What’s good lovely people! We’re back at it again with another round of 10 Questions – keeping the questions light and loose to allow the contestants to get creative and expand with their answers. We’re exclusively streaming his album before it drops on Friday so it seemed the perfect opportunity to learn a little bit more about the man they call CARPETFACE…
Contestant – What’s your name, chosen craft and where are you based?
My name’s Adam but they call me CARPETFACE. I’m from London and based mainly in UK but I get around a lot. Chosen crafts: Songwriter / Producer / Arranger / Rapper / MC / Vocalist / Jazz-standard Session Drummer / Multi-instrumentalist / DJ / Beatboxer / Record Label Director / Music Licensing & Score Consultant / Voice Actor / Activist / SIngle Dad (that one takes up most of my time and has the biggest learning curve)
How would you describe your sound?
Catchy as fuck and full of funk heart and soul. Mature and conscious. Fresh but classic, for the most part melodic, a bit dirty, very eclectic, internationally accessible. Underground pop? Knob-step? Answers on a postcard please….
Who or what do you consider to be the biggest influences on your music?
The MAD times we’re living in effect my writing hugely, as does being someone’s Dad. I feel I have a duty to my kid’s generation to help protest at and protect against their dumbing down and against the appalling environmental legacy left my parents’ / grandparents’ generations before them.We’ve inherited a corrupt patriarchal militarised system with dangerously intrusive use of tech that is way out of hand and has been for over a century. I feel like we’re on the edge of something fucking horrific for OUR grandchildren if nothing’s done to change habits, break down barriers between us all and get back to some of the basic natural things that make us human. This theme runs through not just my material but also how I try run my business and use any fame-type platforms that may come my way as a result.
It’s a direct extension of how I view Hiphop culture – as a tool originally designed to help society heal itself and unite by aiding the spread of knowledge and compassion in some super duper cool fun ways, and music is only just one part of that. This is why I also support THTC who are very inspiring here, love to Gav, Ash and the crew. Tune-wise my influences are all over the place – so many hiphop funk soul and reggae artists I grew up on, growing early hiphop balls in skate-park cyphers in the mid 80’s, a blues-player Dad, one piano-playing Gran and the other was a singer, Smiley Culture was a mate of my old man’s at one point and around a lot when i was an infant so his voice was also a big early influence.
– Mainly Ice-T, early LL Cool J, Melle Mel, plus Chip Fu and Mista Tungtwista I guess on rhyming styles.
– Mainly Elvin Jones, Clyde Stubblefield and Mitch Mitchelll on drums.
– Isaac Hayes /The Beatles / Beach Boys / Curtis Mayfeld / Marvin Gaye on melody/hooks/harmonies,
– Madlib / Yesterdays new Quintet, Beastie Boys, George Martin, Beck, Serge Gainsbourg, David Axelrod on production.
What are your proudest moments as an artist to date?
Early last year I managed to raise around €2K for Steve Bedlam’s amazing “Refugee Community Kitchen” volunteers group – and to deliver 9 cubic metres of food/blankets and warm clothing to L’Auberge Des Migrants in Calais – all thanks to Hiphop – with a fundraiser-record called “12345 Wake Up” and a UK / France tour that included supporting ONYX. The physical aid and cash was donated by audiences as door fees to get into my nights and from digital single-sales. It may have initially been my baby with the amazing co-operation of brother Djar One at Beats House Records – but local businesses, radio stations, press and public support at the events, plus the online response in terms of fanmail /messages of support was incredibly moving and humbling, and made me feel like Hiphop was alive and well and doing its job even on that small a scale. I also got hatemail threats and FB trolling by a load of EDL / UKIP / Britain First bigot-scum so I must have been doing something right 🙂 And I’m in NO way done there..I plan to get so far up their fucking noses that I end up changing their brains for the better. People can still get involved and support the project through the links here: www.tinyurl.com/wakeupvid
Having watched them live aged about 12 or 13 in 1990, getting to support De La Soul on some of their “20 Years High & Rising Tour” UK dates in 2009. While onstage at a Uni show in Exeter it dawned on me that most of the audience was born the year I first watched them at Wembley Halls. Sharing stages and dressing-rooms with some of your childhood heroes is fucking surreal and Ive been blessed with a few pinch-me-is-this-actually-happening type moments so far.
The biggest and most recent was working with my mighty Bronx brother “DONALD-D” from Rhyme Syndicate / The B-Boys on my latest single and album track: “Painstaking Arranger”. I first heard him rhyming on ICE-T’s “Power” album track “The Syndicate” in ’89 and had him on one of my bedroom wall posters aged 11. Big early influence. Next minute we’re shooting a music-video together, doing interviews and hanging out jamming on tour and he’s out on my label. Proper pinch-me shit. Also when I caught my own kid doing an impression of his verse that really REALLY spun me out. When he described my new album as “inspiring” in a recent interview with HBS Music Archaeology and moments later I saw the comment “Dope…truly dope” left on the music-video by DJ Afrika Islam I nearly fell off my fucking seat.
