Adam Friedman: Troubadour, Mountain Climber & Bridge Maker [INTERVIEW+PHOTOS] BC ARTIST PROFILE: ADAM FRIEDMAN
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Adam Friedman is just trying to figure his shit out, just like all of us. His songs reflect an honest pain, the kind he knows that everyone has. It’s passionate and beautiful and all the while relatable. It’s genuine and therefore completely comfortable to be around. His music seems to come from a deep yearning. Whether it’s yearning for a girl to take home that is “5′ 5″ with big brown eyes and sweet like lemonade” or a desperate plea for someone to reveal the true scars under all the makeup, his music unflinching honest and vulnerably beautiful. It’s ok, he knows we are all have pain.
Adam Friedman met up with Blurred Culture in Brooklyn and upon meeting him, the thing that struck me was how comfortable Friedman is in his own skin. He is so energized to share his experiences that it felt at times that his brain was telling the stories faster then he could get the words out. There’s a certain charm about it, and you can’t help but just listen.
Tell me the story behind “Lemonade”
“Lemonade” is a song that I wrote with Mike Posner, while we were working on his album “At Night Alone” and we had taken a break from recording and I had my favorite guitar and I was jamming on the chords that are lemonade and I started humming the melody, “I went down to Georgia…” and I had no more words. I just kinda made a bunch of bullshit words up that aren’t words. Mike was like, “I like this!” so we kept jamming on it and we are kinda dancing, and in true Mike Posner fashion, he’s a wordsmith, he’s just brilliant with words among other things, and he just sprayed the words out,” how about this, “I went down to Georgia looking for the one.” and I was like “OH COOL!” “I even checked in New York City, didn’t have no luck.” and I was like, “OH SO GOOD!” and then some of the other words he said made the blue print of the story; looked all around for this girl and couldn’t find her, and then (snap) “Carolina you’re my last hope”. Cause he went to school in Durham, at Duke, and I am a California kid, so I was like, well, it’s the same syllables… Boom. So I changed some of the words up to match my life story a little bit more accurately.
There is a separate story for the bridge, I was on tour with Mike, we’d rented an RV and drove through all the continental United States, besides Minnesota and Maine. It was an incredible trip and we were at Mount Rushmore, and I climbed up this giant rock over looking Mount Rushmore with my guitar. We were hanging out for the day, and I was like, I’m gonna climb that rock cause I’m weird like that. So I got my guitar, slinged it on my back, started climbing the rock, got to the top, there was this beautiful view and I wrote the bridge. “Now that I’ve got you wrapped up in my arms, there aint no other place to go.” I had to fill that part of the story in, because it was like a whole song is California give me someone I can take home. I tried all these places I can’t find it, and I was like in the story of this song I personally want me to have found that person. So then “Now that I’ve got you wrapped up in my arms… there is no where else to go but California” and he [Mike] was like “Oh, he found it.” I was like “YES I FOUND IT” and I was on the rock jamming out and it felt great, and then I forgot that going up was quite treacherous and I didn’t think about going down. So I scraped my guitar up and my arms up pretty good coming down. I was shaking, there was a crevasse on this rock and in-between that crevasse there was a plant and it was rooted in, I pulled on it and it was was like, “Alright it can hold my body.” So I had to finagle my way and hold this branch of this plant that was lodged in the crevasse and hold myself cause I got down it’s weird, hard to describe… it scared the shit out of me to be honest. So I got down and I’m shaking, but hey I got a bridge out of it. Cool.
And then we had the song finished and we were recording it for Mike’s album, I mean, he has hundreds of songs and we narrowed it down and “Lemonade” is a good song, so we were like great, this will go on your album. We went to New York we recorded with a producer and we tried I it a bunch of different ways, but it didn’t fit his project. So I was like, “I’m totally taking that.” So I finished the recording, the recording was all on my own and I’m really proud of that. Most of the productions on the EP that’s coming out are collaborations besides, “Waiting on a Woman” a song on the EP, everything else is a collaboration with writers and producers, so I was really proud that I produced “Lemonade” on my own, with the help of some friends and another studio and what not. The song went through a journey. It took me all the way to Mount Rushmore to finish it.
I love it, you literally had to climb a mountain to find your bridge… Do you want to write more by yourself or do you prefer collaborating?
Well, I like to write everyday in some form or another because it’s a gym for your brain. Writing is the more you do it the better you’re going to get. For me, while I’m on my own I’m writing but I love collaborating. Music is a very collaborative thing. It’s really nice to work with people, so I’m kinda 50-50. I like my solitude when I write, but also love being in a room with people and bouncing ideas off of each other and you learn a lot being on your own and you learn a lot being with other people so for me it’s a balance.
When you’re writing and I think know what your answer is, but, do you draw from your life?
One hundred percent. “Lemonade” is a culmination of other things, a girl friend I had in college and my last girl friend. You mix things up like that or a girl you dated in college and you bring them in together to make one story but most of the time it’s very based off of personal experience, even for songs for other people. There are so many ways to approach writing, but personally I think that artists that really inspire me in my life were very connected to their songs and you can hear it and when you hear interviews you just kinda think that he probably went through that and that’s what inspires me in what I’m doing and how I write.
