Travelling the landscapes of trance with Adam Symbiosis
Reported by Frani Heyns
Submitted 04-11-09 18:47
For once the tables have turned and we’ve put none other than HF Editor Adam Symbiosis in the spotlight. With his name written all over our world – whether it’s on here or out there – Adam has earned enviable respect as a DJ, promoter, writer, photographer and friend. It’s been two years since his last interview on HarderFaster and with a lot happening in clubland and beyond, we’ve decided to pin him down for a game of question-and-answer before his upcoming gig at Odyssey later this month.
If we turn back the hands of time and go back to the beginning of your DJ career, we’ll find you right in the middle of the UK Garage scene. A lot have changed since then. What is the most memorable part of this era – something that makes you think ‘those were the days’?
Funnily enough I was out the other day and some shop I was in had a classic speed garage CD on. Looking back on those times now, I would party at my bar job and then head straight over to Bagleys for Norris “The Boss” Windross or Matt “Jam” Lamont to hear them drop some classics like DJ Luck & MC Neat’s Ain’t No Stopping Us – and one of my prized possessions was the Red Rose limited red vinyl pressing. Of course lots of the crew on here would have gone for Arial and his marathon sets instead of the garage but there was a real sense of energy and enthusiasm to the uplifting vibes of garage back then.
Are there still certain elements of UK Garage evident in your sets today?
Certainly. I’ve brought spinbacks, chops and a few other effects into my sets though you won’t be hearing a rewind anytime soon! I think the thing that has really come through in my music these days is the elements of textures to my sound – in the way of incorporating differing, sometimes competing but also complimentary sounds and genres to my sets.
You are without doubt one of the London’s most versatile DJs today. From trance to house, progressive, and breaks, technically you’ve mastered several genres. What is your absolute favourite style and why?
Of course it has to be trance. The soaring riffs, goose bumps on your neck, lyrics that strike a chord with the crowd. Trance when done right can be aurally amazing and nothing else can touch it. One of the very first interviews I wrote was with Mark Antoine and he mentioned to me his thoughts on the genre were that it is the classical music of our time. I didn’t think he was far wrong then and nothing has changed my mind on that.
The fact that you don’t limit yourself to one genre, unlike most DJs and producers of our time, can be very beneficial but certainly has its drawbacks. What is your take on this?
It seems as dance music has grown and splintered into ever smaller sub genres. Artists have struggled to get their sound heard and so they have had to rely strongly on a sound that people recognise and almost expect. But conversely I also find that sometimes this means that genres and trance in particular can become staid and uninspired, especially in the track selections and amazingly tight mixing but ultimately pretty boring sets you’ll find with many bigger DJs. However you’ll see that “to avoid confusion” artists have different names for differing sounds and projects, something I’ve never relied on. Do big promoters or the average club crowd like all rounders who might drop something unexpected into a set? I’m not so sure, as it’s an unknown quantity, but it certainly hasn’t stopped me from playing music I enjoy over the years!
If you could describe your sound in 5 words, what would it be?
Diverse, exciting, fun party music!
Your name is synonymous with the London underground music scene. When you’re not behind the decks at these parties, you’re armed with your camera on the dance floor. Do you prefer these smaller gatherings to bigger events?
To be honest, I’m not fussed. I enjoy going to venues where a bit of effort has been put into the event, be it via the décor, or the music style and progression. I enjoy going to events where there are lots of happy people to chat to and take photographs of too!
Speaking of smaller, intimate gatherings… You’re booked to play at Odyssey’s second event on the 14th of November at Ember in Farringdon. What are your expectations of this event and what can we expect from your set on the night?
I’m very excited to play at Odyssey. After a lull of a couple of years, there seems to be a whole host of well thought out events popping up, including this, run by people who really care about what they are doing. I’ve always been a key supporter of smaller, free events as this gives a good basis for a healthy scene. Not so long ago there were a number of free promotions bringing people together and their demise seemed to signal a contracting in the dance market. Hopefully Odyssey heralds some great things. And people can expect a DJ set with a difference. Trance with a healthy smattering of house and breaks, all mashed together with some choice FX.
What are the three hottest trance tracks in your box at the moment?
Sequentia vs Amphiby – Echoes Of Sound (A/B Project remix) - Everything Steve Anderson and his production partner Chris Bream touch seems to turn to gold.
Matt Church & Kevin Shepherd – Quake (Original mix) – An impressive first track from this fledgling label which fuses proper trance and psy trance.
Tommy Trash – Slide (Tommy Trash Electro cut) – Not trance at all but its unforgiving groovy as f*ck funk encapsulates everything I love about Tommy Trash.
You are renowned for doing excellent warm-up and last sets. What in your opinion are important to make these work for the crowd?
Of course every DJ will tell you that you should read the crowd, though the amount of times I’ve seen DJs just play whatever it is they were going to play anyway has been amazing! I also think, especially with the closing sets, you need to pick up on what has been played before and work from that, taking cues from the other DJs, from the crowd and from your own personal taste. I’ve always found my sets to be as much a journey for the crowd as for myself as well.
From clubbing to promoting and DJing, you’ve taken on many roles in the dance industry over the years. What is the most important lesson you have learnt?
Don’t take anything for granted. Don’t expect anything from anyone. Don’t confuse associations with real friendships. Three key lessons that helped me to have an exceptional time no matter where I’ve found myself, have led me to some amazing people and most importantly have given me a small number of important, enduring friendships.
Another huge part of your life is HarderFaster. You started writing your first articles in 2004 but soon joined the site in a more in-depth capacity. Today you’re responsible for keeping the content fresh and spot on. Tell us more about your work for HarderFaster over the years and plans for the future.
