Listen to the interview.
* * * * * * * * * *Some people just radiate energy and life. The rest of us can feel like we’re benefiting from that energy, almost like drafting a race car, but it’s hard for us to imagine creating that kind of life force for ourselves. It seems those who have it might just have been born with it.
Our music blogger, Dan Rickabus, had a great interview with one of these special people: singer-songwriter (and Avocado Jungle Artist In Residence) Adjoa Skinner. Adjoa is filled with the kind of genuine exuberance and drive and spirit you’d like to bottle and sell because it would make millions. And while she can’t bottle her energy, she can record her music, and it wouldn’t be at all surprising if that made her millions one day, too—although she talks about her life as if she’s already won the lottery.
Born in Lancaster, New York (near Buffalo), Adjoa grew up in an extremely musical family. Her mother and stepfather were in a band together that played weddings and other events. Her father’s family wasn’t made up of professional musicians, but they sang in four-part harmony at family events. They were, as Adjoa tells it, “kind of like the Partridge Family without money.” She jumped right into “the biz,” making her first on-stage appearance as a baby in the musical Oliver at the age of two and auditioning for her first session work (a commercial voiceover) a seven.
Now, at twenty-eight, it is clear she has lived and breathed this stuff all her life. She compares her sound to contemporaries like Regina Spektor and Sarah Bareilles, but says she’s a big fan of Sting and Peter Gabriel. An agile and soulful singer, a multi-instrumentalist, and a songwriter—in her own words a “jazz soul singer songwriter”—her influences and tastes make lots of sense when you hear the control, the style, and the maturity of her voice. Her step-dad used to make her mix CDs with Joni Mitchell, The Beatles, Ricky Lee Jones, Jeff Buckley, Elton John… not your typical listening material for a girl who went to middle school in the nineties. But Adjoa ate it up, and now these classic sounds are part of the foundation for her songwriting, and for that pervasive note of wisdom in her voice.
A few of my favorite quotes from Adjoa in this interview:
“I listen to people having conversations, and I start to rhyme their conversations in my head. So… I’m kind of a big nerd.”
“The greatest thing that I get back from listening back to all of the recordings [I make], for me, is remembering the moments that I shared with these people that I really love and am so honored to work with.”
“My Mom is so fun to watch. I think one of the greatest things that I hope I get from her is her joy, the way that she makes people feel so comfortable.”
There’s plenty more to hear in this interview—conducted by the ever-amiable Dan Rickabus—including Adjoa’s profound answer to the deep closing question, “What are you searching for?” (I won’t spoil that one. You’ll just have to listen for yourself.) The two seem to enjoy their conversation a lot, and we at the Avocado Jungle are glad to give you the opportunity to enjoy it as well.
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Listen to a song from Adjoa’s EP, Nothin’ More To Say: Never.