When did you first begin seriously studying your instrument?

I was about 15 years old.

Who are your greatest influences? Who did you study with?

George Benson, Django Reinhardt, J-Dilla, Jimi Hendrix, Flying Lotus, Herbie Hancock… Some of my main mentors and teachers would be: Lee Barbour, Tyler Ross, Quentin Baxter, Stephane Wrembel, and Nat Townsley.
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Guitarist Adam Andrew Fallen

Located in the Brooklyn, NY

  • Producer, Composer, Arranger, Guitar Player
  • Years Playing: 9 years
  • School/Major/Degree: College of Charleston
    And Queens College- bachelors in jazz performance

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Who or what gave you the confidence to pursue music as a career?

I started taking guitar a little more seriously when starting to study under the intensity of Lee Barbour that broke me down and built me back up. And then It really happened around the time where I had been hired full time to play for this artist, Quiana Parler. I quit my day job and started playing gigs full time in Charleston, SC with Quiana and another close friend, Elise Testone (top 6 on American Idol), and my own band Slanguage. I still was trying to figure out if the hints from mentors ,audience members, and my own intuition of taking music as a serious life time career could one day feed a family. One morning I awoke to a phone call from Quiana asking if I wanted to play for Clay Aiken’s 2011 tried and true tour. This was my first opportunity that showed me that music could really be a career that put food on the table while still being able to do what I love. I saw that it could be comfortable living as a musician especially after meeting some of the players on the tour that were heavy hitters, experienced with playing for multiple pop artists (Felix Pollard, Del Atkins)

What are your thoughts on what it takes to be successful as a performer? Do you think any other skills are needed aside from the ability to play your instrument well?

I think one of the most important things is integrity and never giving up. Of course it’s important to know your instrument and know all your fundamentals. Study rhythm, time, timing, music theory, the blues, and building a true relationship with your instrument…those are all very key. But it’s about having those to facilitate the uniqueness of yourself and your personality through your playing. We all have a fingerprint that is one of a kind. That should be a testament of how one of a kind you can be as a performer. A lot of what it takes to be successful as a performer is the small detail such as being timely showing up to gigs, learning and knowing the music before rehearsal, and a simple smile and ease to your demeanor. The more you can find a way to genuinely connect with your audience, people, and community of musicians in general will help you as a performer. Understand that music is greater than ourselves as humans and that it’s something that has been on this planet for thousands of years if not longer. Music is a vibrational frequency that connects us all.I would say a large part of why I have gotten a lot of great gigs is because I make friends easily and show my face as much as I can on top of being a good listener and being prepared.

What are some of the things you did before your career as a performer became as successful as it is today?

I took a lot of advice from mentors and always surrounded myself with like-minded individuals that have good energy. I never closed myself off by genre and just said yes to as many gigs as possible. I always made time to go out and show my face and listen. The mutual respect that is created when you see another musician make an effort to come out to a show is priceless. On top of that, I always would go sit in at sessions whenever I could and even when feeling intimidated I would take a chance and go against my gut and just try It out. I went with a gut feeling to ask to sit in on a gig the first week I moved to Nyc. It was scary but that instance led to a gig where I met the guy who called me to play for Queen Latifah at the Super Bowl 2014. Of course I learned a lot from being in school at College of Charleston in the jazz department but what they did to prepare me most was be brutally honest and kick my butt on everything to the point that I stopped taking things personally. That really prepared me for the bigger scene in NYC. It’s important to be open to any type of opportunities that are presented. One of the best things that changed my playing was getting involved in gospel music and playing gospel church services while studying jazz.

What are some of your goals musically for the future?

I plan to release my first EP in the next couple months. I do a lot of production and in July 2014 I started a project to make 100 tracks in order to choose 9 for my full length album. I knew that the project would not only develop my production skills but also expand my catalogue for clients and open up my song writing abilities. I don’t want to throw the album together and want to do it right so I figured in the meantime I’ll release some music so that I can book more shows. I write and produce a lot with this great artist and musician named Elise Testone. Elise and I plan to tour Europe in the near future. Elise and I have worked together for 7 years off and on so there is a special chemistry between us that hopefully you guys will be hip too soon enough at music festivals and around the world. I have my own original project called Myth of An Atom which is a jazz influenced funk hip hop r&b drum and bass vibe band. I plan to do some festival circuit touring with that group as well. Also a high priority is doing more stuff with an electro drum and bass with jazz influence band I play with called Rhythm and Stealth led by Australian Bass Player ,Lex Sadler. Hoping to do a tour with Rhythm and Stealth soon. In the past I’ve done some film scoring and I want to do more of that as well as production for mainstream artists. Hopefully I’ll do some more playing for pop artists on tour and maybe even do some musical directing. I go with the flow a lot but still have goals of ushering more of my income with production so that my playing can be more focused on music I really love and want to be involved in. Since being in Nyc I haven’t got to play as much jazz as I want because it doesn’t necessarily always pay the rent. So hopefully some more challenging gigs that take me out of my element in the near future.

What inspires you to continue to pursue music? Have you ever come close to giving up and if you did, how did you overcome it?

