Mixing slinky retro splashed with come-hither samples equally seductive and soulful, Rollergirl brought thumping nouevu-disco, bright electronics, and glitter-on-the-roller rink with the release of their self-titled debut this past Halloween. We talk to one-man commander of dancefloor noir Adam Rich about his approach to Rollergirl, his sampling technique, and being under the influence of nostalgia.
“The sound of old records is something that isn’t easily replicated today. The past has a lot of secrets, and secrets make the present more interesting.” – Adam Rich
You recently released your self-titled album, the follow-up to last year’s Heaven EP. Did you approach making the full-length any differently than Heaven? Vocals definitely added to the sound and Rollergirl felt less glossy but still maintained the disco elements.
The album is a collection of music that I had been working on for about six to eight months, so it’s definitely a showcase of where I’ve come from and where I’m going. It’s also the first release of just me, not having a writing partner and kind of honing the sound of Rollergirl. But I’m still learning everyday how to make music.
Sampling is a big part of Rollergirl. Can you tell us a little about your technique and your favorites to use?
Every thing I do is extremely spur of the moment with a high level of chance involved. I find a song, listen and think, “Hm, here’s a sample, there’s a sample”, start cutting them up in Abelton, add drums, etc. If the first idea I have isn’t working right away, if that energy just isn’t there, it never will be.
I like bringing out the quiet parts in the songs I sample, breaths, air, quiet guitar riffs that are way back in the mix, things like that.
Throughout both releases, there’s a lot of retro, nostalgia feel surrounding Rollergirl, in sound and aesthetically. What sparked your interest?
I’m an old soul, regardless of how lame and overstated that sounds. The sound of old records is something that isn’t easily replicated today, lo-fi gets lost in the glitz and glam of modern recording technology. The past has a lot of secrets, and secrets make the present more interesting.
What have been some of your favorite places to play?
Every gig has positive aspects of it, every one a learning experience. I play a lot of house shows, and those are always wild and memorable, from dealing with goofy bro’s that ask me to “Drop the bass!“, to seeing the floor bend and wobble, with me having to hold on the speakers so they don’t fall over. As long as people are having a good time, I’m having a good time.
What’s your favorite material to play live?
I enjoy the tribute to the Fresh Prince I do. It’s always growing and expanding into new levels of ridiculousness. Getting the whole room to scream, “Here come the Men in Black” over the original sample was a life changing experience.
If you could play one place, where would it be?
Seriously, as long as people are dancing I’m happy regardless of where it is. If I had to pick somewhere, I’d say a roller skating rink — me right in the center with everyone boogieing around!
What always seems to make its way back into rotation?
I’m probably the worlds biggest Chet Baker fan. Pretty much every time I sit and listen to music, it’s all him.
Can you tell us more about your songwriting process?
It’s a spark of creativity followed by endless fretting, changes, re-mixes, waves of depression before all hope is lost and I let it loose onto the internet. I’m sort of a lazy perfectionist.
What’s your dream collaboration?
I’m always on the quest for musical knowledge, so any collaboration I would do probably would never get finished because I’d be constantly picking the other person’s brain for information! Something I would like to do would be to tell the people that really inspired me to start Rollergirl how much they and their music has meant to me. Like Daft Punk, Louis La Roche, Pogo, Breakbot, Chromeo, the entirety of Chic and Duran Duran, and everyone in the B-52’s alive or dead.
What’s your favorite part of playing in Cleveland?
My favorite thing about Cleveland is the Grog Shop. Some of my best memories of shows were there, like the whole crowd getting up on stage along with Surfer Blood. Cleveland is a great town with great people that have an incredible appreciation of the arts!
Select interviews will be printed in the Big Guide Book and CD samplers of Brite artists are available as a Kickstarter reward. Get them both with the Music Lovers Pack and support Brite Winter on Kickstarter here. // Interview by Nikki Delamotte