Interview With Andrew Adkins
Andrew Adkins has never found himself subscribing to conventional notions of genre. Instead, the Nashville singer takes an introspective approach to his music, finding what speaks to him and then emulating it through his own unique perspective and combination of sounds. His latest EP “Birdcage Boy ” follows this eclectic marriage of neo-psychedelic, roots folk-rock, and synth-heavy space jams to create a unique listening experience not to be forgotten. Though a large majority of his career has been spent traveling coast to coast and sharing the stage with other artists, “Birdcage Boy” allows Adkins to come into his own, relishing in the creative disparities between the variety of songs, all written, and recorded, and produced of his own accord. A compilation of his variety of influences, musical plasticity, and concentration on authenticity, “Birdcage Boy” is a delightful listen for those who crave art that stretches beyond the fabric of normality, embracing the expansive, unbridled side of music making.
Q. Nashville is known for its array of singers mainly in the alternative/rock and country scenes. What separates you from other Nashville artists?
A. What separates me from others is probably the same thing that hinders me; I just can’t seem to pick one style, or genre and stick to it! Commercially speaking, that’s career suicide! However, if I was unable to do that, I wouldn’t be happy. So, here I am, existing within this purgatory-esque gray area within the music world (laughs). In all seriousness, I have been signed to a few labels in the past. [I’ve had] management, even publicists and nobody seems to know what to do with me or how to market me. I suppose I’m a bit of an odd egg.
Q. Your songs have been featured in a wide variety of television and films. What’s a project that used your song that you feel particularly close to?
A. I would have to say, “I’m Indestructible,” because that’s the one that started the whole thing. Before I got into the whole licensing/sync world, I really had no idea what it was, or how it all worked. If you had told me years ago, when I was just getting started, that one day my songs would be in TV shows, movies, and trailers I would have thought you were crazy! I’m very grateful for having these opportunities and it never gets old or loses that wonder when I hear my songs within that realm.
Q. Your new EP “Birdcage Boy” has been described as “maintain[ing] genre fluidity.” Talk about your experimentations with combining different genre influences on this EP.
A. To be quite honest, it’s not something that I give intentional thought to. Whatever that means, it just comes out. I suppose it’s similar to an accent or dialect. The influences that I have are just in the air around me. I never think about things in terms of “genres” or boxes. It’s all the same to me; it’s either good music or bad music to me. I love that Townes Van Zandt quote where he says, “There are two kinds of music: the blues and zippity do-dah!” I listen to my Keith Whitley, with a side of Queen, and Black Sheep. Mozart to drink, Trent Reznor, and Benny Blanco for dessert. It all comes out of the same pot for me, so to speak.
Q. What’s a song off “Birdcage Boy” that you’re most excited for the public to hear? What kind of themes does this song tackle?
A. The songs are so new to me that I haven’t really thought about them in that regard. The title track is my favorite. I love the ominous, bleakness of it. “Oblivions” is near to me, lyrically and musically. I was inspired to write that song after the Covenant school shootings, here in Nashville. It’s not “about” that horrific event, but it definitely stirred up some emotions for me after hearing about it. Like many people, I find myself very confused by the state of our world these days. I suppose if you asked somebody in 1968 or 1984, they would tell you the same thing. Every decade and generation has their share of crazy times; it’s all subjective to the era of time that we are all living in. I think “Oblivions” touches on a lot of those things.
Q. You wrote, produced, and recorded “Birdcage Boy” all by yourself. What led you to this creative isolation during this process?
A. Again, it’s not something that I think about, really. It’s just a process that I keep going back to. I have made all of my solo albums pretty much in the same fashion and method. In the past, I would bring some friends and guests in to play additional instruments. The last album (2022’s “Rattlesnake Motions”) and this project were pretty much all self-contained and autonomous. Don’t get me wrong, I love collaborating with others, especially in a band situation. Doing a record where I’m writing, playing everything, producing, and engineering it is often a mess! It’s a very chaotic routine, yet I find some sort of comfort in it all. I find it very therapeutic and cathartic for me.
It’s just a lot easier to think something through and record it, as opposed to explaining it to another person, taking the time to tighten it up and get in the groove with them, waiting for the drummer who is 20 minutes late, waiting for the bassist to get off the phone with their wife or girlfriend, and so on. I’m not sure if I will continue to work this way forever because bouncing ideas off of producers and other musicians is very much a magical thing. I do miss that collaborative endeavor at times. There’s pros and cons for both situations. I just go wherever my muse leads me, and lately, it has been to undertake the entire thing on my own.
Q. What are you ultimately hoping listeners gain from “Birdcage Boy”? What are some aspects that make this EP unique to you?
A. I just hope people find a song or two within that they can connect with on some level. I hope that one day I can look back on my work and not have many songs that sound the same, so I always try to push the envelope a little bit and think outside of the box. Ultimately, I love hearing from listeners who find that aspect appealing and appreciate it. This EP is a small sliver of what is to come next. I started working on a big batch of songs earlier this year, and these six songs came out of that. There’s still upwards of around a dozen more that I plan to release sometime in 2024. That being said, I hope music fans find something on “Birdcage Boy” that they like, because there’s plenty more coming down the pipeline very soon!