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Adam Shelton: “The music now just lacks feeling”



British jock Adam Shelton has impressively risen up the ranks over the past few years, so much so that he’s now respected as one of the scene’s leading contemporary lights. Very much responsible for helping to put his native Birmingham back on the electronic music map, his influence is such that it now spans much wider than the confines of the Midlands. Ahead of the Mixmag weekender, we caught up with the man himself for a quick chat…

Do you think house music should have a social and political conscious in anyway, like it used to when it first emerged, or has it changed into something else now?

I don’t think it will ever have that consciousness as it was new and fresh with no rules back in the late 80’s and early 90’s since then it has become a household thing and the rules have been made, ok underground parties break the rules and do the odd illegal party from time to time but now with promoters been so clued up on licensing laws you may as well play the game and know your party is going to happen. Musically the only political involvement should be to ban the brain washing shit that people are subjected to these days.

How has summer been for you, do you prefer it to winter, in terms of the gigs you play?

Summer has been great so far thanks, I find the summer a very inspiring time and people let go more which is nice to see, festivals are always an eye opener, for me this year Glastonbury and the Garden Festival have left fond memories gig wise and also seeing other people play and perform.

And do you find yourself producing sunnier, happier music during summer or does it have the adverse affect?

I think that happens yes, when you have such different seasons in the UK and Europe your moods change so much. I know in the winter my moods are so different and not always in a good way. That definitely reflects in the music you are making and playing.

How much does playing out constantly affect music making – is it easier because you know what works, or harder because you have less time to focus in the studio?

Being out in clubs all the time can only help; you take inspiration from the vibe of a club, what other people are doing and how that is working, you learn from each track, how it goes down, what is the response, a lot to pay attention to. I fit studio time in around this. It is very important to be out there.

Cool. How have the first few years of running your label been? Did it turn out to be more or less work than you hoped? 

The label is 5 years old in December and yes I guess when you start a project off you have to learn the ropes and there is a lot to think about and deal with. It’s interesting though, the more the label progresses you want to be able to find a team that can help which is a tough job bit when you feel happy with your choices and it all comes together nicely there is no better feeling. 


What have been some of the lessons learned, good and bad? Would you do anything differently if you had your time again?

I don’t regret anything that I do, I’m sorry to say something so clichéd but it’s all a learning curve and that’s genuinely how I see it. The main lesson to learn for me is don’t listen to other people on the outside of what you do, you have your team, your crew that’s all you need. 

Why do you still put the effort into promoting your own party? It must take a lot of work and must therefore mean a lot to you – why is that?

Well next year I am finishing the party on ten years so I guess that answers the question, I am very proud indeed of where we have taken the party in the 9 years we have been doing it but for me I am done now, I want to focus on one records label nights where I can work alongside promoters and showcase what I am working on currently.

We’ll have to make the most of the ones coming up then! What was the last record you heard that made you stop and think wow? Does that happen very often any more? Does house music have the potential to shock in 2014? 

Lady E – ‘Seems To Me’ by Ben ‘Cozmo’ D was the last record that really made me feel like I have something super special. I must say I find very few new records shock, this record I speak about is from lost vaults of an amazing producer so it’s old. The music now just lacks the feeling, in general people don’t seem to care as much on the dance floor, there are so many other things people get sidetracked with now, iPhones, ketamine…whatever. Ok, when listening to music and buying music it can grab you and shock you but I find a lot of these records are ones that don’t make it on to the main floor, they are for at home or after parties.

Technology is both a blessing and a curse. On a more positive note tell us what are you currently into, label and artist wise and what should people expect from your shows?

A few artists that are really ticking the boxes from me at the moment are Annie Errez and Bobby O’Donnell from Leeds with their Strobewax label, Murat Tepeli from Ukraine, Paranoid London and Moodymann. Labels wise MoreaboutMusic and Hotmix Records are two that really stand out for me at the minute. I am playing early so you can expect a lot of the above, I love doing the warm up as you can play more interesting music as people don’t just want bang, bang build up shit.


Can you believe how much The Rainbow has grown since you owned it? Did you foresee it would become as vital to the city of Birmingham as it has?

The Rainbow has always been vital to the city. Before myself and Lee McDonald were involved, it was been a hub for independent nights and events and now Lee has taken that to a great level with consistent events all pulling in big numbers. It has grown but still kept its identity which is cool.   

Do you think it revitalized the city’s nocturnal landscape? Has it had a knock on effect in that more nights, young DJs and producers are coming through because the city has such great parties constantly at the warehouse?

It has only done good for the city. There have been more clubs and nights start off the back of what the Rainbow has brought to the city, if you are a young DJ or promoter it’s good to have things to aim for and I think doing things at the Rainbow is a going to be on your tick list. The way I see it is you start off at a certain point, you make friends along the way when you are building things up then you get to your aim or goal. Working your way round the city is a good thing and I guess if you want to put on a party there that’s what you’ve got to do.

How much more do you think the venue can grow and develop or is it about perfect now?

I think its cool as it is. I mean I liked it when it was just the pub. I saw that as perfect. I think the combo of the venues and the pop up spaces for big events is just right. 

Can you share some of the crazy stories from the place when you lived there? It must have been after party central…

That place has seen a lot of after parties especially when I lived there, it was a very regular thing indeed. I never know if can tell stories in full.  I have a lot of good memories there; 20 people raving hard in an ice cream van for a day, of coke snorting competitions on the street on a hot sunny Sunday, finding guest DJs hiding under cars so they don’t have to get their flights, watching a full on riot outside whilst you are all raving out the windows, I could go on. After spending 6 years living above a venue doing parties you see some pretty mental stuff!

Do you think Below would work anywhere else? 

A big NO. Below has had its day moving venues. Below is made for the rainbow courtyard on a Sunday and that’s where it will stay to the end. 

Adam Shelton plays the Zoo Project Festival this weekend 12th – 14th September

To buy tickets for this event please visit the events page: Zoo Project Festival 2014 tickets from Skiddle.

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