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Interview: Adam Cohen at Voodoo Rooms Edinburgh, Scotland

Adam Cohen 1

Kristina-Marie Ross 3

By: Kristina Marie Ross

I can’t say I’ve ever gone into an interview process feeling natural or at an advantage of ease. Most of the time, I find myself more nervous than that of when I’m being interviewed by a prospective employer. To interview a person, based on themselves as a person or themselves as an artist, is a lot more intimidating than most would think. When you’re an artist, you know who you are and you know what you want to deliver in speech (or at least some other creative medium) All you truly have to do is answer questions you should already know the answer to.

So this time around, it felt unusual not to feel nerves as I entered the double doors belonging to Edinburgh’s backstreet Voodoo Rooms. Along the cobbled streets dusted with snow and the strange hispanic man who followed me for the last block there, I removed my winter coat and took my seat at the bar. Again, this sensation of calm was strange to me. I didn’t understand why after such a hiatus of not interviewing anyone, I didn’t feel an ounce of doubt. This isn’t to say I felt any particular or new found confidence, perhaps it just hadn’t sunk in that I was actually about to meet with a man of such prominence and creative respect. 

I guess I’d better get myself started and write about Adam Cohen. Well, it’s fairly obvious that Adam’s surname may well ring a bell with most of you. Yes, his father is Leonard Cohen. Yes, Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award Winning Leonard Cohen. Adam is the offspring of this lyrically gifted man. But allow me to make one thing very clear about the article which I am about to write – I am not here to talk about Leonard Cohen. No. I am here to talk about Adam. You see, Adam is also a musician and I believe it’s only fair that this fully grown, well established man should have an article dedicated to the consecrated nature of his own career and not the novelty of his exquisitely talented parent. In fact, that was probably the one thing I was nervous about; Accidentally mentioning his father in a way which implied I was only interested in his last name. In fact, only a mere few hours before my own interview with Adam was he on a radio show in London. The person speaking to him immediately resorted to a question about his father on first approach, Adam’s response was by calling it ‘shabby journalism’. So perhaps, on further reflection of such events, I was a little nervous after all. 

Adam Cohen

I was welcomed into the main room, busy with set ups and lighting effects. Out emerged Adam from a back door, dressed in a beanie and frayed blazer. The man had been awake for goodness knows how long, and still found time to piece together an outfit. He walked straight over and grabbed my hand 

“Do you want to smell something really bad?”

I didn’t really know how to respond to this. In fact, I’m not entirely sure what I said. But before I could say more, Adam, still grasping my hand with sincerity pointed over toward the back door and began to tell me about the smell of fish and chips emanating from the street. I laughed, he was so genuinely passionate about this encounter with Scottish street food. It was weird. It was great. It put me at an immediate ease as we were led to a private bar behind the sound desk. A regal room with literary charm and a wall full of whiskey, Adam and I took a seat. 

Voodoo Rooms

Adam has a great amount of sincerity and intensity in his persona, never releasing himself from eye contact and having no confidence issues in complimenting my choice of outfit. He’s a man interested in everyone just as much as he is interested in himself. Questions fired at me and my own life before I had even lifted my laptop, and through moments of banter we directed ourselves toward the formality that comes with a casual Fresh Independence interview. 

Kristina – I read that you scrapped your initial album and- Wait, did you write an album before? And then you just scrapped it and started again?

Adam – I did, is this recording?

Suddenly Adams eyes darted toward my laptop sitting on the nearby dining table.

Kristina – Is that okay?

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Bridge City Hustle- Brooklyn, NY

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Photo Credit: Derek Sexton Horani 

UNDENIABLE SOUL 

This was sort of the crossroads for all of our musical influences. We come from a variety of backgrounds, jazz, funk, pop, rock…but soul music was the one language that we all knew and respected. Especially in a time with so much homogenized music in the pop and radio world, we have something to say that is a bit more raw, something the average person can understand.

Johnny Burgos, Lead Vocals/ Percussion
Dave Zerio, Drums/ Keys
Pete O’neill, Bass/ BG Vocs
John Bendy, Guitar
Dan Cherouny, Alto Sax/ BG Vocs

How did Bridge City Hustle come to be?

Bridge City Hustle actually started out as a group of session musicians backing up local talent in the NYC area. We ended up ​playing so many shows together as sidemen, we developed a natural  r​ap​port, and decided to persue our common language which was soul music.

When did Music become a purpose over a passion?

Well many people feel passion for music, but there is so much more that goes into turning a love into a movement, or into a career. It was very easy for us to communicate musically, but when it comes to getting a bunch of musicians on the same schedule to work, rehearse, and write, it can be difficult.

​Although​ seeing the response from our fans both during our kickstarter campaign, as well as at shows has really inspired our work ethic and sense of commercial awareness. We’re excited to see how it effects the sound of our new material.

