couple of weeks we finally saw Ghostface and Sheek Louch
release their well-received Wu-Block album. The
collabo album had met with some delays and was
pushed back till the end of November which
(unfortunately) led to another Ghostface project
getting pushed back several months. If the Wu-Block
album was Ghost ( and the other Generals to a lesser
extent) choosing to team up with a well-known crew
in hip hop such as D-Block then “12 Reasons to Die”
is Ghostface going for a much lesser known name in
the music scene: Adrian Younge. Adrian who? Adrian
In a few months we might not get
that “Adrian who?!?” reaction anymore. Soul Temple
producer and A&R Andrew Kelley has more than once
expressed his faith and great belief in this
upcoming soul musician/producer who was asked to
produce an entire album for Ghostface. Ghostface
Killah has always been using and showing his love
for 70ies soul music throughout his work. Adrian
Younge has an equal love for all things 70ies soul
(and funk) but combines it with a fascination for
instrumental music or movie scores from the likes of
Ennio Morricone, Air and Portishead. A combination
of these two minds might turn out as promising as it
So far not much is known about
this project: we know it’s titled “12 Reasons to
die” and will be combined with a comic of the same
title, it is as said entirely produced by Adrian
Younge and the artwork we saw appear online so far
looks just great. Andrew Kelley described its sound
as “early Gravediggaz, super dark, grimy, raw New
York shit”. And that’s about it, no?
Somewhere in the coming weeks a first track will be
leaked to give everyone an idea of what they can
expect from this combination of musical minds. To
ease the waiting, Wu-International reached out to
Adrian Younge for an interview about this exciting
project which is for now scheduled for a release in
February. Who is Adrian Younge? How did he get
chosen to produce this album? Why combined with a
comic book ? What can we expect? What about this
Ghostface and Adrian Younge tour next year? And what
else has this upcoming artist been up to in the past
for those interested ? So many questions, time to
find out. Enjoy!
I like to say thanks first and
foremost for taking the time to answer these questions,
highly appreciated, and will also point out that nothing
will be altered, edited or changed when this is published
Wu-International: Peace Adrian, how are you?
Adrian Younge: I’m doing well man, thanks for asking.
Wu-International: For those who don’t know yet, you
are the producer behind the upcoming Ghostface “12 reasons
to die” project. In the coming weeks Soul Temple will
release a first track for the fans to hear. That will be a
bit of a special day, are you excited to hear people’s
reactions on the upcoming leak?
Adrian Younge: Absolutely. We worked very hard to make
this album and we sought to do something different. We’re
excited to see whether the public will embrace our new
direction. Lyrically, Ghost is still on another level. I
hope I matched his intensity on the tracks.
Wu-International: Did you have a say in choosing
which track would be presented to the fans?
Adrian Younge: Yes, because here at Soul Temple, we work as
a team. We highly respect each other’s opinions and make
Wu-International: Rightfully so, can you say why this
specific track was chosen to be the first single or leak?
Adrian Younge: No specific reason; we just felt
that this track innately represented the colour of the
album. It easily could have been one of the other 12 songs.
Wu-International: Would you say it gives a global
idea of what fans can expect of this project?
Adrian Younge: For sure! This entire album is very dark and
organic. There are no samples, yet it feels like nostalgic
Wu material. So if the fans dig this song, they should dig
Wu-International: In our Resident Viewpoint articles
we let artists share information on the creation of their
albums. What could you share with us on the creation of this
track: any interesting anecdotes?
Adrian Younge: When I was approached by Bob Perry (A&R for
Soul Temple) to record this album, I initially didn’t
believe it. I mean, some guy contacting me to do an official
Wu-Tang project? Would you believe it? I sat on this
correspondence for a while until Bob was like, “Yo! Are you
down or what?” Obviously I responded in the affirmative and
we made it happen. It took about two weeks to record the
basic instrumentals for the album. I had never produced at
this rate, especially because it was all live
instrumentation, with syncopated composition. My band,
Venice Dawn, helped and we made it happen. Was very enduring
but absolutely worth it.
