Back in 2006, as a twenty year old songwriter, Adam Torres self-recorded his debut album, Nostra Nova. Inspired by the visual art of Adolf Wolfli and the writing of Swiss psychologist Carl Jung, it was a remarkably ambitious recording, and one that has slowly become a cult classic over the passing decade. A decade in which Adam released, well, nothing much else. The former Southeast Engine member fell into something resembling radio silence, not that he ever stopped making music, he just stopped releasing it.
Fast forward ten years, and somewhat out of the blue, Adam Torres was back. His second album, Pearls To Swine was the result of a decade spent honing his craft. Adam wrote over a hundred songs, eventually putting nine tracks directly to tape. The decision to record in this somewhat old-fashioned manner was a fine one, capturing the atmospheric feel of Adam’s timeless songwriting, and in particular his hauntingly atmospheric falsetto.
Quickly following on from that record, earlier this year Adam put out a new EP, dedicated to the craft of songwriting. That record, I Came To Sing The Song, suggests a songwriter who has relentlessly worked to develop as a songwriter. Taking his place in a natural lineage from Bonnie “Prince” Billy through to Damien Jurado and The Cave Singers, Adam Torres is a talent now ready to step out of the shadows and become a star.
In support of both these records, Adam will be embarking on his first ever UK tour, taking in a stop at Greenman Festival alongside headline solo shows across the country. Ahead of those dates Adam took some time to answer our questions discussing being labelled a storyteller, taking inspiration from visual art and why it took him ten years to follow-up his debut album.
FTR: For those who don’t know, who is Adam Torres?
I am a singer songwriter based out of Austin, Texas.
FTR: Last year you released Pearls To Swine, your first album for ten years, with all due respect, what took you so long?
I’ve always been writing and making music and songs. It had been ten years since I had decided to release “new” music. For awhile I preferred to remain private with my music or dedicate my life to other non-music things.
FTR: What can you tell us about recording Pearls To Swine?
We recorded Pearls in about one week and it was mostly live to analog tape because we wanted to sound to be representative of how we could play in a live setting. We recorded here in Austin at Cacophony Recorders and the album was engineered and mixed by Erik Wofford.
FTR: How has the reaction to record compared to your expectations?
I am not so sure that I ever expected anything with the recordings. We had a vision and executed it and then were done with it; the rest has been beyond our control.
FTR: You’ve suggested the album is influenced by visual artists as much as musicians. How do you turn that influence into music?
Art uses emotion and mood as media so I think it’s transferable to take emotive aspects of visual art to inspire music and songs. These songs were inspired by a lot of photography of the American southwest, in particular.
FTR: Who are your musical influences?
Musical influences of mine are but not limited to John Jacob Niles, Nina Simone, Richie Havens, Jack Rose, and Robbie Basho.
FTR: You’re touring the UK for the first time in August, what can people expect from your live show?
Our live show will be faithful to our recordings and I will be touring the U.K. alongside my good friends Aisha Burns on violin and Thor Harris on drums and percussion.
FTR: Do you enjoy life on the road? Or are you happier in the recording studio?
I enjoy traveling as an aspect of being a touring musician and I also enjoy getting to meet and observe musicians around the country and world; I am extremely lucky to be able to get to do this as a job.
FTR: You’ve just put out a new EP, I Came To Sing The Song. Do these songs tie into the last record? Or is it a stand-alone piece of work?
Yes, our EP I Came to Sing the Song were songs that were recorded in the same sessions as those on Pearls except the songs on the EP focused thematically on the act/craft of songwriting.
FTR: Why do you make music?
I make music because I have to; it’s a way of making sense out of my life, making sense out of the world.
FTR: How much of yourself is in your music? Does your art mirror your own life?
Sometimes my life sneaks into the music that I write but generally I feel a space or distance between the songs I create and the life that I live.
FTR: You’re often described by reviewers as a story-teller, are you comfortable with that label? As opposed to being a personal or a political writer.
I feel comfortable with being known as a story teller. I think that that is accurate because the writing I do is narrative driven but usually with missing pieces so the listener can figure it out for his or herself. I don’t want to be known as a specific type of writer though or put any un-needed limitations on my process.
FTR: What’s next for Adam Torres?
There’s more songs in the works, there are more shows in the works, and I am also excited to take some time to stay still for a couple weeks after tour is over, too.
I Came To Sing The Songs is out now via Fat Possum. Click HERE for more information on Adam Torres.
16 August – Manchester, The Castle – Tickets
17 August – Glasgow, The Hug & Pint – Tickets
18 August – Stirling, Doune the Rabbit Hole Festival – Tickets
19 August – Sheffield, The Lamplight Club at Regather – Tickets
20 August – Brecon Beacons, Green Man Festival – Tickets
22 August – Brighton, The Hope & Ruin – FREE ENTRY (ticketed) – Tickets
23 August – London, Sebright Arms – Tickets