Dublin-based producer Adultrock is readying his first physical release for next week. The Chants EP is coming out on Bodytonic and arrives about two and a half years after Gavin Elsted started uploading his songs to Soundcloud. Comprising three original songs and remixes of the title track from Naum Gabo and Ron Morelli and Svengalisghost (LIES/Ghost 202), the EP is out on 12″ clear vinyl. You can preorder it via Kudos now. Adultrock is playing Floating Joints 10 in the Pavilion, Cork, on April 10. I emailed Elsted a few questions ahead of the release of Chants. Below, we talk about his live show, whether he is making music for the dancefloor or the headphones listener, and whether he’s tempted to pick up the guitar again.
Congrats on releasing the EP. It’s been a long time coming though, right? How come you’ve decided to wait til now, about 2-and-a-half years or so since you started releasing music as Adultrock (I think), to actually release something physical?
I think it was more a case of me actually deciding to take it more seriously. I had been doing it on and off for a bit and it was finally getting to the point where I was doing more and more shows and there was more interest so I wanted to give it a fair shot. No point doing it half-heartedly though.
Were you making music for the headphone listener or for the dancefloor?
Bit of both I think. It surprised me that people saw ‘Chants’ as a dancefloor track because I had always intended it to be part of a set of songs that were more focused on melody than typical house/techno structures. It was a happy accident and it definitely has influenced how I make music now. Not to the point that I want to forego melody altogether but still one eye/foot always on the dancefloor.
The Nuam Gabo remix is probably the danciest part of the EP while the other remix is more headphones worthy. Were you happy with how they turned out?
Absolutely delighted.Having people the calibre of Optimo and the LIES fellas work over your track is an honour and I was totally blown away by both. Honestly, the Ghost 202 track took me a bit longer but when I got the test presses of the record back and listened to it as a whole, it made more sense. A lovely little closer after how frenetic the rest of the record is.
I would’ve thought of you as quite prolific in terms of output. How come you decided to return to three old tracks rather than do new ones? And what’s different about these ones?
That’s a common misconception. I’m prolific to an extent (I don’t believe that, really) but I think the big issue for me is quality. As with most artists, my standard for tracks is so high that I tend to scrap 99% of them. It took a few outside influences to convince me that these three were the best tracks for this release. There’s a backlog of stuff that I’m sorting through for more releases, but I felt it would be best to start with these tracks as they’re a good representation of what I’m at now and the next release will be another step forward and so on and so on. Plus, selfishly, I think these tracks deserve to be on vinyl rather than just existing as mp3s.
Bodytonic came onboard for the release. Is it important to have such backing, so that you have a sort of second opinion or just knowing that others think your music is worth it?
The BT lads have been nothing but great to me. They’re good at being straight with me about tunes and give me lots of things to think about in terms of development of myself as an act. Like you said, I’ve been doing this for two and a half years and I’m still no closer to finding out what it is I actually do or want to do. They are another set of ears and another brain when mine becomes too fried.
How has the Adultrock live show come along? Is it a fully live/improvised set or is it a lot recorded before?
It’s probably 50% planned in that I have some basslines/drum parts pre-programmed and some samples to trigger but no live set is ever the same. Sometimes, through use of effects or what patterns I play on the synth or even the structure of songs will change on how the show is going or how I feel the audience is reacting. If they want loud, abrasive stuff I can do that, if they want a more restrained vibe I can shift to that as well. All relative to how the entire experience works.
How do you feel about ‘electronica’ performances as a whole? Do you think they should be a show or that the act should almost be anonymous?
That’s entirely dependent on the performer. There’s a couple of people who are solid performers making great music and their stage manner is almost as much a part of the show as the music, and that’s cool. Then there’s others making equally good music who are content to keep the head down for the entire show and let some other element like visuals or lights etc do the work for them. I can see the pitfalls and benefits of both and I think the audience can, too.
And what about the Dublin/Irish electronica/producers scene? We’re constantly told we should be bowled over by the quality of what’s coming out. But do you think it’s sort of like the singer-songwriter deluge of the early noughties, that everyone now has a Moog or Ableton or whatever and that there’s a lack of quality control?
Absolutely not. I think that anything coming out of Dublin/Cork/wherever in the country should be judged on how good it is as opposed to the Irish connection. Being negative about something is pointless because if it’s your city or scene or whatever, of course you’re going to be supportive. I’m sure there are people who absolutely hated the more laid-back stuff I did before but can identify with what I’m doing now. Progression is key. An act that may be considered below par now may hit on something in a few years that would stand up against anyone worldwide. Very sure of that having seen it happen so many times.
Now that you have the physical EP box ticked off, what’s next on Adultrock’s list of goals? And are the next six months just about playing festivals and getting the music out there?
This is the pitfall that I’ve found myself in so many times. Trying to strike a balance between playing loads of shows and being everywhere and overexposure, and then being selective about shows I do and not really being on people’s radars as a result. I want this record to do well because I’m proud of it so I guess I’ll take the best opportunities to promote it I can. Apart from that, more than likely I will have a new release or maybe more than one out before year end. Famous last words, but I’m talking to some folks about it so we’ll see.
I also have to ask you about We Are Losers/Super Extra Bonus Party. It’s been a good few years since you put the guitar down. Do you miss it or playing with those bands? Will you be picking it up again anytime soon or is Adultrock you only focus at the moment?
I think about that a good bit. The answer is I don’t know. I still get the odd email asking about Losers tracks or whether we’d be up for doing shows and sometimes I think maybe… But then that is a crime I’ve committed so many times in the past – half-assing things. I could do Losers as well but why bother when AR is such a full-time concern at the minute. No point churning out sub-par records if my heart is only in one place.