The Debut EP! What was the inspiration behind the Album? Where was it recorded? Self produced? 

* All such talented musicians, behind the scenes as well. Does it ever feel like there are too many cooks in the kitchen?

I think we were inspired first of all by each other – it takes a while to find musicians in a city so big that you feel you can create with. New York City is a big inspiration as well….living in a place where you have to Hustle all the time just to make ends meet pushes you to see how far you can take a passion. Otherwise, we’re trying to emulate our heroes and contribute something that we feel is filling a hole in the current musical landscape.

Our writing and production process is very collaborative. With the majority of us also being producers and engineers based out of NYC’s FLUX Studios, the recording process is usually a bit of a geek fest, nonetheless, super fun. We recorded most of the EP in a day of tracking at Flux with head engineer, Daniel Sanint and spent a few weeks doing some overdubs. We then tracked “​Mama​” and “​Can’t Let Go​”​again with John Bendy on guitar.

The EP highlights the expertise that each of us bring to our craft, and our recordings bring out attention to detail that we consider to be our standard. Similar to the music, we utilize vintage techniques in production and recording in order to maintain a clean, contemporary sound. We all bring an equal amount of creativity to the writing process, whether it be a riff, a progression or a groove as well as the personal touches we put on our parts.

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Justin James – Vancouver, B.C. / Cabarete, Dominican Republic

By Kim Laureen 

The best part of what we do is stumbling upon genuine people making real music. Vancouver native Justin James is a refreshing soul taking his one shot at life and making it count. Justin spends half the year touring and the other half finding inspiration in the surf, and creating beautiful music from the majestic view of the Dominican Republic. He has found his missing piece in that paradise he calls home.

1. Home is where your story begins please tell us about where you come from.

Canada! My home and native land. I was born in beautiful Vancouver on the Pacific Ocean and it was an incredible place to grow up. If you have never been to Vancouver it’s a must. One of the most beautiful cities in the world. And no we don’t live in igloos. 

2. How would you best describe your musical style?

My style is based on my island lifestyle. I moved to the tropics at 16 and fell in love with the carefree way of life. I write most of my music sitting on a beach so if I can drift someone away from the hustle and bustle of city life and transport them to an island for a few minutes…then I’ll be a happy camper.

3. We know you love windsurfing… tell us how it feels to you.

Fresh Independence! I fly over water. Any stress just disappears when I hit the ocean. I am very blessed to live in one of the worlds best water-sports destinations. Cabarete D.R. We have world class surfing, kiteboarding and windsurfing and I do them all. I have my gear set up ready to go. Yesterday I actually canceled a meeting when the wind picked up to a solid 25 knots. Priorities! Here is a video of me wind surfing in my back yard!

4. Where do your songs come from? Ideas/Experiences/Emotions Tell us how your creations take form.

The music comes from just playing and playing and letting a groovy chord progression pop up. Then most of the time the first few lyrics just flow and that’s enough to give direction. Inspiration doesn’t last for hours, it’s a flash and then it comes down to sanding the corners and polishing it . Then you need to play it live and sometimes I’m still tweaking it right up to the moment I’m about to record it! 

5. Can you share with us about your encounter with the tiger shark: the event that you say changed your life… what happened on that day and where did that journey take you?

Well to answer this question we would need a novel…but let’s say “everything happens for a reason”. I was a professional windsurfer and music was a hobby and today I’m a professional musician and windsurfing is my hobby. I can’t express how that day changed me. I don’t even think it dawned on me till years later. One thing I know for sure is that life can be cut short. The best way to realize that you better do what you love is to realize how short life is! 250 stitches…lost 1/2 my blood…1 year to walk again. How can I not chase my dream?

a jj surf

 Ana Gabriel Photography

6. How has your music evolved over the last decade?

I think if you work on your craft it just gets better. That is the hope anyway. I used to think I needed some crazy cool chords to impress but really all you need is a great chord progression, a great melody, great lyrics and a great delivery. That’s a lot of greats…but it beats crazy cool any day ;) a jj album cover

Get it here:  J U S T I N   J A M E S   I  S  L  A  N  D  S   

7. Which is your favourite song on your latest album ‘Islands’, and please tell us the meaning behind it.

My new album is “Islands”, which was released on August 13, 2013. One of my favourite songs is “Boy Overboard.” It’s about being overboard in love with all the terms of the song based around sailing and the ocean. “If you and I are ships out on the ocean, I will look for you on my Horizons.” It is not your typical radio song but it is one of my favourites. 

8. What do you like to do on a lazy Sunday?

Is it football season? If not…hit the beach…go surf, bbq, play some music w/ some friends. Nothing crazy.

a custom painted Taylor Guitar

9. While on the road aside from communication, what is the one thing you can not live without?

My guitar.

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