo pursuits Adam has been producing alongside friend and fellow producer Lisene as Space Cadets, who shared their first release via Seven Hill Records just last month.

Although he drums home that he still has much to learn about the technicalities of production, his abilities thus far speak for themselves, and it’s this dedication and motivation to constantly learn and improve that will see him go very far.

He chats to us about his approach to production and delivers a mix of 100% original material – some which may never see the light of day – that showcases all the different sides of his production abilities…

Let’s start with an ice breaker, what’s your earliest musical memory?

To be totally honest I cant remember much before the age of 16, which makes it even more remarkable that I can remember dancing in time to the sound of my mum brushing her teeth when I was maybe two or three.

Did you have a particularly musical upbringing?

Yes, both my parents are classical musicians by trade and I’m so grateful of how early music was embedded in me. I only listened to classical/orchestral music until the age of 10, which meant that every musical discovery after that was exciting and new to me. I started playing the cello around the age of nine and was lucky enough to have two professionals around the house at all times, giving me tips and pushing me to do things I couldn’t have done by myself. I’d say one of my strengths in this industry is my discipline, and I owe pretty much all of it to my parents and everyone who trained me along the way.

What led you into music production?

The production journey began during my GCSEs where, instead of doing the lesson, me and my french tutor would just talk about music. He decided to pirate Logic 9 onto our home computer, in the hopes that I would discover and explore myself. I would say that my influences at this time were very much still organic, which meant that my enthusiasm for music software was still on the cusp. I think it was more my need to compose that drew me to it. I was terrible at writing music on manuscript paper, so this ended up being an ideal situation. I’d say the main inspirations for getting me going with electronic music are Bonobo, Nujabes and J-Dilla. All beat makers, all organic sounding but the core of it was instrumental beats with no words. I really struggle to appreciate the music side of things when the lyrics are a prominent feature.

Are there any producers or artists who have inspired your production?

I mean, I could talk for hours about my different inspirations and who influenced me, so I’ll try whittle it down to a few. I know this is the same for a lot of producers, but SKEE MASK’s music really got me motivated to improve my productions. His ideas float between many different genres making it easier for people from all genre backgrounds to enjoy and appreciate.

Alex T has been instrumental in the development of my sound. He’s shown me so much wicked music that I’ve drawn inspiration from, not to mention the amount of confidence he’s given me in my own abilities over the last year or two. Desert Sound Colony really improved my production process just through giving me a few tips. He always explained things in a way that I would understand straight away.

I’m lucky enough to be surrounded by so many talented musicians in Leeds, not to mention the fact that they are all great friends. I owe so much to people who don’t even know it, from the music they’ve shown me, to the confidence they’ve given me through the lovely words they have said about me and my own music.

The last person I want to mention is my partner in crime Marlon aka Lisene (my other Space Cadet). We spent so much time together over the last three years listening and studying dance music, it would be impossible for him to not have an impact on my production. His technical knowledge is great, so for me sitting there and watching him produce for hours was a lesson and a pleasure. He also has an army of amazing tracks that he’s dug up over the years, which more or less ignited my passion for digging too. I think he would agree that I also had an influence on his taste and production through this time.

Are there any particular rituals you go through before you head into the studio?

I have no rituals apart from a nice big cup of coffee or two. If it’s the evening then I’ll revert to a cup of camomile or mint tea. It’s as easy as listening to a track I like to get my juices flowing. All I need to start is the feeling of pure excitement towards music.

Do you come in with a destination in mind before starting a jam?

A lot of the time I have an idea of how I want the energy to be. I always imagine myself in a specific situation, whether that’s in a club setting, festival big stage or just a bedroom. This effects my process and outcome. I generally have a target label before I start a track. This is based on what I’ve been listening to in my music palette.

Are you the type of producer to work on a track until it’s perfect, or are you more of an impulsive creator, happy with first takes and sketches?

Im 100% an impulsive creator. I can’t tell you how much of my day is dominated by musical ideas in my head. It’s constant. This means getting the ideas down is far more important than the smaller details in and around. This is partly due to the fact that I’m not very advanced in the technical side of production. I think people sometimes far exceed their opinions on my production quality. I want everyone to know that I’m far away from where I want to be in this side of production, and I also want to make it clear to all budding producers out there that composing the ‘perfect sounding track’ is not necessary if you believe in the ideas you have. In conclusion, I’m not a perfectionist as I cant afford to be with my current skill level.

