an interview with adam shenk
    • WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 19, 2011

    • Posted by: Mindee Anoff

    Adam Shenk organically blends neo-soul, R&B and jazz to create his own neo-pop music genre. He is also quite the charmer; as I listened to his unfaltering story, I was immediately transported to his beautiful musical world. Adam considers himself an artist's artist. "I want people to feel it in their soul. I want them to feel like they were a part of the experience; that they weren't just passively watching, but they were into it and kind of right there with me."

    Shenk started "punking out" songs on the piano when he was just a toddler and perfected his art at the American Boychoir School, Interlochen Center for the Arts, Boston Conservatory and Berklee College of Music. Adam's musical inspirations are an eclectic mix, tracking his evolution as an artist himself. As a kid, he was into Elton John, Mariah Carey, SWV and Boys II Men, but as Shenk grew into an angsty teen, Portishead, Tracey Bonham and Bjork influenced his musical decisions. "The first album I did was when I was a freshman in college, and hopefully most people will never hear those songs." He described his early sound as "very complex, very raw lyrically and very Tori Amos." Bjork's poetic lyrics and unique sound and vibe really stuck with Adam as he matured musically, and as he grew to find a niche in R&B, he felt inspired by the likes of Jill Scott, Robin Thicke and John Legend. When it came time to record his EP, he knew he wanted it to be less dark than the first and more accessible as well, stating "I wanted to make my music more tangible; I wanted to strip it down and make it more simple."

    Adam is the ultimate performer. Aside from his boy-band worthy looks, throwback hair designs and awesome dance moves, his lyrics truly captivate his audience and bring them exactly to where he wants them to go. When asked how he composes his poetry set to music, Adam said "there was a time in college where I would just get really emotional about something and literally lock myself in a room and not come out until I was finished with the song and it was very raw and cathartic." He explained that he didn't always have his own keyboard to create any time, day or night. He would go to a practice room at his school and felt like he had to write as much as he could while he had the opportunity. Nowadays, Adam does have his own keyboard at home and has expanded his writing routine, creating musical goodness whenever inspiration strikes.

    Adam's second album, Suitcases, was released last Spring and is a mix of pop, R&B and smooth, world sounds. For his third album, Shenk says he'd like to head in a more up-tempo, dance floor worthy direction with smooth sounds and synths while still remaining true to his "honest lyrics and interesting concepts." Adam is writing more and more every day and literally just finished two songs last week that he's already performing at this week's shows. Take it from this writer, one Adam Shenk show is certainly not like any other Adam Shenk show. Adam prefers to change up the routine from show to show, sometimes opting for a stripped down jazz style set, other times choosing to have a full band and special guests for the ultimate concert experience. He often breaks out in dance numbers, shares stories with the crowd and always, always, always brings down the house with his takes on forgotten, but oh-so-loved 90's songs. Adam hopes that his covers of "Fugee-La", "Weak", "Say My Name" and the like will bring his listeners back to being in their rooms in high school, listening to music and dancing in the mirror. It's true to his form; Shenk most of all wants his audience to leave "feeling like they saw an experience, someone being honest on stage."

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