Soul Temple Records

[12 Reasons To Die (12 RTD Interview Series # 1)]

Interview Date: 09th. November. 2012

Published Date: 11th. December. 2012

Conducted By: Dark 7 Invader & The Reccollectah

Special thanks to Adrian for cooperation    


12 Reasons To Die

Last 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 Younge …

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 is unexpected.

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 online.

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 decisions collectively.

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 the album.

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, it’s dark!.

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.

Wu-International: 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. 
Adrian Younge

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.

Wu-International: 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 like him?
Adrian Younge:  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?
Adrian Younge: Twelve.

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? 
Adrian Younge: 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.

Adrain Younge

Wu-International: How involved was Ghost with your production process?
Adrian Younge:
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?
Adrian Younge:
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.

Wu-International: So how involved were you with the creation of the actual comic and what can fans expect from the it?
Adrian Younge: I’m very involved. The fans should expect a comic that is rooted in nostalgia, gore, and clever story telling. 

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?
Adrian Younge:
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?
Adrian Younge: 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. 

Wu-International: 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 the moment?
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 difficult.

Wu-International: Any other instruments on your “soon-to-learn-and-master” list?
Adrian Younge: 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 path. 

Adrain Younge Presents

Wu-International: Both albums were the soundtracks for a fictional love story/film. Would you love to see someone base a film on this?
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?
Adrian Younge: 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 history.

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 ten years?
Adrian Younge: Yes I did, but I was also making films. I have some unreleased stuff hiding on some 2 inch tape. Have to find them.

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 culture.

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?
Adrian Younge: 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?
Adrian Younge: 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?
Adrian Younge: 
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 ?
Adrian Younge:
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?
Adrian Younge: 
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 play instruments.

Wu-International: 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 work?
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? 
Adrian Younge:
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 love” ?
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 with?
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 what arises. 

Adrian Younge 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”?

Adrian Younge:
1) If Autotune didn’t disappear within the next 2 years

2) If Ralph Lauren went out of business

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 shelved

7) If Waxpoetics went out of business

8) If Quentin Tarantino stopped making movies

9) If Black Dynamite 2 was made with an all white cast

10) If 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 ? Shout outs?
Adrian Younge:
 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 Adrain Younge

Related Interviews: 12 RTD Series
#1 [Adrian Younge] - 12 Reasons To Die by Adrian Younge
#2 [Andrew Kelley] - 12 Reasons To Die by Andrew Kelley
#3 [Bob Perry] - 12 Reasons To Die by Bob Perry 

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