Temisan Godwin Adoki
Well, the project, and mainly my beginnings as a solo artist actually began in 1997 when I was just 13 years old. I’ve always been into music and active in music from a young age. I grew up playing the piano when I was in grade school, then moved from that to playing the flute, then the guitar, then around 1995/1996 or so I was put onto electronic music…mainly house and techno. This was around the time the movie “Hackers” came out which was one of my proper introductions to that sound that was gaining some sort of mainstream traction around then.
The first time I was introduced to house was back in 1990 though with the song “Spin That Wheel” by Hi Tek 3 and Ya Kid K that appeared in the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles live action film. My dad actually bought me the soundtrack on cassette and I still have it. I would listen to that song and dance until I couldn’t anymore. But going back to 1997, this was when I was getting into electronic music heavily. If it wasn’t for the video game “Wipeout 2097” that was released on the original playstation and MTV’s “Amp”, I probably wouldn’t be here today in 2015 as a musician/producer.
From those I discovered The Prodigy, Chemical Brothers, Daft Punk, DJ Shadow, DJ Krush, Underworld, Keoki, Josh Wink, Two Lone Swordsmen, Aphex Twin, Autechre, Photek, Goldie, Squarepusher…and from there people like Jeff Mills, Juan Atkins, Derrick May, Richie Hawtin (plastikman) and a slew of other talented DJs and Producers who I still hold as major influences in my work to this day. This was around the time of the second wave of the rave era too. Being a teen in the mid to late 90s I had a bit of exposure to that whole rave subculture from skateboarding, hip-hop, and generally hanging around those circles. And eventually I started going to raves and house parties soon afterwards. So after listening to those artists and buying their CD’s I attempted to make my own music. The first attempts at it were kind of crude cause I really didn’t have an idea of how those producers were making those tracks and creating those sounds. So, as I was making my first tracks I was just learning how to do it through trial and error. I would take my Dad’s ambient music cassettes (which contained music from Mike Oldfield, Tangerine Dream, etc) and dub sounds to one cassette (mainly synth patches) and take drum loops from a jungle track from a cd to that same cassette and do my best to try to sequence them to create a song. I then stepped up from doing that to learning how to make music on the computer.
The first track I made was on my parents’ Compaq presario 540 desktop using Sound Recorder. I would take stock sounds like the sound of helicopter blades whirring and slow it down by 200% and attempt to use that as a drum pattern and overlayed it with other stock sounds to create melodies by reversing them so that it wouldn’t be heard as a recognizable desktop sound. After it was all said and done I recorded it onto tape. This is where it began really. I took a 5 year break to focus on school from producing and just took to DJing. That began after seeing DJ Spooky live opening up for a Fergie-less Black Eyed Peas on the Levi’s Sno Core tour back in 1999. After that, I was hooked. I bought a copy of his “Haunted Beats Vol. 1” 12” at the merch table, asked my mother for a Radio Shack DJ mixer. and used that and my parents turntables to start learning how to mix. Eventually after working my first real job at Burger King I used the money I made to invest in real turntables, a mixer, and records.
I started out playing UK Hard House records and Tribal house records, with a little bit of Disco House in between and some Electroclash. I would go to Hypervinyl (RIP) in Oakland on Forbes Avenue to buy records and Futuresounds (RIP) in Squirrel Hill. This was in 2002 when that was big along with Trance. When I started college in the fall of that year in Marietta, Ohio, I was gifted a new computer (a Sony Vaio Desktop) that had a copy of screenblast Acid Pro and I used that program to create my first tracks. In my first semester I made 4 cds worth of original material. Those were my first real albums. But since there was really no way at the time to get that out there (other than sharing it on Kazaa hoping some random would download my tracks) I sent demos out to labels. I sent demos out to Warp Records, Skam, and Schematic around that time cause this is when Cd-R’s and cd burners were more available to the public. I didn’t hear anything back from them so those albums pretty much were played by me for me and friends. From there I started doing shows. The first show I ever did was at an art gallery exhibition at my college in the spring of 2003. Then I started doing shows in my hometown of Pittsburgh at Club Cafe and The Rex Theatre opening up for Vampire Nation and former XTC drummer Terry Chambers.
After leaving Ohio in 2004 and moving back to Pittsburgh I just ended up producing non-stop on a yearly basis. My friends at the time were also making tracks, but more on the hip-hop side of things. I worked with different styles from experimental electronic, noise, ambient, and glitchy styled music cause I was using Ableton (I was using ableton when it first came out) and getting into live sequencing using computers. This is where the Composite project came from in 2004 and the Sect project in 2006. After 2006 I took a break from producing. and got back into it in 2008 and I’ve been at it ever since.
