Meet the Pros - Adam Rust

 

Thanks for dropping by the WeJam Studio. Why don’t you start by introducing yourself?


Hi! Thanks for having me. I’m Adam, I’m 28 and from London. I’ve been a music professional over the last 10 years and have covered a few areas of the industry in that time. I’ve toured around the world with some exciting artists as a session musician and music director, and have been fortunate to have produced and played on some great records too.

 

What’s your earliest musical memory?


I have vague memories of giving ‘concerts’ to my family in the living room around the age of 5. I don’t think anyone remembers it being particularly inspiring though!

Tell us about your musical / production training


I had piano and drum lessons from the age of 7, and picked up the bass and guitar from my older brother and my Dad from around age 13. I’d say I learnt the majority of my all-round musicianship from playing different instruments at church each week.

I did Music Tech A Level which taught me the foundations of production and music software, but other than that I’ve gathered all my engineering/production skills over years of trial and error or just learning on the job.

I graduated from the Academy of Contemporary Music (Guildford) in 2014 where I first studied Drums, and then moved to Keyboards.

 

Was there a turning point in your life where you decided to pursue music as a career seriously?


My band had just played a set at a local festival one summer, we must have been about 15/16 at the time. I was buzzing for days afterwards. After that, I remember having a conversation with my parents saying I wanted to try and pursue music as a career - it was all I could see myself wanting to do. I’m grateful to them for supporting me.

 

Is there a mentor figure in your life or someone that really inspires you?


I wouldn’t say I have a single mentor figure in my life, although I have had some great teachers. I’m fortunate that a lot of my friends are people who are extremely talented and have become very successful - many of them inspire me and help me in different ways at different times. I think it’s important to surround yourself with people who make you want to be better.

 

Talk us through your preparation for a recording or writing session


If I’m working with a new artist, I’ll obviously have listened to some of their music. Prior to the session, I will try to find out what music is inspiring them right now, so I can be thinking of appropriate sound pallets, and sometimes sketch some ideas. If possible, I want to spend a decent amount of time at the start of the session getting to know them before working - often a song can come out of the conversations we have.

In terms of being more generally prepared:
As a writer, it can be helpful to have a place where you write down potential song titles and catchy phrases that come into your head at random times. Having these ready could really help create that spark in a session if that initial idea just isn’t coming.

As a producer it’s good to set time aside to design and store great sounds, presets, samples, sequences etc. ready to load up quickly in sessions. Quick workflow is everything to keep the momentum of a session going.


You’ve worked with some really big names and had a lot of success. What have been your standout professional moments?


I’d say as a performer - being on stage at Wembley Stadium and Hyde Park have to be up there as they are places I would dream about playing as a kid, especially growing up in London.  

As a producer, I’ve made music with Becky Hill & MNEK over this last year. They are artists I’ve admired over many years, so it feels great to be able to create with them now and call them friends!

Do you have any funny ‘backstage’ studio stories you can share with us?


Not so much in the studio... But one story from a tour was pretty memorable. The tour manager (who was also the driver) had decided one night that they’d had enough, without any obvious reason. We found out just before going on stage they had just caught the train home and left us there! We managed to get ourselves back to our hotel and finish the tour without them, but with some improvisation. It's safe to say - that tour manager hasn’t been heard from since!


We know producers love collecting gear. What’s your favourite piece of kit and why?


I have a few Universal Audio Interfaces and I use a lot of their plugins. I swear by them!


WeJam is all about getting music lovers of all abilities to experience what It’s like to make live music with others. How important is that real-time collaboration with others? 


I think it’s super important. There are definitely times where being alone to practise and to have total creative control of things is best. However, I think that when ideas are bounced around between people who have different skill sets, it always has the potential to turn into something great. These situations are where I learn the most, too.

It’s become very accessible these days for people to make music using loops and samples. Is there still value in learning to play an instrument?

 

I use loops/samples on a daily basis in almost all my productions - I love the workflow and the possibilities. I can be working on 5 or 6 projects at once, so they really help me to stay creative and efficient when having to divide my attention between different songs.

That being said, there is so much value in having an understanding of harmony and tonality. Being able to shape chords and melodies in real time via an instrument can really set you apart from other producers/writers. The fact that I can play instruments means I can potentially shape a song around the vision of the artist in a more bespoke way. You can’t always rely on searching through loops and samples for that.


What tips do you have for any aspiring musicians trying to break into the industry – either as performers or producers?


It’s a given that you need to have talent and a drive to work hard, but other than that, the most important thing is to be kind to people. Form meaningful relationships and let your skills back that up. You never know... the people you start out with might go on to do great things, and if so they’re likely to provide opportunities to those they are closest with.

Don’t wait around for the perfect project to come to you. Get out there, try things without over-thinking, make mistakes and learn from them. The chances of being approached for work are so much higher when you are organically seen doing something great, rather than relying on selling yourself to people with words alone.

Say yes to as much as you can to maximise your exposure and gain as much experience and credibility as possible. As you progress, you should be able to shape your career into more of what you want.

 

When you’re not working, what kind of music are you listening to?

 

Despite working in the field, I do love listening to pop music, and I’m fascinated by the way trends come and go, so I’m often listening and keeping up with that. But I really do love any music with great melody and harmony, be it classical, funk, rock, RnB, folk, you name it...


What’s next for you, and where can we follow your career?


Currently, I’m full time in the studio making records, and plan to carry on doing just that. Obviously, given the way the world is, live music is largely non-existent, and as that returns we will see what involvement I continue to have with it!


I post semi-frequently on Instagram (@adamrustmusic) and anything else you might want to know about me would be on my website - www.adamrustmusic.com

Thank you!