A Conversation with Singer-Songwriter Adam Torres

A Conversation with Singer-Songwriter Adam Torres
Courtesy Photo Adam Torres will be playing a solo set alongside Justin Peter Kinkel-Schuster at Stage Eighteen, Saturday, Feb. 11. Tickets are $10 at the door and it’s an all ages event.

Courtesy Photo
Adam Torres will be playing a solo set alongside Justin Peter Kinkel-Schuster at Stage Eighteen, Saturday, Feb. 11. Tickets are $10 at the door and it’s an all ages event.

Adam Torres’ music is like the beauty of the desert — lonesome, vast, tranquil and serene.

Torres caught breakout success on his album Pearls to Swine, released in 2016, for its lush instrumentation and his use of angelic falsetto singing wrapped in melancholic and western moods. His music keeps in rural folk tradition, with a reverence for space and lyrics that evoke visions of moving landscapes.

His upcoming EP, I Came to Sing the Song continues the auditory journey heard throughout Pearls to Swine. It will release Feb. 24 via Fat Possum Records.

Based in Austin, Texas, Torres enrolled in graduate school at the University of Texas in 2011 after spending some time traveling and teaching English throughout Ecuador. Upon finishing graduate school, he spent two years working for the state of Texas on a project aimed at cleaning the water quality of the Rio Grande River in South Texas.

Torres will be playing a solo set alongside Justin Peter Kinkel-Schuster of Water Liars (his album, Constant Stranger, made our best of 2016 list) at Stage Eighteen, Saturday, Feb. 11. Tickets are $10 at the door and it’s an all ages event.

We got the chance to chat with Torres about his music in advance of his show this weekend:

TFW: So will this be your first time playing in Fayetteville? What does the outside world say about us?

TORRES: Yeah, I’ve never been to Fayetteville. I’m really looking forward to it. Y’know my friend Justin lives there and a couple other friends who live here in Austin that used to live there and everybody’s just talking about how nice it is. I’m excited to be able to go and play a show there with Justin.

There’s a restaurant there that people really like that I think a few of my friends used to work at. I feel like they maybe serve Mediterranean food. Petra Cafe. I’ve heard there’s really nice places to go hiking and do stuff outdoors. Those are the types of things I like to do, hiking and such.

TFW: How do you approach song craft? I notice your work emphasizes a lot of space and length either in instrumentation or singing.

TORRES: Thanks, yeah. I dunno, I guess I usually have some sort of central idea, either it’s with the lyric writing where I think of a concept or image and build off of that. I try to match that with what I’m doing musically. I normally write music first and I think about the sounds of words and how it fits with the music if I can’t think of an idea. It’s like a whole discovery process, really. I think the music that I write, it’s like a maze and the words are like me trying to explore through that maze and try to figure out the entrance and exit and finding the music.

I’m trying to do work right now where I’m thinking I start with the words first, like the opposite, for the next go round. By and large, I almost always write music first and then figure out what words fit inside of the music.


Courtesy Photo
Pearls to Swine, by Adam Torres, released in Sept. 9 in 2016 to critical acclaim for the lush, vast instrumentation of Americana soundscapes at play in the album.

TFW: What sparks your lyricism in your songs? Is it processing emotions, thoughts? Or events that you’ve witnessed?

TORRES: It can be both of those things. Or imaginary things that are fictitious or a meditation that I have based on books or movies or something. Something will happen in a societal way and it will spark an idea for me. A lot of times it’s something in my personal life or experience that I’ve had that will inspire songs I write. There’s a song on the record we put on the record last fall called “Mountain River.” I wrote that song about hanging out by this river I used to live by in this mountain city in Ecuador in the Andes. I would go down there and eat my lunch or pack a dinner and just go and sit by the river. That song came out of me from my experience hanging out down there. It can be something as direct as that, or just indirectly.

Living in Austin inspired “City Limits.” It’s about a city becoming overwhelmed with developers with condos and societal forces that are influencing people from that place and that are pushing them out and gentrifying that space. Those are two songs I can think of that are based on personal experiences. It’s not always that way but mostly I write personally.

TFW: Your music is also lush with imagery. In “Green Mountain Road” off of I Came to Sing The Song, you paint a picture of a serene landscape. Is that song based on some of your travels?

TORRES: That song is a little more vague. It’s about my own experience in general rather than a specific memory. If I contemplate on my family and my history and my parents and my ancestors — that’s kind of what that song is about to me and the space of… I don’t know, I guess my family history and memories and moments of clarity. That song is more imaginary than real. It’s kind of like a concept or analogy of my family. I think I’m talking about that idea of existing in a mountain. I was born in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and my parents used to live in Switzerland and I spent some time living in Ecuador. That affinity toward that kind of landscape or environment is where I feel at home. It’s the utmost level of comfort and peace of being. Writing a song like that is kind of a dream. I can think about my family in a dream-like way and pay homage to them.

TFW: How did your singing style develop? It’s very airy, almost ethereal.

TORRES: I think I sing kinda like people I admire as singers. I think my voice is a result of listening to different singers I really like like Karen Dalton or Nina Simone or John Jacob Niles. People that have really interesting voices in my mind. I like the way they use inflection and otherness with the way that they sing. I think that I like the idea of having an unconventional voice and maybe with this last record I took that as far as I could and singing in a falsetto. Sometimes I feel like I sing really high and I want to make a distinction and challenge whoever is listening to my songs as to what to make of it of that high voice and that space that it occupies. Really it was the fact that I had a lot of bass sounds that were really full on the record with the drums and the bass. Singing high made sense to me sonically to fill out the space. Every kind of instrument had its own region and they weren’t interweaving that much really.

Adam Torres with Justin Peter Kinkel-Schuster

Where: Stage Eighteen, 18 E. Center St., Fayetteville

When: 7 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 11

How Much: $10 at the door

This is an all ages event.

Categories: Cover Story