Eighteen months ago Adam Freeland was ready to retire from the music business.
After 20 years of late nights playing at the most prestigious clubs in the world and relentlessly travelling back and forth across the globe, he felt like he’d done it all.
And, as the Brighton-based DJ, producer and Marine Records boss, adds, “There is nothing worse than seeing some guy going through the motions, waiting to get paid.”
Today he is on a beach in Sardinia with the waves lapping on the shore. But he’s not on the island to look for retirement homes. He’s preparing for a two-week jaunt around Europe in a splitter van with three mates. The 41-year-old DJ has changed direction. He’s started a band.
“I’ve been making music as Adam Freeland for years,” he explains, probably reclining on a sunbed while talking to the press. “I’m known for a certain thing. And there is a certain amount of inertia and pressure to keep doing something your audience are going to understand. It’s nice to do something without any expectations of what it is supposed to be.”
The spark for The Acid came when Freeland flew to LA on a non-work trip to see an old pal, Steve Nalepa, a polymath who is a professor of music at California’s Chapman University and electronic producer and tech whizz.
While he was there he had “the itch” to make some music. He booked a couple of days in the studio and asked Nalepa to join him. The night before they were due to get together Freeland met another old friend, Australian producer, artist and one half of Berlin duo Howling, RY X, at a party. He invited him to join the jam session.
“Because it all happened so quickly it affected the sound completely. We weren’t trying to impress anyone. Or fit a mould or one genre. We just did what we did. Most of the tracks we wrote in a day. We didn’t really sit down and say let’s try to make something like this or that. We didn’t have time. We just went in and did it.”
There is a certain rawness on the trio’s debut album, Liminal, which comes thanks to the spontaneity with which it was made.
The first four tracks they recorded make up The Acid EP, released in April, and also appear on the album.
The trio had a “less is more” approach, which has made for a stripped down, dubby, electronic hue. RY X’s eerie vocals and guitars hover over Napela and Freeland’s programming, and, combined with the subtle, low frequency and the trio’s techno upbringing, Liminal reminds of James Blake and Thom Yorke’s Atoms For Peace.
Freeland reveals he was surprised by the band’s success and they’re already working on a second record. He also admits David Lynch was a big influence on the creative process. When he saw a documentary about Lynch six years ago it “liberated something in me”. He cites Lynch’s self-help manual Catching The Big Fish as a guiding light to the record’s gestation – and also relates it to the album’s title.
“I feel like I have a really surreal relationship to reality - and I relate to the lens through which Lynch sees the world. He uses transcendental meditation as his tool for fishing for ideas. “The deeper you go with mediation practice the bigger fish down there. There is more fruit, more juicy catches to be had, in terms of creative ideas.
“I think a lot of the reason his stuff is weird and abstract and productive is because he is pulling those ideas from a deeper, more obscure place.”
Liminal is not all metaphysical experience. Creeper and Basic Instinct are more sexual, primal. All in all it’s the “areas of interest for three men in a room”. Freeland sounds almost meditative as he kicks back on the Sardinian beach. Soon he won’t be so chilled out. Instead of checking into airport lounges and hotel lobbies with a bag of records he’ll be on the road with Nepela and RY X and a session drummer.
“Being on the road with four is a lot less glamorous. DJs get spoilt: nice hotels, business class flights. This is very punk rock.
“We’re sharing rooms in cheap hotels, but it’s great to tour with your mates and put on a performance which is growing and developing every night.”
Doors 7.30pm, £11. Call 01273 606312.
The Acid play The Haunt as part of the Brighton Digital Festival.
For more on the festival see pages 34 and 35.