Interview: Following the Blueprints of Adam Karch

Adam Karch Adam Karch

Article Rebecca Akong.

With his intricate fingerpicking, soulful voice and imaginative approach to re-arranging old classics, Montreal’s own Adam Karch is sure to strike the right chord with a wide variety of listeners. From his groovy take on the Bee Gees’ Stayin Alive to the emotionally-charged vocal delivery of Stand By Me, Karch makes even the most well-known classics sound and feel like his own creations on his third and most artistically mature album, but it is truly in his live performances that the tunes come breathe new life. The sincerity and range of emotion of Karch’s vocal delivery is more than worthy of being witnessed live; his prowess on the guitar only adds to the experience.

His folk/blues sound has mass appeal, from rural Quebec to downtown Montreal at Upstairs Jazz Bar & Grill, where Karch played two sets to a highly receptive audience packed into the cozy venue. I sat down with Adam before his show last week to discuss his new album, Blueprints, his musical process and the importance of authenticity in the entertainment industry.

Rebecca Akong (RA): Can you talk to me about the album title Blueprints and the inspiration behind it?

Adam Karch (AK): When I hear a song, I’ll strip the song [of its superfluous instrumental lines] and do it my own way, so I bring the song back to the blueprints of how I thought it was written. I’ll then rework the song for guitar and vocals and I’ll try to get as much of the essence of that song as I can in a more naked way. That can be any kind of song– a big band song, a pop song– So Blueprints is primarily a concept of how I attack songs.

RA: Given the stripped-down production quality of the album and the no-frills approach of an entirely acoustic record, how do you think your live performances differ from an already very honest album?

AK: I think that I become most honest when I play music live as far as the way I deliver the songs. I mean, doing the songs in such a stripped down way actually helps me grow as a person in terms of being comfortable with who I am and I’ve become very good at working that way, which is why I don’t write a lot of songs. I’ll take songs that I like and have the confidence to play them myself and with that confidence comes honesty because I’m sure of what I’m doing.

RA: How would you describe Blueprints as a whole, compared to your previous albums?

AK: It’s a lot more honest as far as the approach to the songs. I’ve been playing the songs on Blueprints for about four or five years now. In terms of the choice of songs, I’ve known which songs I wanted to do, although there were a few that I chose last minute, too. It’s more personal, especially the concept of the album, as I’ve been playing solo for about seven or eight years, now, and I’m now very comfortable playing alone. My albums are each very different in terms of personality, Blueprints represents the way I’ve been playing for the past couple of years — it represents a personal journey for me.

Blueprints was released on 6 May, 2014. Karch is currently touring in Quebec.