We sat down with Demo Taped (Adam) right after his most recent NYC show. Full of excitement, relief, and an undeniable adrenaline rush — Demo Taped was all for an enriching conversation surrounding art, creativity and expression.
Demo Taped has a striking humility to him and an energy that can only be described as genuinely refreshing.
His love for music and passion for the craft could not only be heard in the way he speaks about his own art but also in the way that he interacts with his team and people around him. He is grateful for everyone who is part of the process in bringing Demo Taped to the stage and the masses – from his tour manager to me, a stranger interviewing him about his most personal yet public passion.
Here’s our conversation below as Adam explains the meaning behind Demo Taped, his sound and more.
The Knockturnal: Where did the name Demo Taped come from?
Demo Taped: “The name came from me – when I first started kind of getting interested in pursuing music full time. I was looking up the process of getting signed and whatnot and the labels and all that, sending in demos. What I learned is that labels, a lot of them, pretty much don’t accept unsolicited demos, so there’s just a trash bin that those go in when you send it to them. So you know, I figured there’s this whole – I mean there’s so many unheard demos out there and so many unheard voices. So I wanted to take something that’s associated with having no voice, a demo-tape, something that gets passed around, maybe dies off, doesn’t do anything. So the concept of having no voice, I wanted to make that my voice.”
The Knockturnal: For someone who doesn’t know who Demo Taped is, how would you describe your sound to them?
Demo Taped: “I’d say it’s electronic. It’s got R&B elements. When I say electronic, I don’t mean EDM – it’s electronic-based off the instruments I use. I use a lot of electronic instruments, I use a lot of synths, I use a lot of analog gear. But yeah, it’s R&B, it’s electronic, it’s a combination of live and synthetic yeah.”
The Knockturnal: You also produce your own stuff right?
Demo Taped: Yeah.
The Knockturnal: Listening to this EP, it felt very hopeful but also very therapeutic. How was the creative process? Because it felt very vulnerable.
Demo Taped: “Yeah, I’m glad you said that. I basically wrote down before I had any sessions for the EP, wrote down all my thoughts that I could think of, just like a stream of consciousness – thoughts, fears, beliefs, things I don’t believe in, things I love, things I hate, things that make me smile, things that make me cry – I wrote it all down. I went into each session with this sheet of paper that had all the stuff on it and everyone that I worked with I kind of told them, this is the bible, this is what we’re gonna follow, this is how we’re gonna do it. Because I didn’t want it to feel fake, I wanted it to be as real as possible and as unfiltered as possible. I wanted people to see a glimpse of how I feel because I know that feelings aren’t specific to one person. There’s a universal feeling, there’s universal feelings (laughs) yeah.”
The Knockturnal: You’re very open about mental health, which is something that not a lot of artists are open about, specifically Black artists as well. So I wanted to know why it’s important for you to continue being so open?
Demo Taped: “Yeah, it’s important to me because I know how it was when I was going through it and I thought I was the only one. Before I even knew what depression was called, I had it you know. It’s something that I think gets really stigmatized, there’s so much misinformation out there about it. So, I wanted to speak about it as much as I can just for the person that feels like I did back then, that thinks that they’re the only one going through it, because that’s not a feeling I would wish on anybody.”
The Knockturnal: The song “Insecure” was quite interesting because I read that you actually recorded it at the church that your grandfather was a pastor in? I just want to know more, like how? (laughs)
Demo Taped: “(laughs) So basically, “Insecure” I finished all of the programmed parts in New York, like the electronic parts and actually recorded some piano, Pete Cafarella did piano on that. Then I got Yebba Smith, whose an amazing singer – she has some amazing songs out right now. She’s the one singing in the background, doing all the background vocals and all that.
I had three days in New York to kind of hash this idea that I had out. I got the sample from Frank Dukes – he’s just the GOAT man (laughs) he’s the GOAT. And I totally recreated the sample, and that was new for me. It was a real learning curve because I had to sort of learn how to call the shots as a producer.
Before, it was me in my bedroom, it’s all my ideas. And then, I had people asking me “what do I want” – “what do you want here, what do you want there?” And I didn’t know (laughs) and I was very confused. But we ended up getting it which was great. And I flew back to Atlanta and I was terrified because I was like I don’t know what else this needs, I don’t know what’s gonna complete it, it was all up in the air.
Thankfully, the musicians that played at my grandfather’s church who I’ve grown up around my whole life, they were willing to play on the record. My dad actually plays bass on it. We recorded that at our house and that was an experience that I won’t forget.”
The Knockturnal: Just listening to you talk about it is crazy, crazy in the best way possible.
Demo Taped: “(laughs) Yeah it was a wild thing and we actually just recorded the organ in the church – which was the last thing to go into the song, which was terrifying and also once he started playing the organ, I knew that that was the last thing it needed.”
The Knockturnal: It felt right.
Demo Taped: “Yeah, it was a great moment. Before I drove to the church and went in, we’re setting up, recording, I’m like this isn’t it, I’m doubting everything.
This is funny, the whole process for recording “Insecure” was filled with such insecurity on my behalf. I was very insecure about the song, about how it sounded, about the message, I just thought it was sh*t.”
The Knockturnal: Why were you insecure about the message?
Demo Taped: “At a certain point when you hear a song over and over again, I think you just start to – especially something you’ve made, anything you’ve made – if you look at it over and over again, hear it over and over again, too much, it can be detrimental to the process. I was just scared because at some point I remember thinking this isn’t a universal thing, all those feelings of ‘I’m alone in this’ were coming back again. But after we did that organ, I knew it was complete.”
The Knockturnal: The visuals for “Pack of Gum” – it was mad creative. Did you come up with it?
Demo Taped: “I did not. I’m so happy with how it came together. This group of very talented individuals, ‘Shy Kids’ – they also do music, but they’re very talented with the videography and just the production, everything they do is just great. So yeah, ‘Shy Kids’ just put together the concept… They sent it to me and I immediately loved it. It’s a love story for the ages (laughs) I love animation so much because you can give emotional attributes to anything.”
The Knockturnal: Finally, if you had to have one of your lyrics tattooed on you, which one would it be?
Demo Taped: “Oh, that is tough. Let’s see. It’d be something from ‘Winter Soon’ I’m trying to think of what. Oh – ‘I believe in a hope that comes from how you taught me love’ – that’s one of my favorite lyrics ever (laughs) I’d definitely get that one tatted for sure.
Make sure to follow Demo Taped and watch out for all that he has coming next.