Uses This

Interview

What do people use to get stuff done?

Adam Gnade

Adam Gnade

Musician, author

Who are you, and what do you do?

My name is Adam Gnade and I do a series of books and "talking song" records that are meant to build a connected world of stories, plotlines, and characters to show how it was to live in our time. It's my life project and my releases come out on Pioneers Press and Three One G.

As far as the music, one review said it sounds something like "Southern California kid who grew up on weirdo noisey punk records then left home to seek his fortune and got into weirdo noisey folk records and tells stories instead of sings."

The books are all fiction but a couple years ago I wrote one non-fiction fluke called The Do-it-Yourself Guide to Fighting the Big Motherfuckin' Sad and oddly enough that's what pays the rent. I never intended to write non-fiction but it happened. Life is strange.

What hardware do you use?

For the "talking songs" I use a series of acoustic guitars I've taken down to four strings, sawed the heads in half, and retuned to a GA#DF banjo tuning. I also record with a five-string Deering Goodtime banjo, a kiddie acoustic guitar I borrowed from my four and six year old godsons, and occasionally solo electric guitar because I like Cat Power's Moon Pix record so much but I don't have one right now (an electric guitar, I mean. I have Moon Pix).

I record either in studios, in which case I'm backed by a full band and recording is out of my hands, or at home on the farm. When that happens I record primitively with boomboxes and cellphones. Before that I used a very old digital camera and would convert the video file to a sound file. Gave it an interesting fuzzy lo-fi sound.

For books I write in composition notebooks then edit on an old tiny laptop my girlfriend gave me called "the Baby Laptop." It's an Acer Aspire One and it's basically a glorified typewriter that goes anywhere because it's so small. It doesn't do much and it's too slow to work well online but that's better because it keeps me on track. I like it a lot. I feel well-armed with it.

And what software?

For editing my books I have a Microsoft Word knockoff and for home recordings via the phone it's something called HD Audio Recorder Pro which is such a generic name I had to look at it five times in order to type that. It's really crappy but it sounds like a cassette recording without the hiss and I'm into that.

What would be your dream setup?

For the last year or so I've operated under this dumb/proud idea that you should be able to work anywhere so I record and write wherever I am. In hotels, in the back bedroom of the farmhouse, in my big yellow chair by the window, etc. I wrote my book Caveworld in the barn here on the farm. The one before that, Hymn California, I wrote mostly in cars, airports, buses, and that sort of thing.

Once I get over that I'd love to build a shack in the lower fields here with a good view of the woods. It would be something like: small, low coffee table with a stack of composition notebooks and a jar of pens, my yellow chair from the farmhouse, and the best analog handheld tape recorder 1971 had to offer. Maybe a Fender Twin amp in one corner I could plug into with a nice plastic Japanese electric guitar to get spooky. Sparse besides that. Wood burning stove would be good too.

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