I recently had the chance to speak with Adrian Younge about two of his upcoming projects with The Delfonics and Ghostface Killah. I had a blast doing this interview. He is such a cool humble guy. Hope you enjoy the read...
Interview conducted by Pattch82 (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Interview Date: January 2nd 2013
PATTCH82: Thanks for taking the time to speak with me, how are you…?
ADRIAN YOUNGE: Yeah I’m good, I’m good. Thanks for reaching out.
P82: No problem, I’m a big Delfonics fan so I couldn’t turn down the chance to discuss the album with you.
ADRIAN: Thank you man, I appreciate it.
P82: How did you initially hook up with William Hart (lead singer of The Delfonics)…?
ADRIAN: Ummm, well basically through Twitter. A fan contacted me on Twitter saying that he knew William Hart and essentially wanted to hook us up. So he hooked us up and we made an album, it’s pretty much not that much more complicated than that.
P82: Were you a fan of The Delfonics older material…?
ADRIAN: Oh yeah man. There’s a song on ‘Something About April’, it’s called ‘Turn Down The Sound’ it’s the first song on the album, and that song was modelled after… it was supposed to be, ummm… if The RZA had produced The Delfonics in the late 1960’s, how I think it would sound. And so basically I was studying Delfonics stuff for years, I studied Delfonics to do the Black Dynamite stuff. I’ve been a fan and I’ve just studied their music for so long that when I got the opportunity to do this it just really blew my mind.
P82: Were any of the other Delfonics members involved in this album at all or just William Hart…?
ADRIAN: Nah nah it was just William Hart because they don’t really do much stuff together, plus Major Harris died, Randy Cain died, so there’s only really Wilbert Hart who is William’s brother but he does his own thing and William does his own thing. And, when it comes to The Delfonics stuff, all of those hits, that’s pretty much William Hart that wrote most of that stuff you know. You’ll see a lot of the publishing going to Thom Bell or Stan Watson, but Stan Watson was their manager, he didn’t write anything. So he actually took a lot from William. You know between me and you, he was kinda one of them dudes that knew the business and William didn’t so his name is on stuff. And Thom Bell arranged a lot of the instrumentals and all of that stuff. So stuff like ‘La-La Means I Love You’, that’s all William Hart so he’s always been the leader of The Delfonics as far as the writing is concerned and as a singer. Plus he owns the name ‘The Delfonics’ so because he owns the name and was always the leader I used him as the lead singer and I brought my own two back-up singers to sing with him just for this version of The Delfonics.
P82: Does the album have a title…?
ADRIAN: It’s just Adrian Young Presents The Delfonics, yeah.
P82: What was the recording process like, what sound were you aiming for…?
ADRIAN: Well we did everything that they would have done in the 60’s. I don’t have any computers in my studio, it’s all analog tape. All analog tape, all old equipment, I mean my mics are like from the 60’s and early 70’s, everything in there is old. So when William came in to my studio he was pleasantly surprised because he said it felt like going back in time.
P82: Like back in their day…
ADRIAN: Yeah like back in the day. He was a natural, he works really hard he has a great voice and we sat there and we wrote together, we wrote the entire album together. That guy is a genius man, I learned a lot from him. I learned how to write sweet romantic songs in the style that they wrote back then. It was just one of the best feelings of my life as far as music is concerned. The first time I heard his voice on one of my songs I was just totally mesmerised. Because I know his voice so well so to hear him on something that you created was just crazy.
P82: How did the song writing process work…? Did you provide the backing tracks for William to then write lyrics to…?
ADRIAN: Essentially, I wrote all of the backing tracks, he wrote all the lyrics. We came together and wrote some lyrics together but for the most part he wrote all the lyrics and I wrote all the backing tracks. We recorded the album in two sessions, and these two sessions were a week each. So he would fly in from Philadelphia to LA and he’d stay with me for a week and then three months later he flew down and stayed with me for about a week and I had about six tracks prepared for him. He’d come down and do his thing. And then when he came back I’d have another six prepared for him and he’d come down and do his thing and then we wrapped the album.
P82: I bought the single, the red 7” vinyl, so that’s pretty much all I’ve heard from the album so far… but William Hart’s falsetto vocal is still incredible! After all these years!
ADRIAN: I’m gunna send you the album dude. Do me a favour, I’m not by my computer so send me an email to remind me. But keep it to yourself because it doesn’t come out until February. And thank you for buying the record man, I appreciate that man, thank you so much.
P82: Well I’m a huge Delfonics fan so I always support any releases. And that would be great if you could send me that!
ADRIAN: That’s great man, definitely.
P82: You mentioned the backing singers earlier, have you worked with them before…?
ADRIAN: Yeah it’s the same back-up singers I used on ‘Something About April’. Well actually on this track its Loren Oden and Saudia Mills. Saudia Mills is actually the girl that’s on the cover of that 45 single, that’s her. And then also Om’mas Keith is on that single. But for the most part the whole album is Loren Oden and Saudia Mills as back-up.
P82: Is it Saudia that is duetting with William on ‘Lover’s Melody’…?
