Adam Barley is a live performer, composer, and multi-instrumentalist, based in Charleston SC. His performances are a soulful journey of electronica inspired by funk, hip-hop and improvisation.
Adam’s 2019 release, Adam & Elsewhere, caught the attention of local and regional media: “There’s an interesting dichotomy in the music of Charleston based artist AdamBarley,” says Charleston City Paper. “He aims for the stratosphere and gets there…a skilled enough musician to work a world of experimentation into a concise composition.” Many years in the making, Adam’s current project, Aphelion, will be launching in the Spring of 2022: a blend of downtempo psychedelic house and lo-fi hip hop.
Notable past performances include The Music Farm, The Gaillard, Altered Frequencies Music Festival, Awendaw Green, and tours through Asheville, Atlanta, St. Simons Island, Chapel Hill, Richmond, and Washington DC.
What does your music say about you?
My music is simply an extension of who I am — it expresses the way I feel in the most authentic way I could imagine. One reason I’ve created the Aphelyon project is to give me another outlet of expression that I really can’t do with my other material under my name. I still have so much music to write and I know I’ll be busy getting it all out for the rest of my life. While the Aphelyon project is specifically in the electronic realm, I have so many other styles that I love to write so I think keeping “Adam Barley” as my place to do whatever the fu#* I want is going to be really freeing.
How do you go about writing a song? Do you have a melody in your head and then write the other music for it?
The writing process for a new song typically begins with a melodic/rhythmic idea —oftentimes inspired during my time with the guitar. However, there are also many times a word, a phrase, or sound on a walk outside catches my attention and will be a catalyst for a new composition. For me, it’s all about tuning into that inspirational frequency – being open, listening, and paying attention to my environment. The simplest, most subtle events of the day can be a canvas for new music.
What are your ambitions as a songwriter and a musician from here?
Well, it’s really quite simple: continue to strive for my ultimate potential as a musician and human being one day at a time. If that’s my focus, and I take constructive action in the direction of my goals every day, the rest will take care of itself. For example, a part of my bigger vision, like most performing musicians, is to sell out venues across the world. I’m always taking that dream and putting it into the context of what small, yet impactful actions I can do today to intentionally move a little closer to that reality: finish the chorus on a tune, work on my production skills, start a new tune, keep pushing to improve as a guitarist, and most importantly just try to live life with a deep sense of gratitude.
Have you got a ritual of sorts when writing and thinking about your music?
I’ve always had an approach to writing music that is almost devotional and certainly ritualistic. Tuning into that frequency of creative energy gives me a strong sense of entering into a realm I don’t completely understand, and don’t need or want to understand — I like to believe that in some wonderful way I’m tuning in to the same energy source that all the artists I’ve admired have tuned into. It’s very comforting in a way – like I never really feel “alone” even though the writing process is primarily done in solitude. So, oftentimes my most “productive” time for composing is on long walks, journaling, meditating, driving, being out in nature, etc.
Has your musical journey had a deliberate direction or did it simply gradually evolve in whatever direction it found?
It’s a combination of both and it’s certainly always evolving. I started playing guitar at 12, got into singing during high school, got my degrees in classical music performance and music education in college and graduate school, and started seriously composing original music about 7 years ago. So, while I have been on the musical path for over 20 years, it took me some time to find my true purpose as a musician. All the musical training and performing experiences in the classical world prepared me well — that discipline of music requires, well, a lot of discipline! I apply that same sense of purpose, intention, and passion in all I do musically today.
If you were to write an autobiography what would the title be?
A Quest for Transcendence
What historical figure would you love to see in 21st century life?
Martin Luther King Junior
What’s your most expensive piece of clothing?
Definitely, my leather Nike’s my wife gave me as a wedding gift!
If you could learn any language fluently what would it be?
German. I spent a few weeks in Germany and Austria and have always been so inspired by all the musical happenings there – I’ve secretly always thought of becoming fluent in the language and living there one day.
Would you rather be the one in a movie who gets the hero/heroine or the babble with all the good lines?
The character with the good babble is always the best.
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