Last weekend was the 5th anniversary of Arise Music Festival in Loveland, CO. Thousands of festival goers gathered together to experience a collective weekend of harmony. Good music pumped through the speakers and spirits were high despite the occasional bouts of rain. Amongst those supplying the music was Arja Adair aka Bass Physics. He held one of the prime time slots of the festival at the Green Tree Stage, unfortunately overlapping with Tipper but extending long after all the other music ended. We caught up with Arja earlier in the day and spoke about snowboarding, touring, and writing songs with Uber drivers.
ELCO: What is your favorite type of music to listen to while snowboarding?
BP: I really enjoy Pretty Lights to ride to, like his old shit, his first two albums mainly. I really enjoy also riding to my own music. It gets me so stoked. The vibe and the energy that it’s giving off, while your riding you feel the music a lot. I feel like if I can enjoy my own music while riding, or driving in the car, or just doing stuff while I’m living, you know enjoying life. I mean, I feel like anyone can enjoy it. That gives me a bit of confidence. I like to listen to my music while I ride.
There’s something about sitting on a chair by yourself. While it’s snowing, it’s quiet everywhere else, but you have your jams. Just bumping. That’s good energy right there. You really feel the nature and something that somebody created.
ELCO: Have you ridden outside of Colorado?
BP: I’ve been to Utah, I’ve been to Snowbird, and I’ve skied Alta actually. I grew up skiing. My dad’s rule was that I had to ski the whole mountain, be able to do anything on skis before I could snowboard. So I did that at the age of like 8, and then I was able to snowboard. Alta I think is one of the only mountains in the world that only allows skiing. It’s kind of a different environment.
I’ve skied in Canada as well. I’ve been fortunate enough to have a father that brought me around and brought me on ski trips with him. It was really cool kinda getting to ski elsewhere than where I grew up.
ELCO: Have you ever been on tour and decided to go snowboard?
BP: Me and my manager Shane were up in Steamboat playing a show up there at Schmiggity’s. We wanted to ski the next day, but we didn’t have our gear with us. A couple of times we’ve run into like, “Oh we should ski, but you gotta bring your snowboard and all your gear.” We gotta get to the point where we get there and part of the payment is a ski in-ski out crib and mountain pass. Put it on the rider, lol.
ELCO: What do you like to have on your rider?
BP: It’s really simple. I try not to bother people too much. I enjoy having a good IPA. Whenever we’re traveling out of state I love to try a local beer. Something right around the area, something different. Other than that though, it’s simple. Some green smoothies so we can get our veggies in. Liquid vegetables. It’s really hard to eat well on the road. It’s really like anywhere USA. Anywhere you go it’s like McDonald’s, Subway, IHOP, and Arby’s.
“We drove 26 hours with the storm over our head the entire way. We were following a chainsaw crew, there were downed trees all over.”
ELCO: What is the worst stretch of tour you have ever been on?
BP: We had a couple rough drives. I went on tour with Phutureprimitive in 2015 we did 37 cities across the US, both east and west coast. It was within a month and a half. It was a lot of shows. October to like mid-December. A couple times on the way home from the second leg of that we were playing our last show in Oregon and there was a storm overnight. We went to bed and there was no snow, no rain, anything. We woke up and there was three feet of wet snow everywhere. We tried to get home via a highway that we were told was open. We drove like 3 hours down this highway and had to turn around because the next county hadn’t plowed it. So we ended up 6 hours later in the same spot we started and we still had a twenty-hour ride. On the way after that, it was snowing the entire time. We drove 26 hours with the storm over our head the entire way. We were following a chainsaw crew, there were downed trees all over.
Right before that, we were doing Seattle to Portland and a landslide fell over the entire highway. It took us 17 hours to get out from that stretch. So I showed up after the headliner and stood up and played a 30 minute set at the end of the night.
ELCO: Any new music?
BP: I’m trying to decide that for myself. I just released a new song called ‘Elation’, and I like to call it “future rock”. It has that future bass, big chained synth, walls of sound. It also has a live guitar, this huge guitar riff. I just like to play around and make what I feel. There’s also an acoustic guitar part to it that just kinda makes it. You can listen to that song while you’re hanging out with friends or you can listen to that song at a party or you can listen to that song while snowboarding. It’s just a timeless song in my opinion. I feel like I’m trying to play off more of that sound of future.
Right now I’m working on a self-titled album, an idea that’s in the works I’m brewing up. I have a whole bunch of works in progress. I’m just gonna choose the best music and put out as much music as I can. Build up momentum with Bass Physics, get as hot as I possibly can and then try to get out this idea of future rock and this progression of what electronic music is.
ELCO: Would you ever consider trying to compose for a full band?
BP: Oh yeah, definitely. I have an album in the works for someone. He’s really talented. He’s actually performing with me tonight. I’m in the works of producing an album for him, just making beats for him.
ELCO: How do you like switching back and forth between styles?
BP: It takes a lot of intentional focus, making sure that a song has a vision and projecting that into the song, whereas if you are making a hip hop beat for someone to rap over, it’s minimal, it’s in the background, you don’t need every sound to take up space. For me, switching between styles, I try to be as intentional as I possibly can and make it known that I wasn’t going for this style, I was going for something different.
