Featured Track: “DRAINED/DEAD” by Adam Es
First off, give us a little bit of background on yourself and your music.
I’m Adam Es, an overall artists from Hawthorne, CA who makes strides towards self-acceptance, creativity, and freedom in his music. I’m inspired by Tyler, the Creator, Kid Cudi, Jimi Hendrix, Kanye West, FBZ, jazz, electronic music, and life itself. When you listen to me you, you listen to the lost soul searching for love and a safe place to be in a world of self-loathing. You can also listen to my shit on drugs. Yeah, drugs are fun.
Let’s talk a bit about your new track, “DRAINED/DEAD.” I’m impressed with the variety of production styles that it shifts through over the course of its runtime. Was this a beat that was sent to you as is, or did you work with local-k to finesse it?
Yeah, that beat is wavy, right?! He’s a genius for that. The beat was sent to me by local-k, who’s from Gardena (South Bay) himself.
What’s your writing process like? Do you typically go into a beat fresh and see where things go from there, or do you try to write lyrics out beforehand?
I usually listen to the beat and zone out, try to find new flows, ideas, and approaches. To me, each song is a concept not yet explored. I write bars down here or there, like one-liners and shit. I like to come in fresh on a beat because that instrumental could change my whole mind on what I wanna say on that shit. I do this so the energy could be organic and that the process for me isn’t already stifled or stuck on something I made in the past. Writing for me is release, so when I do, it’s because I really felt the need to.
Photo Credit: classymanny
Opening up with a refrain of, “I’m physically and mentally drained / What a day to be alive, what a day to be insane,” it ends with, “I don’t want to die but if the shoe fits wear it / I don’t want to die but I think I just did, I can’t bear it.” And yet, you also make several more hopeful references during the song, talking about a phoenix rising from the ashes. If you don’t mind me asking, are there any particular events in your life that are currently contributing to this weariness and fatalism? What encourages you to keep going?
Yeah, that usually trips people out. Some say, “I can’t believe he thinks he’s dead or he’s this out of it,” but it makes sense as an artist. The opening line is meant to inspire the people who go hard for themselves. The ones who work hard towards real progress in whatever situation in their life to overcome that. It’s OK to be drained on some days when you’re chasing your dreams. It takes a lot of energy to be about money, art, music, and to feel sane within your ideas. As if this thing won’t work, as if all your life is is to just breathe, go to school, or do drugs and be bummy. Fuck that shit. In this song I show the positive and negative. The dark and the light. The events that got me to write that line is the fact that life is only certain, but not the way you live it, and that’s the part we don’t get all so much, or at least me. I been going through major depression and anxiety due to my fallout with drugs. That’s all I can say.
What encourages you to keep going?
The want for more, the hope of dreams being catchable, my friends, but most importantly, myself. At the end of the day, I’m doing this for me.
Having just caught an absolutely electrifying live set from you back in March (you destroyed the crowd with “Attack the Flowers #2”!!!), I was surprised to hear how much more reflective “DRAINED/DEAD” is. Exploring your discography further, it seems like you experiment with a wide variety of styles and energies (“Flowers for You” is a particularly notable example). What would you say is the core element that makes them all Adam Es songs?
Thank you man! It was crazy, everyone was moshing, much love, I saw you man. The core element that makes my songs Adam Es songs are the fact that they’re written by me. No one has my brain. I listen to all kinda music, it doesn’t matter if I wanna do a guitar-heavy track or a synth-heavy track, I love music. The core that makes my tracks mine are the fact that I’m open and honest. My energy is pure. My love for creation and what I can do to people is amazing. People have cried to my music before, people most to my shit, people say my shit has gotten them through crazy shit, I’m a leader. If you wanna really know, ask my fans. I don’t know, I just create.
Photo Credit: Head Work
Speaking of flowers, what’s that all about? Just an overall aesthetic appreciation, or do flowers have some larger symbolic influence for you?
Flowers saved my life. I love flowers so much; each one has such a look and such an aura around them that is irresistible. I look at flowers and get instant joy. I feel connected, leveled, and more at peace with them or around them. Flowers are what life is. You plant seeds and watch them grow from the dirt. You water them, tend to them, until that thing is fully grown, and even then you must maintain it until the next bloom. That connects to me because my music is my garden. My love grows in flower forms. My shadow is a sunflower. My hairs are tulips.
What does “attacking” them signify?
When I say “attack the flowers,” I mean attack the flowers that bloomed that weren’t supposed to. The bad seeds, the poisonous ones. Those are real in nature and are more common than you think. Things that appeal to you can be the very thing that destroys you. Remember that.
