The Lab, South Australia’s newest multi genre immersive performance space, sits in Light, a cultural hub in the heart of Adelaide’s West End district. One of the projects christening the space, by multi-instrumentalist Adam Page, looks not just original, but quite an endurance test. Going by the name 24 Hours, the idea is to present a work of continuous live music aimed at dissecting the one thing that remains constant and unwavering in life: time. Limelight caught up with Adam Page ahead of the event.
Adam Page. Photo © Jack Fenby
Whose idea was this project, and did the idea develop as it went along or was it conceived pretty much as it stands?
It came about during a conversation with Anne Wiberg, the Artistic Director of The Lab, a new venue dedicated to presenting original and challenging performances. When she asked me what I wanted to do there, the idea of playing a 24-hour show popped into my head and the rest is history.
What’s the thinking behind the piece, and what are you hoping it will ‘say’ to audiences?
I had just finished reading Tasmanian author Heather Rose’s novel Museum of Modern Love, which follows the lives of a number of characters witnessing an installation by the performance artist Marina Abromović. I was intrigued by Abromović and the endurance aspect of a lot of her performance art. While reading it, I kept having visions of putting myself out there in a similar way. So, when this opportunity presented itself, I jumped at the opportunity.
I am hoping the audience can enter the venue with an open mind and a healthy dose of empathy and compassion! The music will no doubt be different to what I would normally present. Instead of the high energy, wholly interactive nature of my music I am imagining this to be a much slower burn. It will be very introspective. I hope the audience can breathe with me and let the waves of sound consume them as they will me. I want my audience to realise that art can be consumed and created in many different ways and hope to help them understand that if the art isn’t challenging for the performer and the audience, then what is the point of art.
Is the music conventionally notated or are there improvisatory elements?
It will be 99 percent improvised. I have written a 24-note melody with chord changes that will inform the first notes of every hour but apart from that I am letting the music evolve organically.
What instruments do you imagine will be involved, are there electronic elements, and what is your thinking behind those choices?
I will be using loop pedals and effects as my main tool for creating the spontaneous compositions/improvisations. The instruments on stage will be varied and eclectic. For example: soprano, alto, tenor and baritone saxophones, flute, clarinet, analogue synthesisers, keyboards, an array of percussion instruments, beat sampler/drum machine, Native American flutes, guitar, bass guitar, ukulele, kalimba, tooth drum, theremin – and I’m sure there will be more.
Adelaide’s The Lab. Photo © Jack Fenby
Is it just you on stage, and are others involved (both onstage and off)?
It will be just me performing the music but there will be two visual artists (Capital Waste and Ryan Sahb) working over the 24 hours creating analogue visual effects piped into the stunning 50 square metres of HD screens that wrap around the room.
What time of day will the show start, and how do you imagine the music transitioning from one ‘event’ to another?
The show will start at 7 pm. I will be observing my body and mind deeply throughout the performance. I will listen to what is needed within and try to speak to it through my music. Each hour will end and begin with a drone (taken from the next note of the 24-note melody). This will be a moment to take stock and re-connect with reality, which I think will help with the transitions and musical evolution.
What kind of moments, emotions or experiences do you imagine the music exploring? Will it be as obvious/concrete as “breakfast music”, “being at work music”, or do you imagine it will more likely reflect inner thoughts and emotions?
Each hour will have a specific ‘vibe’ – at least that is how it will begin. Obviously, if my intention was to be mellow but my mind needs stimulation, I will ramp thing up a bit. I am expecting that my music will reflect my state of mind for most of the performance, but it helps me to have a springboard to jump from.
How obviously illustrative is the music, or is it meant to be more suggestive?
I think it will 50/50… for example, 4 am is traditionally known as The Witching Hour. I plan on my music becoming very dark and somewhat evil. I am going to imagine rituals and occult practices… so that should get interesting and very ‘illustrative’.
A performance at The Lab. Photo © Jack Fenby
Six to eight hours sleep is a lot of time to cover. What kinds of events do you imagine exploring during this period, and will the night music be significantly different from the day music?
Between midnight and 6am I imagine being the most difficult as I will be fighting with my natural body rhythms. I have met with a nutritionist who has given me a detailed meal plan to keep my energy up over the duration of the performance, so I hope that helps. I am also relying on adrenaline kicking in at some point too. If I have an audience over that time frame, I might have to create some dance music to wake us all up at some point!
How tough do you think 24 hours will be for you as performer, and do you have plans to stop yourself falling asleep?
Oh, VERY tough indeed, both mentally and physically. I am not just playing instruments; I am also using my feet to record into my loop pedals. Even after an hour-long show my legs can feel fatigued. I need to make sure I don’t peak too soon. In terms of not falling asleep, I think if I breathe correctly and constantly check my posture that should help. And drink water, plenty of water.
The show is designed for audiences to experience either small blocks, or for the eager, the full 24 hours. What would you recommend, and if you were only up for a couple of hours, when would you suggest someone might get the best experience?
I’m not going to lie – 24 hours will definitely be the best way to experience this, but I understand it is a big ask. I am looking forward to going on this journey with those who are going the whole hog but equally excited to see the reaction from a fresh audience walking in on an artist who has been at it for hours and hours – I think I will be quite ragged!
As a new venue on the Adelaide music scene, how important has The Lab been when it comes to realising the performance?
I don’t think I could pull this off anywhere else in Australia. The Lab’s commitment to presenting original and challenging art creates the perfect breeding ground for ambitious projects such as this one.
Adam Page’s 24 Hours kicks off at The Lab at 7 pm on 29 April. The concert will be recorded for future release by Wizard Tone Records