In Conversation with…ADAM FRENCH

Adam French discusses the artistic intentions and creative motivations behind the development of recent video for track, ‘My Addiction,’ sharing a behind-the-scenes scope on his writing and creative processes. He sheds light on the themes and thoughts at the heart of recent EP, Weightless, and how these are reflected in the video and visuals.

Will: There’s very much a thematic and sonic stream that runs through the EP that ties into the visuals you’ve used in the video and artwork. The EP fits really well into the contemporary landscape, how conscious was this to you?

Adam: I think it’s been really important, both to me, and everybody that I’ve been pitching that to. I think the whole ‘orange tree’ thing was born of [the fact that] that tree basically lived on my balcony in the flat, so every time I’d be writing music or demoing songs or whatever, or when I’d look up whenever I went to make a brew or whatever, and it’d be there; framed, exactly as you see in the artwork.

I always looked at it and thought, “it’d be great for that to be included in some way,” and visually represented through artwork and videos for people to see what I saw when I was writing those songs. It was definitely a conscious thing, and it’s going to carry on being a conscious thing; I think we’re going to take that through, and beyond the first EP.

Will: The themes that are carried through the EP are very much reflected in the video: withdrawal, personal struggle, temptation, loneliness. How involved were you in the creative process for the video itself, and what was it?

Adam: Basically I met with a team called ‘Silent Tapes,’ and it was their director who put that together. Initially we started talking about ‘Weightless,’ and then discussing maybe making two videos together straight away. That was based on our first meeting being, you know, really positive, and strong, and us getting on as well as we did.

But a lot of the script, and visuals, and I guess mood boards and things came from them, but it was very much based on my brief of, “we have to include this orange tree, it has to be represented through everything we’re doing that people are going to see.” I gave them ideas and angles on the kind of videos I wanted to make, and the music videos that I enjoy watching, and then they came up with treatment.

It was really easy working with them, to be honest. They’re both really cool, down to earth people. You know, there’s no ego, it was just like thrashing ideas out and discussing them. It was kind of like working with friends really, they were really cool, and really easy to get on with, and I’m very happy with the results of both those videos.

Will: You’ve already touched on the oranges and the orange tree. There seem to be quite a lot of visual and symbolic motifs that are directly lifted from the songs into the videos. Without compromising the song’s artistic intentions, where did the creative sparks come from specifically with the black and white juxtapositions throughout the video, along with the black and white of the bricks and mortar on the artwork?

Adam: That was part of our initial discussions. I had the very clear idea that everything should be black, white, and orange; and they were our main three colours. That’s very much based on the original artwork and the original photographs, so it’s obviously carried through, and it feels like it’s worked in a very nice way, and it kind of feels different to a lot of other things that I’ve seen, for the moment.

I think that usually things are black and white, or they’re colour, rather than just picking out one nice vibrant colour, and then everything else feeling quite monochrome and mono-tonal. Yeah, that was very much a part of a conversation that we had, and a conversation that I had when I was making sure that that photo was able to be used as the artwork. Basically, the black, white, and orange thing is very much the colour scheme and the palette that I want to continue with.

Will: Both the video and the song for ‘My Addiction’ are very cinematic in their vocal and visual ostinatos; the rousing drums and the vastness of some of the shots that it graces us with. Are there any particular filmmakers who you directly drew from creatively for the video?

Adam: Are there any filmmakers? Not so much. I know that what a lot of the ‘Silent Tapes’ guys wanted to put across visually was – you know – very much, I guess, laced with the lyrical concepts and ideas of the song being about – you know – temptation, withdrawal, and feeling of helplessness, and need and desire and stuff. I think that they wanted to have that contrast of closeness, but then really quickly cutting to feelings of quite far-away loneliness of big open landscapes, and that sort of contradiction and contrast between the two; feeling quite, as if, whilst watching it you don’t know whether you’re coming or going. That’s kind of where the song comes from, I guess; that feeling of not really knowing how to feel.

Will: What specifically is a creative spark to you? Because you’re talking, very much, about trying to reflect the feelings that you started the song with, in everything that you surround the song with: the images you use, the song in itself, the video, the colour motif. Do you put yourself in the position to create? Do you actively seek out being creative, or is it purely organic?

Adam: I’m naturally drawn to one, to have the music backed by everything else. I like the idea of it being a fully immersive thing. I enjoy it when my favourite bands and artists put that effort into the art that they’re creating, and putting out for their audience, or whatever. Yeah, I’ve always been into the idea that music can be more than just a song. Do you know what I mean?

Will: So is there a particular process that you go through when you write, or is it more off the cuff?

Adam: I guess writing’s a bit different. It’s been different for everything I’ve ever written, to be honest. I’ve not got a set method or template of like, ‘write lyrics first,’ or ‘write music first,’ or whatever. I’ve been asked the question before.

But I’ve got so many voice memos on my phone – it’s ridiculous! Of either me humming on tubes, or in the car, or – you know – it might be a lyric, and I’ll just talk into my phone, and I might just speak a verse, because that’s what I want songs to be about. It’ll almost start as a little bit of a poem sometimes, and then it’ll become a song based on the lyrical content.

I think that a lot of the time, my writing is lyrically-led. I always think that that’s extremely important to have a song actually, [in which] you can read the lyrics and understand what it is, and feel what it’s about, rather than just solely rely on the production of a song, or a good drum beat, or whatever. I think it’s important for a song to mean something emotionally to somebody listening to it.

Will: Just to conclude, we’ve spoken about the artistic thread through the visuals and the sound; how you activate the same things with the video, as you do the song, initially. Obviously, a video and an image can be perceived to be, perhaps, more of a product than the art. So I was wondering, in your opinion, at what point does art become a product?

Adam: I think as soon as you release it to the world it becomes a product in some ways, man. If people were scared of it being a product, then you might as well not share it with anybody. I think as long as it’s a product that you can be proud of, and art that you can be proud of, and not something that you’ve been forced into creating, or has been created, you know, by a laboratory of people.

I’m not scared of the word, ‘product.’ I guess it just means that other people have heard it, other than yourself, and it’s available to other people, other than you and your friends and family. But yeah, I think as long as your art is a product that you can be proud of, I don’t really care. Do you know what I mean?

The new EP, ‘Weightless’ from Adam French is out now – available to purchase on iTunes here.

Adam French Upcoming Live Dates:

Thursday 1st February – Bermondsey Social Club, London [SOLD OUT]
Friday 9th February – Deaf Institute, Manchester Tickets

Find Adam French on Facebook and Twitter.

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