What’s your first musical memory?
Ha! I’m just going into the past, if you ask me this tomorrow it might be different, but a very vivid one was when I first got my guitar and we brought it home. We had this old rocking chair that had from a little baby and my ass barley fit, as I grew up it wouldn’t fit in the chair any more and I was barely… I was nine when I got the guitar, so I was just out growing this chair, and I was sitting in this chair trying to tune my guitar and I got this little red Stratocaster that my mom got me from guitar gallery off of Scottsdale Road. It was on a cross street and I got this little guitar and I was learning “Dammit” by Blink 182 and I was trying it all day long, so I was tuning it and I went into the living room with my mom and got out of the chair and my mom was trying to help me and I kept going tighter and tighter and I broke my first string and I went “FUCK NO!” I didn’t know how to change things, I didn’t know you could change strings, I didn’t know anything about the instrument then. So I had a panicked. I was devastated that my string had broke. The small e string, the most notorious string to break. So I’ll never forget that, because it draws on a lot of things like, I was so sad that my string broke but then at the same time I was determined to fix that thing and get it tuned again. So we got a guitar tuner and that saved it all.
How old were you when you knew that music was going to be it?
It snuck in when I was eight. I remember my mom used to listen to a lot of music around the house. Eric Clapton, Michael Jackson, Fleetwood Mac and my brother was older and I always looked up to him as a kid, so I loved Blink 182 and Green Day and those bands and that’s when I was really convinced. My brother liked it. I loved those bands, so I converted to the pop punk thing. So I was about eight years old, we had a cassette player that had “Dude Ranch” Blink 182’s album at the time and we would listen to that thing over and over and of course, they got staticky and tapes degrade over time. I remember being obsessed with it and loving it, but there was never a moment when it was “AH” it got me, it bit me. it just kinda happened. When you find love or something great, you just one day, “OH Shit”.
What are you most looking forward to in the future?
I look forward to a multitude of things. Writing new songs, getting on the road again, cause I gotta say. I love being on the move. I love it. I’m more creative. I’m really forward to collaborate with awesome people that I have yet to meet. I’m looking forward to some bomb meals, some good hikes. (laughs) I’m really excited to release this music, because it’s like music constipation. I’ve had these songs and been working on this for so long I just want to get it out there.
What was your best day as an artist?
There are a couple. When I come out to New York, whenever I come to New York, I’m recording a record or I’m doing promo or playing on TV or something exciting and those are my favorite days. You put in all the work, you wrote, you put in all this time into produce these songs and coming out here and it’s time to receive yourself. But then there are the other moments when you are writing a song, when I wrote “What If?” The single that’s coming (came out) on February 10th, there were a couple of light bulb moments when I wrote that song. You know those “OH SHIT YES! DAMM! HOW DID I translate what was in my head so nicely to the song?” There are moments that, and that definitely happened for “What If?”
What’s your favorite song?
There is a song that I wrote with Mike called “Iris” it’s a very sad song but I remember we were at his house and we finished it and it was “holy…” just one of those moments again. We were writing it and the chorus goes “I watched her go after she planted her love in the top soil/and from the top soil an iris bloomed, it was pretty in May but it died in June.” And it was like DAMMM that’s so depressingly perfect. So I’d say that song and yeah… yeah… hopefully a brighter song and steal my heart…
What do you hope people take away from your music?
I feel like what I think people take away from my music is different then what I think they take away from me as a person and I want to be able to connect those. I feel like I haven’t been able to fully make a project of music that is completely parallel to me as a person. That’s the hardest thing for me. I think for a lot of artist, it’s what we are constantly after. Right now, what I hope people take away is that here’s a guy who’s trying to figure his life out, just like all of us and he’s got wonderful moments but he also has dark moments, just like we all do. To focus on the fact that there is more to be gained then there is to be taken. That’s something that I learned through a past relationship, I feel like “What If?” has feelings of that and in the song “Waiting on a Woman”has something in that vein. I just hope they take away something… let me rephrase this, when you ask,”What do I hope people take away from my music?” I hope they takes something that helps them cope with whatever they are going through, right? Cause when I was a kid and I listened to these bands and this music it was my sanctuary, they were expressing myself for me and it felt amazing. So I hope that there is a kid somewhere, anywhere, just one kid that my song comes on and it just lights him on fire in some way. Whether he’s fucking enthralled or he’s tragically moved because something in his life isn’t right. I think it will happen and maybe it has already, but I feel like every single day when I’m writing these songs there’s a part of me when the song is done that I want someone to feel that. And I feel like “Iris” did when I wrote it. I think that “What If?” has that quality to it. There is a song that I wrote “Stronger” that’s not released yet on the EP but it’s about that struggle and how you gotta look up at the end of the day. No matter how shitty things are, the only way to go is up, so keep looking up.
Cortney Armitage is a photographer and writer based out of Brooklyn, NY. Born into the world of indie rock ‘n’ roll, she travels back and forth from Los Angeles capturing artists in and out of their natural habitat. Contact her at: www.CortneyArmitage.com