Somehow they conned me into this slave labour, well a labour of love at least! I’ve worked with an amazing number of people over the years and worked in my free time to keep the content readable, the events interesting and the site moving forward. As always there are plans for new features and there are always things we are adding to the old site code. The syndication buttons for every feature, for example, is something that is slowly bringing new members on board as has the Trancecast, our own HF Podcasts and the work that other key people do behind the scenes, like the work to stream content to Twitter, or the involvement of the writers that provide our visitors with great articles.
Of course it’s a difficult time for every business - whether commercial or community based like us - at the moment and HF is no different, so at the present I think the key thing for the site is keeping an even keel either through more advertising or link ups so we can come through the worst of the recession and begin to grow again on the other side.
The London club scene has undergone a major transformation since your last interview on HarderFaster. What in your opinion are the biggest reasons for this and how do you see things develop in future?
As I mentioned before, and that everyone knows, the scene has contracted but it’s also changed. Newer clubbers expect more from their nights out and that’s a good thing. It’s often said that the UK is the cultural heart of the dance world but unless we as a scene get a grip, with forward thinking events, visually and aurally stunning venues and artists who think outside of the box, we’ll continue to lose ground to, for example, the Dutch, or the countries in South East Asia, all of which have some groundbreaking events and arenas to hold them in.
Tell us more about your involvement with Lost Dawn.
Lost Dawn came about after a discussion with my good friendship with Craig Gunn. We’d been threatening to put on a party together for years and it just seemed like this was the right time to do it. Some people thought that the middle of a recession was completely the wrong time and others openly admitted they thought we might fail completely. Certainly over the six months or so that we slowly hatched our plan, we went through some major ups and downs and it’s not been an easy ride.
However on the basis of providing exciting, experimental music in a creative atmosphere for a wallet friendly price, we pulled in just under 300 very impressed people and set ourselves up for a great start to 2010. We’re already in some discussions for some possible collaborations and keen to move forward, hopefully helping to change clubbing from the inside! Check out www.lostdawn.co.uk for more info.
Who is the most inspirational DJ, producer or promoter you’ve met so far?
Certainly Trentemøller. I watched with wide eyed awe last time I saw him play in the UK. His ability behind the decks is nothing short of breathtaking and it’s definitely a level of skill I aspire to.
Who would you say is your favourite up-and-coming or new comer DJ/producer at the moment?
Last time I saw Swap play, I was bowled over by his energy and enthusiasm. It’s a shame he’s not booked at all in London as he’s a terrific DJ. Hopefully you’ll be hearing a lot more from him in the coming months!
If you were asked to host a 24-hour party with all expenses paid, where would it be and who would you invite to play?
I’d love to host a party with a dramatic backdrop like Leptis Magna in Libya! A bit closer to home and maybe a bit less controversial, the Eden Project in Cornwall would also make an amazing backdrop. Visuals (more akin to live art) would be provided by D-Fuse and United Visual Artists, while music would come from (in two hour slots) Trentemøller, Ronski Speed, Duderstadt, Tommy Trash, Mr Scruff, Dale Corderoy, Myself and Craig Gunn, while up and coming artists would include Swap, The Undercover Brother, BamCee Project, and last but no means least my cheesy partner in crime, Miles Gorfy (as long as he stays away from any dubstep)!
And finally… What is your favourite non-music, non-clubbing, non-party pastime in the world?
Manga! I love watching cyber punk manga like Ghost In The Shell: Stand Alone Complex, or Serial Experiments Lain or the new show I’m watching, Darker Than Black. I love the in depth themes, the amazing animation and the window on a possible future world.
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Images courtesy of the HarderFaster archive. Not to be reproduced without permission.
Odyssey presents Trance Generation
Saturday 14th November
15:00 - 24:00
Free entrance all day.
Throughout the years we have travelled the vast landscapes of trance – following the beats and melodies that spoke to our hearts. With every wandering came the promise of smiling faces and lasting friendships – binding us together forever. To celebrate the music we love, great friends and the memories we made on their dance floor, Odyssey has teamed up with Trance Generation for our next adventure.
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Other Features By Frani Heyns:
Finding the passion with Ben Alonzi
Put your hands in the air for Glyn Waters
Shifting gears with Corderoy
Perfectly Adam White
Getting Crafty with Sly One: Part 2
The views and opinions expressed in this review are strictly those of the author only for which HarderFaster will not be held responsible or liable.
| From: Fi on 1st Nov 2009 11:51.48|
Hehe, nice to have you in the spotlight for a change, Ads!
Great interview, Frani.
From: Cerberus on 4th Nov 2009 20:06.43
nice one brother - you say the nicest things
From: Menthol Taz on 5th Nov 2009 08:06.06
Great guy, well done! xx
From: PSYLICIOUS on 5th Nov 2009 12:26.59
Nice one Adam......top geezer!
From: Alan-Banks on 5th Nov 2009 13:55.21
Nice one Adam. Great interview
From: SunnyAli on 5th Nov 2009 20:22.39
Very honest and very wise mr symbiosis, make everyone read this, it's great! x
From: rossy on 7th Nov 2009 22:08.50
Cool interview dude....Hopefully I can make this one
From: Agnes Klos on 8th Nov 2009 16:23.50
Wicked interview! Great guy and well-thought questions. You have some skill Frani - was awesome to meet you yesterday at zoology
From: paul jack on 8th Nov 2009 17:37.58
well done sir
From: Carine on 15th Nov 2009 17:19.17
Great interview for a top guy!