Can you talk us through how you might construct a track?

If I’m working with my synth (Berhinger deep mind 12) then I’ll start with that. Usually thats the ‘colour’ of the track – this is a term I use to describe the chords/ambience/feeling. But generally I start in the box. I’ll work within a 4 bar loop, and build the track within those 4 bars. Using muting and soloing features I can perform the track as I want it to sound in a compositional sense. This makes my work flow very quick, as I can stretch out, copy and paste with all the aspects of the track ready to go. I think it’s worth mentioning that I process each channel as I go along, making sure that my mix down process at the end wont be too laborious. Once everything is more or less in its position I will map different perimeters to my midi keyboard and live automate many of the details in. I don’t think I do anything which is very complicated. I think you’re at an advantage if you only have few plugins that you learn inside out, ones that do very specific things. This limits you in a very practical way, and makes the compositional side of producing more fluent.

How much of your material is sample based and how much is original?

I like to use samples as a lot of the time I’ll already have an idea of what it should sound like. This means I’ll happily sift through hundreds of claps until I find the one that I hear in my head. I use lots of breaks, but not always very obviously. Gating breaks heavily with some effects to give the audio tail is a really effective way of moving a track in a different direction. In terms of melody and harmony, that’s all me. These are the bits I find easy. Knowing how to deliver a particular feeling or vibe is my forte. Now that my technical knowledge is improving, I’m able to use my synth to make percussion SFX, and general bleeps and bloops.

What’s the most important bits of kit that make an Adam Pits track?

The most important part of my production is my ‘sound palette’. This is the core to any track I write. I’ll compile different playlists of tracks with specific features that I like. All it takes for me is to listen to the tracks on shuffle and my juices are ready. This allows me to make pretty much any genre I want. My synth is certainly part of the core of my production. It injects more of a live feeling into my music, as opposed to my default ‘methodical approach’ which is heard through the repetition that I show normally.

You also make music with your friend Lisene as Space Cadets, how does your process differ when working with someone else?

With Space Cadets we have a great formula. He’s at the control desk while I throw idea’s at him, either singing or beatboxing the vibe. If we’re using hardware then we’ll both jam together but generally it’s all in box as he sold his drum machine. I think we’ve only ever made good tracks after a night out or in the early hours of the morning. I’m not trying to encourage this behaviour, but there’s something different about making music on little amounts of sleep; not to mention other things which may have influenced our behaviour throughout the night. We’re not able to work like this very often anymore, which means that we’re having to adapt to a new energy of production. We’re very excited for our next few releases that are lined up.

You’re part of the Holding Hands family, releasing your debut EP on the imprint last year. How did the relationship with the label come about?

So I went to a Rudolf Steiner School with Liam, although he was many years above me and I didn’t really know who he was at the time. I’m friends with his brother Reuben who was the year above me, and was slowly introduced over the years to Liam through him. During my time in Leeds, I’ve been able to relate to Liam a lot, as he had a similar time in the city. So when he discovered that I was producing he reached out to me and basically explained that if I made something of quality he would release it. I’m lucky to have such a great role model in the industry, as well as a big inspiration, involved in my production journey.

This mix is comprised of 100% original Adam Pits material recorded live. Could you tell us a bit about it? Any tracks that are particularly special to you?

They’re old tracks, new tracks, finished tracks and unfinished tracks, signed and unsigned. Some of these will never get released due to the files disappearing. I wanted to show the different sides to my production, and some kind of evolution over the last few years. It’s clear to me what direction I’m taking things in but this is not to say that I can’t make something on request. My aim is to explore many different parts of electronic music and find parallels that I can draw based on the elements I like most in dance music. All of these tracks should induce a particular feeling. Some might make you uncomfortable, euphoric, nervous…. I don’t expect everyone to like all of them, but I know for sure that for the many people that don’t like a track, there’s someone out there who will love it for what it is. This is a special thought to me, and it means that I don’t care so much about people’s opinions of my production. If I can enjoy my own music that is the main thing.

Anything on the horizon for you? Any releases we should know about?

I’m sadly not going to disclose much on the future of my music, mainly due to the amount of delays there have been on my previous releases. There will be lots over the next year or two for sure, including a few more Space Cadets EPs, remixes on various labels that I love and solo EPs.

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