ADRIAN: On ‘Lover’s Melody’ yeah yeah that’s Saudia Mills on there.
P82: I saw the little clip of that track at the end of the ‘Stop And Look’ video…
ADRIAN: In that video too, that’s Saudia Mills playing the female lead.
P82: So from start to finish, how long did the album take to complete…? You said there were two sessions with William Hart…
ADRIAN: Yeah two sessions, two 5 or 6 day sessions. So in the first session we did six songs, the second session we did seven songs and then it took me another month, ummm… let me think. We started recording in September.
P82: What was the vibe like during the sessions, laid back…?
ADRIAN: Well he came out, the first session was six days and the second session was five days. So I had some basic tracks for him to sing over you know what I’m sayin. And then when he left I finished up everything with myself and my band. So as far as just recording his stuff, that was about two weeks. But as far as me finishing everything else, as far as real time time time I would say about two months. So I guess you could say the entire album was really split into about three months. But he was great to work with man, he works hard, he has a very open mind and he’s progressive. You know he didn’t just want to do things that were like old Delfonics stuff, he wanted to take that old style and make it a little bit more modern.
P82: I’ve heard the first single and the B-Side ‘I Can’t Cry No More’. Is the rest of the album in the same vibe…?
ADRIAN: It kinda stays in that vibe but goes all over the place. It’s quite conceptual like if you listen to my ‘Something About April’ album it’s really deep and cinematic and this album is deep and cinematic as well. It’s deep and cinematic from like an Italian perspective, also from an American perspective as far as old music is concerned. It sounds like an album that The RZA from Wu-Tang would sample. So all of those kinda cinematic, dark, ominous sources that he would go to to sample, it’s like an album that’s full of that kind of music.
P82: The video for the ‘Stop And Look’ track is a really cool concept. Who was it that came up with the idea of the 90’s theme…?
ADRIAN: Yeah I came up with the idea for it because The Delfonics did a lot for Hip-Hop in the 90’s because they were sampled all over the place. So a lot of Hip-Hop heads know about The Delfonics because of those samples. So I kinda wanted to bring William, instead of taking him all the way back to the 60’s, I kinda wanted to create a world where he was relevant in these past generations, not just one. So that’s why I chose the 90’s as the middle ground, so it’s like he’s still relevant now in the present, he was relevant back in the day and he was relevant in the middle which was the 90’s. And also with the album, I feel like it has Hip-Hop sentiments so I just felt that it would be more interesting to put him in the 90’s versus putting him in the 60’s because it’s kinda expected for him to be in the 60’s.
P82: I was going to mention about the ‘Stop And Look’ track, it does have a Hip-Hop feel to it, the drums especially. You can easily picture an MC rapping over that beat.
ADRIAN: Absolutely. Are you familiar with the other album I’m doing?
P82: Yeah definitely, I’m a Wu-Tang fan so I was gunna ask a few questions about the Ghostface project a bit later if that’s cool…?
ADRIAN: Yeah yeah no problem man.
P82: How do you feel this new album compares to the older Delfonics material…? Is it like a natural progression from what they were doing back in the day…?
ADRIAN: My goal with any album is to always try and make an album that’s better than anything I’ve ever done before and better than anything the artist has done before. So that’s my goal. Whether that was accomplished or not, I don’t know, I really don’t. But I know that I strived hard to make the best album. So if you ask me if it’s better than their old stuff, I won’t ever say it’s better than the old stuff. If you ask me if it’s as good as the old stuff I would say to me it is. If you ask me if it sounds like the old stuff, I would say a lot of it does but it’s more so in the future. I want people to expect something classic but not expect to hear the same thing rehashed, I want to push it forward. We strived collectively, William and I strived to push this forward, to make it special and to us it is. To us it’s something that we really love and we just hope that other people do. If people don’t like it we can respect that, but we really hope that people dig it.
P82: What has the response been like…? Has anyone heard the album in full…? Have you had any feedback…?
ADRIAN: Yeah some people have heard the album, the response has been extremely good. Are you familiar with Souls Of Mischief, the group? Like Hieroglyphics and all them?
P82: Yeah yeah…
ADRIAN: They are in love with the album, I’ve been hanging with them lately and they love the album. And in fact Ghostface… we used one of the beats from this album on my Ghostface album as well. RZA loves the album, loves the album, so we’re getting a lot of respect from people so that’s always a good sign. We’ll see what happens.
P82: Do you plan on touring to support the Delfonics album at all…?
ADRIAN: Absolutely but we haven’t set anything up yet. But yes there is definitely a plan.
P82: Moving on to the Ghostface Killah project, how did that come about…?
ADRIAN: Well RZA and Bob Perry own a label called Soul Temple Music and Bob Perry was the A&R for the label. He was a fan of my music and reached out to me to ask me if I’d like to do an album with one of the Wu-Tang guys, and of course I’m not gunna say no, haha. And that’s basically all it is, it’s not that big of a story, that happened. And we’ve been pretty tight since that time, it’s just been great.
P82: So did he actually ask you who you wanted to work with or was it Ghostface all along…?
