A child of the algorithmic listening generation, New York City’s Ade harnesses the power of developing technology and some impeccable musical influences. Taking an almost cut-and-paste like approach to his production, he occupies a space which manages to simultaneously feel both familiar and utterly unique.
This month he is preparing to release his confidently abstract debut album, Midnight Pizza – a work informed by a life’s diet of Beck and Bjork, Weezer to Brazilian Forro compilations, Doo Wop to Dr Dre, Squarepusher to the Backstreet Boys.
Written over the past five years, it stands as a ‘coming of age record’, covering a host of issues faced by the millennial generation. Midnight Pizza restlessly reflects on themes of social media voyeurism and surveillance, over-indulgence and insecurity.
His ambition for the album was to reflect and expand upon his own diverse musical obsessions. As such he produced a delicious slab of experimental pop which is broad in scope and reference points, but instantly captivating and distinctive. Midnight Pizza offers an eclectic glimpse into the mind of this exciting new artist – fusing diverse sounds and an occasionally eccentric approach to wordplay.
He gave us an early indication of what to expect with the release of the ecstatic single, Another Weekend, a few weeks ago. A massive electro-clash workout, it’s packed with that ‘Friday feeling’, blending huge drum riffs, tripped out keyboard and driving rhythms. With typical contrariness, Ade offers a club record which talks about not wanting to leave the house.
Ade’s music is at once intimidatingly complex and acutely referential, but with an inviting playfulness and danceability akin to Caribou, Toro Y Moi or Gold Panda. A tasty cocktail of influences, within individual tracks Ade flirts with sepia-tinted cinematics or warped merry-go-round melodies one moment; before erupting into euphoric rhythms or stuttering breakbeat infused glitch-tronica the next.
Composed, recorded, produced, and played/programmed in its entirety by Ade, Midnight Pizza saw additional orchestrations from CJ Camerieri (Bon Iver, Sufjan Stevens) and Rob Moose (Bon Iver, Phoebe Bridgers). Other instrumentalists entering the mix include Alex Sopp, Hideaki Aomori, Gabe Cabezas (yMusic) and Steve Marion (Delicate Steve).
With Ade releasing Midnight Pizza on Fri 23 April, we hooked up with this compelling artist for a few questions…
I imagine there’s been plenty of hard work getting you to this point. So, how does it feel to be releasing your debut, Midnight Pizza?
Man – fantastic. Making this album was honestly a pretty isolated multi-year process so to finally share it with people feels like walking into a party after a coma or something. It’s also a tremendous psychological relief to finally let go of it and I’ve been reveling in the creative space that’s freed up in my brain. I’d say I’m in a pretty good mood about it all.
Releasing individual tracks must be a significantly different experience from putting out a full-length album. Did you approach Midnight Pizza’s production in a different way? Was there an ambition to craft it as a cohesive collected work?
I’m a romantic when it comes to “albums.” I guess it’s kind of old fashioned now, but I really like consuming music that way – I find it extremely pleasurable to immerse myself in the world of an album. It provides so much more insight into an artist’s headspace for me. I personally think in terms of larger sonic environments and narrative arcs anyway. I like singles as much as anyone, but for me it’s an even more powerful experience when the single shows up in the context of an album’s sequence. I also think the right sequence can make every song feel like a single and that’s an exciting pursuit to me – I’m kind of obsessive about it, actually. When I have a few demos kicking around, I like to put them in a little playlist and listen to it on shuffle. Often, just hearing how one song goes into another will be inspiring enough to begin dreaming up an entire album. Or sometimes I’ll write a song and immediately feel it’s a first or last song on an album. For example, as soon as I finished Midnight Pizza (the song) I knew it was the last song on an eponymous album, so I set out to make it.
Is the way a track ‘feels’ as important as the actual lyrical content? Do you ever play with juxtapositions, matching upbeat words with claustrophobic soundscapes?
I guess I kind of determine that on a song by song basis, but for this album I definitely sought out to make the instrumentals as evocative as I could on their own. When I was 20 or so, I became totally dissatisfied with the way I was writing songs, which was kind of the standard way I guess – sitting at the piano or with a guitar. I felt like singing and playing at the same time was hindering my ability to compose more interesting musical arrangements and rhythmic vocal melodies, so I decided to just stop singing for a while and immerse myself in the studio. As a result, I was only making instrumental music and learning arrangement and different production styles for a number of years in the pursuit of discovering different sonic and stylistic combinations. Trying to find “my sound” I guess. Many of the instrumentals for Midnight Pizza came out of that period, and I found writing over a track I already liked the vibe of to be extremely liberating and inspiring.
Do you embrace the term ‘experimental pop’ when talking about your music? It seems like most great music is usually born from experimentation…
Sure. I think it’s an appropriate description of this album, which was definitely an experiment. I guess it’s not really up to me to make that call you know? People will hear it and describe it in terms that make sense to them. I love so much music of disparate styles and genres and eras so when I go into the studio to cook something up I kinda never know what’s gonna come out. I don’t think too much about categorization anymore – when I was younger I felt like it was this huge problem that I wanted to make so many different kinds of music, as if I were only allowed to pick one style, or that I’d have to designate songs to a thousand different side projects or something. But then I was like fuck it, I’m just gonna make whatever I want. Once I gave up on “the rules” it was a creative explosion and I started having a lot more fun. I’m probably sitting on close to 100 tracks that I don’t know what to do with yet haha.
Have your ambitions for your songwriting evolved since you finished the album?
I sort of used this album as a curriculum in production and arrangement and wanted to experiment with irregular song forms in the pursuit of something new. I’m not sure it always worked, but it satisfied some curiosities and provided me an opportunity to pursue a lot of different creative and stylistic instincts. I think the new stuff I’m working on as slightly more conventional in form at least.
Do you think there’s less expectation for artists to stick with one ‘style’ of music these days?
It’s hard to say, but I hope so. A lot of industry people I sent the record to were pretty confused, which I expected, but not to the extent that they seemed to be, so I guess there’s still a little rigidity going on out there. That said, I’m certainly aware my record is maybe slightly stylistically schizophrenic at times haha. Seems to me algorithmic listening has made the average listener more accustomed to hearing disparate styles of music back to back though, and I think that has exciting implications for the “album.” I think pursuing every creative whim and instinct is how you evolve, and anyway, it’s more fun to be uninhibited.
Can we expect live tours from you in the future? Could the songs’ live renditions differ greatly from their recorded incarnations?
I’d love to tour. I didn’t really do myself any favors in that department though – there’s some pretty dense arrangements going on so I’m sure some stuff will need some reinterpreting. I have a vision for the show that plays out like a circus – lots of multi-instrumentalists with little stations juggling sounds. Maybe I’ll learn some magic tricks to whip out too. Or tap dancing routine. See you at the Garden baby.
Ade releases his debut album, Midnight Pizza, on Fri 23 April 2021, via Trickwork.