Adam Mitchell, also known as Adam X has been at the forefront of techno,
industrial and experimental music for over 30 years. Adam is the founder
of the record label and collective, Sonic Groove and Traversable Wormhole,
which focus on the more complex and more experimental side of techno.
He is also one half of the duo ADMX-71, alongside his brother Frank Mitchell.
Together, they brought rave culture to America through the Storm Rave in the early 90s.
Adam X is one of the electronic music heavyweights, exporting his hard-edged sound from
New York to Berlin, pushing the boundaries, and continuing to be an influential
figure in the community,
has established himself as a true visionary.
The term "scene" can be defined very broadly. What is your definition of belonging to the scene?
A scene is a collective of like-minded people that follow a certain movement in art or music.
Without a scene, we as musicians would have a hard much harder time finding audiences to connect
to our music. Belonging to a scene can also have adverse effects such as an artist losing mystique
as familiarity breeds contempt. The less people know about the artist the more they are intrigued.
The more they know the less they care. There will also be many bandwagon jumpers who will jump
from one scene into another while chasing the next big fad. While others continue to live what
they are into as genre lifestylists. Personally for me as an artist I have a wide scope of tastes
in electronic music and prefer not to be attached to any particular scene.
I personally despise bandwagon jumping.
Starting from the very beginning - you and your brother with the Storm Rave brought rave culture
Do you miss those days? Tell us some stories.
Yes, I miss my youthful days when it was all so new and refreshed.
There was no recycling of techno genres yet. The music styles were progressing with innovation
quickly too. It was a great time period unlike any other in the scene.
I remember playing underground rave parties in America and playing alongside my peers at the time,
Aphex Twin, Richie Hawtin, Damon Wild, Joey Beltram, etc. We were all in the same age range,
early 20s young! I'd also travel to West Germany to play in the early 90s and hang with many of
the German talents of the era. It was an intensely exciting time without internet, smartphones,
social media and a time with very little commercialization. We were more engaged with only the
music to focus on back then. So much great innovative music coming out then,
still now sounding fresh 30 years later.
In the early 2000s, you moved to Berlin. What differences between the scene in Brooklyn and the one in Berlin caught your attention first?
When I left Brooklyn there was very little of a scene left for harder-edged techno.
A smaller scene existed for minimal and tech-house but I took no part in that.
The main difference between the two cities is that in Berlin the party can quite often go
on for 48- 72 hours straight. In NYC techno events would rarely ever go on past 8 AM on a
single day with most people going out to a party for a maximum of 6-8 hours on a weekend.
A very big difference also is in NYC you have to work much harder/longer to pay the very
expensive rent and bills there.
Berlin is much cheaper and so it's easier to not work as hard and to party even harder
These days we see several public posts from artists and fans complaining that there is no appreciation for real talent, thanks in part to the extremism of social networks.
Do you think that there is a realistic solution to change things around?
Change will only happen if more respected artists speak up about this problem.
If we stay silent we will just continue to get pushed to the side by social media
imagery and not the sound of the music itself.
We could also use a new social media platform to push just the music itself and events.
One that doesn't limit algorithms on a post. All my fans should be able to see all
my posts in their feeds and not just selected ones based on how fast the response to
a post is. This is a huge problem on Facebook and Instagram. If a fan follows me then
why should they not see everything I post?
There also needs to be a level playing field for artists and not a place where
a wealthy amateur artist/dj can invest money and buy fans by purchasing fake likes
and then get booked for an event over a truly talented artist who has less likes.
I can imagine a site like Bandcamp but with a real-time social media connection between the artists and the fans. Kind of what Myspace was attempting before its demise. Instagram and Facebook were never designed for musicians. It took Facebook years to start up artist pages and then when they did they bait and switched everyone with their pay-to-play ways.
On your Sonic Groove label, you are crossing the parallel between techno and Industrial music. Don't you think that the term “industrial techno” is currently widely overused and misunderstood?
I thought it was widely overused even 10 years ago.
Just because it's hard techno doesn't mean it's industrial techno.
Now that this so-called NU-Techno is the new hype, the term Industrial techno is being said less
which I'm quite happy about. To truly understand what Industrial techno is, you have to know what
Industrial music is. Many people who used the term Industrial in techno over the past
10 years never really understood the difference between the two genres.
Industrial also is not only a sound but is also a mindset.
What's next for Adam X?
Hopefully tomorrow and the day after and so on. To be honest, after many years of being in this and watching how fast life goes by, I prefer to go just one day at a time. I don't plan too far in the future anymore.
I always have new music and new gigs to play on the horizon.