ADRIAN: Yeah he asked me if it was Ghostface I wanted to work with. But my thing was… I love all of them. Any one of them, generally speaking, would have been great for me. Now, was Ghostface my top choice? Ummm, they’re all so good so it’s hard to say because if I did a Raekwon album it would have been the same thing. If I did a RZA album it would be the same thing. If I did a GZA album it would be the same thing. I like them all that much, Ghostface was just one of the choices I would have made. But, if I could go back and change anything would I? Oh no, I’m super happy to be working with Ghostface. You know what, I will also say, that when I wrote music for the Delfonics album… Ghostface was popping in to my mind. So I guess naturally Ghostface… naturally an album with Ghostface just happened. Maybe it was something cosmic because I kinda felt it coming anyway. It’s hard to explain, I’m not trying to avoid the question…
P82: So you were kinda already writing tracks that had a Ghostface/Wu-Tang feel…
ADRIAN: Yeah yeah, so I guess to make it a little more concise… there is no specific person I would have picked out of Wu-Tang to do an album with, but I will say that my music is more akin to Ghostface than other people because Ghostface is so cinematic with his rhymes. My instrumentals are so cinematic that it would probably be the best match. So because of that formula it’s inevitable that me and Ghostface ended up doing an album.
P82: So how is the album sounding…?
ADRIAN: Oh man I really like it a lot. Again, I tried to make the best Wu-Tang album ever. Whether that happens or not, I don’t know. But do I like the music? Oh I love the music. I loooooove the music! We’ll see what other people think, I’ve shown it to people and they’ve said it’s some of the best stuff they’ve ever heard. I’m not saying that, that’s what the people have said. We’ll see what people think.
P82: Will we get to hear something from that album soon…? Will you be dropping a single…?
ADRIAN: Yeah, we’ll be releasing a video probably next month. I’m actually flying out to New York on Monday to finalise the mix on that album. And the album will be out March 19th through Soul Temple. And the Delfonics album is through Wax Poetics.
P82: Ghostface Killah worked with The Delfonics back in 1996. Did you ever consider featuring Ghostface on the Delfonics album or William Hart on the Ghostface album…?
ADRIAN: William Hart is actually on the Ghostface album because we are using one of the tracks from The Delfonics album for the Ghostface album. It just worked out like that, haha.
P82: Which Delfonics track is it that you are using…?
ADRIAN: It’s a song called ‘Enemies All Around Me’.
P82: It will almost be like an IRONMAN reunion having Ghostface and William Hart on the same track again. Can you shed some light on any other guest features…?
ADRIAN: Probably after next week I can, but there are some Wu-Tang guests and of course the album is executive produced by RZA. So RZA is one of the guests on there. So there are definitely some Wu-Tang guests on there but I can give more of that information out after we finalise the mix next week
P82: Going back to the Delfonics record, it drops on February 12th. If it does well would you consider doing another one…?
ADRIAN: Oh hell yes, I definitely want to do more. I had way to much fun doing this record. This is hopefully the first of many. We’ll see what happens.
P82: Do you have any other projects in the pipeline at the minute…?
ADRIAN: I’ll tell you one but you can’t announce it…
(Adrian goes on to mention an upcoming project that he has in the works)
P82: Cool, cool… I won’t mention it in the interview…
ADRIAN: Yeah we can talk about that in probably three months or so. I just want to get the Delfonics stuff and the Ghostface stuff out there and then get this out. Because when there’s too much at one time it gets confusing you know.
P82: Do you play all of the instruments on the Delfonics album…? Or is your band on there too…?
ADRIAN: I played most of it. I got my band a little more involved but I played most of the instruments. I’d say probably 85%. But my band is on there, my drummer David Henderson he’s playing on stuff. Jack Waterson is playing some guitar. Everybody in my band definitely represented on there but I’m still playing most of the stuff.
P82: Do you have a favourite track or album from The Delfonics older material…?
ADRIAN: My favourite track of the Delfonics is ‘He Don’t Really Love You’, it’s one of the first songs that they ever did.
P82: Is there anything else you’d like to put out there before we finish up…?
ADRIAN: I guess the only other thing that I’d like to make known is that I put all that work in to make sure that a legend will be heard again. William Hart is a genius and I do hope that we continue to make many beautiful albums together. Love that guy! Basically it was a great experience and I’m very excited to see what people think about it. It’s a new life for William. One of the main reasons I wanted to do this album is because I’m a fan of William Hart and I wanted him to be a legend that could come back and still make legendary music for a new audience. So basically for me, I really don’t need accolades for this. I just want William to be endeared by the people. That’s what means the most to me personally so I just hope that happens but we’ll see. And if you have any other questions man you’ve got my e-mail, you’ve got my number so it’s all good just hit me up.
P82: Thanks for that. I can’t wait to hear the album…
ADRIAN: Thank you, let me know what you think man. I’ll send it to you today. I appreciate it man, if you need anything just hit me up.
Adrian Younge Presents The Delfonics is released on February 12th through Wax Poetics
Adrian Younge/Ghostface Killah – 12 Reasons To Die is released on March 19th through Soul Temple Music