The trap people fall into when discussing Outsider Musicians is to look at them as novelty acts. Artists who create music outside the mainstream have rarely felt so needed. Sometimes it’s easy to overlook how overwhelmingly pervading the mainstream is: how to look; how to sound; what to say in interviews; how to lie to an audience. That’s surely what so many “artists” are guilty of – lying to the general public and their fans…creating an artifice so shockingly removed from the person underneath the manufactured shell, that little remains of the human being who has sacrificed their very essence to become famous. They sing songs detailing lives they don’t know; they quote phrases in interviews which they have been taught to learn; they play the game. The Outsider is either oblivious to these rules or openly flout them. They make music for the pure exuberant joy of it, for the pleasure of making sound where once it didn’t exist, to change the moods of those around them, to intoxicate the senses and to calm fevered minds. They are in so many ways the ‘true musicians’.
Adrian Cohen is an artist outside the mainstream. His musical skill is so profound that to try and tame it or mould it would miss the point entirely. Whereas many 3-year old children would receive a round of applause from their family for picking up a toy trumpet and throwing it at the wall, Adrian was playing his plastic xylophone and replicating songs he heard with almost supernatural skill. As he grew older, it was clear his talent for music was more than just aptitude – he was able to play complex pieces on piano by ear, essentially working through his dad’s collection of LPs, playing perfect impressions of Led Zeppelin, The Beatles…anything he could get his hands on.
From Adrian’s forthcoming album, Jinx, Released March 2019
His skills didn’t stop there. His savantism allowed he to perform calendrical feats of wizardry, being able to tell you what day of the week it was on 23rd July 1870 as quickly as you might check your watch for the time. He can tell you his list of top 500 songs and their running lengths or any other minute fact…as well as the corresponding 500 on Rolling Stone Magazine’s list. Turning to his own compositions, their almost child-like naivety belies an understanding of songwriting that would be utterly beyond the faculties of the majority of “artists” clogging up the radio airwaves. There is no filter – the music Adrian hears within him is exactly what he projects to the listener, as far away from pro-tools and auto-tune as you like, music for the sake of entertainment and enjoyment alone.
With a Christmas single planned (Adrian is essentially Christmas personified, all-year round) it’s to the New Year he is focused, with his new full-length album collecting the best of Mr Cohen to deliver an experience which reminds you what music can and should be.