The man behind the mega hit ‘Killer’, Adamski talks LEGO, lederhosen and Lee “Scratch” Perry
The New Forest
“I grew up in Lymington in the New Forest. I found it mind-numbingly boring and I left when I was 17 for the gold-paved streets of London. Now I’m older, I realise how lucky I was to grow up in such a beautiful place and it probably did influence me. I was born in Lyndhurst, the village where Lewis Carroll was inspired to write ‘Alice Adventures In Wonderland’. I feel some affinity with that book. We used to go back to pick magic mushrooms there when I was a teenager. I think he must have done too, to come up with all that shit.”
A Cat Called Malcolm
“From the age of nine, all I wanted to do was be a punk rocker, much to the chagrin of my dad. He would smash his arms on the steering wheel if we drove past a punk and go, ‘What the fuck is wrong with them?’. By the time I was 11, very much inspired by Malcolm McLaren and ‘The Great Rock ’N’ Roll Swindle’… in fact, my first cat, a ginger tom, was called Malcolm after him.
“I started to make this funny music with toy instruments and called it Stupid Babies. I sent a demo to Fast Product in Edinburgh because they were the coolest, trailblazing independent label then, run by The Human League’s manager Bob Last, unbeknown to me at the time. They signed me and released two songs on a little EP. I saw the sleeve of my record on the cover of Electronic Sound, on the Independence Day issue. I didn’t realise until I read the article, but I was in the first-ever indie chart, when I was 11!”
“At 11, I’d released music that was played by John Peel on the radio and championed by Siouxsie Sioux, or so she told me when I met her in the 90s. So at that age I was releasing music and I was smoking 10 Bensons a day, but I was still playing with LEGO! That was how my creativity intertwined.
“Actually, all of the electronic music I’ve made has just been like LEGO really. Building blocks. With LEGO, my approach was to make things and then glue other bits on, like an Action Man’s head, or draw on it with marker pens. Which is exactly what I do with music. Those LEGO synths are beyond me, though. I can’t even change a plug.”
Jimi Polo And Camden
“I met Jimi Polo in 1988. I was in a band called Diskord Datkord with my brother and he did this track [the acid house standard] ‘Garden Of Eden’. So they were going to raves in London and my brother said he thought I’d really get on with this guy Jimi Polo, who was over from Chicago.
“We ended up moving into adjoining bedsits above a kebab shop on Camden High Street, right opposite Camden Palace. This was in the summer of 88, when acid house blew up and overnight Camden went from being this gloomy, goth place to fluorescent smiley faces everywhere.
“I hung out with Jimi a lot. He taught me how to program this basic eight-track sequencer and I played piano on his track ‘Better Days’, which has become a bit of a classic and is sampled a lot. I had a particular way of playing chords, which came from teaching myself by playing along to Two-Tone.
“Jimi introduced me to all the Chicago house DJs when they came over. I remember, the first proper house track I heard was ‘We’re Rockin Down The House’, then a year later, there’s Adonis in my bedsit, playing on my synth!”
“My interest in clothes started when I was five. I went to London for a family day out and I saw this teddy boy in a flamingo pink drape suit. That was before punk, but it also made my dad angry as well, so I thought it was amazing. Around that time, too, was glam rock, so The Sweet, Marc Bolan, Alice Cooper, Roy Wood, all of these characters. I never thought, ‘Oh, if I wear this, people might be more interested in my boring music’. It could be completely unconnected. Fuck knows why I’m like this.
“I was thrilled to work with Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry four or five years ago. I went to his house in the Swiss Alps, and he’s got a red beard or whatever, and I wore my lederhosen, just to get into the spirit! I walked in and he was like, ‘Man, your clothes are ugly!’. I thought, ‘Well that’s rich coming from someone in a red shell suit, with a yellow afro wig and a purple beard!’”
“I moved to Italy in 1999. I’d been there loads of times to play gigs. I played the first rave in Italy, in this big circus tent just outside Rome in 1991. Asia Argento was there, at the time she was a 15-year-old wild child. We became friends and she said that rave was the turning point for her. She used to call me ‘Techno Maestro’.
“I was also the single dad of a six-year-old girl and I thought, ‘I don’t want to stay in London. It’s boring’. With Italy, I loved the history and looking at the paintings and the sculptures in the churches. It really inspired me. Then I got bored and moved to Barcelona… and then I got bored and moved to Berlin. I felt that was really the triumvirate of electronic music!”
‘Free To Kill Again’, a 30th anniversary celebration of ‘Killer’, is released by FireFly