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LA Mix

LA Mix

Vie Marshall takes time out to talk to LA Mix

"I don't look anything like a pop star." States producer artist Les Adams, unprompted and matter of factly; and he's right. This roundish (to put it politely), thirtysomething-year old man, for whom the hair line isn't what it used to be, couldn't look any less like a pop star if he spent a thousand pounds and a thousand years trying. However the truth of the matter is that Les and his cohorts, Emma and Mike aka L.A Mix are pop stars, albeit seldom seen ones.

The A & M signees have had three British top 40 hits, including Check This Out and Get Loose and have had a string of successes Stateside under the L.A Mix remix banner.

Group leader, Les mastered nearly every conceivable aspect of the music industry, from working in a record shop to remixing the likes of soul greats such as Tina Turner and Al Green. A true music biz veteran, Les has been around longer than he cares to mention or remember, but not long enough to dampen his enthusiasm.

After years as a dj-cum-producer helping other people along the road to chart success, Les from L.A Mix (with girlfriend Emma Freilich and ex-Jolley Harris Jolley employee, Mike Stevens) went about building his own reputation as an artist with as much zest as someone half his age. But knowing all too well that his looks (cute, though they are) are not conducive to the stuff that makes pre-pubescent girlies wet their panties in ecstasy, he's decided to control L.A Mix's visual image as much as he can.

"I never appear at L.A Mix p.a.s." He says without the slightest hint of compunction. "Jazzi P, the featured artist on Get Loose did all the p.a.s for that track and the singer on Love Together, Kevin Henry did all the appearances for that. Jellybean, Quincy Jones and Danny D from D-Mob have all virtually done the same thing and we've found that with us the kids seem quite willing to accept it."

Les also admits to strictly controlling all his press shots, apart from publications like this, where the readership is relatively mature, Les has to approve all shots before they're sent out. "If I don't like a press shot, it won't be used." he says.

Despite his very low-key profile, Les Adams' is very often mentioned in hip music business circles. But the man himself has very little time for the 'in' crowds. He felt such a compulsion to get away from the 'scene' that he moved his work and his home to Buckinghamshire's rural parts.

"I always found it very difficult getting things done in London, because if the phone wasn't ringing constantly, then someone would pop by in the middle of recording for a cuppa and a chat. I found more and more that I was lapsing my train of thought or listening, too much, to what other people had to say and changing my work every few minutes, depending on who'd been round to visit and whether or not they liked it." says Les.

"Now WE choose who comes round." Chips in his girlfriend Emma, with whom he lives and works.

"Another good thing about moving to Bucks is that in doing so we've avoided London's steep prices, thus enabling us to buy a house and furnish our home studio to our requirements."

Les and Emma got together through an ad in the paper, not of the lonely hearts variety, I hasten to add, but one in the music section. Emma was running a mobile disco at the time and answered Les' ad offering mixing tuition. "Very soon after that we starting mucking about on computers and came up with the first single. After becoming involved on a business level we become romantically involved too." says Emma, recounting fondly. "You never did get those mixing lessons!!!" Les chuckles, giving her a knowing glance.

Third group member, Mike Stevens is unable to attend the interview, owing to a prior engagement, but his two buddies more than make up for his absence, with their chat and singing his praises until the cows come home.

"Emma and I got to know our limitations very soon after getting together and realised that we needed someone else to play quicker and with more ease... along comes Mike, he's just brilliant. He plays sax, keyboards, bass, flute... I could go on and on. Having him in the group is like having ten people in the studio." Les says.

"Before Mike came along, everything was very time consuming. We'd have an idea, but then it would take ages to transpose it on the keyboard."

"Now we say to him something like, we need a plinky synth part here or a bleepy part there and he comes up with about twenty variations on a theme." Emma enthuses.

All three members of the group play very different and important parts; Keyboardist, Emma is an avid dance music fan and spends a lot of time doing 'market research' (clubbing, to you and me), Mike is the multi-instrumentalist and Les utilises extensive knowledge of music and the business to generate ideas. Together they've come up with a very slick, radio friendly dance crossover l.p. in their debut On The Side.

"The only plan we had when it came to doing the album was to make one that encompassed lots of different styles and featured lots of different vocalists." says Les. Listening to On The Side with its rap tracks, soul ballads, uptempo house tunes and salsa influences featuring ex-Working Week lead singer, Juliet Roberts, female rapper, Jazzi P, and up and coming stars Chyna and Kevin Henry, it's quite obvious and laudable that the group have done just what they intended to do.

"We did the album track by track, rather than saying we must have two house tracks or three soul ballads." says Les, who also says that he found making the transition from remixer to artist producer a hard one. "When you're given the task of remixing a record, as I did with Aretha Franklin, Cameo and Al Green's records, it's relatively easy because you already have something laid out in front of you to work with. Thinking up tracks from scratch took a lot longer. I think when it comes to doing the next album, things will come together a lot quicker because now we've got the experience and the confidence."

Following their success, L.A Mix have managed to afford a lot more equipment. As you've probably guessed, Les has a large store of outboard equipment for various effects. His collection includes AMS and Lexicon reverbs; Yamaha SPX-90; 3 Drawmer noisegates and 2 compressors; Korg SDD 1000, MXR 32 Digital Delay and 3 Boss DE 200b Digital delays to name but a few.

Emma's keyboards consist of a Juno 106; Roland D-50 and in rack form, Yamaha TX-802, Yamaha TX-81Z, an Oberheim Matrix 100 and the most frequently used keyboard amongst house music artists, the Yamaha DX-100. She's contemplating adding a Korg M-1 to her collection, after being told it sounded like the DX-7.

At present the group have a 24 track Studio Master Series 5 installed in Les' studio, but are thinking about changing to a different model, the Mixdown (also made by Studio Master).

"I think the Mixdown computer has a lot more facilities built in. It's MIDI controlled for one thing. For our tape machine, we were going to get a full 24 track 2 inch reel to reel, but as well as being a big slice out of the budget, we were limited for space. We opted for a 16 track, the Fostex E-16 and we use it purely for recording acoustic things, such as vocals, acoustic guitar and sax. Everything else, like drum machines, samplers and keyboards run live from the computer. When the tape is running, there's another computer which reads all the relevant codes on track 16 and plays the drum machines as we've programmed them and holds everything in sync. Then the vocals and everything else acoustic is held in sync.

There are very few keyboard parts and no drums on L.A Mix's master tapes. Les says the advantages behind using this technique are that, "the drum sounds and a lot of sequenced sounds are not going onto analog tape. Everything is digitally created and we don't have to use a 24 track."

When it comes to music, Les admits to being a perfectionist in every way. He has never owned and will never own a personal stereo because he feels the sound is too muffled, he prefers to listen to things on CD and will work on things until he gets them right.

"I like things to be just right, but I prefer to distance myself from my work, if you get my drift. Too many artists get too involved in their work and too concerned with what's expected and their image, then it stops being fun, it starts becoming a chore and lacks excitement. We'll keep doing what we're doing as long as we keep having fun, then we can keep up our standards."

More from related artists

Previous Article in this issue


Micro Music - Copyright: Argus Specialist Publications


Micro Music - Mar 1990

Donated by: Colin Potter


LA Mix



Related Artists:

Les Adams

Interview by Vie Marshall

Previous article in this issue:

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