During the Electric Forest Music Festival in Rothbury, Michigan last month, I sat down with the prodigious drummer and producer Adam Deitch. It was about an hour before his set with Lettuce -- one of the many projects he's involved in and passionate about. We got into it about his duo Break Science, the future of the electronic music, his superhuman abilities to compose, play and produce so much music of all different varieties, and why there's no need for a vacation.
Thank you so much for sitting down and talking with me. I want to talk about Break Science specifically for a minute. Being a DJ/drummer duo‚ what is your process for composing new songs?
We hang out in my studio for hours and hours and hours… to the point where it's like 6 in the morning and we just have to go home. We get so wrapped up in it. Borahm's a keyboardist and he's a brilliant sound designer and mastermind. And I have my hip-hop background producing samples and programming drums and so when you mix those 2 things it was ideas‚ ideas‚ ideas all night. That's how it happens.
Do tracks change for you from when you're recording them in the studio versus when you play them live?
That's my favorite thing about Break Science is that‚ you know‚ Borahm's using Ableton Live‚ so he can really change the tracks every night and he can do different things to them every night. That way it becomes very improvisational electronic music‚ like the true meaning of it. We have the basic thing and then we can go anywhere from there. We start off and what you hear on the record is one thing. We just recorded a live album that we're about to drop for free‚ just to let people know. We recorded it in the studio‚ but we did what we would do live in the studio so people can really have that at home to listen to… it's a kinda interesting concept but it's different from our records‚ our EP is solid tracks… and this is going to be the stretched out version.
The live DJ/drummer duo thing seems to be relatively new‚ do you see it taking off?
Well… I think it's a great thing because the DJ thing is taking off and people are starting to realize that when you add live drums in the mix it's a layer of live human beating a wood against a skin and it gives people a feeling that there's something real going on‚ the soul aspect of it. But you still want to hear all that electronic stuff‚ I think when you add live drums to it it's an extra‚ extra good layer. So I like all the bands that are doing that: Big Gigantic‚ Two Fresh‚ Elliot Lipp is doing it now‚ shout out to Colby Buckler -- one of the best drummers playing with everybody. It's starting to happen where the young drummers are coming up and they know hip-hop‚ they know how to play with tracks; they're not scared of it you know‚ they're into it. It's the new wave. And Jeremey Salken from Big Gigantic is another one. There's Shigeto‚ the producer‚ the kid from New York who plays drums and produces all of his own music. You know‚ it's just starting to happen. It's a new generation of kids that really understand both sides and are playing live and being a DJ and how to mesh those two levels.
You tour with Break Science‚ Pretty Lights‚ Lettuce and then you produce‚ how do you manage all that? I mean‚ do you sleep at all?
I have a good manager who deals with a lot of heavy scheduling. Umm‚ yeah‚ I'm very blessed and thankful.
My whole goal was to be like Quincy Jones -- which was to produce records. Records that last forever. I love producing‚ but I also love playing my productions live with Break Science. That's like the combination of my live career and my production career. is Break Science. It's all together.
So what brings you the most joy: playing live or producing in the studio?
Both. I don't do vacations‚ because I feel like everyone's like "you never take a break," but the most joy I get on earth is either making a track or playing with Lettuce or something. So that's basically what I love to do most‚ you know‚ both things. It's all about music. I need balance‚ I need yin and yang. I need some producing‚ I need some live playing; if I do one or the other too much I miss the other one. In the studio I get to be more of a control freak. You know if I want to play the bass line or the guitar part or the keys I kind of get the idea out the way I want it out. It's very important to my psyche.
What else can you play other than drums?
Both of my parents are multi-instrumentalists. My mom's a drummer and a pianist. And she plays all the wind instruments and sax and brass. My dad can play drums‚ piano‚ bass‚ guitar. So I grew up on nearly everything‚ so I know how to get out what I need to get out. I'm not like proficient on any of those really but I know what I need to get by.
You've been playing drums since you were two years old - a long time. Where do you see your techniques evolving? What's the next level?
I feel like my funk side and my electronic/hip-hop side are culminating and I feel like they're both coming to a fruition of almost becoming one thing at this point. They're joining a little bit‚ and the electronic world is uncharted. There are no rules‚ people haven't really done a lot in that style so I feel like when I play a Break Science show I do something that‚ hopefully‚ I've never heard before. That's what I'm going for‚ to really think of things‚ to be inventive on stage and not just play a rehashed something. So that's what I'm going for‚ it's like breaking ground‚ freeing myself of my old ideas.
So‚ I'm sure you've been asked this a million times‚ but who's the drummer that's most influenced you‚ living or dead?
Well‚ other than my mom and my dad… I mean the drummers in the gospel churches I used to go to when I was a kid. In high school I played in Baptist churches. The keyboard player in my high school jazz band made me go to churches with him and he showed me all the beautiful things that goes on‚ and the kids that started playing when they were two‚ and played all the way up in church and play 5 times a week. That taught me a lot about drumming. I love Dennis Chambers‚ he's one of the best in the world‚ if you don't know him check him out -- he was the drummer for P-Funk in the early 80s when he was like 17. He's my inspiration for how I want to play with Lettuce.
So how do you like the Forest?
I love it‚ it's the best festival. It reminds me of Fuji Rock -- Lettuce did Fuji Rock a couple of years ago‚ and this is the closest to it. The lights‚ the technology‚ and the vibe. It's really clean‚ the foods good‚ everyone's in a good mood. I doubt Bisco [Camp Bisco] will be this clean [laughs]. I love them. I play Bisco next week‚ so shout out to Brownie. I love those guys. There's just a higher level of raging there [laughs].