So I was alerted by a recently formed festival friend of an upcoming DJ set at the Wedgewood Rooms in Southsea; Portsmouth. My soon to be University hometown; something I am very much excited about. My partner, Jack, has always raged on and on about how awesome the Wedgewood Rooms are as a venue; the many gigs he’s been to and what a great atmosphere it radiates with every visit.
Needless to say, I was not disappointed. Portsmouth as a City is filled to the brim and buzzing with nightlife, every pub, bar or drinking hole has some form of music emenating from the rooftops. With every visitor coming out for a fag, another door and thumping baseline spills out onto the streets. We’d ventured to Wagamama’s for a fantastic gluten free dinner- being from the Isle of wight, where we lack these kind of bigger name places, any trip to the mainland is an excuse for a sneaky Waga’s.
Followed by a wander down the high street to the Shack as recommended by the wonderful friend who actually arranged my first big interview; with the lovely Adam Ficek, once Babyshambles Drummer and now his own Front runner. And wow!! The Shack was incredibly nautically themed, and served truly devine cocktails, can highly reccomend their Mojhitos.
Then for the big event, with the local comedy club only ending at 11, Jack and i enjoyed a few drinks at the Wedgewood Room bar whilst waiting for Tyler (whom I already owe so much to), who appeared with backstage stickers; much to my delight!! Who doesn’t enjoy the opportunity to enjoy backstage, no matter the event. Wonderful 80’s and 90’s hits were already being smashed out as the lovely Adam appeared. He entered with a smile and any awkward feelings I may have harboured for this interview just flew out of the window. He obligingly sat through all of my questions and luckily didn’t decline any!
We started off light with some easy ones;
What got you into DJ’ing, I’ve heard some of your Roses Kings Castles pieces and they’re all so lovely and accoustic; I’ve always assumed that they’re two different worlds, band life and DJ sets?
Before Babyshambles I was part of all sorts of things, with a heavy electronic background themed around Brit pop, all the way through the late 90’s I performed midweek during different clubs around the UK; from garage to Northern soul, I had a pretty diverse mix. With weddings and bigger events at the weekends. My own acoustic stuff is more refined in a sense. But the palette is huge for a Dj Set. I really get bored of the same old sterile laptop mixes that some churn out, I love to try new shit.
When asked about how he got into music in general Adam commented;
I left school with one GCSE in geography, I went on to my local college to study a music BTEC. Followed by a Jazz degree at Middlesex university. It’s more than just a profession for me, it was hours and hours of practising; switching between the drums and my guitars. I’ve actually just gone on and finished a second Masters Degree in Music Technology, and its what I enjoy teaching at the moment.
Which one song never fails to draw in the masses?
Well it depends where I am, what’s going on. I like to throw a few curve balls, it’s nice to try and venture out of my comfort zone, of the familiar songs everyone plays- the ones that just do their job. It’s hard though, you don’t want to dig yourself into any holes, being too adventurous, a palate cleanser helps in between. Tonight I’m looking at Barbra Ann by the Beach Boys, who knows I may mix it up; bit of Soul, some house, bit of disco.
Was the transition from insanely talented drummer, to equally as great frontman hard?
Honestly, I struggle with being the frontman, it does get hard and I do get a bit nervous. The pressure, thinking about what my right and left hands are doing all at the same time, whilst chords and harmonics are going around your head and you’ve got to remember the words and the right pitches. I like tall orders and challenging myself. I get so bored of the same things, open chords are so boring, so I mix it up and sometimes panic. With 3-4 hours a day practice I’m getting there, getting better. I won’t lie, it goes wrong a lot. That’s why I don’t really like covers, I just end up improvising, tell them it’s a Jazz live remix. If you front it out, 9 times out of 10 they’re cool with it, just don’t look embarrassed by this ‘toxic harmony’ you’ve accidentally created.
What got you into pledge music?
Well it’s the most known musically by people, and it’s a fairly simple and straightforward way of crowdfunding.
Can you tell me a bit more about it, how it works?
