BY ANDREW FOERCH
“Cooler Than Me” singer Mike Posner will be joined on April 8 by emerging independent artist Adam Friedman, who will perform a full set to open UT’s Party in the Park. Don’t write him off just because you don’t recognize his name – Friedman has a killer voice and has picked up major steam in the commercial music industry over the last year.
Success is new and sweet for the Scottsdale, Arizona-native. He’s been making music in Los Angeles for a few years and has some notable industry connections, but hasn’t yet broken through to the mainstream. In 2017, stardom looks as close as ever for the multi-faceted musician, who in addition to his prominence as a vocalist also plays guitar, keyboard and drums.
On Feb. 10, Friedman dropped his debut solo project – a five-song EP called Green. With it, a new, intense wave of momentum has begun to build for the singer.
Friedman was in his car when we spoke, en route to rehearsal with a drum kit rattling behind his ear as he drove.
“It’s nice to be recognized,” he said, referring to the buzz he’s received in the wake of Green’s release. “Right now, nothing in my life is constant. It’s always changing for better or for worse. At the end of the day, it’s special because my life is music.”
Green opened at No. 14 on Billboard’s Heatseekers Album Chart, and peaked at No. 6 on iTunes Pop Chart. Largely responsible for much of the album’s publicity are it’s two singles, “Lemonade,” and “What if,” which have received 3 and 6 million streams on Spotify, respectively. The former is a breezy, coastal summer tune, supported by a strong guest appearance from Mike Posner. “What if” is a bit more grandiose – a soaring, up-tempo love song suited for those with stars in their eyes.
Love permeates throughout Green. The project’s production isn’t particularly thematic – Friedman wanted to showcase some stylistic diversity – but love is a common thread that holds the project together as more than just a collection of songs. According to Friedman, three of the five tracks were inspired by one very passionate relationship that was lost when his significant other moved home to South America.
“When you’re really in love with somebody and they leave, you have to learn to let them go and that’s a really hard lesson to learn.” Friedman said. “So a lot of the writing reflects that. There’s a lot of love.”
Just three days after releasing Green, Friedman appeared on the Valentine’s Day edition of ABC’s The Bachelor to perform “What if” during a date between contestants Nick Viall and Raven Gates. Friedman’s performance turned heads towards the young singer in a big way, generating 45,000 “Shazams” during the episode – Friedman’s is the most Shazamed guest performance in Bachelor history.
Later that week, Friedman returned to NBC’s Today Show to perform the single. He’d played a set for Today once before when he was chosen as host Elvis Duran’s Artist of the Month in June 2016.
In the midst of his rise to pop prestige, Friedman’s appearance at Party in the Park is no coincidence; he’s been close with headliner Mike Posner since 2014. When Friedman first moved to Los Angeles, his publisher showed Posner a new track of Friedman’s called “Glorious,” written during his time at Berklee College of Music in Boston. The song caught his ear, and Friedman was invited to visit Posner at his LA home a week later. “Glorious” went on to become the theme song for the 2016 animated movie Rock Dog.
Friedman and Posner hit it off at their introductory rendezvous and have been friends ever since. The two wrote and produced three tracks together that would appear on Posner’s “At Night, Alone” album from 2016, as well as two tracks that Friedman would include on Green. Friedman has appeared on tour with Posner on and off since then, and is opening for his 14-stop U.S. national tour this spring: it makes sense to see Friedman opening for Posner at UT as well.
“We just hung out for a while,” Friedman said of his first time meeting Posner. “I think we were on the same wavelength at the time, and we still are. He’s really given me a platform.”
Since linking with Posner, Friedman has focused on getting his music public exposure and trying to grow his image by touring and consistently producing new songs – he mentioned he gets anxious when he isn’t working on something.
Green, his first marketable project, is the natural product of over 15 years of music fascination. Friedman immediately called up a story from when he was eight years old, listening to Blink-182 and shredding air guitar in the reflection of an old CRT television with his brother.
“It looked like we were in the TV, on TV, it was really cool. I remember being just totally enamored by it, like ‘this is awesome. I want to do this,’” Friedman said.
That same year, Friedman got his first electric guitar and was on his way. He grew up obsessing over a diverse array of music, from Ray Charles to Eminem to Sam Cook to the pop punk bands his brother showed him in the early 2000s. That diversity is audible throughout Friedman’s own catalog.
After learning drums and keys in his mid-teens, writing music for commercial jingles out of high school, and studying music at Berklee, the 26-year-old has developed an effortless knack for the kind of catchy, ear-burrowing melodies that you hear circulating AM/FM pop radio playlists. If this year so far is any indication, Friedman isn’t far from hearing his records spun by Internet DJs all over the nation.
The spotlight is beginning to shine on the singer and, at this stage in his career, he’s ready for it. You can hear it in his voice – an excited, youthful passion that he wants to share with the people around him. He’s avoiding the social media semantics and self-doubt that brought him down when he was younger. He’s more mature now, and more self-aware – he’s keeping it simple and it’s working.
“I deeply care about what I’m doing and people like to see people care. I think I can prove to people that I care in my own special, unique way and I hope they get inspired to do the same in their lives,” Friedman said.
Check out Adam Friedman’s set at Party in the Park for, as Friedman said, “a lot of dope vibes, loads of great energy, and [to see him] playing all the instruments” – you might just become a fan.
Andrew Foerch can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org