Do you have any advice for our readers who may be looking to play the mad game of music?
Grow a fucking thick skin! Try the hard way to become an expert at whatever you’re doing – first and foremost, look after the music – only then will it will look after you. Don’t let becoming a parent stop you pursuing your music career even though your kid deserves and needs so much of your time and energy. Set them an example – persevere even harder than before because you’re doing it for them too now. Find a healthy balance – it exists…
Take every promise with a kilo of salt and believe it when it happens, not until. Learn the business side and until you meet the right partners run your own shit like a pro. That includes staying sober and stable at work or nobody will take you seriously however talented you may be. Only ever jump in with both feet and gamble everything on it. If you don’t have the faith to go all out investing in yourself neither will anyone else. And if someone close keeps filling your head with doubt about that, dump them like the infected needle they are – they are not your friend.
Performers – give your audience what you know it needs….this may not be what it wants.
Producers – don’t patch cracks or polish turds – push the artists you record to their very limits in the studio and go with quality takes only.
Writers – Reflect the times. That’s your principal duty. These days though, with Guitar Hero outselling fucking guitars it almost seems like playing instruments properly could even be seen as an act of protest.
This one’s huge, trust me – don’t try and do everything yourself, be ambitious yes but set yourself realistic goals and don’t take on too much – its such a personal thing and so can easily drive you fucking mad and lose you your perspective and artistic drive if you’re not careful to take breaks when you’re stressed, this game is a headfuck.
And for those wanting in on the Hip Hop game especially – experiment yes, keep it fresh and progressive yes – but don’t EVER forget the roots of this thing. Your integrity is all you have, your word is your bond so keep all and any promises you make – it’s an awesome ride that anyone can get on if talented and tenacious enough – but almost impossible to get BACK on if you’re a known prick 😉
Name some people you’d love to work with and why?
Esperanza Spalding on some jazz and soul. Utterly amazing mesmerising electric performer in every conceivable way. Such a voice and such command of timing melody and tonality. Wicked taste in music. Singing like that while playing upright bass like that – she’s one of the few modern artists at some of the Jedi genius level of musicianship associated with generations past. I’d love to co-write / perform / produce something with her. I’d give my right arm to play drums for her onstage – but that would obviously effect the playing a bit.
Hip Hop wise I’d love to work vocally with Chuck D and Ice T on the same charity record co-produced by me and Madlib. In my opinion you can’t get much better than that if you love to make and release Hip Hop. Also though i’d love to build a NASTY beat, get A.F.R.O vs Blabbermouf on a track, light touch paper and stand well out of the way! I’m sticking in John Coltrane too. Bit more of a longshot but I reckon if I’m able to stay true to what I believe in and continue to work hard on the drumkit, that once I’m dead he might let me stand in for Mr Jones for an hour or two. Almost halfway there….
What do you have planned for the not too distant future?
This is not going to be a short answer. Shitloads. I’m flat out, spread thinly, overworked and loving it setting the final dominoes up for world domination with the Cognitive Diss album and followup projects. The 12″ Vinyl version of the album launches as pre-order July 21st on B-LINE RECORDINGS (ltd ed pressing – ships Sept)
I’m planning to spend the rest of the year pushing out various versions guest-remixes and video content through my NEWBIAS label and developing the business side of things a bit more with some partnerships and 3rd party marketing investment opportunities on the table that I’m currently reviewing maybe expanding a bit to employ some more full time staff to run office things so I can work more on recording touring videos and activism-related projects. We’ll see though – it’s hard to trust other people with your babies – and this is my only baby apart from my ACTUAL baby. The next stage for me doesn’t have to be huge it just has to be RIGHT.
Shortly launching a full range of sustainably sourced branded clothing and physical merchandise. BUT – with a musical and charity twist: Each physical item purchase will come with its own free Bandcamp “Cognitve Diss” album-download code, with 10% of sales-profits from various issue-related designs going to good causes including Amnesty International, Refugee Community Kitchen and Damilola Tailor Trust, in a similar way to how THTC operate. So CARPETFACE / NEWBIAS releases will also be out on COOL THINGS that help people. Next step might be to see how and if this sort of release can count towards the charts. I think it probably should really. Exciting times…
I’ll also be launching a Bandcamp Members Subscription soon – for a yearly £10 fee fans will get downloads of all the coming years releases a bit early plus instant download of back-catalogue tracks, discounts on some merch and events etc plus some exclusive subscriber-only tracks and videos etc. It’s a bit like crowd-funding I guess but the fans get shitloads in return straight away for their support. It’s also the cheapest way in existence for fans to get that many downloads, seeing as ITUNES is like 79p a track, and the album itself is £6.50 minimum anywhere else online. This is sustainable investment from supportive fans to enable me to produce more, better quality music videos to highlight important issues I reference in my releases each year and also will make it possible for me to agree to do more free benefit shows for good causes and still provide for my kid. Basically the money is for the mission, not the other way around.