I self funded my first four albums, I looked into crowdfunding, but I wasn’t sure. As they take money upfront so when it came to finding Pledge before the decisions on my fifth album I decided to give it a go; it takes 15% of overall crowd funded goal. I took a gamble, and it helped me to gauge the interest. It’s a great idea for any artists hoping to do the same, old or new.
Any new things in the pipeline, what will it sound like? I’m very impressed already with the lovely brass vibes in earlier pieces.
It’s called EP 1- Adam Ficek, very original. And it’ll mostly feature strings and flute, maybe a bit of drums and mallets, it’ll have a lovely woody feel.
Who got you into music?
I dunno really, my older brother I guess. He was the cool one, he was all into the alternative stuff- he got me into the likes of Velvet Underground and The Doors; both big loves of mine. But there’s always a big love for BananaRama.
*cue an awkward comment from me about how the tables have turned, who’s the cool one now*
Haha, I guess so. I mean he is a successful banker though; even if I do have a lot of fun.
What was the first instrument you learnt how to play?
I was always self taught, it was whatever was kicking about at the time. Probably an old tin whistle.
Okay, so one thing; how on earth do I pronounce your surname?
Phonetically sounded it Fi-check. And it originates from the Ukraine; my nan came over after the Second World War, aged ten with no one, she built herself up from there.
So I then threw in a curve ball.
Are you aware your name is a search on “urban dictionary”?
Wow, no I didn’t. I’m a bit shocked and impressed.
*when asked about if he knew- he responded with*
I didn’t have a clue, and honestly it’s one of those jokingly done things of If I knew how to, I probably would have, haha. But it is dated back to 2006.
And I rounded it up with a question I’m hoping to carry over onto all of my future interviews.
If you were a Hendrix song, what one would you be?
Fire- it’s just the best and I like it a lot.
And he even threw in a wonderful and light hearted anecdote about how in
2008 when it all started off, he had this idea of ‘have my first single for free’. So every day he went down to his local POBOX, and sent out single after single, where he must of sent out a good 1000 free singles. The thing was, the recievers all around the world were supposed to pay for the postage when they collected, but he had a fair few refuse to, but take the single, leaving him to foot the bill. It was a great laugh.
I stayed for the entirety of Adam’s set and then some. My plan to be on the 12am ferry home was short lived, it soon turned into the 3am boat. But what an amazing time we had, the atmosphere was intense, true to his word the Beach Boys blared out across the room with everyone on their feet going for it. The room was packed, with bodies dancing their hearts out. Thanks to my fantastic parental musical education, I only failed to name one or two songs played the entire evening; I felt pretty impressed. But what made the night for me was the never ending broadcasts of my wonderful childhood favourites; Scooby Doo, Count Duckular, Sonic, Star Wars, Mario and many more being projected moving onto the screen behind the decks.
Adam was truly on top form, hit after hit was fired out and the masses were impressed. I can’t even begin to recommend him enough, it was well worth the half an hour walk on foot from the Fishbourne ferry terminal at 4am back to Jack’s house. Yes my legs may ache and I may be haggardly sat at work typing this up, while I try and soak away my hangover; but if he comes to a venue near you, he’s not one to miss.
I met the wonderful Kat and Carl last night, those who make sure everything rocks at the Wedgewood Rooms on a regular basis, and they were so happy to oblige and talk, I can’t wait for the next time I head on over to divulge in the talented performers they draw in. They deserve crazy amounts kudos for the hard work they do, and how many peoples nights they make truly blissful.
My favourite part of the interview was Carl walking in mid way through talking about his body and bottles of water; the details are something I feel he may wish not to be included. And they shall be omitted purely because of his dazzling personality and how encouraging he was about the event and everything.
Thank you so very much to those who made it an incredibly special night, and a very big thank you to the crazy humble Adam Ficek, he truly is a lovely guy. And my honest opinion is you really do need to check him out. His repertoire is spot on, a perfect range of hits, both unusual and well loved. I squealed with delight at Surfing Bird being played, Alan Partridge in the background; it made the moment. He’s got his own YouTube channel and is on Spotify. I was very lucky to be part of a great event- with a wonderful turn out. It’s a Sin Events are ones to watch.
(From left to right; the wonderful Tyler Gibb, Adam Ficek himself, and me)