Discussing everything from his eclectic musical influences to the inspiration for the EP, Zwig gives us an inside look at the creation of his newest work.
For more information on Zwig, check out his official site at www.adamzwig.com.
Photo by Travis Shinn.
Review Fix: When was the moment you knew music was going to be your career?
Adam Zwig: I don’t think there was one moment I knew music was going be my career. But there were definitely some important experiences. A few happened when I was a kid. I used to pass by a music shop walking to school and would often be late for class because I was obsessed with the guitars in the window; I would stand there imagining that I could play one. Sometimes I’d go inside and ask to hold one and the man would say I’m not allowed to touch them, and that made me even more obsessed!! Also my mother told me that when I first started to talk I couldn’t make proper words but I was making melodies in my attempts. When I was a teenager, I went to a blues concert, and I was so affected by it that I actually did have a revelatory moment. As I was watching the performer a feeling of identification with him swept over me, and I said to myself, “That’s what I’m supposed to be doing.” Of course, I didn’t know how yet, but it was a beginning.
Review Fix: Why music? Why not something else?
Zwig:I‘m interested in anything that expresses the deeper truths in life, and songs are a powerful way to do this. I mean songs can also express lies and drival, but if you’re seeking something with power of spirit, a song can get you there. So can literature, poetry, art, meditation, and any kind of consciousness raising. It’s all similar. But music is also really simple and universal. It can bypass your ego and all your ideas and go straight to your heart. It’s also incredibly fun and ecstatic to create and play.
Review Fix: Who are some of your favorite musicians?
Zwig:I like music from the 1940s and 1950s – mostly blues. Also 1960s folk and rock ‘n roll, which was really an extension of the blues. The best music was done without the spotlight, before the corporate world got a hold of it, defined, it, packaged it, and sold it back to you. I think they killed something essential, snuffed the breath out of it. A lot of it has been neutralized and is no longer challenging, threatening, or magical. A lot of it is just hooks, fish hooks in the back of your neck, not a lot of meaning or truth, a lot of showing off, like dancing to a pack of lies. So I like artists like Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, Albert King, and 60’s artists like Bob Dylan, Gordon Lightfoot, Neil Young, Leonard Cohen. I guess it comes down to the difference between being an artist and an entertainer. I identify more with the artist path.
Review Fix: What musicians do you love that people might not expect?
Zwig:My music is kind of mellow so people might not expect me to love Led Zeppelin, The Rolling Stones and AC/DC…but I do.
Review Fix: What was the inspiration for this EP?
Zwig: Inspiration is a mystery to me. I really don’t know where it comes from. If something really powerful happens in my life, I suppose I could write about it. But that’s not what usually happens. Songs come to me for no rhyme or reason, well, until after they’re written, and then I see their meaning and purpose. But I never set out to write a song or an album. It just happens. I don’t have a set of musical goals I want to achieve. I just get up one morning feeling strange or excited or like something in me is cooking, I walk around my apartment, look at my guitar, pick it up, and suddenly a song appears. That’s how my new EP happened. And after I finish a song, I never think, it’s going to turn into a whole album. I just think it’s a song. The process itself creates an album. At some point, I look at what’s there and think, “Oh, this seems like a record.” It was raining a lot in Portland when I was writing the EP, and I felt a heaviness in the air, and suddenly all these songs poured out of me.
Review Fix: What was it like to work with David Bianco?
Zwig: Working with David is an incredible experience. He’s been doing this for so long that he has an highly integrated sense of old school and new school. He usually let’s me do my thing but once in a while comes up with a really cool idea that really helps a song. Like on “Sunshine Waves,” it was his idea to introduce a key change after the bridge. He’s also known as the best mixer you can find.
Review Fix: You have a great backing band for this EP. How did everyone come together?
Zwig: David Bianco introduced me to drummer Brian Macleod, and Brian brought bassist Davey Faragher with him to Portland. Stuart Sikes, the other producer on the record, introduced me to other players. They’re all great musicians. Sometimes in rehearsal they debate parts of my songs in highly technical terms, and I have no idea what they’re talking about. They ask me to explain myself using music theory and numbers, and I reply by playing it, and saying, “It goes like this.” We did a 30 city tour last year, and had a blast. I’m looking forward to hitting the road again soon!
Review Fix: What did you learn about yourself through the recording of this EP?
Zwig: Songwriting is like a form of therapy or meditation. You absolutely can learn things and grow as a person by diving into your subconscious and confronting what’s in there. When I write a song, I’m not in control of what’s happening, and that’s when it gets interesting. Strange images and feelings come over me, sort of like dreaming. While working on the EP I felt like I was connecting to something impersonal and ancient in myself and in humanity, and it felt healing. It reminded me of what I’d read about shamanism. That’s how I got onto the EP title and imagery.
Review Fix: Anything you’d do differently?
Zwig: I can’t think of something I’d have done differently, but I’ve been inspired to try more songs with an orchestra. The remix of “Waiting On Heaven (To Make A Move)” was a blast to do. I never thought I could sing with an orchestra, but it sounds really cool.
Review Fix: What’s your favorite song on the album? Why?
Zwig: I never have a favorite song on a record. It’s sort of like having children; they’re all your favorites. But “Sunshine Waves” is the most personally meaningful to me because it expresses something really deep toward someone I love very much.
Review Fix: How do you want this EP to affect people?
Zwig: It would be cool if people listened and felt into the words. How that affects someone is totally personal, so I can’t comment on that.