Richard Adlam, AKA Fiasco, is a Record Producer, Remixer and Programmer Extraordinaire and has worked on albums by Chase & Status, Rudimental, Jessie Ware, Charli XCX, Avicii and Bruno Mars. He co-wrote and programmed on ‘This Means War’ from the Rizzle Kicks Album ‘Roaring 20s’, and has programmed on forthcoming albums by U.K X Factor winner James Arthur and U.K X Factor contestant Ella Henderson.
He also worked on two singles by Willy Moon, Yeah Yeah and Railroad Track, as well as performing on Devlin’s collaboration with Ed Sheeran, Watchtower. Other notable programming work includes Cee Lo Green’s I Want You, Vato Gonzales’ Badman Riddum and Jessie J’s Mamma Knows Best.
To be a remix/ programming rock-star you also need to be a good musician. Do you play piano, guitar or drums?
I’m a drummer first and foremost and play piano as well. I’m still trying to learn guitar! I think you need to have a good feeling for music which is as important as technical skills. I think it does help to know chord theory to help with song writing.
You have successfully remixed/programmed with One Direction, Avicii, Eric Prydz and Billboard number 1 Grammy nominated album ‘Life is Good’ by Nas. What does a good programmer do to help the team produce hits with the hit makers?
I think it’s about ideas and filling gaps in the mix. Sometimes it’s about adding more energy or adding sounds that are stronger. With jobs like Nas, I’m known for making retro sounds with real drums, which can be heard on the track ‘Nasty”. I work as one half of Replay Heaven and we have a great close group of guitarists, brass and strings, so a lot of the time we get hired to do disco or funk, which sounds retro. I also have a great interest in classic old studios and the techniques that were used to make some of the great records.
Is persistence a key trait of yours? You’ve got to need mass amounts of persistence to produce slick key hit sounds?
Yes, yes and yes! The music industry isn’t particularly for the weak! You have to keep going as you will take many knock backs. Even though I’ve worked on a lot of records I still have a lot further to go! With regards to production, you do need persistence as you have to keep trying different ideas to find what you are after. Sometimes things just happen, other times you just sit looking at the computer and nothing happens! When this happens it’s best to leave it, take a break and clear your head!
What work did you do on the album with Bruno Mars? And on Taylor Swifts Teardrops on My Guitar?
Bruno Mars was very last minute. Part of my work involves sample recreation, and there was a load of vocals that needed re doing for the track Young Girls. I can remember having half a day to get the vocalist, record, mix and deliver as they were waiting to mix it in America! On Taylor Swift I did the drums, which was then mixed by Jeremy Wheatley. It was quite a difficult task if I remember correctly.
**Richard’s work in the pop field is super impressive. He provided additional production on The Saturdays first top 5 single, Up, Pixie Lott’s Nothing Compares, Taio Cruz’s She’s Like A Star, Sugababes No Can Do and Gotye’s Hearts A Mess.
You spent some time in New York working with top mix engineer and Kanye West/P Diddy collaborator Ken Lewis on the tracks being written for DC rapper Edro. Which field is harder; the Hip Hop industry or the Pop industry? Who are the most creatively demanding?
Luckily most of the work I do now I can do in my own studio. I do Skype conversations to discuss any issues that the producer may have with the work I have done. I think all aspects of the music industry are difficult and you need your wits about you. That’s why it’s good to have a few people you really trust around you. Hip hop is probably a little bit tougher! Generally I haven’t found artists to be too demanding so far!
With all your great experience in writing, producing, remixing and programming, when will we see Fiasco’s album at number 1?
I never really get time to do my own stuff as I’m busy doing production work or pitching. If I did have time for my own stuff I doubt it would go to number 1 as it would probably not appeal to a wide audience!
**Richard worked on Dizzee Rascal’s platinum selling ‘Tongue N’ Cheek’ album. Out of the six tracks he provided production on, ‘Dirtee Disco’ achieved number one status and ‘Dirtee Cash’ got to number 10.
Persistence, Persistence, Persistence!