Wu-International: The “Resident Viewpoint” is a track
by track break down of the whole album, would you be
interested in running down the album in such an article
around the time the album drops next year?
Adrian Younge: Next year, you will have a serious breakdown
of every track.
Wu-International: Great, thanks in advance. On a
podcast interview Soul Temple A&R Andrew Kelley recently
described this album’s sound as “super dark, grimy, raw New
York shit, like the first Gravediggaz album”. How would you
describe the sound?
Adrian Younge: Couldn’t be described any better. This is a
New York album, composed by a West Coast producer.
Essentially, the album is supposed to sound like it was
produced by RZA, if RZA was a producer in the late 60’s. We
all know how grimy RZA can be...just imagine that sound
recorded in a vintage studio with no computers. Like I said,
Wu-International: One assumes you are fully producing
this album if not can you tell us who else is involved or
who you would have wanted to be involved in it?
Adrian Younge: I’m fully producing the album; however, RZA
is executive producing the album. Bob Perry and Andrew
Kelley also have taken part in molding the direction of the
album. In short, this is a team effort, where no one’s
contribution should be taken lightly. We couldn’t make this
album without each other and it is evident on every track.
Wu-International: Nice. Will this be the first time
you are working with Ghost?
Adrian Younge: Yes
Wu-International: And have you worked with anyone
else within the Wu before?
Adrian Younge: No.
OK. So how was the whole idea
born and who came up with it and how did you end up getting
involved in it?
Adrian Younge: When I was approached to do the album, I
made it clear that we needed a strong idea/story. I came up
with some initial concepts, and brainstormed with Chris
Garcia (member of my band, Venice Dawn) and Bob Perry to
further the cause. The result was a vintage Italian Horror
Story called, 12 Reasons To Die.
Wu-International: It seems Bob Perry suggested you
for this project. How did he get to know you?
Adrian Younge: He was familiar with my works on Black
Dynamite and Something About April.
Wu-International: Being a RZA and Wu Tang fan
yourself, what was your initial reaction when they asked you
to produce this album?
Adrian Younge:As earlier noted, I didn’t believe that
it would actually happen. I live in Los Angeles, and people
make false promises all of the time here; the general
Hollywood rule is that you don’t believe anything, until it
actually happens. However, I was excited when I was asked to
do this project. But, the excitement dissipates once you
realize that you have a job to do. As a composer, you can’t
get caught up in being a fan of the artist you are working
with. I took the same approach when I worked with William
Hart, on our new Delfonics album. When you are in my
position, you must seek to exceed expectations; anything
less is unacceptable. In doing such, you are focused on
being your best and the excitement gets lost in doing that.
It’s just a serious perspective and I’m a serious guy, for
the most part.
In our Wu Elements series we asked all Elements what
Generals they would love to produce an entire album for.
Ghostface was very popular amongst most producers, how do
you feel about having this privilege to work with a legend
I was initially excited, but the excitement
dissipated when I realized I had a job to do. I’m privileged
and I fully embrace my position with gratitude. Not many
people get this chance and I look at this as a sign of
things yet to come.
Wu-International: How many tracks will
be on the album?
Wu-International: Can you share with us the features
involved in this project?
Adrian Younge: All I
would like to say is that you shouldn’t be surprised if you
hear some verses from imperative Wu-Tang generals.
Wu-International: How did you go about choosing the
features and was there anyone you wanted on this project
specifically that happened or didn’t happen and why?
The features really came from Andrew, Bob, and RZA. My job
was to just make the music. Those guys are really good at
putting albums together. Did you get to hear what this team
did on RZA’s movie? Good lord!
Wu-International: Is the album complete and if
so, why was it pushed it back?
Adrian Younge: Yes, the album is complete. It was pushed
back because we wanted more time to promote the album. This
album will be different because it is organic and recorded
with all analog instrumentation. Also, Ghostface kills it
lyrically. It’s important for people to hear it; hence, the
label wants to ensure that it gets fully marketed.
Wu-International: How involved was Ghost with your
He wasn’t directly involved with the
production; however, the production catered to his style. So
arguably, you can say that Ghost directed the production
without saying a word! Ha.
