2014 Schedule
Interactive: March 7–11  •  Film: March 7–15  •  Music: March 11–16

Bipolar Sunshine


Ideas for songs come to Adio Marchant all the time: when he wakes up, as he’s falling to sleep, in the middle of conversations (which can lead to misuderstandings, when he suddenly zones out). And when he’s washing up. No, really. “It’s because you’re doing the same thing and not having to focus on anything else,” he chuckles, “just this steady task. And that motion means that everything else in your mind just settles down. And that’s when I start thinking about what I actually want to be thinking about. It’s just always been my thing. I’m not saying that every time I wash up I come up with a song. I wish! But it does happen.”

To judge by his new music, Adio – previously the co-vocalist with the Manchester six-piece Kid British and now operating under the name Bipolar Sunshine – must have been slaving away at the kitchen sink a fair bit, because the past 18 months have been prolific, and the results are a revelation. As his debut release as Bipolar Sunshine, June’s Aesthetics EP, demonstrated so thrillingly, Adio is an artist for whom making music isn’t so much a choice as a necessity; it is as if these sounds have been bubbling away within him and are now, finally, bursting into glorious life. Ask the quietly spoken Mancunian where that music was hiding all those years and he answers with a grin: “I wish I knew.” He is just as unclear about where his singing voice – soulful, vulnerable, euphoric, and, alongside his often incredibly candid lyrics, the key ingredient in Adio’s music – comes from. “I never thought that I was a singer, or that I ever could be. It was my producer [Jazz Purple] who forced it out of me. He’d keep saying: ‘You can sing. You can do this. Don’t waste it: sing these songs in your voice,’ and the more I did it, the more I believed in it.”

Adio’s new music has its roots in the period leading up to Kid British’s decision to call it a day. “I remember,” he says, “at the beginning of 2012, thinking, ‘I’m going into this year doing something I don’t see taking me where I need to get to’. I’d been writing some music for myself, and I eventually managed to tell them that I wanted to do my own thing, that I’d stay committed to them but it had to be alongside doing my own music. I’d started working with Jazz about four months before that. The first time I went round to his house, he took out his acoustic guitar and we just clicked; we must have written seven or eight songs in the first two days.”

The end of Kid British was, Adio says, “completely without animosity. I don’t think I’d have come into this feeling the same if that hadn’t been the case. Working with Jazz made me realise that this was what I needed to do, so I told the others. But then Mani from the Stone Roses rang and asked us to support the band on their tour, and I just thought, ‘I can’t say no to that!’ We knew before we did it that that was the end, but it felt good because it was a mutual decision, and it was an amazing way to bow out.”

Rivers, the first track on the Aesthetics EP, was iTunes’ Single of the Week. The lead song on Adio’s new EP, ‘Drowning Butterflies’, is every bit as strong. Love More Worry Less’s title says it all, admits its writer. “There’s definitely an element in there where I’m talking to myself. But I’m always over-thinking. I got to the point last year where I thought, ‘Do you know what? You’re doing what you want to do. Go for it, enjoy it.’ You can spend all your time looking forward to things, anticipating them. But you have to enjoy that moment. Now. I’m doing what loads of people dream of doing.”

The dense, lush soundscapes, uncompromising subject matter and conversational vocals on the two EPs came as a surprise to Adio’s family and friends, he says. Fire, from the first EP, tells the story of a couple locked in a spiral of domestic arguments and hanging on for dear life to the hope that first brought them together. “My mum was really shocked when I played that to her,” says Adio. “She’d been used to this music that had a really mellow vibe, soft choruses and all that, and she went: ‘I didn’t think you had this in you.’ But in my mind, I’d always been trying to figure out it out: ‘What do I actually have to do to find the zone, find my thing?’ I’ve always loved big pop, the bigger artists who know exactly what they are doing and do it in a way that is totally accepted, and totally adamant. Reinvention is the best thing of all in music, to be able to go: ‘Do you know what? This is me now. That’s what I did last year. This year I’m doing this.’ You look at artists such as Bowie, Morrissey, Kanye: their approach is uncompromising in terms of what they want to do. All three of them have always just gone: ‘Here it is.’ So that became my mission. How do I find that in me? And I realised that the only thing to do was to try to be as honest as possible. I want people to listen to Bipolar Sunshine and go: ‘He was actually in Kid British?’”

You could happily waste hours trying to pigeonhole Bipolar Sunshine’s music, but there isn’t any one box you could squeeze it into: hip-hop, indie, nu-soul, alt-rap, dance, psychedelia, electronic and Beatlesy pop come together in a melting pot that attests to Adio’s open-minded approach to creativity. Trouble, track three on the new EP, is typically uncategorisable, with echoes of George Gershwin, the Beach Boys, PM Dawn, Tears for Fears and Prefab Sprout. As I said, find a box big enough for that. “I remember when I was at secondary school,” says Adio, “you’re bound to be influenced by what the other kids are listening to, so there was a lot of Fugees, Nas, old-school garage. Not many of the black kids were into indie, but one mate of mine was a big fan of Oasis, and everyone else would go, ‘Why’s he listening to them?’ I was always in the middle. I could never understand, and I still can’t, why anyone would get upset about what other people were listening to. You either like something or you don’t. For instance, my mum used to play a lot of reggae, but she also loved the Carpenters. You listen to a Carpenters song and the moment her voice comes in, it stuns you. That’s what it’s about. Not this genre or that genre.”

Coming up with the Bipolar Sunshine name was, Adio continues, a key moment, “because it gave me something I could write towards, if that makes sense. There are good days and bad ones if you do this, but there are for everyone. I have times when I’m buzzing, and times when I’m full of self-doubt. All my favourite music expresses that contrast, that conflict. Accepting that was a turning point, because it helped me understand the sounds and lyrics that were coming out of me, the music I was making. It opened up a new chapter in my mind; it was this sudden feeling of: ‘I can do this’. And as soon as that happened, all the ideas I’d had running through my head for about five years suddenly began to make sense. I was finally in that zone.”

His debut album is nearing completion, and will be released early next year. Right now, Adio is trying to concentrate on the final tweaks and mixes, and not get distracted by new ideas. But still they keep coming. “Even this morning,” he laughs “I woke up and was going through my phone, I’ve got all these ideas on there and I was just buzzing. I’m on it constantly. The worst thing would be if you sort of just went: ‘This’ll do’. That’s when you’re going down and you should stop doing it. But I’m so excited, I’m on it all the time.”

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