When Adesse Versions made his appearance on Boiler Room over two years ago, he pricked the ears of the underground scene with a set comprising solely his own re-edits on freshly cut dubplates including standout track ‘Baayi’. He was a talent in disguise, however, donning a cap concealing all but his chin in the shadows. His social media biographies dropped hints about his identity: an artist who had released on Cocoon and Ostgut Ton, implying his production prowess. But the intrigue grew and the anonymity remained, up until now. Kevin Gorman has come forward as the man behind Adesse Versions and in his first interview since revealing his identity we discuss the allure of anonymity, his approach to remixing his ‘versions’ and living in Vietnam. Scroll to the bottom to stream an exclusive Adesse Versions mix for DJBroadcast.
Why did you choose Adesse Versions to be anonymous in the first place?
I started out doing white labels of unofficial re-edits, in a completely new style to the music I'd released previously (as Kevin Gorman). So from both a legal and style standpoint it made sense to create a new anonymous alias.
What motivated you to reveal your identity? Why now?
It just seems like the right time. The anonymity made sense when I was putting out the white labels, but now I've moved on. For example, “First Time” (forthcoming on Numbers) doesn't have a single sample in it. Being anonymous gave me freedom to express ideas without them being compared to previous projects, but it has been strange at times. Updating my Facebook page or showing face at a gig when I'm supposed to be anonymous, they're a bit of a contradiction. Now it’s time to relax the whole thing.
"...There's so much craziness in the
music scene, I prefer to just
concentrate on the music..."
How does anonymity affect your image as an artist? I would argue that anonymity is a statement in itself.
Well, it avoids having an image and people focus more on the music. If it does give you any kind of persona, it’s one of allure and being underground, in a good way.
Do you think people are sometimes influenced by the reputation of an established artist, rather than focusing on judging the music critically?
It’s hard for me to generalise like this. There's so much craziness in the music scene, I prefer to just concentrate on the music and ignore the politics. There’s probably an element of truth in what you’re saying, but then conversely there are sites that like to slag off an established label or artist – just because they can, and for publicity reasons. Good music will always be appreciated and some idiots are susceptible to hype, that’s just life. I just focus on what I'm doing.
Is there a specific way that you approach your ‘versions’?
It depends on the starting point. With an instrumental track, I tend to make an elaborate re-edit. I like to hunt down other versions of the original and look for samples to use. Sometimes I start with an acapella like in ‘Pressured’ for example. Then I write or sample loops that sit well with the vocal, usually looking for one really strong hook and a few to support it. Once the beatless arrangement is mapped out I start adding percussion.
The most important part for me is the arranging, so I always do that first. It allows me the freedom to experiment later with the other parts of the track like a collage. It also removes that fear so many producers suffer from: 'Loop-itis' as Mike Monday calls it, listening to an eternal 8-bar loop, loving it but wondering how on earth I'm going to arrange it! Even after fifteen years I still get this.
Do you think you can hear when a producer has been trained in musical theory?
No, not really. It’s a lot easier to spot someone that hasn't. Things like one-finger melodies, obvious intervals, progressions or repetition. But it doesn't matter, we're all on our own journey and music matures with practice. If a total non-musician wants to learn, start by watching 'How Music Works' with Howard Goodall.
Ah yes, the choral composer! That leads me neatly onto the vocal work in your productions. Would you ever like to work with vocalists live in the studio instead of samples?
Yes, definitely. I'd love to work with a talented vocalist that writes their own lyrics, either a singer or spoken word poet. But the right person hasn't come along yet. However, I've also heard other producers make this leap and not always for the best, so I'd be cautious. It’s very difficult to recreate that grainy vibe of an old sampled vocal.
Did you think remixing a track with more mainstream popularity as “Stay” by Henry Krinkle (over 35 million hits on YouTube) would be a challenge?
I've learned not to worry about who a remix is for, stuff like that just gets in the way mentally. However, it was the first time I'd been commissioned by a major label (Sony in this case), or being involved with a major artist (Alicia Keys) so I was determined to make it work.
I must admit though I struggled with the original's trance-y harmonies. I got around this by replaying everything from scratch. I think the result falls somewhere between a cover version and a remix. Fans of the original might not dig it, but you can't please everyone. I have to be true to what I feel, whoever the remix is for.
You took time out to live in Vietnam for a year. How was that? I’ve always wanted to know how DJs remain in the loop if they go on a break.
It was life changing. Peaceful, healthy, inexpensive, adventurous and unbelievably rewarding. I didn’t travel about much. I rented a house near Hoi An and set up a little studio. My girlfriend and I also volunteered teaching English to local kids. Through that we got to know the locals, go to beach parties and even a Vietnamese wedding. It gave me a break from the craziness and dramas that engulf modern life. I highly recommend it.
Did it change your musical or spiritual outlook?
Musically, it just gave me time to concentrate. I went there not knowing if I wanted to re-join the music business after two years away. I came back to the UK very positive and determined. Spiritually, it just confirmed what I already knew – most of modern life and society is bullshit. Music is incredible because it transcends language and culture. There are few more spiritual pastimes to be involved in.
How long do you see Adesse Versions living on for?
Who knows? A few years at least…as time goes on I'm honing what it’s really about for me. Initially it was about making 'real' music, rather than just functional beats. Playing with vocals was something I'd not done before. As it has progressed though, I feel myself drawn towards darker themes. The next ADV white label is very much along these lines, out in May.
Tell me more about your upcoming release on Numbers.
I've been talking with Jackmaster for a while and he’s been supporting my music big time. For Numbers he has signed a two-tracker: “Pride” and “First Time”. It’s vinyl only and out in March.
Finally, how did you go about approaching the mix?
It’s part showcase and part club set. So I'm dropping upcoming releases or Adesse Versions dubs, alongside the kind of vibe I like in the clubs. I've also included some music that has directly influenced me, such as Ma Foom Bey, as well as recent finds from my travels, like the Orgue Electronique track. The mix is generally darker than previous podcasts I've put out, which definitely reflects the direction I'm going with my music.
Adesse Versions’ Pride EP is released March 31st vinyl only on Numbers