There are a lot of things about French-Caribbean singer, songwriter, bassist and producer Adeline which are admirable and jaw-dropping. Her career, personality and talents are marked by a passion for expression through music and her desire to develop and grow. This turned her into a well-rounded artist, hard-working individual, renowned professional and inevitably an inspiration for other women, women of colour, and immigrants. Before becoming the well-known music artist she is now and before collaborating and playing with Anderson .Paak, Lee Fields, Chromeo, Big Freeda and Natalie Prass, she had to go a long way – not only from Paris to New York but also within.
In this interview, she shares some insights on both her professional and personal journey of becoming the artist she is today. She discusses challenges, sacrifices and breaking the mould of her own expectations. And she addresses the role of collaborations in her creative process and music development.
Hi, Adeline! It’s a pleasure to have you on board! Thank you for taking the time to answer our questions and share some insights on your latest project, as well as your professional path.
First of all, congrats on the new EP ADI OASIS! Thank you for sharing this magical place with all of us! Can you tell us more about the creative process behind it?
All of this music was made in collaboration with my partner Morgan Wiley, together we have a production/songwriting duo called Nightshade. I'd say this project is a "quarantine baby".
I spent most of 2020 in the studio.
Concerning the EP, you shared: “Music is my oasis, the stage is my oasis, the studio is my oasis". What are the sacrifices, without which you wouldn’t be where you are now?
I'd say the biggest one is moving away from my family at a very young age. I've always considered music as what comes first in my life. I guess for anyone it's family first, and that's also the case for me of course but I did make the choice to live a life in which I only see my family once a year. It gets very difficult at times, but somehow it probably kept me going because I need to make the sacrifice worth it so I can't stop.
In “Stages” you’re reminding the listener (and yourself) that every stage is a win and everyone’s journey is unique. What’s your personal definition of success? And what’s the recipe for going in the right direction and keeping up not only with your personal desires and objectives but also with the environment’s demands?
Ohlalah, that’s a tough one, because I’m still figuring it out haha. I guess experience has been my best teacher. I’ve wanted to do this since I was a toddler and in my mind I was going to be a superstar at 20. But things didn’t go exactly that way and I’m thankful for it. I had to break the mold of my expectations and stop looking at other people’s careers as a barometer for my success. We’re living in such key times and concepts like « stardom », « success », « age », « dream careers » are all being put into question.
I’m so happy about where I am today, and what I’m confident about is what I’ve learned along the way. I’m thankful for not getting a big hit at 20 because I sucked back then! My voice wasn’t as strong and I didn’t even play bass yet!
Every “stage” led me to be the musician I am today, and my best teacher was the “stage”.
My entire life, every single show has felt like a victory (and I’ve played a LOT of shows!). The feeling that I get when I perform… that’s IT. That’s what I’ve dreamt about, that’s the high that I’m chasing. So I’ve made it a long time ago, the rest is just a matter of getting more and more people in the room to share it with.
You have quite a few talents and skills. What was the first and most natural way for you to express yourself through music?
For me, it all started with singing. I started singing when I started speaking.
How has collaborating with others influenced your sound, vision and self-esteem?
I’ve had some pretty bad experience with collaborations. The most damaging ones were the ones that left me feeling like I wasn’t good at writing and not capable enough.
But there’s a silver lining in this because it gave me motivation to work even harder and prove them wrong. I’m a pretty revengeful person so when people piss me off it makes me wanna fight even harder.
I’ve also had some incredible collabs, and the bad experiences somehow helped me learn to identify when it’s working or not. Collabs can be absolutely magical, like what I have with Morgan or with KAMAUU, how I feel with my bandmates...
These 2 encounters in particular have helped me realize that music is meant to be created in collaboration. At least, that’s how I like to do it. I think of all my favs and there’s always a crew attached to it, or a close collaborator (Prince + crew, Jam & Lewis, the Neptunes, P Funk…)
Can you name a few of the crucial music artist influences without which Adeline wouldn’t sound like she does today?
Prince, Chaka Khan, Curtis Mayfield, Parliament, Aretha, Earth Wind & Fire, Linda Clifford, Mariah Carey
You’ve been living in New York for around 15 years now. I know that moving from Paris to NY helped you develop and find yourself as an artist. What are three events/lessons that led to this self-discovery?
It always gets harder before it gets better
Be kind to people
Don’t drink cheap vodka ever again
Singing, writing songs, producing and playing instruments, oh and you recently started directing videos! What are the qualities one needs to possess in order to manage so many activities and make actual progress?
A good manager!!! And a good sense of the importance of the business aspect of a career.
My days start with 2hrs of “business work” on my laptop.
Would you define yourself as someone who is going with the flow and simply does what they love and things happen naturally or somewhere who chases their dreams and instinct, putting the work and creating the opportunity, instead of waiting for it?
A combination of both.
I know that you started playing the bass kind of by chance, as you already knew how to play the guitar and your band urgently needed a new bass player at the last moment right before a gig. How did playing bass influence your career and did it open more doors?
It didn’t influence my career, it changed it completely. I found myself and my direction.
If there were three specific words, which would come to mind every time when someone thinks about you, which would they be?
Smile, colors, talks so much
What is it like to be in your shoes, with all aspects that usually turn out to be setbacks, instead of advantages: a woman of colour, an immigrant, a female producer? What advice would you give to other people (and especially women) who are not in a favourable position and need to deal with a lot of resistance from their environment?
The world is not always fair and that sucks, but you still can do a lot. I’m gonna quote my sister / close friend Elaine here from her book : “when the world tells you to shrink, expand”.
Your dream collab would be with…?
Any future projects you’re excited about and would like to share with us?
I make music all the time ;)
Who would you dedicate a song to, if you were to think about a truly remarkable and inspiring person, who influenced you in a good way?
Both my grandmothers.