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Adam & Kizzie revolutionize its sound with the addition of loop pedals

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Creativity is on a constant loop in Adam & Kizzie’s life and art. On the husband-and-wife duo’s debut album, The Book of EEDO Volume 1, Adam Ledbetter programmed all the beats and tones. When they geared up for 2014’s Volume 2, the Ledbetters took a left turn and brought all their friends into the studio for the sparklingly diverse collection featuring Sly Stone-d “Be Bright.”

But Adam & Kizzie live without musical rules, so their upcoming Volume 3 utilizes a whole new methodology. It began when they embarked on a tour to support Volume 2, when they needed to make the sound of four people for the price of two.

“What was amazing then is that we had a band at the time, but for economic reasons, we needed to find a way to perform just as a duo,” Adam Ledbetter said. “So I started researching like a madman and figured out that we might be able to pull it off with some loopers. So we got some loop pedals and started practicing, and from that, we developed our show. Now all our music has been transformed, and this is how we’ll record our albums.”

At first, Kizzie Ledbetter said the pedals were a little intimidating, but executing perfect sound loops is like any other musical fluency — it takes practice. Once she mastered the loops, she felt a sense of liberation.

“In the beginning, the pedals were a means to proceed,” Kizzie said. “But then, as we went along, we realized it was super-dope. By having to do it with the pedals, we had to discover different parts of our music that we never would have discovered without them.”

Adam said that she is now something of a master at the fine art of looping vocal parts to achieve layered harmonics and countermelodies. That will come in handy this year when Adam & Kizzie go into the studio to record Volume 3. The album will be recorded live with loop pedals, allowing them to produce the record far more quickly.

“She has this pocket and a precision that I don’t naturally have,” he said. “She can sing studio-grade vocals live night after night after night. And when you listen to her looping, everything is so pristine and precise. Our engineer on our last two albums, he would just marvel at her waveforms, how consistently uniform they would be take after take.”

That freedom that Adam & Kizzie achieve through technology extends to their musical philosophy of EEDO.

“It’s something we made up, but the best way we express it is it’s the center of ‘freedom,’” Kizzie said. “It’s freedom from adhering to one genre, which opens us up to being able to explore all the colors and languages and beauties there are in music. It can apply to anything in life. If it’s pure, if it’s genuine, if it’s truest in its nature, it’s EEDO.”

Special sound

They shun attempts to categorize their sound. Elements of hip-hop, pop, jazz, classical and everything else drift through their music. Adam, a classically trained pianist, possesses the musical chops to take their sound anywhere, which can be challenging to audiences that sometimes feel more comfortable with genres that fit in a specific box.

“For musicians, a lot of times, one of the biggest barriers they have with an audience is the audience’s expectations,” Adam said. “The way the music world and the industry is set up, everybody has a ton of expectations. If I get on stage and say, ‘I’m a rapper,’ people are like, ‘What version of rap that I’m familiar with is he going to fit into?’ And I’m probably not going to fit into any of them, because I also play the piano, and not only do I play piano, but I’m influenced by a little Duke Ellington here, a little Jelly Roll Morton here, a little Aretha Franklin here and a little Busta Rhymes here.”

Fortunately, Adam & Kizzie record for a label that appreciates the free-flowing nature of their relationship with genres. Ropeadope Records actively seeks artists taking less-traveled roads, including performers like orchestral pop band The Sharp Things and former Fishbone singer Angelo Moore. On the other hand, the Ledbetters had to choose three genres for identification purposes when they distributed Volume 2 on iTunes.

“The only time we had to deal with the boxes was with iTunes,” Kizzie said. “But it’s not an issue with us and it’s not an issue with the fans. I believe that’s because we’re just spewing out this music as we’re inspired.”

For his part, Adam feels hopeful that people can break out of their boxes.

“What we’ve discovered is that there’s a lot of people out there who think the way that we do,” he said. “They just want to hear good music. They want to hear where we’re at. They just want to have a conversation with you.”

Soon, that conversation will be heard in technologically assisted, multipart harmony. Kizzie is in the process of purchasing a harmonizer, which will allow her to execute complex vocal harmonies using a keyboard. Then, when she runs those harmonies through a loop pedal, it will give her the flexibility of creating choirs of Kizzies live on stage.

“Somebody will come up and say, ‘You have that pre-recorded?’” she said. “Then they say, ‘Aw, no; they’re doing this live.’ By the end of the song, they’ve figured it out, because it’s undeniable: We’re creating on the spot.”

Print headline: Rolling melodies, Adam & Kizzie found musical liberation in loop pedals.

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