How we made Killer, by Seal and Adamski

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How we made Killer, by Seal and Adamski

Post by Wigs » 19 Oct 2014, 10:33

Thanks to nicky for pointing me in the direction of this article. Interesting read. ;) ... ade-killer

Seal, Singer

I was living in a squat. Before that, it had been floors and sofas, but then I'd managed to finance my way travelling round Asia for a year, singing in blues bands, and it changed my perspective on what I wanted from life. I was financially unstable and figured that fame and money would be the answer to all my problems. I came back from my travels much more focused, and would sing at raves at the top of my voice – which is how I met Adam. We decided to work together on New Year's Eve 1989, when we were in a haze on the dancefloor.

When he played me the instrumental for Killer, I instinctively sang some verses I'd written over the funky introduction – but something was missing. I remember going home and hearing this squiggly keyboard line buried in the track, so I sang the "solitary brother" hookline over that. I remember calling Adam and saying: "You've got to let me sing this new bit."

The lyrics are about transcending whatever holds you back. That era was the most exciting time: they called it the Second Summer of Love. We'd just got a handle on the technology; we were coming out of a Thatcher-era depression; and of course there was this huge explosion in recreational pharmaceuticals. Everything just seemed to click. The "live your life the way you want to be" lyric spoke to a generation.

Acid house music had been banned from Radio 1 after a moral panic over ecstasy – but when Killer went into the charts they had to play it. It was such a crossover hit: before we knew it, we were at No 1 for weeks and had a hit across Europe. It changed my life. Within a week, I went from being a relative nobody – this weird guy at raves, with silver bits in my hair – to a household name.

Adamski producer and keyboards
In 1989, I was totally engulfed in acid-house culture. I'd had a hit with N-R-G. I had my gear set up in my flat in Camden, and I made tunes every day. I had an instrumental track I called The Killer because it sounded like the soundtrack to a movie murder scene.

I played a big illegal rave at Santa Pod racetrack in Northamptonshire, called Sunrise 5000. Seal was there watching my set. Afterwards, he handed over a demo to Daddy Chester, my flatmate and MC, who told me to listen: he had an amazing voice.

We bumped into each other at a London club, Solaris, and I asked him to come over, pick one of my instrumentals and sing on it. He said he had some lyrics that would work with The Killer, and I asked him to sing it like bluesy rock. In Ibiza, you'd hear things like Fleetwood Mac's Oh Well played alongside house tracks, so I probably had that in mind.

We recorded it on the day of the 1990 Freedom to Party demonstration in Trafalgar Square, against new legislation to ban raves – a stone's throw from the studio. We'd nip over there to absorb the energy. I used eight tracks of a 48-channel mixing desk. All the music came from my keyboard, which I played using two fingers. I added a Roland 909, which was the staple house-music drum machine after pioneers such as Mantronix used one.The track has a mournful feel: a lot of that early house music was quite melancholy. The cheesy, happy chords came later.

I had a huge following after playing raves, but I didn't expect Killer to have the impact it did. I remember doing a gig in Cambridge and going back to the hotel where a wedding party were getting down to it; schoolgirls would shout the rhythm at me across the street. At the time, I was on the Enterprise Allowance Scheme, which gave you £40 a week and your rent so you could set up your own business, to get people off the unemployment statistics. I was No 1 in the charts, and they were still paying my rent.

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