Adam French tells Big Issue North about growing up in Congleton before using his student loan as a safety net for his music career in London. He plays 22 Jan, Deaf Institute, Manchester, before heading to Sheffield and York.
Tell us about your single, The Hunter.
Hunter is a track I started writing in Africa a couple of years ago, but recently revisited it after showing it to a friend who gave me quite a lot of grief for never finishing it – the sentiment of the song being that we all share basic instinct, we all have limits and often people push us in the wrong direction.
It seems quite dark lyrically but the chorus is still strangely uplifting. Does songwriting come naturally to you or is it hard work?
Yeah, I guess it’s a song with sinister qualities. I find songwriting enjoyable, so it never feels like hard work. If I’m not in the right frame of mind for it I’ll walk away and come back with a clear head. I’ve spent a large chunk of my life writing music now, so it feels completely natural to carry on doing so.
You’re from Congleton – what was it like growing up there?
Congleton’s a very pleasant little place full of great people. It was a pleasure growing up there. A lot of people I meet nowadays have never heard of it, so I normally have to settle for “near Macclesfield” or “half way between Stoke and Manchester” as a description. But I’m very proud of home. I only hope the feeling’s mutual.
When did you figure out you had a voice and a passion for music?
I accidentally sang at a show during high school when my mate bottled it half way through a song and I had to pick up the pieces – great lad! But he’s lucky we’re still talking after that one. Left me high and dry. That said, I’ve always loved music. My dad’s parenting was heavily influenced by compulsive band discovery, which was great for me. I was always being introduced to new artists throughout my childhood and teens. He and my mum split up when I was young so our weekends together slowly turned into two mates meeting up to share their new favourite tracks. That’s how it’s been ever since. I’ve got him to thank for a lot of my love for music.
Why did you study music management rather than go for a performing course?
I didn’t want somebody sitting there telling me how to play my instruments, or how to write my songs. I was more interested in finding out how the rest of the music business worked. In all honesty the only reason I went to university was to be able to live in London without a full-time job. Which gave me time to chase music properly. In essence, a student loan was a three-year safety net for my music career. I decided on music management because it was the only course that may have slightly tied in with what I wanted to achieve as an artist.
Did it give you any useful lessons you use now you’re in the industry?
I have a good grasp on the business side of music, but that’s probably as much of a curse as it is a blessing. I don’t like people who are only motivated by money.
You played Leeds Festival last year – what was that like?
Leeds and Reading festivals are amazing. Leeds was a moment for me because I’d spent my teenage summers wasted in a field listening to my favourite bands at Leeds Festival. It was quite the full circle experience, and a lot of my friends were there to share it, which was beautiful. I look forward to going back.
What can we expect from you at your own gigs?
I play full band and solo shows, so depending on which you come to either as much energy as possible, or as intimate of an evening as I can make it. You’re more than welcome at either.