Influenced by punk rock and John Peel, the young Adam Tinley, as he was then, formed his first band The Stupid Babies when he was 11 and living in the New Forest in the south of England. He persuaded his 5yr old brother Dominic to sing while he strummed a small guitar, and sent a demo tape to Fast Product Records — a small indie label run by the Human League’s manager, Bob Last. “Everyone thought that was a really precocious and strange thing for an 11 year old to do, but I just thought that’s what everybody did,” Adamski recalls.
Fast Product signed the primitive kiddie-punk tracks, released them on the Fast Product sampler, and legendary alternative BBC Radio 1 DJ John Peel started playing their endearingly twee song ‘Babysitters’ (“Me HATES babysitters!” went the payoff line of the song). The Stupid Babies caused quite a stir, receiving positive write-ups in music mags like Smash Hits and Melody Maker, and Adam was off on his journey.
When the 2-Tone explosion began in the summer of 1979, Adam was seduced by the music and fashion. Just starting secondary school, his gang of mates bonded over 2-Tone and its infectious multi-racial skank. He bought a piano with some of the £100 advance from the Stupid Babies record, and began teaching himself by playing along to songs by The Specials and Madness. As school progressed, Adam discovered anarcho-punk’s Crass and the Poison Girls, then Vince Clarke’s Yazoo. He got hold of a Casiotone MT-40 keyboard and started a school band called Internal External with a mate who was into heavy metal. Consequently Adam got into Led Zep and Motorhead. Then it was the psychobilly sound of bands like The Cramps and The Meteors that started floating his boat, as well as Suicide. So absorbed by music was Adam that he “left school unqualified to do anything, and was ejected from the family home by my father”. Moving to London, he started squatting in Hackney and going to Sigue Sigue Sputnik gigs. “I loved their look, live sound and manifesto,” he says. “Still do!” He was given a little puppy he named Diskord after the Greek goddess of confusion, who would later appear on some of his record sleeves.
By 1986 Adam discovered “the 909 – my drum machine of choice,” he recalls. He started a band with his older brother Mark, Diskord Datkord, with Jonny Slut, formerly of glam-goth band The Specimen, on vocals. They released their only single in 1988, an electroid cover of ‘Identity’ by punk band X-Ray Spex. It was single of the week in NME, but Adam was tiring of the band as he got more and more into the future sounds of acid house and Detroit techno.
In the summer of 1988 Adam visited Ibiza and was blown away by the Balearic sets spun by DJs Alfredo and Pippi. It was then that the artist Adamski was born “after listening to a cassette from a UFO convention with a speech by George Adamski, who claimed to have had contact with Venusian extraterrestrials”. Inspired and schooled on an Ensoniq SQ80 synthesizer-sequencer by Chicago musician Jimi Polo, he began plagiarizing punk rock basslines, playing them into his sequencer, and along with some other equipment geared up for his first solo gig as ADAMSKI.
In March of 1989 Adamski was booked for his first solo gig at Le Petit Prince Restaurant in Kentish Town. To draw attention to the after-hours event, his manager projected images such as a spaceman onto the wall of the McDonald’s opposite. “This promoter from Heaven [Lenny D] happened to be walking past and thought, ‘What the fuck’s that?” recalls Adam. “He came in to investigate, and my manager convinced him to put me on at this all-dayer at Heaven on the Sunday afternoon.”
Bookings started flying in and Adamski quickly catapulted into the upper echelons of the nascent rave scene. Within a few weeks Adamski was playing to 8,000 people at Sunrise at Santa Pod racecourse and, after a bidding war, signed to MCA Records.
Adamski released squiggly acid piano shuffler ‘NRG’, achieved his childhood ambition of getting onto Top Of The Pops, and put out the ‘Live & Direct’ album that cobbled together bits and bobs of live recordings from raves. During his set at Sunrise Festival, the then unknown Seal
gave a demo tape to Adamski’s flatmate at the time, MC Daddy Chester. Upon hearing Seal’s voice, Adam offered some instrumentals to Seal who chose what turned out to be ‘Killer’. The track shot to No.1 in The UK in May 1990, and was a smash all across Europe and even in the US as well.
As ‘Killer’ was recorded too late for Adamski’s first album, the record company persuaded Adam to rapidly record a follow-up album. Decanting to LA the day after a triumphant Glastonbury performance on the Pyramid Stage, he ended up with Dr Adamski’s Musical Pharmacy, which he describes as “pretty shit”. Adamski recorded his third album, ‘Naughty’, in 1991, and his first daughter Bluebell was born. “She became my No.1 priority,” he recollects.
As the 90s progressed, Adamski signed to Trevor Horn’s ZTT Records for his fourth album Adamski’s Thing, recorded at Adrian Sherwood’s On-U Sound studios. The single ‘One Of The People’ went down particularly well in Italy. Becoming increasingly enamored with Italy after repeated promotional visits, Adam moved to Bologna in the late 90s and shifted focus to his DJ career. “For some reason Italians often put ‘Y’ instead of ‘I’, and printing my name on flyers as ‘Adamsky’ – I started to prefer that.” As the 21st century turned, Adamski started to have a new career as DJ Adam Sky, touring around Europe, then moving to Barcelona, and making the odd UK appearance such as playing at seminal electroclash night Nag Nag Nag in London in 2002 – run by his old friend Jonny Slut. Adam went on to release music on cult French electro label Kitsuné, something on Damian Lazarus’s hip Crosstown Rebels stamp, and things for Tiga’s Turbo and Exploited. He moved to Berlin, and in 2009 found his way back to the UK to start his Futurewaltz project.
“After 25 years in the nightspots of the world providing sci-fi beats for hedonists, and even longer as a consumer of all the best scenes from glam rock to grime, I am now spurting all my creative juice into what I call FUTUREWALTZ,” he says. “I realized just how sexy and groovy the Waltz rhythm can be. While googling its origins, I became fascinated and inspired by the history of the Waltz and its social and cultural significance.”
Working in the 3/4 time signature has re-energised Adamski. He released the limited edition vinyl box set “Revolt” in 2015 on his own label FUTUREWALTZ, featuring artists such as Lee “Scratch” Perry, David McAlmont, Bishi, Congo Natty, Asia Argento, Rowdy SS as well as a number of up & coming talent such as Betty Adewole, Shanki, Eloise X, and Sirena Reynolds.
Tinley’s latest alter ego is cyberbilly SONNY ERIKSSON - a self-styled Teddy Boy Timelord armed with a laptop and a mean Gretsch guitar swaggering down the information superhighway to source the most rockin’ elements from 1955-2025. Fusing rockabilly and psychobilly styles with the hypnotic,strange and electronic sounds of today and beyond.
2019 sees the 30yr anniversary release of N-R-G, entitled re:NRGize, featuring seven new versions of this rave classic.