Our Stories: Adam Benfold

Tom Aston

From releasing new music, to working with up-and-coming artist Katie Elizaa, current Studio Assistant Adam has taken off to a running start since graduating from our Sound Engineer & Design course last year.

For the first interview in our new ‘Quarantine’ series, we chatted to Adam about his time studying at Spirit, how he stays motivated during the current lockdown, and what tips he has for others to stay creative and inspired. 

Hi Adam. First of all, we hope you are well. To start, what drew you to Sound Engineering as a career choice?

I have been producing electronic music since I was 15, but it took me a long time to develop as I had little to no guidance, and no clue what I was doing. When I was in sixth form I did performing arts, and I learned from this that I was much more interested in the lighting and sound aspects. Being interested in physics changed the way I look at audio, and I knew from that point that I wanted to become a sound engineer.

And so, why did you decide to study at Spirit Studios?

When I was looking around for places to study I wanted to go to a place that had the most connection to the industry, because I knew it would give me the best chance to succeed. I found Spirit by chance, and after viewing the facilities it blew my other options away and I was instantly hooked. Seeing the history of the people and music it has been involved with over the years was outstanding and I wanted to be part of that.

Since graduating you’ve worked with many artists including Katie Elizaa on her newest single ‘The Woman’, and Abbie Howard on her solo EP. How do you decide which artists you want to work with?

I’m quite picky when it comes to who I work with. I rarely repeat clients if I don’t form a good bond from the get go. Being a sound engineer is about being able to understand somebody’s vision, and bring your creative flare to the mix.

I chose to work with Abbie and Katie because they are both very dedicated to their craft. When I help bring their music to life you can feel the excitement in the room, and they are always open to ideas. Another one of my proud collaborations was working on demos with Phoebe Green, and although nothing we worked on got published, knowing she’s now getting millions of streams, and I’m a degree of separation from that, is amazing. 

Tell us, who or what inspires you to make music?

A lot of my inspiration comes from my environment. When I go home to Yorkshire I walk along the river and I imagine my music as a soundtrack to these places. I also get inspired by the artists that I listen to, and my main influences are Foals, Klangstof, Tycho and Brian Eno. The Blinders and Children of the State are both from my hometown of Doncaster, so they inspire me as well.

You just released a new EP, so firstly congratulations! What were your inspirations for this album?

My latest release is called Beacon, and is mostly about home. The EP is 8 tracks long, and obscure locations gave the profile for a lot of them. I also experimented with live instruments for the first time.

While I was producing this album, Foals released their double album ‘Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost’, and it reminded me to remain individualistic and really go for my natural sound. Kevin Parker (Tame Impala) and Anthony Gonzalez (M83) have always been big inspirations for my music. They show that you don’t have to be afraid to try new ideas, if it feels right to you, then you have to pursue it.

Wow, that’s very cool. How are you staying productive right now with our current lockdown?

My routine currently consists of easing my way into a productive session. I will consume some form of media in the morning, which is either listening to music, playing video games or watching a film. I find after that I’m feeling more creative, so I will produce some music until I feel like I’m not adding to the piece, at which point I’ll walk away and come back later. Mixing up my routine really helps. 

To build on that, what tips do you have for people right now on how they can stay productive and inspired?

My best advice is to just do what you would normally do. Discover new music and maybe push yourself to learn a new skill. If you are struggling to make new music, don’t worry, it’s a great time to play with new plugins, synths, or to make new synth patches. Whilst you do that you may be drawn into a certain idea which could be built into a new track. Just stay as positive as you can, and try to remember that we’re all in this boat together. 

What advice do you have for people looking to get into the same career?

This kind of career isn’t a walk in the park, it’s a skill that takes a lot of dedication and passion to do properly. Goal-setting and organisation play a big role in success, and having an objective and setting aside enough time to reach that objective is important. The music industry is so fluid and constantly moving, so although luck plays a role in getting some opportunities, skills are what provide sustainability. 

Who are you listening to right now?

I am listening to a lot of people right now including The Marías, M83, Foals, Sigur Rós, A Beacon School, Wild Nothing, Klangstof and Ben Howard.

Before you go, tell us, what do you have in the pipeline for this year? 

I have no concrete long term plans for the year yet, I just want to complete what I’m currently doing, let my work speak for itself, then take on whatever comes my way.

Thanks for chatting to us Adam, we can’t wait to see what you continue to do in the music industry!