Wellingtonian Interview: Adam Page

Last updated 10:17 27/07/2012
Adam Page
Adam Page: "I got busted so many times for taking ice-cream"

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Musician Adam Page about growing up in South Australia, working in an ice-cream factory, and quantum physics.

Where did you grow up?

My dad was a forestry worker, and I grew up in forestry reserves in South Australia. It was great . . . you had 100,000 hectares of forest as your back yard.

Then we moved to Mt Gambia, a beautiful little spot on the border of New South Wales and South Australia, then to Adelaide for university.

Were you always musical?

Not really, there was so much other stuff to do.

I wasn't interested in music till I was at primary school, when I started playing the clarinet in year 5.

Why the clarinet?

The clarinet teacher was a charismatic, random guy with frizzy hair. I can remember stepping into the common room at school and there were all these different instrument teachers. The clarinet teacher was the coolest. I'm happy with my choice. It's a beautiful instrument and it's given me a good grounding for the sax, which I play too.

You learned to play the flute at 21. Why so late in life?

A boy playing a flute in a country town . . . that didn't fit. I really do encourage younger boys to learn the flute. It's a great instrument and the more boys who play it, then the idea it's a feminine instrument will disappear.

After living in the country what was university life like?

It was super cool. I was in a halls of residence, university accommodation, and my mates were study engineering, law, all sorts of things. I studied jazz. I had an amazing time there.

Many students also have part-time jobs. Did you?

No, I was really lucky. I was already gigging in my first year. I got some amazing advice from my saxophone teacher. He said, "You'll be thrown so much information. Ignore it, find your voice and get out there and play." So that's what I did.

But you did work in an ice- cream factory?

As a teenager I did that. I got busted so many times for taking ice-cream. Then when they gave me a managerial position, I just ate and ate and ate. I'm sure they were spying on me, because from time to time they'd say things like, "We're out of pineapple [ice- cream] already".

So, you never got sick of ice- cream?

Never. Ice-cream is awesome. It doesn't have to be standard chocolate or vanilla; you can chuck anything into it and put it in the freezer. It's genius.

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You taught yourself to throat sing.

I first heard Tuvan throat singing at a friend's place. She had an album that featured a female throat singer. It was the most alien sound I'd heard. I was blown away and thought I'd learn how to do it. I figured I needed to be as relaxed as possible, so drew a bath, relaxed in it for an hour and just practised till I could do it.

You find inspiration in many places.

I'm really loving discovering people like Richard Nunns, who has reintroduced traditional Maori instruments into popular music. And I love Whirimako Black. She's an artist I would love to work with. I like to work with Richard, too. Funnily enough, one thing I've been completely mindblown by is the tui. There's one just down the road from my home and I love how it sounds like a kid's wind-up toy, but then it will also make really pretty melodic sounds.

You moved to Wellington a year ago. Why?

I started coming here for various musical ventures. I had heard pieces by John Psathas that inspired me, so I called his publisher and asked if I could meet him.

John and I ended up having this amazing chat at Sweet Mother's Kitchen. The same with Riki Gooch - I hung out with him, too. Myself and my partner had talked about coming here.

What do you love about Wellington?

It's provided me with more diverse opportunities than Australia did, because it's such a condensed, creative spot. I love Cuba Mall. There's something magic about it. It has such a cool vibe; it's like nothing else on earth. And I really like heading over to the Wairarapa to Martinborough. I love going over those big hills and into this beautifully flat wine country.

Is there anything you don't like about Wellington?

The traffic. So many people are moving into Wellington, but the roads can't handle it.

You've just finished filming the first series of the internet arts series Fix TV. How did it go?

It's been interesting. I've never done anything like it before, interacting with cameras. I look slightly uncomfortable on screen, but it's been a learning curve. I know what to do now - stop moving around so much!

What are you you working on now?

I'm writing the music for a play about quantum physics with Charlie Bleakley. It tracks the discoveries made throughout history from Victorian times. I don't really understand it [quantum physics], but I'm sure I'll have more of a grasp by the time I've done this play. It is amazing, though, what's happening with the Higgs Boson and Hadron Collider and how fast those particles are moving.

- The Wellingtonian

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