Q Magazine

Q&a Adam Green & Binki Shapiro - On their join album, musical steps into the unknown & more

Q&a Adam Green & Binki Shapiro - On their join album, musical steps into the unknown & more
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One of them is known for The Moldy Peaches and an extensive series of solo albums, the other, descended from pop royalty, is a member of Strokes spin-off band Little Joy. Together they are Adam Green & Binki Shapiro and they’re releasing a self-titled, joint album on 28 January. Here’s why…

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How the devil are you?

Adam Green: “Well, good. The devil has touched us a bit, we’re stricken with these tickles in our throats.

Binki Shapiro: “We got a cold that never quite peaked, but it’s still there.”

When did you two first discuss making a joint album?

B: “We met in LA, hung out, became pals and had fun laughing and joking together. We went on a tour to Brazil, Adam was opening for Little Joy, so we just had a blast.”

A: “On that tour, I felt that me and Binki had this rapport, we could be creative with each other. I was reflecting on it and came up with the idea of writing and album together and she said, Yes.”

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Did you have a clear idea of what you would do then?

A: “Oh no, not at all. We really wrote the songs just acoustically and had no idea of how it would be recorded. The writing process was really fun, really natural.”

B: “It was like hanging out and having a good time, but a focused good time!”

A: “The first writing sessions we had were a little bit awkward, we hadn’t figured out how to open up with each other. We wouldn’t sing anything that we hadn’t already come up with, then at some point…”

B: “We just chit-chatted up until the last five minutes of the session and the would be, What do you think about this line? Oh cool, see you tomorrow!” [laughs]

A: “There were a few skeleton ideas I came with, and then one song, Just To Make Me Feel Good, that Binki thought was good, so we developed that and everything fell into place. I would write lyrics on index cards which I’d leave all over my house, it’s my preferred writing technique these days, and she would find them and then we’d arrange them on the floor so it became really fun.”

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Is it a weird to set out to try to form a relationship where you collaborate together? You obviously knew each other, but to then deliberate try to work together on songs from scratch could be a little strange?

B: “Sort of, I guess. The reason Adam asked me to do this project in the first place was because we had that natural rapport and that really shone through as we were writing together. That was intermittent with shooting the shit on life and stuff and commenting on each other’s lives and being privy to those situations. Ultimately people go through the same shit, whether you’re a boy or girl, and we just boiled those down for each other to the most basic ideas. That’s a part of why it’s hard to tell who did or set what. We became one! [laughs]”

So it’s a conversation between friends but in its most direct form?

A: “Yes. When I originally asked Binki to do it she was the only person I’d thought of to collaborate with. It wasn’t like…”

B: “Shakira turned you down? [laughs]”

A: “Yes, exactly. Binki is really poetic and I felt she could understand something I wanted to do. We really wanted to make an artistic album and I knew she’d get that. We’re both romantic people and we’re attracted to pretty melodies and lyrics that are poetic, so I guess this album is the result of that. It’s probably the first thing I’ve done that doesn’t draw on a well-spring of punk. “

And Adam you’re lyrics on this album are probably not as out there as people who know your solo work might expect.

A: “Yeah! I think Binki reigned them in a lot. I like to come with a lot of ideas and she would be a great filter for that.”

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B: “Adam has a strange mind and he can say things that people go, What?, but when he explains it you of course understand what he’s talking about. So when the two of us are sitting there and he says some outlandish thing and I get him to explain it we come to a way to get that across. And not just him, me too. When you have someone else there that you have to explain everything to you really have to think about it yourself and it forces you to rethink your own thoughts.”

A: “What’s nice too is when both people understand the thing, you feel the song is clearer somehow. The intention is clear.”

Any moments where managed to surprise each other?

A: Yeah, any time we wrote! By the end, when we were in LA we could finish a song in the day, we were really on a roll, so we were really surprised by what happened.”

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So no master plan?

A: “When we wrote the album, we didn’t necessarily know we’d be able to record it. And when we recorded it, we didn’t necessarily know we’d be able to put it out, and then putting it out we didn’t know if we’d ever play it live. It’s cool, we’re going with the flow a bit. I’m exciting it’s coming out in January.”

Any personal highlights?

B: “Here I Am and The Night Time Stopped Bleeding are definitely two songs that are close to me.”

A: “I like how Pity Love is such a clear description of a situation. I’ve written so many abstract songs, I’m happy to have written this condemnation song.”

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Go on be honest, any big arguments between you in the course of making this album?

B: “No, it was shockingly smooth. It was very fun. It’s the most fun I’ve had working in a long time, which not something very man people can say. [To Adam] You had a terrible time, right?” [both laughs]

Paul Stokes@Stokesie

For more head to Adamandbinki.com.


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