Kevin Shea Adams is a Brooklyn-based photographer, writer, and musician. You may have seen his work in Vice, Paper, New York Times, as well as right here on Smoothspin where he shot photos of the What Up Mang & Twenty And Bored Album Release Show in December. We also have him to thank for basically introducing the world to the most brutal sixth grade metal band of all time, Unlocking The Truth.
North Carolina-based creative collective, Rabble & Twine, recently spoke with Adams as part of their series of interviews about art, creativity and inspiration in people’s lives. He spoke candidly about his career as a creative, his approach to collaboration, as well as his plans for new music.
On what he does for a living:
For a long time I was like ‘Fuck, what do I do?’, you know? I thought it was kind of a badge of dishonor to not be able to easily answer that question, but now I wear it proudly. I actually don’t know how to easily describe what I do, but that’s an option now—to do a lot of different things.
Does he collaborate often with others?
Well, with photo stuff I think it’s always a collaboration. That’s the fun thing about photos—unlike music, where you kind of bury your head in the sand and dream up worlds; like writing a fiction novel or something. Music takes that kind of focus, introversion, and isolation. I think photo is kind of a good counterpoint to that because it’s almost inherently social. On your feet, in the moment, in the instant. It’s a nice contrast.
On his approach to photography and music:
I got WAY into music. I spent all of my childhood running around my living room listening to MTV. I played the guitar since I was in 5th grade and obsessively learned every Guns N’ Roses song. I was completely obsessed with it. I’ve pretty much gone on to scour every corner of that realm.
Whereas photo was much more of a natural thing. I don’t have the arsenal of knowledge behind it, so it’s much easier to be playful. I never studied the great fine art photographers or understood what they were doing politically or aesthetically. It’s a different way of approaching it. Music I take very seriously. With photo…I’m a very technically oriented person, but at the same time, I can loosen up and play with it. Some of that is the value it has as a medium (like I said earlier about it being the currency of the web). It makes me want to fuck with it. Naturally, you want to subvert or play with something like that.
Music as a medium right now is kind of a confusing thing. Especially, if you make music like I do. People don’t want to take a lot of time to digest. Photo is a quicker medium.
Adams has been very successful with photography and writing lately, but we haven’t heard much musically from him since his days in ReRunner, an electronic pop collaboration with Twenty And Bored‘s Stian Rasmussen. Does he have plans for new music?
I’m getting back into it. My studio is all synths and drum machines and shit. I have an ongoing project with this singer, Carrie Slim, we’ve got a demo going and I’m looking forward to taking that further. And I have a whole bunch of music that I’ve been working on as a solo project. I feel quite burdened by it when I don’t put it out there or share it, because it’s majorly important to me.
Any advice for those coming to terms with creativity in their own lives?
If you want to do something that employs the chops you get from doing what you love you’re going to end up doing someone else’s thing, because fundamentally people pay you to do things they don’t want to do. That’s what money is for. […]
Find a way to make it work for you. Hack the system, and don’t think in those traditional ways of defining a job or being creative. You wanna do what you wanna do? You’ve got to really do it—not kind of do it.
Read the entire interview on Rabble & Twine. They’re doing really cool things over there including interviews with creatives, watercolor tutorials, and deep thoughts on collaboration. Follow them on Facebook if you like what you see.