Wu-International: Ghost read the comic and based all his lyrics on
the comic to match them. How did you prepare
yourself for this special project?
Actually, the comic
is based on the story, so the story came first.
Ghost read the story first. I prepared myself by
giving him a story to expand lyrically. As earlier
noted, he killed it.
So how involved were you with the
creation of the actual comic and what can fans expect from
Adrian Younge: I’m very involved. The fans should expect a
comic that is rooted in nostalgia, gore, and clever story
Wu-International: RZA recently stated he was going to
be fully involved with now his movie is done and out there.
He is executive producing this. What’s his role in this
project then specifically?
His role is to ensure that the
album is up to par. He knows what I’m doing. He is a father
to my style!
Wu-International: Early next year you and your band
Venice Dawn will be touring the US with Ghostface for this
album. You must be looking forward to this?
Adrian Younge: You have no idea. The show will be fully
theatrical and very different.
Wu-International: This approach will take some more
preparation and rehearsals than Ghostface is used to I
guess. Have rehearsals started for this?
Adrian Younge: Not yet, but soon.
Wu-International: With a band like Venice Dawn
and your type of music I can imagine you like to jam out
endlessly on stage. For a hip hop concert that might not be
that interesting. Will you guys have to play with the brakes
on for this tour?
Adrian Younge: We are going all out; people should expect to
see a very dark and psychedelic show.
Wu-International: Let’s focus a bit on you as
an artist now. Apparently you started way back in 1998 with
hip hop but pretty soon lost interest in working with MPC’s
and preferred working with “real” instruments. Why did you
feel this need you think?
Adrian Younge: I felt this way because you can only do so
much with a sampler. A sampler is an instrument, just like a
guitar or piano; however, you are limited if you are
producing on one instrument. What would Isaac Hayes be if he
only had an SP-1200? Now, I’m not comparing myself to that
genius, but you get my point.
Wu-International: You started learning how to play
the organ but pretty soon proved to be a natural talent
playing a wide range of instruments. Any idea where those
musical genes come from?
I’m really not that different from the average producer, in
regards to having unique natural abilities. I just work
hard. I practiced very hard to learn my instruments. Most
people don’t have the patience. That is what separates me
from the average producer.
This move reminded me of the Beastie Boys’ giant U-turn in
the early nineties where they went from the sampling
masterpiece “Paul’s Boutique” to each of them learning
instruments to switch to live instrumentation on the equally
classic “Check your head” album. Would you consider the
Beastie Boys’ switch a personal influence?
Adrian Younge: Not at all. I just got sick of sampling,
after I realized that the music I liked the most was created
with live instruments. I couldn’t listen to an album like
Superfly or Air’s Moon Safari and conclude that I would
limit myself to a sampler. If you limit yourself to a
sampler, it’s hard to be better than your idols: these
composers that actually created with live instruments.
Wu-International: How many instruments do you play at
Adrian Younge: No idea, seriously. My
theory is that once you can play one instrument, you can
play them all, with the exception of the trumpet! Too damn
Wu-International: Any other instruments on your
Trumpet! However, I really don’t need to when one of my
close friends is Todd Simon. We work together on a lot of my
music. That guy is incredible on the wind instruments..
Wu-International: When you made the “Venice Dawn Ep”
in 1999 you played all instruments yourself. Now you are
working with a band named after that first release. Did you
use them on the 2011 follow up “Something about April”?
Adrian Younge: Hell yeah. My extended band is comprised of
myself and some clever individuals (David Henderson, Jack
Waterson, Alfredo Fratti, C.E. Garcia, Loren Oden, Brooke
DeRosa, Saudia Mills, and Todd Simon). I can just sit in a
room and listen to them do their thing. They inspire me to
stay progressive and we ensure that we all stay on that
Both albums were the soundtracks for a fictional love
story/film. Would you love to see someone base a film on
Adrian Younge: Hell yeah. That someone would be myself.
Wu-International: In 2008 you were already
involved with the movie scene: editing the Black Dynamite
film and scoring it. How did this come about?
