A Man Called Adam

A Man Called Adam’s Sally Rodgers talks us through a few of the influences that have shaped her life…

Photo: Prisca Lobjoy

“I’m a big Hockney fan. I live up in Yorkshire and the 1853 Gallery in Saltaire is home to a lot of his paintings. He’s written a few interesting pieces in relation to lockdown, telling people to get out and draw or paint. I’m not very good, but I love to do both. What Hockney says it does is make you really look. It doesn’t matter if what you’ve put down on the paper isn’t very good, you’ve stopped for however long to properly look at that tree or house or bird, or whatever it is you’re painting. That and the light – the way the light moves, the way the shadows move – it’s all very meditative and blocks out other thoughts.”

“Where I’m living at the moment, I’m about 400 metres from the sea. If you go south, it’s this beautiful, scenic coastline and the raging North Sea. But if you go north, it’s heavy industry. The mouth of the River Tees is all chemical works and British Steel. It’s where Ridley Scott was born and it’s formed all of his aesthetic. The ICI works are very much like the cityscape in ‘Blade Runner’. The steam, the smoke and the klaxons are all from the steel works. It’s extremely cinematic. Very sci-fi.”

“I grew up by the North Sea and when I was a kid you’d go out in the wind and the rain. I always quite liked the way it made you feel very small. It’s sort of comforting. I love to be out in the wind and the rain, I really like the sensation of being battered about by the elements.”

“After years in London, Steve and I bought a house close to Cape Cornwall. That was a whole other experience of the sea, as it’s where the Atlantic, the Irish Sea and the English Channel meet. On a crazy stormy day you can go up onto the clifftops – you have to be a bit careful – and it’s as if the water is at eye level. The waves roaring in must be 30 metres high.”

“Have you seen ‘Bait’? The director, Mark Jenkin, is a friend of ours from our time in Cornwall. Of course, we made the bloody soundtrack to 2015’s ‘Bronco’s House’ – the film before the one that was famous and won a BAFTA. It’s very expressionistic stuff. He’s brilliant, a proper British auteur. He only shoots in black and white on 16mm and 35mm film. He’s very analogue and does it all himself. His films are about things that actually matter in Cornwall – housing, fishing, farming, and the incomers. If you’re an artist you’re more likely to get a pass. They tend to like you. When we first moved there and we didn’t know anybody, we’d go down to the pub with our neighbour Eddie and play cards with the old boys. They’d say, ‘Oh you must be FAP’. We didn’t know what that was, but it meant Full Asking Price.”

“It wasn’t there when we first moved in, but this guy Dion opened a little record shop called Music Evolution in Penzance, and we were like, ‘Hurray!’. You just know you’re going to meet people there. We started DJing with Dion and another guy, Joe. We did a prototype internet radio station together. The shop was only there for two or three years, but through it we made loads of friends who were contemporaries, and met a lot of amazing creative people, like Mark Jenkin and musicians who we ended up working with.”

“There’s a lot of ‘Ooh baby’ in dance music. The lyrics become subordinate to the melody. Melody is king. My MA is in poetry – creative writing, I guess. It was very technical. We’d read a Seamus Heaney poem and do exercises looking for specific consonants. My PhD was about how recording technology has impacted on the written form. I went back to the 19th century and Tennyson, the start of sound recording and photography, right up to the present day with hip hop. But it goes back to ancient Greece, when you had the Rhapsodes, who were performance poets. You’d give them a subject and they would freestyle using lines of Homer, or whoever. They were patchworking sampled material and turning it into new poems on new subjects and it was a battle – just like a rap battle today.”

“When we were kids, about 17, Adrian Wright from The Human League came to see us a few times. We used to go over to his nice house on the King’s Road. He had this tiny little room and he used to let us record in there. When he moved out, he asked us if we wanted to buy his gear. Well, the desk fell to pieces years ago, but I still have the speakers. I love those speakers. The Human League were such an important band in the history of electronic music, we were very excited by that. We still are, actually. Later on, we also had On-U Sound’s mixing desk. All the channels lifted out and there were these Bakelite beads, all in lovely colours. These things become almost like religious artefacts.”

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