Gimme Your Answers: An Interview w/ Adult Jazz

Adult Jazz
Photo by James Pearson Howes

Ahead of their European tour, Leeds-based quartet Adult Jazz will play three shows in New York during CMJ. Before hitting the stage, we caught up with the band to discuss their new album Gist Is, commanding “make it sexy”, influential ideologies, and dream concerts. Here’s what they had to say:

AMBY: Hello Adult Jazz, welcome to our website. To get acquainted, how would you describe each member of the band in one word?

Adult Jazz: Spineless, Aggressive, Squat, Cute – left to right, whatever the press shot.

AMBY: You recently released your debut record Gist Is — congrats! What’s your favorite memory from the writing or recording process?

Adult Jazz: Writing moments are all basically elation, or hidden/public despair. A favourite memory from recording would be when I went up on the hill in the sun, amongst the grouse, looked at the barn where we’d recorded it every summer for the past few years- and finally accepted the bloody thing as it was. It was a nice kind of giving up. Or when Steve commanded ‘make it sexy’ over and over again, and resuscitated Am Gone. Or when I slept in the live room as Tim recorded some sleepy, muffled trombone. Or when Tom placed the cowbell in Springful, and breathed life into the beat. Or when the rest of them just gave up and watched  ‘Borat’ mirthlessly, leaving me to look at sample fade times in Pigeon Skulls all night, alone. Memories!

AMBY: I love all of the different genres/nuances heard throughout the featured songs. Who were your biggest influences when it came to the songwriting and creation of the album?

Adult Jazz: Musically? Van Morrison, Arthur Russell, and Joanna Newsom are who we have decided to say in terms of composition. They all avoid an oppositional vibe, whilst still having a kind of uncompromising, instinctive character. That’s the kind of overarching mission statement, but the form that takes, especially regarding a sort of sonic palette, isn’t ever super defined for us. Also, people like Meredith Monk, who push the voice pretty far so make you feel less self conscious dabbling- her stuff is useful to think about. Really fringey figures play guru around the outside, around the outside.

AMBY: When it comes to the debut’s title, what’s the significance behind Gist Is?

Adult Jazz: The line is ‘It does if you say it does / or / gist is exactly enough’ – which is a little allusion to the Euthypro dilemma. It’s basically this idea that was floating around about the nature of ‘goodness’ if it is determined by an omnipotent deity. Either there are some actual criteria for what is morally good, and a good god might be an expert at seeking those things out, or,certain things just end up morally good in virtue of god happening to like them. It’s the distinction between a moral code that is arbitrarily set at the whim of a deity, or one that we can have some access to and reason with.

The resonances for the record are the ideas about a legalistic, formalized conception of morality or an intuitive, responsive one when dealing with religious/political/spiritual ideologies. The record also looks more generally at the limits of formalized communication, and problems with conveying anything properly!

AMBY: Describe your dream gig and who would be on the bill with you.

Adult Jazz: Our dream gig would just be amazing, I promise! Everything we love would be there. Promise. It would be perfect for us and be completely what we like. Like Ghandi said- ‘Guys, never meet your heroes’ –  I think sharing a bill with any bonafide idols of ours would be too daunting.  So I’ll go with Fun Adults and G-Bop Orchestra: future idols, but, currently, super talented friends of ours.

AMBY: If you could create a law that everyone would have to follow, what would it be?

Adult Jazz: Have we made crime as a whole illegal?

AMBY: Lastly, what’s something about Adult Jazz that nobody knows yet?

Adult Jazz: When we shall die! (


Thank you Adult Jazz, for giving us your answers!

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Interview by Alicia Atout | @AliciaAtout

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