I started doing club DJing and did radio shows for WPTS 92.1 and WRCT 88.3. These were shows that was pretty much me mixing on the tables for 2 hours with no breaks other than for commercials in between sets.. I’d play everything from IDM, to Miami Bass, Juke, Jit, Techno, Minimal, Progressive, Baltimore Club music, Dancehall reggae, soca, kuduro, to deep house and downtempo hip-hop. Pretty much everything. I also ended up opening up for some acts during my time playing at the Shadow Lounge & AVA (both RIP) in East Liberty Pittsburgh between 2007-2010. It was during my time at the Shadow that I managed to meet a then unknown local rapper by the name of Wiz Khalifa and Mac Miller before the fame.
But to “Hidden History” it’s basically the sum whole of the past 18 years I’ve been making music. And the title “Hidden History” itself basically alludes to my history as a producer and a DJ, quietly making tracks just cause that’s a part of my own history period. The most known unknown.
What song of yours is the one you like the most?
Good question. It would probably be Sadstars13 and I made that in 2002. It was made basically by me finding random samples on the internet at the time and manipulating and layering them in Acid Pro. My thing is growing up in the 90s there was that period when the sound that was “in vogue” was balearic but more hip-hop inspired. Being a huge hip-hop head it was natural for me to end up embracing it especially anything with that 85-95 bpm boom bap drum beat.
An honorable mention goes to “Eisland” that I produced under the Sect alias from 2006. The vibe on this took a while to construct. But the way it came out has me going back to listen to it since I recorded it.
How do you write your music?
HMMM….good question. It pretty much comes from me just messing around with different sounds on whatever I use to make it. I mainly use Native Instruments Maschine nowadays, but before I was using everything from Native Instruments Reaktor and Kontakt to Fruity Loops and Ableton. I’ll just figure it out from there. Maybe I’ll start with the drums then figure out a melody or do the melody first and then do the drums. Around the time I was messing more with live sequence it was a less involved process. I would just tweak different sounds using different VSTs and record the results in real time…and there was the track after that. I would end up using gibberish titles and making my own language in the process that only I understood. Like “Diz 4”, “Diz 6”, “Pir 1 Kid” or “Distrot. Humans” or “01”. My influence for that came from listening to Autechre, who are still one of my favorite groups ever.
What is music?
Music is the way we communicate outside of words and outside of visuals. Beyond sound as well. Touching emotions and crossing all boundaries there could possibly be. Quite possibly the only thing that’s saving humanity. Even when I’m not making music I stay listening to music cause it’s what keeps me intact.
What influences do you have?
Too many to name. but my direct influence when it comes to my music are Detroit and Chicago legends like Jeff Mills, Juan Atkins, Derrick May, DJ Godfather, DJ Slugo, DJ Sneak, DJ Funk, to people like Aphex Twin, Autechre, Fluke, Uncle Luke, Daft Punk, Squarepusher, Luke Slater, Speedy J, Surgeon, Drexciya, Underground Resistance, Afrika Bambattaa, Kraftwerk, Rick Wade, Theo Parrish, Michael Mayer, Sven Vath, Zomby, Mike Will Made IT, Stacey Pullen, Kenny Dixon Jr, DJ Hell, Keoki, DJ Icey, The Future Sound Of London, Louis Vega, Kenny Dope Gonzalez, Frankie Knuckles (RIP), Frankie Bones, Hawtin, Fabio, Grooverider, Goldie, RP Boo, Diplo, Boys Noize, Basic Channel, Carl Craig, Green Velvet, Move D, Ministry, Front 242, KMFDM, Nine Inch Nails, Outkast, Goodie Mob, The Dungeon Family , and last but not least Michael Jackson and Prince. Can’t forget about my man J Dilla, rest in peace.
But my biggest influence as a producer is without a doubt Timbaland. When he came out with Missy Elliot, Magoo, Ginuwine, and Aaliyah (RIP) in the late 90s he changed the game when it came to hip-hop production, because he was utilizing a more forward thinking sound that was very electronica, very techno, and very innovative.
Before I continue, I’ll just say this about house. Coming up in the 90s that was our party music. That was our “turn up” music. The “get ready for the weekend” music. I naturally got into that from my love of hip-hop cause it both focused on the beats. And growing up in the tristate area in the 90s I watched it go from something that was local to something that became international. My family on my dad’s side live in London so I was going there since I was really little to visit them. The first time I went was when I was 9 in ‘93. So I’ve always had that little connection to UK culture in one way or another. And from there, that’s when I started seeing and hearing more of that house sound and movement take form from where it was in the 80s. I remember watching The Grind on MTV (a show that basically was like American Bandstand or soul train where it was good looking people on camera dancing to pop music) and they would have people like David Morales behind the tables spinning stuff like Funky Green Dogs and C&C Music Factory and the DJs would just play this energetic, funky, bass fueled music that was just sophisticated and dope at the same time. Speaking of MTV and DJs, I was actually introduced to Sasha and John Digweed through the show MTV Live (which would then become Total Request Live) in 1998 in my freshman high school years.