There will also be some more touring after Summer in between work finishing off a shit-tonne of stuff for other record labels too, including collabs with Jazz Spastiks, DJ Pressure and CRF from Public Enemy’s RapStation, more work with DJ Supreme for Backbone Records, a followup collab with Donald-D, one with Glasgow’s finest MC “Mr Bohze” (Southside Deluxe) Ken Masters and the incredible DMC / Technics champ Deejay Random (Steel Devils Crew). Also got one in the pipeline with upbeat rap duo “Too Many T’s” and more bits planned with B-Line Recordings.
Finally probably the most exiting musical project I’ve got underway now is with a crazy cat from NYC called Moon Lockwood (leader of Hammond-heavy instrumental funk/soul group The Moon Men, jazzy keyboard genius who was taught to play the Blues from age 12 by Dr John – and designer of CRAZY studio gizmos). We’re collabbing on live reworkings of some of my new album tracks, brand new instrumentals and songs for me and guests, and a two-man live act combining live looping / production tricks with soulful live instrumentation and traditional hiphop skills, which will start gigging and releasing from Autumn. Think a modern Staxx Records type affair on the one side and a kind of Beastie Boys / Freestyle Fellowship meets Beardyman/Dub FX/Reggie Watts meets Jimmy Smith / Bobby Bird / The Meters / Eddie Bo type thing on the other. Buzzing. Moon has been the missing link Ive been seeking for a while and now we’ve hooked up and combined studio lab-gear we’re like two kids left in charge of a combined toy an sweet shop.
Its all a bit hectic mate. And daunting to list! – if i was to pray for anything in particular it would only be to keep a healthy work vs parenthood balance. I’m pretty much getting everything else Ive been wishing for since i was a child and no matter how hard the work is I feel lucky.
What albums did you play the most growing up?
Apart from my own ones (as I spent 3 years on my 1st album “Have Mic Will Travel” and the last 3 years working on “Cognitive Diss”) – I reckon it would be a straight toss-up between…
As a kid: “Thriller” / “Breakdance 2 Electric Boogaloo” Soundtrack / Santana “Abraxas” / ICE-T “Power” / LL “Bad – Bigger And Deffer” / NWA “Straight Outa Compton”
As a teenager: Beastie Boys “Ill Communication”, Nirvana “Incesticide”, Beck “Odelay”, Money Mark “Mark’s Keyboard Repair” and Ragga Twins “Reggae Owes Me Money”
And in more recent years “Giant Steps”, “Blue Train” and “Settin’ The Pace” by John Coltrane.
What are the best gigs you’ve experienced?
1990 De La Soul / Tribe Called Quest / MC Merlin at Wembley Halls (PM Dawn also played but that was WACK man). I was 13 and this was one of my first major Hip Hop gig experiences and made me certain I had to rap onstage for a living – up until then I’d heard it at roller-discos, skate park cyphers, on the tapes I’d bought with pocket money etc but hadn’t experienced the bouncy love spreading vibes of a huge hiphop show like that. Amazing experience really – fully hit me there and then how many barriers are broken down by hiphop culture with such a united yet mixed crowd representing all sorts of ethnicities, cliques, sub-culture tribes etc. Felt like 1000 total strangers had my back and I had theirs. I still feel that exact same international family vibe to this day both as pro artist and as a hiphop fan in general.
Jimmy Smith / Rufus Thomas Masters of Funk shows at Jazz Cafe around 2000/ 01 – Impeccable musicianship, also included Curtis Mayfeld’s drummer (forgot the name) – his solo was literally 2 mins of just a really slow solid funky beat. sickness. Jimmy got drunk at one and spend an awesome full 10 mins slowly chastising a couple for talking while he’s been playing in his lovely gravelly drawl. We had seats up top directly overlooking his hands – and glimpses of what his FEET were up to. Fucking amazing to see him leg-work those bass pedals while playing keys with his hands. I thought limb-independent jazzy drumming was hard to click but MAN just imagine the Jedi level required for that….
Beastie Boys rocking Ill Communication live in full effect Glastonbury Main Stage 1993. I was a teenager 200% off my tits. Everyone knew all the words to all the songs. Rainstorm opened up as soon as Tough Guy / Heart Attack Man started and the place went crazy. I’m so glad I got to see them perform even if it was just the once. RIP MCA – the only MC to slip on a wet stage and make it look GOOD. Plus one of the BEST examples of a conscious artist trying to use his talents for the greater good. Such a loss.
RATM live Camden Palais 1992 with Senser and Collapsed Lung supporting. Collapsed Lung literally handed their beer rider out to the crowd and it was one of the best mixes of love and fuming aggression I’ve ever witnessed. I even got a cherry red DM square in the nose and still had a blast moshing so hard my neck was fucked the next day. Filthiest fun ever.
What three things can you live without??
TV, Religion and Luxury. Been doing it for years – and so’s my kid. Spoiled we ain’t.. PARENTS – VOTE WITH YOUR SPEND AND WITH WHAT YOU LET YOUR KIDS INGEST. IGNORE THIS AT THEIR PERIL AS WELL AS YOUR OWN. IT ALL COUNTS, EVERY LAST BIT.