Adam Forkner, the man behind creative forces such as his bands Yume Bitsu and
his most current project VVRSSNN (pronounced "version") took the time
out of his peaceful Portland afternoon to answer some questions from me via
e-mail. The fall months are promised to deliver some good times from Adam and
company. Keep an eye out on this one-man band, Version. You have a good thing
coming, baby. See what Adam has to say about his bands, being on the K Records
label, and why dolphins are so fascinating.
Owl Kill You (Tiny Mix Tapes): How are you?
Adam Forkner (Version, Yume Bitsu): I'm great. Dolphin Fest Northwest
happened here in Portland last night and it was absolutely amazing-- Video, seven
bands, two DJ's, in such a great space (http://www.holocene.org).
An amazing, positive night of pure full spectrum lazer energy. Yume Bitsu played
their only performance of the year 2003.
Owl Kill You: You are starting a tour soon. Do you plan to tour a lot
with your new project, Version?
Adam Forkner: Right now, I'm planning a 5 to 6 week tour of the United
States in October and November. I will be bringing along my good friend Dave
Longstreth (a.k.a. the Dirty Projectors). He will have three records out by
year's end, and I want to get him in front of new people. He sings on the first
song on my VVRSSNN album, and his own music is simply brilliant.
Owl Kill You: You have the ultimate opportunity to let the TMT readers
know what VVRSSNN is. Tell me where did Version begin, how did the
project get its start?
Adam Forkner: I've been making music with other people as part of
improvisational groups for a long time, since I was a kid playing jazz with my
dad. This record was a chance for me to explore recording by myself, as well as
collaborating with new partners, like Bobby Birdman, Dave Longstreth, and
Jeremiah and Eric from Modest Mouse... So in a way I wanted to strike out on my
own with a singular voice; but at the same time, my voice is at least partially
defined my collective musical creativity.
I started playing solo shows in October of 2002. Dave Longstreth, who is an
intense and confident solo performer, and I did a short tour of the Northeast.
That's where I think I found the inspiration for the VVRSSNN
album. I started work on it as soon as I got back from that tour and finished
it by around January of this year.
The concept of calling the album/project-name VVRSSNN spawns from the
reggae/dancehall term for remix: (Version). I've just gone one simple step
further and remixed the word itself. This concept of abstraction, remix, dub,
etc is something I tried to fuse to the very core of this "band.” You see that
concept in the eight different album covers I had my friends make. Each one is
the front cover. You see that in the repetition of themes in the music itself. I
read a review that said the songs were all just remixes of a central core, and I
think that's partially correct. Though I'm not quite sure what that central core
is, except for the concept of "version" and abstraction itself.
This is all just a complicated way of saying I misspell things and constantly
change up the music on purpose.
Owl Kill You: There is lots of talk about good vibes and dolphins and
peace with the sounds of Version when you are talking about the band and its
sounds. Can you explain more?
Adam Forkner: Our family of friends has dubbed this year the “Year of the
Dolphin.” It all started on new years when we had a party in Los Angeles with
one of those inflatable romper castles that was filled with inflatable toy
dolphins for some random reason. Perhaps they came as a deal from the rental
place with the castle. Anyway, as the night wore on, the dolphins all sort of
popped. At the end of the party, we realized that, much like the phoenix rising
from its own ashes, the dolphins were reborn in our hearts. It has been our duty
ever since to promote this positive realization to everyone else.
My good friend Alex Hubbard, ("the video artist" to quote The Big Lebowski), has
made a series of videos inspired by this dolphin new age energy, and those videos
have musical accompaniment recorded by Franz Prichard, the other half of Yume
Bitsu. The video/audio CD is available from
Statesrightsrecords.com. They are the core of all dolphin healing positive
The point is dolphins are fun, smart, playful creatures rife with irony. We can
look at new age metaphysics with the same sort of ironic wink. But the core of
what all those dolphin-lovers and new age crystal dreamers are trying to tell us
is good: be peaceful, have fun (like the dolphins), enjoy community. So it's
ironic and sincere at the same time.
