Adamski’s masters of reinvention | Features | MN2S

From a chart-topping rave-pop crossover star to a stalwart of the neo-electro scene, to his latest manifestation as a waltz-fusionist, Adamski has had many a successful artistic rebirth – and accomplished ones at that. We asked him to wax lyrical about other creative forces who have reinvented themselves like no other and inspired his career in doing so.

In the 21st century, everyone leads multiple lives. I’m a great admirer and draw inspiration from those who reboot their lives publicly and willfully confuse with pseudonyms and changes of tack and apparent taste. I’m talking predominantly of music makers because that’s where my interests lie. eg. The KLF (The Justified Ancients of Mumu, The K Foundation), Eminem (Slim Shady), Daft Punk (Guy-Manuel deHomem-Christo told me that they had been some kind of rock band until hearing my first album) and they famously renamed themselves after a dismissive review in the British music press. Kraftwerk were once an experimental prog rock band with flutes, long hair and everything.

Of course the most obvious example of constant reinvention is David Bowie. He has variously been a teenage mod, a music hall style entertainer, a mime artist, a hippyish folk singer-songwriter, a protagonist of punk rock on both sides of the atlantic, a tranny, a champion of electronica, a hero to the new romantic movement, a crooner, an avant-gardist, a drum ’n’ bass enthusiast and much more besides. When having single-handedly given birth to glam rock, he killed off his alter-ego Ziggy Stardust in 1973 and few would have imagined he’d be able to better it – but he did. The Thin White Duke is as iconic as Bowie’s glam-rock legend and arguably had an even bigger influence. He had the vision to realise glam had run its course, abdicating before he became the forgotten king of a dead genre.

And it’s not just his own image that Bowie revitalised. He did the same for Iggy Pop AND Lou Reed, whose careers were flagging until Aladdin Sane stepped in.

I absolutely love it that the same man who epitomised swinging ‘60s London with catchy throwaway ditties about peaodophiles, pills and gnomes decades later covered Sigue Sigue Sputnik’s ‘Love Missile F1-11’ with all that extra-terrestrial, blue-eyed and wonky eyed funk stuff etc in between…

…which brings me to another David: David Icke, who is not a musician, is probably not as clever and definitely not as internationally known. However, he spectacularly reinvented himself as The Son Of God in the 1990s. He is an English writer, public speaker and former professional footballer who promotes conspiracy theories about global politics and has written extensively about them.

Icke was a BBC television sports presenter and spokesman for the Green Party when in 1990 a psychic told him that he was a healer who had been placed on Earth for a purpose, and that the spirit world was going to pass messages to him. In March 1991 he held a press conference to announce that he was a “Son of the Godhead”. He continued to develop his ideas and published four books.

During this time of intense media attention, Icke dressed exclusively in the colour turquoise (for it’s ‘healing properties’, apparently) and it became known as his ’turquoise period’ – leading on to which brings to mind my next iconic reinventor, because of his blue and pink periods: Señor Pablo Picasso.

“I am always doing that which I cannot do in order that I may learn how to do it.” ― Pablo Picasso

Being an artist is like living countless characters and personalities thrown into one creative force, exploring them, then stirring them up and spitting them out with one creative blow, to then become the ultimate promoter of one’s work of art and await the audience’s applause, disapproval, or boredom. Once the peak has been achieved, the artist can take a deep breath again to restart that process all over.

Almost one hundred years ago Pablo Picasso did just this. After in-depth studies and practice of traditional art – of which the blue, the rose, and the African-influenced periods were widely known – came his discovery/invention of Cubism. It was accounted by many as the apex of his career. To then return to the neoclassical – it was a total metamorphosis, and it was a spectacle the world would see again and again during the next 50 years of the man’s life.

“Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist.” ― Pablo Picasso

“It took me four years to paint like Raphael, but a lifetime to paint like a child.” ― Pablo Picasso

“Bad artists copy. Good artists steal.” ― Pablo Picasso

This last quote applies perfectly to my lifelong hero (I named my cat after him when I was 11 years old): Malcolm McLaren.

Malcolm McLaren formed the Sex Pistols because he wanted to create cultural ‘chaos’. The look and sound of punk rock that he orchestrated still has repercussions to this day in all aspects of art, style and media. Looks that could get you beaten up or stabbed in the late-’70s have been assimilated into the mainstream. Nobody gives a second glance to bank clerks or ticket collectors with facial piercings now. When I lived in Berlin I even saw a policeman with a blonde mohawk.

The classic British punk ‘look’ stole from pre-existing subcultures like the teddy boys and mods (both scenes which McLaren was affiliated with), S&M and the already established American punk scene which also largely informed the music. Especially The Ramones’ biker jackets and Converse chic and breakneck speed thrashy pop songs using classic ‘50s/’60s chord structures.

From what I understand, the long-haired acid-dealer, John Lydon and the proficient pub rock musicians that made up the group wouldn’t have had the impact or even existed without McLaren’s vision and manipulation and his art school grounding in situationism. He gave them a platform which in turn gave his and Vivienne Westwood’s fashion creations a platform which had an aesthetic snowball effect.

McLaren certainly had an acute grasp of what was wrong with British rock music before mismanaging the Sex Pistols and later Bow Wow Wow. He then reinvented himself as a pioneer of scratch and hip-hop, having hit singles with Buffalo Gals and an electronic version of ‘Madame Butterfly’.The records he released in the ‘80s were contemporaneously fresh and hugely inspiring. He was a key figure in fashion and punk, of course, but also, when he got bored of managing others and decided to become a solo artist, his records such as ‘Duck Rock’ and ‘Fans’ were visionary takes on hip-hop, South African music (years before Paul Simon) and opera. More to the point, he was fearless.

So on the subject of hip-hop,South Africa and fearlessness, we’re led to, in my opinion, the only relevant and best pop group so far of the 21st century: Die Antwoord.

Die Antwoord’s lead vocalist Ninja was part of the South African hip-hop scene for many years, fronting acts such as The Original Evergreen, Max Normal TV and The Constructus Corporation. Ninja told Rolling Stone, “Everything I did before Die Antwoord was me experimenting, messing around and trying to find Die Antwoord… everything before it was disposable. It was all throwaway.

My daughters and I have bonded musically with our shared love of Die Antwoord – something for all the family. My 14 year old had Yolandi’s moves and chorus line down pat within one viewing of the ‘Enter The Ninja’ video when I first showed it to her a few years ago. Now THAT is pop music!

I’ve just been blown away and had my enthusiasm for the group renewed by the film ‘Chappie’, which is basically one long promo clip which cost me almost £50 for my date and I to see (including popcorn). And I think they deserve every minute of their success.

They have a fantastic concept which few do these days and they reflect what is going on in the world by being completely surreal and seemingly low brow. They piss all over ‘Britain’s Got Talons’ and all the other God-awful mundane music and ‘artists’ we’re now force-fed through every form of media. And they’re sexy. And funny. And you can dance to it. Satisfying us human beings natural urges to be entertained. Thank God.

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