“Brighton gives you a nudge and makes you feel like you’re not alone”
Musician, filmmaker and writer, Barry Adamson is a latter-day Renaissance man. He talks to Film City Brighton about his twin passions, music and film, as well as the special connection he has with the city and the people that live there.
According to Adamson, “film and music best describe the state of human emotion at any given time, they are a manipulative tool with which we can describe how human beings operate.”
Inspired by the anarchic energy of punk music in the late 70s, Adamson learnt bass guitar and played with bands such as Magazine, Buzzcocks, and Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds. He has gone on to record solo albums and compose film scores, working with industry greats such as David Lynch and Danny Boyle.
A pivotal time in Adamson’s career was the creation of his first solo album, Moss Side Story, which he describes as a “film score without a film”. The listener is invited to imagine their own narrative for a non-existent film noir. The audacity of creating a soundtrack for a film that doesn’t exist grew out of Adamson’s own habit of visualising scenarios sparked off by the music he listened to.
The positive reaction to Moss Side Story opened the doors into film scoring. Adamson pinpoints his time with director David Lynch on Lost Highway as a masterclass in film making. Working alongside someone with such a strong idea of their creative objectives and how to achieve them enabled him to draw on that process in his own endeavours.
After this Adamson expanded his ambitions and “moved the goal posts”. While continuing to make solo albums, he started to write fiction and his work was published in a collection of short stories called London Noir.
The idea of making a film developed organically as he fused his narrative ideas and his strong visual aesthetic with his love of music.
Directing his first short film Therapist gave him the space and autonomy to develop his filmmaking skills. “It gave me the freedom to try things and see what it was that made them either successful or not so successful”.
Everything with Adamson is about progression and development, he is constantly moving forward to explore new and exciting avenues to fulfil his artistic drive.
But whatever he does next, Adamson’s enduring fascination with music and film will continue to be at the heart of his work. He says: “Music is a powerful tool that heightens feelings and emotions, a perfect way to connect with something on a deeper level. Combined with image or film, music becomes a language that filmmakers use to speak to the audience on another level other than the visual.”
Adamson has been a patron of Brighton’s annual Cinecity film festival for several years. His second short film The Swing The Lie and The Hole will be screened at CineCity in December. He has also composed the music for Cinecity’s major film set installation of Berg, the rediscovered début novel by Brighton writer Ann Quin.
As a Brighton resident, Adamson loves the fact that he is able to meet and collaborate with like-minded creative people while still “keeping a corner” to develop his own projects. He feels that the flourishing creative community is what makes the city so special. “In comparison to the isolation and feeling of getting swallowed up in London, Brighton gives you a nudge and makes you feel like you’re not alone in your sensibilities.”