My interview with a new local musician, Adaline, appears in this month's Discorder!
Sorry guys, but music is her boyfriend
By Andrea Warner
A few years ago, she was destitute and distraught, surviving on food from a church basement and suffering a severe case of post-break up and university-graduate blues. But, hitting bottom spurred Adaline into action, unleashing a torrent of creativity that portioned itself into 12 emotional and evocative songs for her debut album, Famous for Fire.
As she breezes into the coffee shop, apologizing for running three minutes behind schedule, Adaline radiates cheer, excitement, and graciousness. She warns that she’s a “chat-er” and that she’s working on showing a bit of decorum, not wanting to divulge anything that would “make her parents die.” But her natural friendliness and enthusiasm make withholding almost impossible, and frankly all the better.
Adaline in person is a stark contrast to the woman in her songs. Famous’s most haunting songs deal with betrayal, confusion, sadness, and heartbreak. And, while she’s pleased with the album and proud of the outcome, it’s still a tough place to journey back to every time she gets on stage.
“It was a really scary time. I am the most even-keeled, positive, outgoing person,” Adaline says. “And to know that I could go through a time that was that dark, makes you realize that everyone can.”
With nothing to lose, Adaline decided to hold a concert, a sort of “career launch” at a church to see if she had the chops to make it as a performer. She played for about 250 people that night, and hasn’t stopped yet.
Part of Adaline’s universal appeal might be the breadth of her influences. When she was younger, her father was a minister, and together with her mom and brother, the four would travel around and play music together, a Canadian twist on the Partridge family. Raised on a diet of church-based gospel and soul, the classically trained pianist ultimately discovered Pearl Jam’s Ten, a moment that shattered her preconceived notions of music and inspired a defiant streak as she bought and hid a new copy every time her parents found the CD and threw it out.
Her sheltered childhood couldn’t keep Adaline from indulging in her love affair with pop culture. She wasn’t allowed to take dance, but she made up her own routines to songs like “Baby Got Back”, that ode to junk-in-the-trunk glory off of secret tapes made from the radio.
“I was 17 or 18 when I heard Radiohead for the first time. And Tom Waits. People that everyone else knew of except for me,” Adaline says. “I was like, ‘this is so amazing.’ To hear people be creative and thoughtful about music in a way that I’d never heard before, it was absolutely mind-blowing.” And, while most people can’t recall hearing “Tiny Dancer” for the first time, it’s in part her perpetual wide-eyed awe that lends her darkest songs a lift up.
She admits her parents weren’t thrilled with the idea of her playing shows in dingy bars, but they have come around since her career launch concert, where her dad cried (and not out of joy) when he realized his daughter would make this her life.
Musically, her parents have a lot to be proud of with Adaline’s debut. Strongly influenced by women like Sarah Slean and Fiona Apple, the album’s haunting piano beautifully underscores her slightly smoky vocals. She’s already trying to mentally prepare for writing her second album, which will come from a vastly different place than Famous. But fans shouldn’t fear she’ll forgo her slightly sad songs entirely. Adaline’s more than a little cynical when the topic of love comes up, and she admits that all of her energy is intensely focused on her career.
“Honestly, I’m a bit of a geek right now. I’m really social, but I have found that lately the most exciting thing to do on a Friday night is how to plan my tour. Music is something that is so stable. It’s not like basing your happiness on a person or a situation. I often look at it as—and this is going to sound crazy—but as a romantic situation for me. Music is kinda my boyfriend. Which is a little weird,” she concedes with a laugh of embarrassment.
And this is part of the reason Adaline is poised to become a huge hit. Her sweetly self-deprecating candor is refreshing in a world of sound-bite ready bombshells. It’d be a shame for everyone if she gets the hang of that guarded thing.