Shenzhen Chronicles Presents: Adrian Black – Dragon Of Shenzhen.
We met Adrian a while ago and immeadiately fell in love with his charisma and ability to entertain a crowd. We were thrilled to have had the opportunity to speak with Adrian about the origins of his path towrds the music industry. We asked Adrian to highlight three major milestones in his life regarding the music industry. Here is what he had to say.
1. “Asking my cousin, who was older… how I could join the church choir, I was 4. She said you have to be 5. I joined my church choir when I was 5 and it was the beginning of my life in music.”
2. “My cousin and best friend at the time started playing the drums at church and I wanted to learn too because the cool church guys played instruments but I wasn’t any good, so I had to get one of the other drummers at church to play the kick pedal for me and I played the arms, I was 7 at the time.”
3.”Deciding to come to china. I was going into my second year of my Masters in Social Work, just broke up with my girlfriend who I was living with and we both applied to come to China and I left school to come. I found Rue and Jon and Rapscallions open mic my first week and SZ 5 years ago and I’ve been playing consistently ever since.”
When we inquired about Adrians current performance locations he shared with us where and with whom he is with.
“I work at Glass Hammer (formally known as Taps) during the weekdays and on the weekends I perform in different places, my own originals or with my cover band RMB or I’ll MC with UnChained and DJ Daniel Power.”
Adrian opened up about his experience with the audience here in Shenzhen and gave us a look into some of the elements that really make his performance standout from the rest.
“The people that come to the live show or actually listen to the album have favourable responses. They have found messages of hope in the Music and have been entertained by the energy of the live show. It hasn’t been easy performing pop Music to people who have never heard our stuff but once I’ve got their attention it’s been nice finding new and different ways to keep it. The dancers really bring another element to the showmanship and outside of the club circuit not many local artist are trying to perfect that performance element.”
“For me it’s all about creating the most fun, yet conscious product I can. I’m all about a good time but I try to infuse some progressive elements and challenge the listener to question their lives as well as dance their faces off!
Like James Brown, Stevie wonder, Marvin Gaye’s, Jimi Hendrix, bob Marley, and in recent years Kanye West and Kendrick Lamar”
We discussed the ingredients that we thought showbiz required and how Adrian maintain a sustainable routine.
“Sunday-Thursday I’m working the circuit, playing bars and restaurants. Filling in whenever I’m needed, on drums for one band, or doing shootings and commercials, and collaborating with other artists on parties or projects. Also, I workout, do yoga, and meditate everyday to keep my mind and body sharp for performing and enduring in a business that is really cutthroat. ”
When it comes to the competitive nature of the industry, Adrian expresses what he has experienced and how he is able to manage his life.
“It’s a lot of competition here for jobs and works. Bars are constantly changing, lots of people applying for jobs and opportunities. I don’t have a manager so every opportunity I get I have to fight for. Sometimes people deny jobs to me because I’m black. Sometimes people deny jobs to VaChina because we’re not a Band or they don’t know how to market us. Sometimes bars cancel my bands’ gigs because it’s not lucrative for them financially or maybe we’re not pulling enough people. It’s hard to get anyone in the West to notice a foreign Chinese product whether I’m looking for performance opportunities or submitting for radio, Management, and other opportunities. It’s a lot of competition. Luckily, I won’t be boxed out because I‘ve been blessed as a musician, singer promoter and actor, but it’s never easy. Sometimes you finish a song in a packed bar and nobody claps because they don’t give a fuck and trying harder to gain their attention may run them away. So you have to play the game, provide background music sometimes, smile and kiss asses, it’s all necessary for growth in the entertainment business.”
Adrian shares his advice to anyone interested in pursuing a life of entertainment and how to handle the unresponsiveness from the crowd.
“You have to just take pride in your work and recognize that the audience response isn’t a reflection of talent…Also you have to appreciate your paycheck and think “hay I still get paid”, and the other is you have to have thick skin to be in the entertainment industry. People will critique you and you have to accept it with a smile and use what you can to improve.”