Adam Baerd
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Adam Baerd

Boulder, Colorado, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2018 | AFM

Boulder, Colorado, United States | AFM
Established on Jan, 2018
Solo Pop Alternative




"Boulder Guitarist Adam Baerd Just Dropped A Three-Hour Improvised Album"

Boulder musician Adam Baerd was struggling to release music. He's a perfectionist, and he struggled to get over the hump of never feeling pleased enough with his work to share it with the world.

Hoping to break through, Baerd and an audio engineer got together in the studio for a recording session; he has a knack for improvisation and imagined something interesting and fun would come from jamming on an acoustic guitar.

To say Baerd finally broke through would be an undersell. The results are a whopping three hours' worth of completely improvised material, aptly titled Perfectish, a project broken into three hour-long tracks.

Ahead of the Perfectish February 18 release, Baerd spoke to Westword about how the project came to be, experimentation, what else he'd like to do with music, and how performing at nursing homes and for his grandmother had a profound impact on his life.

"Westword: What was the big idea behind the release? What drew you to a three-hour release of improvised guitar playing?"

Adam Baerd: I, like a lot of people, especially musicians, have a perfectionistic neurosis a little bit. Something about just recording a bunch of improvised music and putting it out into the world, I guess it was kind of my way of telling myself, hey, that’s cool. This music can still be valid and interesting and worth something.

I have a lot of friends that I feel like just sit on their music, and they’ve got a bunch of good stuff that they have to release, but it just never gets there. This was my random experiment to see if I could overcome that part about myself.

"How do you feel like the experiment turned out?"

Perfect-ish, is how I’d say. And that’s what’s fun about it: I’m trying not to judge it too much. The minute you start judging your improvisation is the minute it starts to get kind of weird. I’ve just been enjoying the process, which I think was my whole plan. I had fun.

"When did you figure out that you could play for this long and that it was worth releasing?"

It all started with a friend of a friend saying he’s an audio engineer over at UI Sound Studios, and we just talked about, hey, let’s see what happens. I spend most of my practice regime improvising, and especially when I meet new people, other musicians, that’s my favorite way to get to know somebody immediately. So, I figured, hey, okay, let’s just book an hour of time and see what comes out.

I think initially, we were just thinking that if there’s a really good part, we’d take that out and make it into a track or refine it or something. But we did the whole hour, and at the end said, "Oh, that was kind of fun." It was almost like a podcast or something.

Then we decided to do a couple more sessions, and by the time we did the third one, we said, "Well, maybe we should just put these together and not change it from the way it is," just to see if that would be exciting.

Honestly, it was just really fun, and I wanted to do it more after our first session.

"What do you anticipate the listener response to be? Is this a totally niche thing?"

[Laughs.] Well, as a finger-style guitarist, I’m pretty used to niche. Honestly, I have no idea, and that’s what I’m excited about. I think there’s a place for people who are really into finger-style guitar and alternate tunings and capos and all that stuff, and I think there’s also the element of you can put it on while you send emails. It’s commute music, or more that sort of chill-out-vibe sort of thing.

I’m honestly very curious to know how people use it — when they listen to it, where they listen to it. No data yet, but we’ll find out, I guess.

"What’s an average practice session like for you?"

It totally varies based on the day. I’d say I get at least two or three hours of musical practice in, but that can mean a lot of things; on a good day, it’s five or six or until my arms start hurting and I have to chill out. But it’s a mix of things. I really try to not over-prescribe it.

I don’t really subscribe to the classical school of playing one passage over and over for an hour just to get it perfect. I admire that in theory, but my brain gets a little distracted. So a practice session can be anything. Earlier, I was reading some gypsy-jazz charts on the mandolin, trying to figure out chord shapes for that.

Before that, I was trying to play drums to flamenco music because that’s what came on my Spotify Discover while I had it on.

It could be piano work, vocal improvisation or just a total mix of things, which has been really great for my ear: just trying to listen to something and then say, okay, what do I have in my hands? What am I hearing? How can I make these two play along, even if they shouldn’t? Example: if I’m trying to play banjo over classical music. I still enjoy the process.

"Sounds like a lot of experimenting and getting into unusual pairings."

Yeah. It’s about finding a vibe or a groove. I really enjoy when two things aren’t working together, and then trying to figure out how to make that work. That’s where it becomes really fun to me, and that’s what I really enjoy about the practice regimes.

I don’t have to worry so much if it’s sounding bad, because something sounding bad is usually the precursor to it sounding kind of cool and then even good.

"Other than playing for three hours, completely improvised, what else are you doing with music?"

As of last year, I started doing it professionally full-time and using that time to really focus on what I needed to focus on. I’ve been doing some scoring work for AAA, Chili’s, things like that, and I’ve been playing around town. I’ve actually really enjoyed playing nursing homes.

My grandmother had a degenerative brain disease, so I’d go visit her and play. She’s sort of where I got my music background, and it was [eye-opening]. Sometimes she wouldn’t even recognize me, and then I’d play, and boom, she’d be back. That was pretty powerful, seeing that.