The director (Scott Sanders) and I are close friends. We’ve
been djing together for about ten years. He knew I had an
analogue studio and was interested in my sound; he also was
aware of my abilities as a film editor. One day, he just
asked if I wanted to be down with a prospective
blaxploitation movie. Of course I said yes...the rest is
Wu-International: There was quite a big time lap
between your first release in 1998 and 2008’s “Black
Dynamite”. Did you always continue to make music in those
Yes I did, but I was also making films. I have some
unreleased stuff hiding on some 2 inch tape. Have to find
Wu-International: You must have been interested in
RZA’s “Iron Fist” adventure. What did you think of the film
and the soundtrack?
Adrian Younge: Thought it was great. I was very impressed
with the nature of the film and the cultivation of the
score/soundtrack. It’s an honour to see a Hip Hop mogul do
big things in Hollywood. America tends to take Hip Hop
lightly, even though Hip Hop is in every facet of modern
Wu-International: Your “Black Dynamite” score
was repeatedly hailed a an impressive homage to the 70ies
Blaxploitation sound of artists such as Isaac Hayes. It is
indeed remarkable how you nailed the sound of the seventies
on this score. Most would never believe this was made in
2008. Beside the legendary “Shaft” what Blaxploitation
film(s) would you advise people to check out?
Black Ceasar, The Mack, The Spook Who Sat By The Door.
Wu-International: To recreate the seventies sound you
used only instruments and equipment from that decade. This
reminded me of Lenny Kravitz’s vintage obsession in the
studio. Is Lenny another influence for you?
I didn’t know Lenny was down with analogue until I read an
issue of Wax Poetics a couple of months ago; that being
said, he was never an influence, but we are obviously like
minded individuals. I have a lot of respect for his craft
and artistic perspectives.
Wu-International: In an interview on Holland’s “3
voor 12” you said “I don’t try to make my music sound old:
it IS old”. Where does your “old sound” come from?
My old sound comes from the fact
that my studio is like a museum. Most of my equipment is
pre-74. It’s hard to make something sound modern with this
type of set up.
Wu-International: Besides 70ies soul and funk
your influences seem to be located heavily in the
European scene with acts such as the French band AIR
and Bristol band Portishead. How did you get to know
these bands, especially AIR, I had no idea that band
was known in the USA.
Adrian Younge: Air and Portishead changed my life. I saw both of them
play live in the 90’s and was blown away. I was blown
away because of their attention to detail an homage to
the likes of Ennio Morricone and other classic
European composers. I found out about them because I
love music and hang out with fellow music lovers.
Wu-International: Another very clear European
influence in your sound is the Italian genius Ennio
Morricone, for instance in the track “Dusts of gold”.
How did you get interested in his compositions?
Adrian Younge: In about ’97, I literally walked into a
record store, saw the soundtrack for Morricone’s
Revolver, and purchased the soundtrack. The rest was
history. At the time, I was so captivated by European
cinematic music, that I was just buying any soundtrack
with a dope record cover. Every Morricone cover is
ill! It was a no brainer.
Wu-International: Linking back to the Wu Tang,
another artist you studied intensively was the RZA. What did
you learn from studying his music ?
I should just write a book on that. He changed the landscape
of Hip Hop by synthesizing classic soul and psychedelic
compositions with masterful lyricism. He changed the way us
Hip Hop heads bob our heads to a beat. You know a RZA beat
by the drums, bass, and or the sample. He utilized distinct
elements, such as guitar/organ stabs, to capture a new
audience. He also changed my life.
Wu-International: I read that RZA was an inspiration
for you to learn how to play instruments as well as
producing, what was it about RZA that inspired you?
Well, I wanted to make the kind of
music that RZA would have made if he was a producer in the
late 60s, working with Isaac Hayes, Ennio Morricone and
David Axelrod. The only way to do that was to learn how to
The Clan had an in-house production team called Wu-Elements
during their formation, they had a unique style individually
but also had sort of a trademark sound if it’s safe to say
that, are you familiar with the works of say Mathematics,
4th Disciple and True Master and did you also follow their
Adrian Younge: Definitely followed their work. They are all
dope in my book; however, my composition for this album is
more inspired by RZA’s earlier production.
