By Will McGuirk
Pay attention to this chap - I'm a fan, and I am so because Adrian Underhill manages to build something human into his synth-sized jams. When we talk about soul we can says its a genre, we all know it, Stevie, Smokey, - but there's also the other soul music, the spiritual, we know that too, Marvin, Nina. Adrian Underhill is of the latter, the spirit in the machinery of his debut album "CU Again" available on Indica. He will be bringing that spirit to the gathering, to Hillside this weekend. Its a festival he is quite familiar with.
Slowcity.ca: I saw you wrote you were a volunteer at Hillside and are now of course playing onstage, how excited are you for this weekend and do you feel as if this is the culmination or a beginning?
AH: "Yes, that's true! I was a volunteer at Hillside for a number of years and it is my favourite music festival I've been to so I'm really looking forward to playing this year. Hopefully this won't be the last time I play the festival, so yes, perhaps it is a beginning :)"
SC: What will the live show look like - just you or do you have other players with you?
AH: "I'm playing with 2 good friends who are both extremely talented songwriters in their own right. Charlotte Cornfield will be playing drums and Anna Horvath (who writes music as Merival) will be singing backup vocals."
SC: There's an elegance to your songs which to me broaches Bon Iver as well as Hall 'n Oates, where do you draw your inspiration for sound?
AH: "Hmm. I think you've hit on something there. I definitely have a fondness for soft pop and things like Blood Orange, Martika, Prince, early Phoenix, The Doobie Brothers, Todd Rundgren."
SC: There seems to be an old soul lurking in your songs, how does a young man in 2018 find himself writing songs which harken back to the late 60s, early 70s classic soul sound?
AH: "Before I started writing this batch of songs that became 'CU Again' I was pretty obsessed with 60s soul for a few years so I that has found it's way in there."
SC: The tracks seem to be deeply layered, are they?, what is your process for building up a song? Where do you begin and how do you know when you've finished?
AH: "Yes, there is a lot of layering on these tunes. I worked on this record with Adam Bainbridge (aka Kindness) and he brought a lot of that approach to the recording process. The songs started with my demos that I had been working on for a number of years already. Once Adam came on we started working from those demos, remixing them, stripping the drums away, programming new elements, sometimes speeding things up. After we had had a few weeks to do that we took the songs down to LA where we worked with some amazing live players: Damon Riddick (aka DāM-FunK) on drums, Keith Eaddy on bass and Brandon Coleman (Kamasi Washington) on keys. That added a lot and lots of the outros came from their live playing. Then Adam and I took the sessions back to Montreal and decided on a track by track basis what songs needed live playing vs. programmed electronic elements or a combination of both. It was a really interesting process and one I couldn't fully conceptualize until I saw it happen!"