I’ve continued to do that in her stead, which has been really fun.

"That does sound really great. So what do you see next for yourself? Any chance you'll try to make Perfectish Part Two?"

I’m exploring. I’m always exploring what to try to release next or what I want to pursue. The next official thing is I’ll be recording a full-on live album, and that show will be in June. That’ll be a very different thing: very structured. It will have an accompanying video, all of that sort of thing, which will be a very different take.

I like pushing in different ways. I’d like to do one of these three-hour sessions again, even if just for my own enjoyment. But I think it’ll be a bit before I revisit this.

The three-hour sessions are a weird mix of energizing and exhausting. When I reach the end of one of these three hours, it’s like my brain’s on fire, and it’s also burned to the ground. It’s like when you get to the top of a climbing route that you shouldn’t have been able to reach the top of.

"Have you learned anything about yourself during this time?"

Yeah. I would say I accomplished the goal, which was learn to be okay with just doing it and putting it out there. That was my number-one goal, so fortunately I’ve already succeed in that, which was really nice. Now, whatever I put out will be more polished than that. That’s kind of exciting.

It’s also served as a mirror, in a sense. Listening to yourself play for three hours, there’s a lot there to learn about. I’ve kind of defined it as people listening to me learn as I play, which has been really fun. - Westword

"The Marquee Reviews "Perfectish""

“I’m going to play some cool notes, I’m going to play some weird notes, but I guarantee that all the notes I play will be notes,” Adam Baerd said in a verbal introduction to his new album Perfectish.

Recorded in three one-hour sessions, at UI Sound Studios, the fully improvised album flirts with most genres — fingerstyle, flamenco, folk, funk, blues, jazz, rock, and even some surprise instruments, and Baerd’s banter introducing each track gives the listener the feel that they’re sitting right there with him as he picks his way around the improvisational soundscapes — flow states, he calls them.

Somewhere between a traditional instrumental album, a podcast, and a live improv show, the Perfectish collection feels surprisingly personal. All three of the hour-long tracks are named after a specific listening situation, such as “For Pretending to Work” or “For a Longish Commute.” The third and final recording, “For Finally Going for It,” has an accompanying video filmed in the studio with zero edits or cuts.

But despite all the neurons that have to fire correctly for Baerd to pull off the feat, the album’s components are pretty minimal. A microphone, a strangely tuned guitar and no plan. These are Baerd’s adversaries, and his opportunity. The audio engineer, Max Nordby, gives a nod from the control room and the recording light clicks on. For the next sixty minutes, whatever comes out of Baerd’s fingers is the gospel of his premiere EP performance. - Marquee Magazine

"Adam Baerd's 100 Riffs, Places, and Days"

Adam Baerd embarked on a musical journey starting in November, 2017. He started on a new project; one new riff, every day, in a new place. He started in his house on November 2nd, 2017 against a wall in his house producing the first of 100 original riffs.

“I wanted to find a way to start getting that musical thing out and not worry so much if it was going to be perfect or right,” said Baerd, “I’ve been doing that for a long time and it produced very little material. I had to find a way to be consistent that would be interesting.”

Playing while rock climbing with friends, sitting on molecules near CSU’s Chemistry Research Building, and playing several stringed instruments across Thailand, Baerd’s 100 riffs were an incredibly unique project.

“I took a trip through Thailand at the beginning of this year and part of the stop was a place in Singapore,” said Baerd, “I didn’t bring an instrument with me which meant I had to keep meeting people… I walked into a Singaporean music store I looked up online and I walked in and introduced myself to the manager like, ‘Hi I don’t really know anything about these instruments can you show me what this is?’ and we spent like an hour talking, he would show me something and he would play it and then I would play it.”

As a classically trained musician, Baerd was able to not only experiment with different techniques but unique instruments as well. At a young age he was working with pianos and guitars and later in high school he joined a-capella groups and bands.

His love of music pushed him into playing with other professionals where he could use his classical training to produce acoustic music to share with his fans.

“The thing about making music with another person or set of people,” said Baerd, “When you play with someone else, it doesn’t really matter what there skill level is either, the moment you are playing together you are making something that is greater than either of you could make on your own.”

Baerd hopes to continue playing music he is proud of and experimenting with different sounds and ideas. On his own he hopes to have another project soon to keep him consistently playing the music he loves.

Check out Adam Baerd’s 100 Riffs, Places, and Days on his YouTube Channel. - Scene Magazine


Still working on that hot first release.



Adam Baerd is a Colorado guitarist and songsmith. He’s also tired of third-person artist bios. Come on, we both know I wrote this.

I'm classically trained, but grew up on Ben Folds/Barenaked Ladies. I <3 flamenco ukulele and disco mandolin. I’ve played with Andy McKee, Eric Johnson, and my grandma.

Genres are silly
Love is wonderful but overwritten
You can improvise, I promise

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