To learn more, go to our website
Owl Kill You: Version's website is visually powerful. I love the
colors and the amazing good vibes I get from visiting. After this fall tour is
finished, do you have other plans for Version?
Adam Forkner: Yes. I have plans for three new solo projects that may or
may not carry the "VVRSSNN" name. The name is supposed to change by its
1. SOFT DOLPHIN: an ambient record of the softest, mellowest sounds. Based on
live ambient/electronic music performances I've done in clubs around Portland
for the last year.
2. YARN LAZER: a rock group format, with more broken vocals, with contributions
by members of Thanksgiving. Neil Youngish, but still a lot of sparse improv.
Also deeper crazy funk based on performances I've done with various bands in and
around Portland for the last few months.
3. an a capella record: a collaboration with Dave Longstreth on a
computer/glitch record made entirely from recordings of our voices, based on
singing quasi-African chants with Dave. We do this all the time. It's fun.
Owl Kill You: Yume Bitsu is your first K Records band. The sounds are
so natural and I feel like they can make me escape my dark room to some ocean
side home on the Pacific Northwest. Who/what, are your biggest influences for
the sounds that come from Yume Bitsu?
Adam Forkner: The sound of Yume Bitsu grew organically as Franz Prichard
and I developed together as musicians from the age of 18 until now, almost 10
years later. I would say our early influences were other trippy stuff, as well
as lots of world music. And of course regular old college indie rock, but now we
are totally just our own thing. We play, and that sound comes out of us.
Owl Kill You: According the K Recs site Yume Bitsu plans to release a
7 inch. Can you give us a little information on what we can expect from that?
When will it be released?
Adam Forkner: Yume Bitsu has a few little projects in the works. A one-sided 12-inch we have been meaning to release for over a year, that 7-inch, which
is some stuff from The Golden Vessyl of Sound sessions that didn't make
the album but are still amazing songs, and we are starting to work on a new
record. Unfortunately, with Franz entering graduate school in L.A. and me busy
up here in Portland and touring, Yume has slowed down. But when we do come, we
come FIERCE and true.
Owl Kill You: The Invisible Family Shield is a driving force that
makes K Records so unique. It's so awesome to see such closeness within a label.
What is it like to work with your other friends on their projects (i.e. Phil
Elvrum of Mount Eerie/Microphones, Calvin Johnson, C.O.C.O., etc)? What part do
you play in the family?
Adam Forkner: I'm not sure. We're all just really good friends and the
connections I have never fade, even as I meet new people to collaborate with. I
just love to help my friends actualize their creative dreams. I'm a born
producer I think. So maybe that's my role: producer, helper, supporter, and
promoter. I also love to get balls rolling on crazy festival ideas, like the
Dolphin Fest, or What the Heck Fest. I find inspiration in creating
"happenings.” So promoter, producer, party thrower/hype-man, and I play a
mean-ass guitar solo, too. And occasional trumpet, drums, and other stuff.
Owl Kill You: Does Calvin cook dinner for you guys every night and
sing you lullabies before you go to sleep?
Adam Forkner: No, usually if I stay at Calvin's house; he keeps me up all
night playing me weird new 45s he bought at some thrift store in some podunk
town in the middle of nowhere on his last tour.
Owl Kill You: Music is definitely influenced by the sounds of other
artists. With that said, what are some your choice artists to listen to right
Adam Forkner: Atlantian Waves (Franz Prichard), The Dirty Projectors
(Dave Longstreth), also a lot of contemporary hip-hop. Especially the production
of the Neptunes and Timbaland. I'm also pretty into the last anti-pop consortium
record. I also listen to a lot of dub reggae, Neil Young, and tons of electronic
music. But that stuff I listen to once for ideas and then move on. My friends
and I have such a huge mp3 music collection that I basically listen to as much
music as I can all day every day, without much repeat listening-- just absorbing
ideas from all genres of music all the time.
Owl Kill You: Are there any constants? You know bands you will always
listen to, even when you are 80.
Adam Forkner: I keep going back to Joni Mitchell's, Blue. Besides that,
it's an on-going journey. I'm addicted to listening to new things and making new
things. I think that sort of fading out of old things while new life takes over