Adam Quarshie

Freelance writer | Arts & Culture Journalist

United Kingdom

Hello! I’m Adam and I’m a freelance writer based in Bristol.

Much of my work has been in music and culture journalism - I’m interested in music at the experimental fringes, weird electronic sounds and variants of soundsystem culture, often viewed through a historical/political lens.

I also write on social and political issues. I'm increasingly interested in topics related to mental health and our relationship with the natural world, as well as the overlaps between migration, culture, politics and history from below.

I also work in digital communications roles. I’ve worked with the TUC (Trade Union Congress), producing video content and short documentaries. I’ve worked with Coexist CIC - who for a decade managed Hamilton House, one of the largest community and arts spaces in Bristol - as well as Full Circle @ Docklands, a youth centre based in St Paul's, Bristol.

I'm open for commissions. Feel free to get in touch.

Portfolio

Reported features - social & political issues

Huck
02/10/2021
Can psychedelics break down racial barriers?

Our era has been described as a ‘Psychedelic Renaissance’, with growing interest in the potential mental health benefits of hallucinogenics. But could these mind-altering experiences help people of colour navigate racism?

Music features / artist interviews

Crack Magazine
09/14/2022
Coby Sey: Passing Through

Coby Sey is a little sleepy. The London-based artist is dialling in from a hotel room in Puglia, but last night he was in Amsterdam, where he performed alongside friend and collaborator Tirzah at Dekmantel Festival. "It's something I always find myself doing - working during the AM hours," he says, mentioning the copious amounts of energy drinks fuelling this creative routine.

Crack Magazine
07/13/2022
Touching Bass are digging deeper into the transformative power of music

"I'm a Londoner born and bred. My dad's Jamaican and my mum's from Grenada, so Caribbean culture has been my everything right from the start," says DJ, radio presenter and curator Errol Anderson, explaining how the tendrils of sound system culture have woven their way into all that he does.

The Quietus
05/03/2022
Hidden Histories, Alternate Timelines: An Interview With Safa

"When you've been listening to electronic music and producing electronic music for a long time, you start thinking about the roots of it. You think about Detroit." So says architect, researcher, score composer and electronic musician Mhamad Safa.

Crack Magazine
11/18/2021
Cover story: Mica Levi - In dreams

"I was once driving on the motorway and the car next to us was the Ghostbusters car - they're all wearing the uniform." I'm in Mica Levi's studio in south east London, perched on an office chair they found abandoned in the street, when the conversation takes a turn for the surreal.

Crack Magazine
09/23/2021
Proc Fiskal: What lies beneath

About halfway through my conversation with Joe Powers, better known as Proc Fiskal, he starts telling me about a gruesome discovery that was made near where he lives. "Right outside my house they're building trams, so they're ripping up the floor. They found all these bodily remains and skeletons," he says.

The Quietus
05/12/2021
Music Is A Time Machine: Sons of Kemet Interviewed

Ahead of the release of their fourth album, Adam Quarshie caught up with Sons of Kemet to discuss the idea of music transmitting encoded information, escaping the grid and connecting with ancestral knowledge

The Quietus
09/14/2021
Technology Rewires Your Brain: Lee Gamble Interviewed

A couple of days before I'm due to interview Lee Gamble, I stumble across a short documentary about Birmingham on Youtube, which, for some inexplicable reason, is narrated by Telly Savalas, star of the American cop series Kojak.

The Quietus
07/13/2021
Before Language There Was Sound: Nene H Interviewed

Following a family tragedy, Berlin-based producer Nene H combined modular synthesis with the instruments of her native Turkey to produce her debut album, a powerful sonic document of healing. Adam Quarshie discusses the confines of classical music and balancing conflicting identities with her.

The Quietus
03/02/2021
Summoning The Ancestors: Muqata'a Interviewed

Following the release of his new album Kamil Manqus, Adam Quarshie spoke to Palestinian hip hop producer and electronic musician Muqata'a about growing up under military occupation and making music as a way to preserve collective memory.

The Quietus
09/26/2019
A Thing Of Beauty, A Crime Scene: Matana Roberts Interviewed

Ahead of her performance as part of the London Borough of Waltham Forest’s People’s Forest season, Adam Quarshie spoke to visionary US jazz musician and storyteller Matana Roberts about the role of nature in shaping her creativity.

The Quietus
08/04/2020
Unfurling Threads: Duval Timothy Interviewed

"I don't call myself someone that has synaesthesia, but I definitely equate sounds to colours," Duval Timothy tells me over a Zoom call. He's at his parents' home in South London, where he's spent most of lockdown, having managed to catch an emergency flight back from Freetown, Sierra Leone.

International Orange
Rian Treanor's Experimental Care Works

As an addendum to a longer interview published recently for The Quietus, Adam Quarshie speaks to electronic musician Rian Treanor about making computer music with the residents of a care home in Paris. Rian Treanor is best known for his innovative, hyperactive and fearless approach to electronic music production, which relies heavily on algorithmic and [...]

