Welcome to the tenth edition of “Tell All Thursdays”, where we seek to go beyond the song and find out more about the artist. Through conversation with the artist, perhaps we’ll obtain more insight about the songs we enjoy so much.
If you’re into Balam Acab, I would like to steer you towards the company of Hectic Zeniths, “the work of bedroom producer and multi-instrumentalist Adam Morgan Prince. Nearly three years in the making, the densely layered project builds around original piano compositions with an atmospheric collage of chopped and pitched dollar-bin vinyl samples, live instrumentation, synths, and haunting vocals. So we managed to get a chance to get talk about this process and learn a bit more about a math teacher by day, artist by night! Let’s begin.
As stated on the artist page, ‘Hectic Zeniths’ is an anagram for the German word ‘Zeitschtichten,’ meaning “Layers of Time.” Is there a story regarding how that name was even concieved?
I was trying to come up with a name I felt fit the project and was looking up random phrases or works of art that involved different eras of time overlapping. When I found the word “zeitschichten” meant “layers of time” I thought that was incredible and wanted to incorporate it in some way, but didn’t want to name a band “Zeitschichten” so I started playing with the letters and the second Hectic Zeniths came out I knew I had to use it. I think even without the anagram it’s a pretty good description of what I was going for…it’s trying for the “zenith” of what I feel i’m capable of artistically/emotionally.
Have you played in a live setting before? If so, how well does the music on the album translate over to a live performance?
I’ve played keys in a band before, but I haven’t figured out a live set quite yet for the Hectic Zeniths stuff, although I have a bunch of ideas. As of right now I’m planning to wait til I have a second album to try to put together a live set to do shows with it. Most likely to start I want to have a piano and guitar with loop pedals and MPC to trigger samples from, and run around switching between them…and hopefully add on a live drummer and singer. It’s definitely something that wasn’t intended to be played live when I started it.
On the bandcamp page, the page info described the hectic zeniths as “three years in the making”. Was there ever a point in time in which you thought that perhaps finishing the work was no longer worth it? What motivated you to finish the product anyway?
I loved all the tracks too much and put too much thought and time into it to not finish it. Also, a large part of the time working on it includes writing a ton of stuff on piano I haven’t recorded yet, and listening to hundreds of records that I didn’t end up using samples from. Basically scrapping a lot of stuff and narrowing it down to what I ended up with on the album.
What influences do you cite regarding either your inspiration for music or the way you produce your particular sound?
Tori Amos’ piano playing, Geoff Barrow’s production on Portishead albums, RJD2’s using samples from different sources to construct something that resembles a traditional “song,” DJ Premier’s chopping of samples. And actually Kanye West, as far as using vocal samples melodically, and having a combination of samples, live instruments, and synths going on at the same time, even if I approach it in a pretty different way from him, he’s the first person I heard really having all those layers from different sources going on at once.
On the bandcamp page, there are only three songs that can be streamed (“then and now”, “curtain”, “I might drown”). What was the reasoning for allowing those three songs to be heard?
When I first finished the album, I played it or sent it to about 10 friends. The more hip hop oriented ones liked “Then And Now” the best, others liked “Curtain” the best. “I Might Drown” I knew I had to pick because it was probably the catchiest and most accessible on the album.
You previously released a free EP and an array of hip hop and electronic remixes under the name ‘amplifya’ in November 2009. When comparing the that EP and the Hectic Zenith EP, what would you say is the biggest difference between the two? Any similarites?
The only similarities I would say exist is that my sense of melody and rhythm probably is similar from one to the other. Otherwise…sonically, structurally, really different…I never used live drums or acoustic piano before Hectic Zeniths, never recorded anything in a real studio outside my bedroom before Hectic Zeniths, didn’t really make full instrumental “songs.”
It’s not everyday we learn about an artist who is also a teacher too. Does your daytime job have any influence whatsoever on your musical production? Do your students know about either amplifya or Hectic Zeniths?
I actually finished the album in April and it’s my first year teaching, so I’ve yet to attempt to produce and teach at the same time. Haven’t ever told a student I made music, haha.