When using the term ‘making it’ in the music industry, most people assume that this means endless supplies of money or regular gigs that over spill the venue capacity. However, what ‘making it’ means to one musician may differ to what it means for another. For some it is not about the money, the lifestyle or even the recognition. I interviewed my cousin, Ben Adams who is a music producer in Boston for his label GMGNDJs, which enabled me to bring to light some of the honest peaks and pits of the music industry. His passion is producing music but Ben also DJs. Being passionate in the art form of writing I wanted to use this opportunity to talk about another art form – music.
What made you want to get involved in the music industry?
‘Making music had always been a dream of mine, lingering in the back of my mind. I had very little musical experience, just some piano lessons as a child, so I never really did anything about it. I just treated it as this great unknown that some lucky bastards got to do – while I don’t’.
If you had to pick a genre that your music fits into, what would it be?
‘I like to just say I make House Music – as I hate how genres can limit you. I’ll go through phases of listening to music that heavily influences what I’m making. I like not having rules and I just try to have fun and enjoy the creative experience’.
What were the first steps you took to really nurture your passion for music?
‘I had started playing around with some basic music computer programs back in 2005, but with so many other distractions in my life, It never really went anywhere. That would all change in 2007, when I saw a live show that completely blew me away – and really it changed my life. I got to see one of my favourite acts perform in an old theatre in New York City – The Chemical Brothers. At that point, I hadn’t seen too many live electronic acts – and it was an experience like non-other. I remember walking out of the venue, and I just knew I had to be involved in this somehow’.
When would you say the dedication took over and you began to take the industry seriously?
‘From that moment onwards I dedicated myself to music. I pushed all other distractions aside and just focused myself. I did some research, I got the right production tools that I needed, and some basic turntables (God bless credits cards) and went for it. I put myself into big debt – but I didn’t care… it was 100% worth it’.
(Funnily enough Ben credits my own father for being a massive influence on him regarding music. After receiving a Chemical Brothers CD one Christmas from him, Ben became hooked. It is quite clear that various albums that started out as gifts from loved ones soon allowed Ben to explore his musical passion).
How hard was it to start producing music?
‘I think the internet and computers have made things significantly easier . We are blessed today with so many great teaching tools so I was able to teach myself as I went along. When you have the passion and desire to learn, it never feels hard. I never had natural musical ability so I’ve had to work hard to get to the point I’m at now – but its hasn’t felt grueling’.
Do you feel like you are beginning to achieve what you set out to?
‘I still feel nowhere close to where I want to be – Which keeps driving me forward. I enjoy the process so much, and learning new techniques so I’ve always felt like I was constantly moving forward. I wasn’t looking to get famous or make money, I just wanted to make music – So I’ve always really enjoyed every part of it’.
What do you think has enabled you to progress and remain motivated with your music?
‘I like to set myself goals and targets. Get my first DJ gig. Get my first record release etc, achievable goals that I can celebrate and “check-off” my list. I think that has always helped me stay motivated, and enjoy each of my achievements’.
Did you find anything has discouraged you along the way?
‘It can be pretty easy to get discouraged but I think the biggest challenge in that aspect has come from myself as I find it really hard to compare myself to the artists that I personally idolise. When making a DJ mix, I used to hate putting my own tracks in it as I hated hearing them next to artists that I love, so it took me a while to get the self-confidence’.
‘It’s funny when I first moved to America everyone would make fun of me for listening to electronic music and now suddenly its cool to listen to it, and everyone is a DJ’.
Now for the dreaded question: Is producing music a reliable source of income for you?
‘I make next to nothing from my music as I work with small Indie labels – and it takes a ton of effort to get any money out of them. This means that the only way for it to be a reliable source of income would be to gig consistently. I don’t want to gig consistently, especially around Boston – which has a very “limited” music scene’.
‘Making more money would be great – but nothing beats hearing another DJ I respect play one of my tracks in a club, you can’t buy that feeling!’.
Finally, what do you love about music?
‘whatever problems I’m dealing with in life – music can instantly heal them. Being able to escape into a world of music keeps me from going crazy’.
Check out Ben’s page where you can find his music that will have you in a trance – https://soundcloud.com/gmgndjs