On my mom’s side of the family, they lived in New Jersey. So of course, I was exposed to that 90s NYC house that’s pretty much the bread and butter of my whole musical foundation. My cousins would have those Dance Mix 1996/1997 type cds and that had me hooked. And New Jersey has had a rich history in house music from Tony Humphries and Zanzibar in the 80s to Todd Edwards and it’s own culture with Jersey club music (an offshoot of Baltimore Club).
My approach has always been to put a more abstract yet street approach to everything I do. To put that hip-hop element into my productions cause at the end of the day it’s another essential element to what I do as an artist as a producer and as a DJ. I came up doing graffiti in the late 90s as well, so I was immersed in that culture. My friends were breakdancing and doing b-boy competitions and those same heads would be at the raves breaking and doing house dancing so that’s one of my influences too. And I came up as a house dancer as a well.
What’s the best experience you have had with your project?
Having my music featured in a theatre production.
What plans do you have this year?
That’s pretty much it for me in 2015. I’m more so focusing my efforts towards 2016. That includes me returning to live performance after a 2 year break to focus on original productions, releasing more albums, and DJing. I had the craziest year this year, but I’ll discuss that much later on in the interview. Besides working on music, I also presented my clothing line that was a little pet project that has been in fruition since 2011 and ran a pop-up shop for it in Manhattan in the Lower East Side during this year’s fashion week in September.. The line is actually a companion to and based on my own blog The Bones Of Houdini which I have been doing since 2011 as well. It’s like an experience and world within it’s own world where fashion photography, art, graffiti, music, skateboarding, and everything else that I enjoy meet. When it comes to social media, I mainly just work through Tumblr, Instagram and Twitter now as well as youtube. I also released two projects of old material (Analog Tracks which contains sessions from 2010 & Statues of the Sun, an EP dating back to 2002!) and two new original EPs. I spent the bulk of 2013 & 2014 releasing full lengths of original material which all can be found through my weblabel All In The Family Records, which has become my outlet to release my music to the public on my own through bandcamp.
Mention something you don’t like about this project.
“Hidden History” basically was a rushed spur of the moment thing in regards to the creative approach behind it. I would of liked to spend more time behind the actual production, but I digress because I was utilizing new technology to produce it. My thing is, I like to utilize whatever I can to produce new sounds but I like to make sure it’s got my signature touch to it. I actually produced all of the tracks on the EP with my smartphone using various apps and recorded it from ogg format to wav! The first time I ever did something like that. I like to take risks though so I feel it was all worth it. If anything, I would probably add two more tracks to it, but I feel having the title track and the remix (the reconstruction) served it’s purpose.
Mention the biggest sacrifice you had to make for this project.
I made many. 2015 was probably the most eventful, most challenging, most stressful, and most rewarding year of my life. I spent the last part of 2014 in Pittsburgh leaving New York (I currently live in Brooklyn) to take care of family. When I came back to New York I had no place to stay, so I ended up going from sleeping in my car to staying at the YMCA and in between at hotels whenever I had the chance. I used the little resources I had available to me (mainly my laptop) to find work to make money. I ended up working for Grassroots Campaigns in Midtown Manhattan on behalf of the Southern Poverty Law Center and then managed to land a job on Wall Street as an insurance broker. From there I used my money to produce clothing designs to sell. During that time as well I was producing music whenever I had the chance. Eventually I found a new apartment in Bushwick with a good friend of mine (shouts to my homie Tommy, long time friend and collaborator since 2007) and some peace of mind. Those were the sacrifices I had to make to bring this vision to life.
What band, music project, or soloist from your city do you like?
Well, from Pittsburgh, there’s Girl Talk, and Wiz Khalifa. From New York? Juliana Huxtable, Anti-pop Consortium, DJ/Rupture, Venus X, Frankie Bones, Fast Times, Discwoman, Anthony Parasole, and Fred P.
What’s your full name? Where were you when you answered the interview?
My full name is Temisan Godwin Adoki, but most people call me Tem. I use my full name now because I honestly couldn’t stick to one name or alias. AS far as it’s concerned it’s beyond my own name to become a brand and an institution in itself that encompasses music, art, fashion, radio, film, photography and media altogether. This interview was done at my parent’s house in Pittsburgh after a nice Thanksgiving dinner. Right now though? It’s 5:46 in the morning and I have to atleast get some sleep cause I have to take an 8 hour bus ride back to NYC.