Interview with Musician Adrian James White

I met Adrian at the Kung Fu Retreat and it was incredible to have him around playing the guitar daily. This was the set of weeks with the most unusual and interesting group of people. The Kung Fu Retreat was often a grey place too stiff and with an overall lack of joy, the extraordinary force that music brings and the way it impregnates all the surrounding energy with light is extraordinary. I felt truly blessed to have music around every single day! While Adrian played the guitar, I sung, although he also has a great voice and we formed The Diva & The Dude (of course I’m the dude and he’s the diva)! We even played twice in Pai with the support of our Kung Fu Family! Singing is not only a therapy for the soul, but also for the body, because the vibration produced by music in all our cells is liberating.

Adrian is a professional photographer and videographer, but he’s also a member of London Mountain Rescue where he plays, sings and composes songs (one of the themes I sung during our two gigs was one of his originals, a lovely theme entitled Blue Dress). In this interview, we’ll dive deeper into the healing power of music and what it means in Adrian’s life:

 

1 – What is it that you LOVE about music? What makes music so fascinating?

What I love about music is the way it connects people. You can be sitting with someone from the other side of the planet playing an instrument you have never seen before and you don’t understand a word of what they’re singing about but if you’re feeling the music you instantly warm to, respect, have affection for and connect with that person. Its the most raw, loving, instant and soulful way of connecting with another person in my opinion.

When you start writing and performing music it brings it to a whole different level. For me there is no feeling in the world writing a song that you’re proud of. It fascinates me where ideas come from and not just for music too, anything – painting, dancing, acting etc. Noel Gallagher has quote about artists being struck by creative lightning bolts but there are only so many to go around so if you get struck by one grab it with both hands! I think that creative inspiration comes from our subconscious and the more we let go the more open and creative we become.

A very close second to writing is performing. I have been very fortunate in that I have performed some quite large scale gigs and have had the opportunity to play to thousands of people over the years. I have never felt more alive than jumping around on a stage with the band made up of my best friends, banging out songs we’ve written together with hundreds of people singing the song back to you, it’s just an incredible feeling – especially when you’re performing at a festival with the sun just setting, a few too many beers in you and a thousand eager people chanting the name of your band! I have tons of these type of memories I will cherish forever.

 

2 – When did your passion started? Who were your first in-love-with-bands and/or music artists? (Or with whom did you vibrate the most when you awakened for the music world)?

I started listening to music relatively late but my real passion for music first started when I heard the ‘Money For Nothing’ guitar riff… that one riff totally blew my young innocent mind and thinking about it now totally shaped my future. Before my dad introduced to Dire Straits I was listening to some god dam awful shit and from that moment on my musical tastes dramatically changed! My dad’s record collection was great and I started constantly stealing his vinyl and playing them loud and late into the night! I was listening to more and more guitar based music, the Beatles, Queen, The Shadows, Cream but when I heard Jimi Hendrix I had mind blown experience no.2!  From that moment on I knew I wanted to learn to the play the guitar and felt a level of dedication to the instrument I had never felt to anything else previously. I built a shrine to Jimi in my bedroom (candles and all) and played along with his records as best I could day and night on my dads old acoustic guitar until my dad brought me an electric guitar – literally the best day of my life bar none! Since then I’ve pretty much played the guitar every day and can’t imagine not having it in my life.

Since my dads influence, getting me into Jimi Hendrix, Queen, The Shadows etc my musical influences have been pretty diverse, from rock to rap, to country to reggae, from Irish folk to electro. For me the genre of music is almost irrelevant. If music whatever its style, makes you feel something, has energy, passion and genuine feeling I am drawn to it. I have been moved by thousands of artists over the years but In terms of bands that have had the biggest influence on me throughout my life would be: Jimi Hendrix, The Stone Roses, The Pixies, Rage Against The Machine, Beastie Boys, The Skattilites and Neil Young.

 

3 – What are your main music references now?

This is tough question to ask now, I feel it was easier when I was younger as I seemed to have more specific tastes but now it flutters from genre to genre and most of the time it’s something from way in the past… I’m not very good at keeping up with new bands! Dan, drummer and all round top bloke from our band London Mountain Rescue is my main source of current musical inspiration keeping me up to date with what the kids are listening too! I can literally be listening to The Wu Tan Clang one day, Sigrid (Dutch pop singer) the next and then The Black Keys the following day. In general I think peoples tastes and young people’s tastes in particular are broadening which is a fantastic thing and makes it exciting for new bands coming through in the future. Long gone are the days of the mods and the rockers fighting on Brighton beach over which bands are best!

 

4 – What is it about the power of music when it comes to film and motion picture? How come music has the capacity to completely change a scene?

All the great motion picture productions of our time would not be what they are without their accompanying soundtracks. Imagine Jaws without the haunting two note loop, Star Wars without the epic John Williams masterpiece, the Dinosaurs would not have come alive if it wasn’t for the incredible score, again by John Williams. The Piano, Gladiator, ET all would not be the masterpieces they are without the film scores, as goes too for the Pixar animation Up – it is a modern day classic and dramatically influenced by the incredible score running underneath it throughout.

Music has so much power over the moving image it can totally change how you perceive and emotionally connect with a film even though at the time of watching a particular scene we don’t consciously really notice it. Try this fun little experiment at home… put on something like the one of the many tense scenes from Jaws of the killer hunting for his next lunch or Darth Vader marching to the Imperial March and then press the mute button… then put on the Muppets theme tune and see how the power from the image is instantly taken away and turned into something completely different. I know it may seem kind of obvious but the key to an amazing film score is that you DON’T initially notice it as it blends so well with the moving pictures and you’re so caught up in the moment that carries you away emotionally somewhere. It’s only after on reflection that you noticed how kick ass the music was!

 

5 – What is your perspective about High Fidelity‘s quote: “People worry about kids playing with guns, or watching violent videos, that some sort of culture of violence will take them over. Nobody worries about kids listening to thousands, literally thousands of songs about heartbreak, rejection, pain, misery and loss. Did I listen to pop music because I was miserable? Or was I miserable because I listened to pop music?”? In what way do you think music affects people’s mood?

People turn to music in times of emotional distress; you often hear “I wouldn’t have made it if it wasn’t for this or that song”, but people also turn to music in times of great joy. I think music accentuates people moods, if you’re feeling sad you want to put on something downbeat that you can relate and open up to; if you’re ecstatic and want something to get you’re rocks off to you put something upbeat and lively on. Saying that though music can pull you out of a dark situation as it has done for me on many occasions.

 

6 – How can we use music to improve health and wellness?

Just the act of listening to music can improve health and wellness. Music has the ability to stir emotions within people, sometimes with them being completely unaware and reach them in a way nothing else can, which can unblock and release emotions they might have been holding onto for years. Music therapy is very common practice these days and is very effective way of getting people to express themselves that might otherwise not be able to – from people with disabilities, to people suffering from mental illness, to inmates doing time, to young people trying to escape a life on the streets. I used to work with special needs children and to see the way they responded to music therapy sessions was so moving and another example to me of the importance and strength of music.

From my mid-teens to present day my life has been dominated by music and has shaped every part of my life and who I am. I am so grateful to my dad for many many things but in musical terms I am most grateful to him for 3 things… 1. Having a banging vinyl collection. 2. Inspiring me to play the guitar and 3. For introducing my ears to the ‘Money for Nothing’ guitar riff, as I feel my life would have been a whole lot less colorful and definitely a whole lot less fun if I had never heard it!

 

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