The Quietus
07/16/2019
You Can Get Lost In Your Vision: Conny Prantera Interviewed

World Zero live photograph by George Lane The Seer, IMPATV and UKAEA present World Zero at Supersonic Festival on Sunday 21 July In Greek mythology, Cassandra was bestowed with the gift of prophecy by Apollo. But after rejecting his advances, Apollo retaliated by ensuring that no one would ever believe her.

The Quietus
01/13/2020
Circuits Have A Life Force: Squarepusher Interviewed

In the run up to Squarepusher's fifteenth studio release and performance at the 2020 CTM Festival in Berlin, Adam Quarshie caught up with him to discuss the tragic events that preceded the album, his early years in Chelmsford and his relationship to technology

The Quietus
04/29/2020
Heal Your Soul: Fatoumata Diawara's Favourite Music

Acclaimed Malian musician Fatoumata Diawara talks Adam Quarshie through her favourite records, explaining the influence of powerful female vocalists from both the United States and from Mali's Wassoulou region.

The Quietus
03/14/2019
Language Defines Who You Are: An Interview With Charlotte Adigéry

When Charlotte Adigéry's first few tracks started appearing under the Wwwater moniker, it was immediately clear that a slightly devious imagination was at work. In the video for the track 'Screen' - a satire about the narcissism and pathology underlying our smartphone and social media use - she sits in a bathtub, drooling, while she scrolls endlessly on her phone.

The Quietus
09/26/2018
Ghost Drummers & Cave Dubs: An Interview With HHY & The Macumbas

"In Portugal, in the places where I grew up, there was always this connotation of Macumba as something beyond reason", explains Jonathan Uliel Saldanha when I ask him about the name of his band, the frenetic, boundary-dissolving ensemble HHY & The Macumbas. "Macumba was anything that you couldn't explain", he says.

The Quietus
08/14/2018
I Long For The Calmness Of The Old World: Ghostpoet Interviewed

A couple of days before my interview with Ghostpoet, I'd started reading a book I'd picked up at my local library (yes, I still go to libraries) called The End Of Absence. Written by Canadian journalist Michael Harris, the book describes how the generation born before 1985 (which includes Ghostpoet and myself) will be the last to remember a world without the internet.

The Quietus
07/30/2018
Maroons, Outcasts & Alchemists: Gaika Interviewed

About an hour into my conversation with Gaika, we're getting deep into a discussion of the Maroons. "I liked the idea of the Maroons escaping to the mountains", he says, "whether it was in Jamaica or Brazil or wherever, and they would build these fortresses in the bush and no one could get them".

Essays & opinion pieces

Verso
03/26/2020
Solidarity in Times of Crisis

In response to the novel coronavirus outbreak, mutual aid groups have sprung up across Britain to help those most vulnerable. Adam Quarshie looks at the actions of these solidarity networks, and asks what we can learn from the history of mutual aid.

Reviews - albums, books, live events & festivals

Crack Magazine
Klein - 'Harmattan' review

The Harmattan is the name given to a season that occurs across west Africa, where dust from the Sahara is blown in from the north, subsuming the otherwise harsh light of the sun and creating an otherworldly haze, almost like fog.

Crack Magazine
The Best Film Scores of the Year

From dangerous road trips to desert terrains and harrowing examinations of FBI surveillance. In 2021, these composers brought the drama through the art of film scoring. Here are our top 10 soundtracks of the year, unranked Dir.

The Quietus
08/30/2018
Escape Notes: Szun Waves' New Hymn To Freedom

Though I spend several hours a day listening to music, it's rare that I come across a track that forces me to pause whatever else I'm doing and just listen. 'Fall Into Water', the second track on Szun Waves' New Hymn To Freedom, does just that.

The Quietus
02/19/2019
King Midas Sound - Solitude

Getting on the tube at rush hour a couple of days ago I'm reminded of the constant stress of the capital. These amped-up cortisol levels, exasperation and angst of London are all energies that have informed much of the work of Kevin Martin, in his guises as both The Bug and King Midas Sound.

The Quietus
05/10/2018
The Lead Review | Down To Earth: Idris Ackamoor & The Pyramids' An Angel Fell

During a second listen to the title track on An Angel Fell, the latest release from Idris Ackamoor & The Pyramids, I suddenly recall the climactic scene in Blade Runner where Rutger Hauer as Roy Batty delivers his famous, William Blake-inspired speech: "Fiery the angels fell / deep thunder rolled around their shores / burning with the fires of Orc."

The Quietus
05/01/2019
Things Learned At: Intonal Festival

I've never been to a gig on the rooftop of a Swedish rowing club before - or any other kind of rowing club for that matter - but that's where I found myself on the opening night of Malmö's Intonal festival, with the last rays of evening sunlight glinting off the surface of the canal below.

The Quietus
11/03/2019
Knowle West Boy: Reading Tricky's Memoir

About a third of the way through his new autobiography, Tricky tells us that "my music is weird because I don't know what I'm doing". For someone who by his own admission can't play an instrument, sing or dance, Tricky has had a remarkable impact on British music.