One of the main things that inspires me is to see how music moves people and how much of a necessity it is for people. Music brings so much to the world. Music is one of the only things I’ve seen bring so many different types of cultures of people together. Especially playing in a gospel church you see how your playing can make people laugh, dance and cry. I’d be lost without music personally. One of things that inspires me other than my love and passion for music is certain mentors I’ve met that have showed me that it is possible to live any lifestyle you have ever dreamed of. There is money in the music business but it’s up to the individual to pimp the system and figure out how as an individual they can make it work. I’ve definitely come close to giving up. One of the first instances was when I started studying with one of my most influential mentors, Lee Barbour. He was so cold and didn’t smile and would just say “do it again” when I played something wrong. What I didn’t know is that he had his own zen way of planting a seed in my head that would grow regardless of my choices. He busted my a** on fundamentals, sight reading, and the true soul from Blues and r&b. He also showed me that jazz had no limitations and that it would truly help me learn my instrument. There was a point where I felt that I wasn’t able to do what he asked and I begged my dad to tell him I was sick so that I didn’t have to go…haha…He scared me a little bit, but I knew it was good for me deep down inside. It’s funny to think that now we can chill and hang like friends and that he taught me so much in really a short time. As time as progressed I realize how much similarities we share not just in music. He is truly a great human being who is a master that helped me question everything I was doing in life and in music.

What are some of the things you enjoy most about your career as a performer/recording artist?

I love being able to make a living in NYC doing what I love and it’s just amazing becoming part of this community of fantastic musicians and people that inspire me everyday to be the best I can be. I also love to witness the healing of music and how it can make a persons day better instantly. People from all over the world can play music together without speaking the same language and the journey that comes with it is beautiful.

Do you write music? Where do you get your inspiration?

Yes I write music. I’ve been writing music just about as long as I have been playing guitar. In July 2014 I started a 100 song project to really dive into the writing, producing, and engineering process. Within this process I am going to choose 9 of the 100 tracks to be a full length album with a live band and some of my musical heroes I’ve met and become friends with along the journey of moving to NYC. I am now at 95/100. Many things in life inspire my creation process. I went to a performing arts middle and high school 6-12 where I majored in visual arts so I get a lot of inspiration from that and films. I’m also very inspired by mythology and narrating a story with music composition. Growing up in Vermont and South Carolina inspired my creativity with the incredible nature of the forrests and mountains. The south really put a lot of blues, hip hop, funk, and gospel influence in my life that comes out in my production and performance. A lot of my inspiration originally came from grunge, fusion jazz, blues classic rock, pop and classical. Although, I am all over the place with inspiration….I really love books, world cultures, stories of love, language, and abstract/ambient sounds to be an influence on my song writing and playing.

What was your lamest gig and how did you learn from it? What was the best?

The lamest gig was probably when I showed up unprepared for a gig and learned the importance of really knowing tunes inside and out….Not just your part but every part of the song to understand your role in the music. The biggest rush came from playing the Super Bowl opening ceremony with Queen Latifah but it’s hard to say really what my best gig was. I love each gig because I learn from it and try to be better each time.

Hobbies other than Music:

Visual arts, design, painting, swimming, exercise, nature, yoga

What would your advice be for an up and coming, young musician?

To be as positive as you possible. Practice as much as you can and stay focused on one thing at a time. It’s really important to learn the history and dig into the originators of a lot of the music that’s out today. I really love the music out today and of course you must keep no boundaries but a lot of young musicians don’t listen to or pay attention to the importance of knowing the musicians that built the foundation for today’s sound. I’d also say that a young musician in general should try to play classical, gospel and the blues as much as possible. It’s really key to learn and know tunes….as many as possible. One thing in particular that I can’t stress enough is to not focus so much on the harmony and chops of your instrument. Focus on what matters most, which is : TIME, RHYTHM, GROOVE, and TIMING! Also it’s really important to get hip to the business side of music as well as composing/producing with a DAW such as Ableton Live, Logic, Pro Tools, Reason, etc… The new age of music is something to take advantage of and learn from. I wouldn’t be the player I am today if I didn’t produce because I learn so much about sonic placement and the role of instruments and arrangement. On top of that… If you can publish your music and get placements; you will continually make money, even when you are not doing any new work. However, publishing music and creating an audience base is quite difficult in recent time. You might require a planned strategy or an algorithm that can keep you in the game for a long time. I have also heard some people talking about the benefits of buying plays, streams, and followers on social media platforms like Spotify. You can try that as well! But before that, it would be better for you to know more about the process from websites like https://wpdevshed.com/buy-spotify-plays/. Anyway,
this leads me to the last but not least about composing and improvising as much as possible. Doing these two things will expand and help one explore themselves to the greatest potential.

Are you up for sharing a few items that are in your music playlists at this moment and maybe a little bit about what you dig about them?

Right now I’ve been listening to a lot of Chris Dave Drum Hedz. I love how experimental that group is and they all listen to each other so well. The groove they keep while entering different songs and metric modulations is incredible. Especially a big fan of Chris Dave and Isaiah Sharkey. The mix and sound that Isaiah has going on is so unique and new yet classic and shares similar sounds to George Benson and Joe Pass but with a funky gospel twist.
I am also listening a lot to Kendrick Lamar’s newest album which I’m obsessed with. I’m already a huge hip hop fan and the album is reminiscent of classic funk and jazz sounds interwoven throughout the highly creative hip hop grooves. The album is so thematic and conceptual which I really want to do with my upcoming EP to be released. The level of musicianship, production, composing, and song writing on the record is insane and I love that they took time to make the record and didn’t rush through it.

I am listening to the album “living the luxury brown” by Mint Condition. I was brought to it after finding out it was a record with Chris Dave on it that I hadn’t heard. I really dig this record because it’s a classic 90’s r&b soul vibe and sound but the groove and pocket is so thick on the album and it’s just feel good dance music with great musicians.


Daneglico Guitars
DR strings
Option 5 fx

New releases and projects coming up:

Myth of an Atom- trainseason July 4, 2015
Elise Testone and Slanguage EP Summer 2015
Rhythm and Stealth- monotronic fall 2015


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Published by Shannon Kennedy

Shannon Kennedy is a vocalist and saxophonist living in Southern California. She is author of "The Album Checklist" and the founder of Teen Jazz. She has been contributing articles to music magaizines and websites since 2004.

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