On “Attack the Flowers #3,” off of the ATTACK THE FLOWERS EP, you say, “Motherfuckers think they knowin’ me / Cuz I get on Twitter and I act oh so openly.” You then go on to mention, however, that your Twitter presence isn’t necessarily a window into the real you. What has been your experience promoting your music as an independent artist?
At first, it was trash. People don’t give you the time of day. They say they fuck with you but don’t listen to the music at all. They follow, only to unfollow days later. As time goes on, it gets easier to promote, because you understand how the internet works and how it works for you. That’s the major part about being independent: getting everything to work for you. Making something dope and knowin it is, to stand by it and know that it’s worth it. The time, money, and energy out into the music is all worth it. I feel the experience is different for everyone.
Do you feel sometimes as if you need to take on an online persona that isn’t true to yourself as a person in order to promote your music?
The internet is all fake anyway, so why not be a little different than what you are. I never had to put on no persona, the way I tweet, the way I feel, the way I do colors, flowers, everything is because of me. Online personas are people who want to appear perfect, but no on is, and I mean no one.
On a slightly different note, I’m always interested to hear from independent artists that are SoundCloud-based about their experiences in a digital age when anyone can make a track or mixtape. Are you thankful for the easy access and opportunities that these platforms provide, or do you think that it makes it harder for an artist to gain attention since there’s simply so much content out there?
Of course I’m thankful!! I grew up downloading Cool Kids and Lil Wayne songs off Limewire. I love that music is in the internet and the internet is music. It shows that at the end of the day, people just wanna have release in all forms even if it’s going into this void we call the interwebs. The platform is you. The platform is you. The platform is you. Without us, there would be no SoundCloud, no Twitter, none of that shit would be what it is without young indie artists. It gets hard to get attention, because a lot of the music out is wishy-washy copy and paste. But real music is coming, as in music that is creative, daring, and loving.
Photo Credit: xxxsweetheartx
I know you put out ATTACK THE FLOWERS EP on Space Friend Records, and that you’re at least affiliated with 310 Records (seeing as you were at a pretty 310 Records-dominated show). What have been your experiences interacting with these labels and collectives?
Space Friend Records was a dope experience; I was their first rap artist to release on a predominantly rock/indie-sounding label. I think it was important for me to do that, because it sprung a whole world of opportunity for me. Good Boy, who runs the label, is a great, kind person, much love to him, but I’m currently not under them any longer. 310 is great because that’s immediate fam, we all from the South Bay, that’s so important that we have a community.
Are you made aware of them through mutual connections, or do they seek you out after hearing your tracks on the internet?
I knew Good Boy from his music before he started his label. And I know Rae Khalil she been 310 Records since before I met her. Rae didn’t even know who I was, she had heard me rap on my song “Doom” and was impressed.
As someone with a (hopefully) long career ahead of you, how would you say your future looks from where you’re at currently?
My future looks bright, but it’s a long road. I understand that life is a journey with road blocks, but with tunnel vision you can either miss a lot or get a lot done. With mine, I’m getting a lot done.
What was the “mission” or vision you set out with?
The “mission” is to show the world that they’re not alone when it comes to being lonely and unloved. I know it all too well. If you’re ever feeling down, I am living proof, don’t let em take your smile. My vision is classified, but the mission is to inspire, connect, and love. Hell, to get up out my mom’s house too. I’ve stuck to my mission in essence, but I am missing consistency. Everything I’ve set out to do I’m doing now and will continue to do, only on bigger levels and scales.
Do you think that you’ve stuck to that, or has your outlook and drive already changed focus with your experiences so far?
My focus is on making the greatest music and art I can and to get paid for it. But I also want money, being broke isn’t the shit. The broke creative is creative nonetheless, but extremely hungry. I just want what’s mine.
Thanks for taking the time to answer all of these questions. I was really impressed by the energy and presence at your show, and I would encourage anyone reading to try to catch a set! Any upcoming projects or fellow artists you’d like to quickly plug?
DARK FLOWER ESCAPE coming soon. Show with Shidu in April. Spring has sprung, so as the Flower Dude, I’ll be giving gifts out this whole season. Shoutout to my whole gang. $way, Fleur, Liano, Cuco, La Vida, Aicrum, Image$, The Breeze with Flo, Chubbie, Azucar Morena, Freyo, Mila, Gorgeonstars, Noncondomcaruci, fucking everybody. Gang shit forever. We all winnin. Peace and love.
A huge thank you to Adam Es for letting us feature “DRAINED/DEAD” and ask him some questions. Follow him on Twitter here.