Interview: Adeem the Artist Talks Making Music on Their Own Terms
Adeem the Artist is having a moment. Earlier this year, they completely funded a new record by inventing a "Redneck Fundraiser." The idea was not to rely on the assistance of traditional crowdfunding sites, but rather to ask fans to give as little as $1 directly to them. The goal was $15,000, and it worked. The album was fully funded, and it wasn't dependent on anything but a direct connection between the artist and the fans.
This upcoming project will follow up their critically-acclaimed 2021 release Cast Iron Pansexual, a thoughtful introspection about escaping heteronormative Southern culture while remaining proud of your roots.
After finishing the new album, Adeem the Artist took a chance and raised the stakes. They reached out to Thirty Tigers president David Macias on a whim, hoping that Macias would simply listen to the album, which was already completely finished. Macias obliged and signed Adeem to one of the most influential labels in Americana.
This month, Adeem the Artist has been out on the road with longtime friends and previous tour mates American Aquarium. In our exclusive interview, The Boot spoke to Adeem about their eventful year and what's still to come.
THE BOOT: You tried out what you called the "Redneck Fundraising Campaign" to finance your new project. Did you think that you'd pull it off?
ADEEM THE ARTIST: No. I had tried this thing a couple of times before where I was like, "Alright, I'm gonna fire this off and see if it takes," and it didn't take. So I was kind of used to that not working.
A lot of things have come together as to what the album could be. It was easy to say, "Okay, if it works out like this, then we know what we're gonna do."
I feel like I got lucky. I convinced people to care about a thing. No, I did not think it was gonna be successful. There was a turning point. About two weeks in, I was like, "Oh [expletive], we are actually gonna do this." Then it just kind of became a matter of time at that point. We cleared $5,000 in one week. We got it to $10,000 by the end of the month. I decided to take a month off, so it kind of dragged a little bit. But we raised just short of $17,000.
You collaborated with someone on art for each track. How did that happen and how will it be incorporated into the final product?
That was my friend Troy. He's a close friend of mine in town and he owns a tattoo shop called True Blue Electric Tattoo. He has done a lot of my ink, in addition to the "Adeem the Fool" tarot shirt. He designed those, and he's designed a lot of my merch stuff. The Texas shirts were designed by him.
He had done some sketches based on the songs because of my Patreon. Every Sunday, I release a new song on Patreon. A lot of the songs that were gonna go on this record had been first teased on Patreon. He was doing a thing where he was doing a sketch for every one as a creative practice for himself. So I had a handful of these sketches that fit with the album. People started commenting, like, "You should have Dale Earnhardt chugging a Mountain Dew!" and stuff like that. It was very ongoing, and not very planned on the front end. But it was fun. The redneck advent calendar that we had going was pretty enjoyable.
Did you have the recording finished before you talked to Thirty Tigers?
Yeah. We were in a really good spot because of the "Redneck Fundraiser." The album was done, mastered for vinyl and everything was ready to go when we met with Thirty Tigers. It was really serendipitous. I talked to David [Macias, Thirty Tigers president] one-on-one. I did not think that he'd want to sign me. But I figured, long term, that's who I'd want to be with. That's the big one.
So I asked him if he wanted to catch a show at The Bluebird and he wasn't in town, so I was like, "Well, we can get coffee next time you're in town." And he was like, "Well, I'll be in town next weekend," and I was like, "Well [expletive] I will too!"
And I wasn't gonna be but, you know, obviously I drove over. By the end of our coffee, he was like, "I want to sign it and I want to put this record out." It didn't feel real for a long time.
Did you approach them? Did they approach you?
Yeah, I approached them. I literally just wrote David on Twitter and said, "Hey, you want to come to this thing?" Before we had coffee, I sent him a copy of the record to stream. He knew what the record sounded like. He'd heard about me from BJ — from me being on the road with guys — so he was already privvy to I do.
I'm also kind of a [expletive] starter on Twitter. So word had gotten about.
How important has it been that BJ has taken you out on the road and how important is it that artists of his stature hand pick artsist to take on the road rather than allow venues to put on local openers?
As a local, I prefer the idea of local openers. I think it does more to bolster small communities' music scenes and afford upward mobility to scenes that don't have some of the more systemic opportunities.
But yeah, every musician that I idolize and am a fan of, got the status they did because at some point or another, somebody took them under their wing and vouched for them. And that's what I feel like BJ has done for me. He's vouched for me and been like, "Nope. This is a real one." It's been tough to overstate how important it's been for me in the introduction of my career.
What is the timeline? When does the album arrive? What happens beyond this run with American Aquarium?
I think it's safe to say the album will be out by the end of the year. We're working on getting our strategy together. We've got some cool stuff in the works.
Do you expect to tour beyond the Southeast?
I'm doing a Texas run in September. I'm doing a Northeast run in October. I expect next year, I'll probably be trying to hit festivals and do runs as I'm able.
You can learn more about Adeem the Artist by visiting their official website.