Bristol 24/7
11/21/2016
Review: Submerge Festival, Ghosts

I enter the Church of St Thomas the Martyr to find a much more sombre atmosphere than I encountered yesterday at the Loco Klub. Elusive techno/industrial producer Rrose is dressed head-to-toe in black, sitting onstage cross-legged in meditation pose, with her back to the audience.

Video content for TUC (Trades Union Congress), 2019-2020

Black Icons series (Future Publishing)

Future Publishing
03/11/2020
The Black Panther Party

An introduction to the Black Panther Party for Future's 'Black Icon's bookazine

Future Publishing
01/11/2020
Patrice Lumumba

The life of Congolese independence leader Patrice Lumumba

Future Publishing
05/21/2021
Exile in England

Detailing Bob Marley's exile in England, 1977-78. Future Publishing Bob Marley Bookazine.

Future Publishing
Turbulent Times

Detailing the social and political changes happening in Jamaica from 1974-76 and how they impacted Bob Marley & The Wailers.

About History
12/09/2021
Jimi Hendrix at Woodstock

The closing act at the legendary 1969 Woodstock Music Festival, Jimi Hendrix’s performance was one of the iconic moments of the 1960s

From the Hamilton House blog, (Coexist CIC), Bristol, 2016/2017

Medium
03/17/2017
Building a new economy for Stokes Croft

Most people who have spent any time in the area will be familiar with the People's Republic of Stokes Croft. From their base on Hillgrove Street, a stone's throw from Hamilton House, they oversee Jamaica Street Studios and Stokes Croft China, and are also active in the Bearpit.

Medium
08/29/2017
Halting the Developers: Lessons from The Cube

If you know where to the find it, The Cube is one of the gems of Stokes Croft. Tucked away behind King's Square, it's a volunteer-run cinema, showing arthouse and independent films, weird cult movies and hosting events like the Bristol Radical Film Festival as well as regular live gigs.

Medium
07/08/2017
Brooklyn to Bristol: A Samba Teacher's Journey

Over the past few months, so much energy and headspace in the Coexist office has been taken up by the campaign to try and buy the building - which is still happening behind the scenes- that it feels like we've lost sight of the original purpose of this blog, which is to tell the stories of some of the amazing humans who've found their to Bristol and made Hamilton House their creative home.

Medium
08/16/2016
Community Cycles

Meeting the Bristol Bike Project It's around 10 in the morning and the workshop at the Bristol Bike Project is being jolted into life. Cups of tea are being prepared, tools are being laid out and a team of volunteers have assembled, ready to help out for the day.

Medium
08/09/2016
In conversation with Bristol Refugee Rights

Reading the news at the moment is a pretty bleak experience. Fear and political instability dominate the headlines, and it's hard not feel despondent. But Bristol is a city filled with people seeking to create positive changes that resonate both locally and globally.

Medium
10/18/2016
El Arte de Resistencia / The Art of Resistance

Tucked into a curve on Mexico's southern coastline, the state of Oaxaca is known for its rugged mountainous landscapes, the Spanish colonial architecture of its capital city and its vibrant art scene. Along with neighbouring Chiapas, a high proportion of its inhabitants are of indigenous origin.

From my music & travel blogs, 2014-2018

Attack/Decay
05/03/2018
Lost in the Wastelands: Wilderness, Capitalism & Mental Health

Hiding out in the Mountains I've been feeling increasingly drawn towards mountains. Over the past few years, I've been lucky enough to go on several journeys and each time I've gone somewhere with mountainous landscapes close by: the Anti-Atlas in southern Morocco; Granada in Andalucia, with its views of the Sierra Nevada shimmering in the distance;...

Attack/Decay
06/26/2016
African Hacker

Thoughts on Saul Williams, Martyr Loser King, hacking & scavenger culture] Saul Williams appears in a black bird's mask and black jacket, crouching down on stage in a kind of bow, before stepping up to the mic. He's alone on stage, without a backing band or DJ, musical support coming via the sound booth...

Attack/Decay
01/28/2018
Bogota Street Art - Social Commentary and Indigenous Psychedelia

It's hard to wrap your head around a new megacity that you've just landed in at the best of times, let alone when your body is still adjusting to the altitude, your head is rattling with crime warnings and you've already had a run-in with the local police.

Attack/Decay
12/01/2014
Electronic Alchemy

Connecting the dots between Jungle, time travel, sampling, alchemy & Alan Moore] Two things have got me thinking recently about the role of electronic musicians in an increasingly digital and media-saturated culture. The first was seeing The Last Angel of History, a film made in 1996 by John Akomfrah.

Glass Tunnels
02/16/2014
Strange encounters at Buddha Park

I am in a minivan headed to the Lao capital, Vientiane. The driver is going extremely fast. While he is no doubt adept at avoiding the adults, children, chickens, pigs, cows, dogs, cars, trucks, and motorbikes that make use of Lao roads, he is arguably driving a little bit too fast.

Glass Tunnels
02/10/2014
Business of war

I clamber out of the minivan, contorted like a gargoyle after sharing three seats with four people for seven hours. The van is instantly surrounded by a dozen tuk-tuk drivers and touts advertising local guesthouses but I am still too sleepy to even know where I am.