With his Albert's Favourites imprint building an ever-growing reputation by the day, iDJ spends some moments with the Modified Man
South London-based producer and DJ Adam Scrimshire is a man who wears many hats.
As a cigar-chomping bossman, he's both co-pilot with Dom Servini at one of the UK’s leading funk institutions, Wah Wah 45s, and captain of his own new left-sided experimental, electronic funk label Albert’s Favourites. As a musician, he has multiple instrument-shaped caps, having steadily leaked exceptional creations since 2007. Delivered across three artist albums and numerous singles and EPs, they range from hazy, pastoral acoustic tracks to far-out instrumental hip-hop beats and psychedelic orchestral compositions, all rooted with a subtle but consistent sense of jazz-funk that's a product of his upbringing.
But there’s more. He also peddles an exquisite line in DJ-friendly funk, boogie and soul edits. Treading that fine line between joyously obscure (Morris Wilson’s scat-style cover of Rapper’s Delight) and well-known anthems (Soul II Soul’s Back To Life), his floor-ready versions aren’t so much edits but completely rebuilt overhauls that nevertheless pay total respect to the original.
With such a rich diverse output, it’s tricky to know where to start... and it seems Adam feels the same way. Here’s how he got to where he is now, and how he’s making moves to simplify his process...
You have so much going on, what’s the top priority for you right now?
"I’m trying to do two things: develop and become more active as a DJ and Modified Man. My solo work and Scrimshire productions don’t allude to me as a DJ, which is a big part of how I grew up. That’s why I’ve continued doing the edits, which is something I started when I couldn’t afford records. Then Modified Man, with Dave Koor, is an extension of that, too. It’s very electronic. I guess I’m going back to my roots a bit."
Your parents played a lot of electronic music as you grew up, didn’t they?
"Yeah, they were young parents and our tastes aligned very quickly. The family’s main soundtrack was actually jazz-funk, but electronically my dad encouraged me in a different way, to make music on my computer. He was a network engineer and was into the geekery side of things. He got me an 8-bit sampler, a tone generator and MIDI interface. So I started cutting up beats and making my own synthesized noises. That was the start of my musical journey."
There’s a cool story about family journeys with Albert’s Favourites isn’t there?
"Yeah, my nan and my grandad, Albert, lived with us for years and loved music as much as we all did. When we’d go on holidays, my grandad would ask for suggestions and record these compilations which we’d play to death in the car on summer holidays to Wales, singing along. It was pretty trashy stuff - Stevie would be the coolest thing on it. Some terrible BeeGees tracks. Nothing too cool but the effect and what it meant to us personally was very strong."
Totally. Any conflict of interest between Albert’s Favourites and Wah Wah 45s?
"Not really, I think it's complementary. Albert’s Favourites began with The Expansions – my partners Dave Koor and Johnny Drop’s project with Matt Summerfield and James O'Keefe. They’re incredible, but weren’t the right fit for Wah Wah. Suddenly Johnny Drop sent me amazing beats and there was also the Modified Man collaboration I had with Dave. So I started Albert’s Favourites to release all that music. There’s more of an instrumental edge to Albert’s, a space to be more experimental and wilder. Things I feel I’ve tried to crowbar into Scrimshire in the past."
How will this experimental thirst-quenching influence Scrimshire?
"It’s clarifying things. I can relax a little. Scrimshire became a very tense project. I’ve got 30 ideas to develop, hopefully for an album next year. It goes back to the early stuff that’s more acoustically influenced. I’m not trying to do too many things in one place anymore. I can hear what the album will sound like in my head already; my main challenge now is what we write about lyrically. The time we’re living now, I feel we need to be signing about something and having some sort of a message."
Yeah, this year especially…
"This year, and the fact I’ve become more politically aware as I’ve got older. I’ve stopped being the centre of my world and I think about my place here and what you can do about it. But how do I talk about things like persecution and divisiveness? I’ve written three albums with lyrics about pretty self-centred stuff - love and internal struggles. I can’t write another love album with everything that's going on right now. How I do it is another thing altogether."
"I wish! I’m too serious, too melodramatic. I don’t know how I’ll do it but I’ve had the pleasure of working with some amazing lyricists like Stac. There’s work to be done. Finding the right collaborators will be part of that: I want there to be other voices and other languages to broach that subject matter in a special kind of way. It’s going to be interesting seeing how it all comes together..."
Words: Dave Jenkins