Q & A: Adam Schatz talks priorities, projects, & friends!



Long-time friend of the venue, Adam Schatz, will be visiting us on May 3rd with his & Friends ensemble, Zula, and Palm. We sat down with him to get a few things straight, see below:

Q: You’ve immersed yourself in quite a number of projects over the years, from Search & Restore, Winter Jazzfest, Round Robins, Landlady, Man Man…the list goes on and on. How in the world do you stretch yourself in so many different directions? Where do your priorities fall now a days?
A: I’ve always tried to do everything as it comes to me and just plant the seeds rather than prioritize for prioity’s sake. So when I first moved to New York I sort of went wild and those seeds are going to keep growing forever, which is very exciting. Right now is actually the most focused I’ve been, with Landlady being the primary project. We put out our first big release last Summer and are going into the studio in June and this show is a way for us to premiere some new songs and continue to present the musical community surrounding us that’s always spinning and swelling and generally being great. New York can beat down on you so regularly and a few years ago I realized that the only way to counter that is to take advantage of everything that you can do and build with the people who are here with you, with me. The jazz / improvised music presenting is an important part of my life and so Winter Jazzfest, Search & Restore and the round robins we do with Red Bull Music Academy are a great way for me to get out of my own head and not only be thinking about myself as an artist but how to keep building great experiences for people who play and love to hear creative music.
Man Man tours when they tour and I do my best to tour with them. I grew up as a big fan and so getting to play in the band is a dream. I have a million other projects with people I care about that will start to see the light of day more and more, but the excitement I’m getting from Landlady right now is worth diving as deep into as possible.

Q: Is there a difference between Landlady the band and Landladyland (who is presenting this fine lineup)? Is this project evolving into something more, or am I reading into this too much?
A: Landladyland is the ever expanding sphere, what we want to present to the world through the initial veil of Landlady. This is the first Landladyland presents show, and I have lots of other dreams for it along with my team at Hometapes that will allow us to do a lot more than just be a band and hope we can keep climbing up the ladder. Landladyland allows us to always engage with the artists around us that blow our mind and make us better.
Q: Your & Friends ensemble has quite a roster of awesome covers that I’ve seen you perform at the Manhattan Inn. Are you guys sticking to your usual repertoire or are we going to hear some different arrangements/covers on the 3rd?
A: Those initial Manhattan Inn shows were a prime example of me trying to take advantage of New York rather than dread rising rent and burger prices. So every Wednesday in July of 2013 I put together an entirely new band of people who I thought were great and we played a blend of my songs and other people’s songs, the challenge to make it completely new each week lended a novelty to the night that was tangible to the audience. This time will be no different, we’ve got new songs from other people and will be debuting a bunch of brand new Landlady songs as well. Relatives will be playing a few songs, which is our bassist Ian Davis’ band, and the addition of other singers & horns is what makes this a true “& friends” show, the fact that it can only happen this way once for everyone in the room.

Q: In addition to the covers, does Adam Schatz & Friends have any original tunes in the works, or would that defeat the purpose of the project?
A: The purpose is to get everyone together. So for the time being, this is how we do it.

Q:Round-Robin is not a new concept, but with your past presentations, you & your team have put together some extremely interesting and unexpected duets. What type of things do you take into consideration when determining these pairings?

A: For the uninitiated, the Night Of Improvised Round Robin Duets is an idea I had in 2010, to get 15-20 musicians together and create an improvised piece. The artists are put in a random order, artist #1 goes on stage and improvises for 5 minutes alone, then #2 is sent up to join in for 5 minutes, and then #3 is sent up. #1 knows to leave when #3 comes to the stage, and it continues until the piece is done (either with the final person playing alone or everyone coming back out for a finale). So for the whole piece, no one plays for more than 10 minutes, and there are never more than 2 people playing at once. Myself and Brice Rosenbloom book the events (we’ve done about 10 so far I think?) and we try to put together the most diverse exciting group of people to stack the deck for a wild hour and a half of improvised music. But the order is created with a random number generator, though occasionally I’ll switch a few names around just for fun. This past March we did one in San Francisco and Gift Of Gab rapped over Myra Melford’s piano and it was just so unbelievable. Everyone felt it happening, for the first time ever, and that’s such a potent feeling.
Q: Touching on the first question a bit, since you have been involved in so many damn projects, you have quite an amazing web of musicians & artists surrounding you. Can you tell us about the what these type of connections mean to you?

A: With as much schmaltz removed as I can, they mean everything to me. I try to be a good leader within my band and part of that comes from never devaluing the importance of every single person who chooses to play music with me and how it makes everything exponentially better. I cannot believe how many talented people I know and I get so excited coming up with new ways to combine elements together. We have an unbelievable group of singers joining us at this show, Sarah Pedinotti (of Lip Talk), Kristin Slipp (of Cuddle Magic), Angelica Bess (of Body Language), Kal Traver (of Rubblebucket) and Karlie Bruce (of Escort) and there’s no reason to get everyone together other than “just because it will be awesome.” It’s why I ask and it’s why they say yes so graciously (when everyone will probably leave with $10 each at the end of the night). The same can be said of the horn section. I just want to make surprising choices to satisfy the people who come to these shows and maintain a possibility for the impossible.
Q: Any special tricks up your sleeves for the show on the 3rd? Special guests, antics, etc?
A: Just my arms! But they’ve surprised me before.

Intrigued? So are we! Join us on Sunday, May 3rd for Adam Schatz & Friends, Zula, and Palm. (Details & tix here)

posted by M.B.D.