That does help me push my own boundaries. I have songs that are so different from my normal sound. Eventually, I will take elements from a different song in another style and they will lend themselves to where eventually I want to go with my music, which is that future rock, melodic, hard hitting, pleasing music to the ear. I don’t know how else to describe it. It’s uplifting, it’s emotional, and I try to take my own experiences and put them into the tracks as well. It really does shine through as what I feel.
“He was like, ‘I sing, you should check out my tunes.’ I checked him out and it was really good, so I was like, ‘Send me an a cappella.’ He sent me one, I made a beat around it and now it’s getting picked up by Atlantic Records. Ya know, a song with an Uber driver.”
ELCO: Do you try to express emotion through just the sound or the vocals as well? If you have a vocalist come in, who is writing the vocals?
BP: If I bring in a vocalist I want them to put their taste in a song. There is a lot of power in working with other artists. Bringing in their styles. It’s like, “Oh shit, I never thought of this song going that way but it’s so cool.” Normally I will write a beat and someone will sing a hook over it and I will adjust the track based on that. If someone sends me a rap lyric, I’ll build a song around it. That recently happened and it’s actually getting released on Big Beat for a Denver compilation.
I was in Miami playing a show…this is the first time I’ve told this story. My Uber driver is taking me from the show to the hotel and we started talking about music and shit. He was like, “I sing, you should check out my tunes.” I checked him out and it was really good, so I was like, “Send me an a cappella.” He sent me one, I made a beat around it and now it’s getting picked up by Atlantic Records. Ya know, a song with an Uber driver. Appreciate the opportunity that you get to meet people because you never know who you’re talking to.
I think one of the most important things in the industry is networking yourself and remembering who has done what for you. A lot of people help each other and then nothing ever comes of it. I don’t think you should do it for personal gain, but I think it’s reciprocal. Everyone can help each other out. It’s about progressing the music in the industry.
ELCO: How do you plan a live set?
BP: For bigger ones, I’ll really think it out and I’ll harmonically mix and try to create as much thought-out, choreographed energy in the set. Come out hot, grab the attention of the crowd, really captivate them and then cool it down a bit. Then finish with a bang. I try to orchestrate my music in a way that helps a person who is standing there for an hour and fifteen minutes be engaged the entire time. For myself too. I like to know what’s gonna be in my sets. I don’t like to free-ball it as much. I’ll leave sections open where I can either do this song or that song at this point. Adjust to how the crowd is. I do a mix of both, but I do like to mix it up.
Tonight I have a live drummer and choreographed lights, so I need to have the set ready so they know when they are coming on stage, that it’s mapped out. I think that makes it more of a captivity performance. They know what’s gonna happen then and they know how to handle it. It really helps keep people engaged the whole time.
ELCO: Do you think about the live set while you are creating music?
BP: I would say half the time yes and half the time no. Most of the times I just make music for what I’m feeling in that instance. Maybe the next day I’ll say “This is crap and I’m never gonna use it”, and it’s fine. I keep it cause you never know when you’re gonna return to it. You might say “Hey I liked this melody in this song, it would work over this other chord progression and then transpose that.” Any idea can be used anywhere. That’s really helpful but for creativity sake, I just try to make music for whatever I’m feeling at that moment. I have a work in progress with like 30, 40 tracks on it right now. I just make em and put em up.
Sometimes my management is like “This song is awesome”, and I’m like “Ehhhh…” They’re like, “No, no, this song is really good.” Then I revisit it and it works out. Don’t keep any idea that you have on the top of your head, just put it down. It doesn’t matter if it’s just me playing acoustic guitar and singing over it. I would never use that, but I might use that chord progression for another drop or something like that. Helps me keep things fresh rather than needing to intentionally make a song that is just OK. I don’t want my fans to hear this song.
ELCO: How did you get involved with Feyline?
BP: That’s a crazy story. When Bass Physics first started, we hadn’t even played our first show yet. We had an album, me and Luke. Eventually, our friend Danny hit up Tyler Fey, and at the time he wasn’t doing Feyline, he wasn’t doing anything. We were just like, “Hey check out the music.” So he listened to it, he came up to Fort Collins, we sat down and he was like, “Game on, let’s do this.” He took us under his wing. Then Barry supported us. Barry got us to Ha Hau with Global Dance.
Barry Fey was Tyler’s dad. He was the man who brought Ozzie Osborne, Janis Joplin, Led Zeppelin, every big artist. The music industry in the midwest is here because of Barry Fey. Anyone who is our age will not know what Feyline is, but anyone who is older than us, 50 and up maybe. They will be like, “That’s Feyline, I know Barry Fey.” It’s really cool to have that legacy behind me. I’m not only doing this for myself, I’m doing it for Tyler, I’m doing it for Shane, I’m doing it for Feyline. We’re all in this together. It’s really cool to have brothers. It’s not just another management company, we’re a family.
ELCO: What’s your relationship with the other artists on the roster?
BP: We’re all family. We all know each other. We all hang out. We’re good friends. We all collaborate together.
Written & interviewed by Hunter Saillen