Wu-International: Personally I think RZA should
reboot this formula of Wu-Elements, so maybe an 2012 update
or inclusion? The folks over at Soul Temple have been doing
quite a good job, is this something you will consider being
part of if it was to happen, like an in house producer for
say Soul Temple, contributing beats to all their artists who
are Wu or Wu related?
I’m more of a
project oriented person. Basically, I’d rather compose
entire projects opposed to contributing individual beats.
Wu-International: Easy to assume you were a Clan fan
when they came out, if so who would you say was your
favourite member and why (if Ghost then who after Ghost)?
Adrian Younge:That’s a tough one. They were and are still
so good. I want to answer this question but I would be lying
if I picked one favourite. I mean, how can you compare what
GZA did on Liquid Swords to what Ghost did on Ironman? I’ve
tried and given up. Sorry!
Wu-International: You are a law professor it seems ?
Did you find this helpful when it comes to dealing with the
business side of things when doing music?
Adrian Younge: Hell yeah...I taught Entertainment law, and
some other subjects for over three years. I love the law and
it definitely helps for obvious reasons.
Wu-International: As if you haven’t got enough on
your plate already, you also started a record shop in your
wife’s hair saloon, which seems to be doing well. Why did
you chose to try this, would you call this shop a “labour of
Adrian Younge: Yes, it is called “The Artform Studio,” and I
run the record store component with my close friend and
business partner, Patrick Washington. We hangout every day
and sell vintage records. We love music and the arts. My
wife is crazy with the hair and we all make a great team.
Wu-International: To end this interview,
another project you are working on is an album with the
Delphonics’ singer William Hart. Ghostface fans will
recognize the name from their feature on his “Ironman”
album. When can we expect this album?
Adrian Younge: Waxpoetics Records will be releasing this
album February 2012. This album is very deep and I can’t
wait to hear what people think about it.
Wu-International: With your knack for perfecting the
old soul and funk sound this should be another great
project. How would you describe it?
Adrian Younge: Again, it kinda feels like a RZA produced
album, but with a twist of romance. It is not as dark as the
Ghost album, but it does come close. William Hart is a
legend and it was a pleasure to work with him. I will send
you a copy to listen...let me know what you think!
Wu-International: How did this come about?
Adrian Younge: I basically got in contact with
William’s son, through a mutual friend. A few days later, I
was on the phone with William. The rest is history!
Wu-International: Are there any other (old) legends
in the music scene you would like to make an entire album
Adrian Younge: Hmmm...most of them are now deceased.
However, I would love to work with Smokey, Aretha, etc.
Basically, any soul artist, from back in the day, that still
have it. The list can go on for days.
Wu-International: Now that you have done an album
with Ghost, who within the Wu-Tang Clan or even affiliated
Killa Beez would you be keen on producing a full album for
if the opportunity arose?
Adrian Younge: Can’t even think that far; we will see
Wu-International: Something for fun, before we end
this, there is a saying that they are “6 million ways to
die”, what would be your “12 reasons to die”?
1) If Autotune didn’t disappear within
the next 2 years
2) If Ralph Lauren went out of
3) If analogue tape was no longer available
4) If the kobe didn’t get another ring
5) If this
Ghostface album was shelved
6) If my Delfonis album was
7) If Waxpoetics went out of business
Quentin Tarantino stopped making movies
9) If Black
Dynamite 2 was made with an all white cast
someone pissed in my cup of coffee and i actually drank it
11) If i lost the passion for the arts
12) If my 8 year
old daughter grew up to marry someone that thinks classic
hip hop and soul is horrible.
Wu-International: Anything else you would like to
share with the fans that have not been covered already ?
Nothing else. Thanks for the time!
Wu-International: Thanks again for your time and we wish
you many success with your endeavours.
Keep up to date with
Related Interviews: 12 RTD Series
[Adrian Younge] -
12 Reasons To Die by Adrian Younge
[Andrew Kelley] - 12 Reasons To Die by Andrew Kelley
#3 [Bob Perry] -
12 Reasons To Die by Bob Perry
<Read Other Interviews>