Ladies and gentlemen! It is my great pleasure to introduce to you, ATDLIVE! it’s my all-new live mixtape series, which some of you might have caught me executing the other night on my Mixlr… The idea is to build it into something that capture the spirit of those early ATD tapes, where I’d mix my favourite new music with my favourite old music, drop my own new tracks and remixes, and bust out occasional freestyles… but all done live on the decks, no sitting around automating things in a DAW, just raw PARTY SHIT.
Tracklisting’s down the bottom. Get your free download by clicking the little arrow on the top right of the soundcloud player, whose blurb reads as follows:
Praise Xenu, Baby Jesus and Batman! ATD returns with an all new mixtape series, ATDLIVE! An hour of amazing (mostly) new rap Mixed LIVE in Don Studios V, Rhos On Sea, a week before ATD emigrates to Los Angeles, where you’ll be able to catch his ex pat ass playing ultra peakwave sets in LA’s waviest nightspots.
Autumn fell on Colwyn Bay the other day. One day it was summer, a neon sunset dying a bloody death on the horizon as I ran barefoot and shirtless on my beach, Joey Diaz in my ears, storming through the surf, leaping over a suicide of dead jellyfish, 5 miles from top to bottom, 600 calories smashed into tiny little fragments. Next day I woke to a heavy slate sky, and my morning walk up the mountain and through the woods with Hercules was a thick, crunchy, golden carpet. “EEEF,” noted Hercules sagely, as eeefs fell all around us like confetti. It happened just like something from Calvin & Hobbes. Autumn just fell one night while we were sleeping, flump.
I haven’t noticed the seasons like I’ve noticed them this year since I was a little boy. You don’t get seasons the same way when you live in cities. In a city winter means the sky changes colour and you might spend a bunch of your time huddling in a bus stop and getting splashed by puddles, but here your the whole world changes overnight.
Its coming up to a year since we decided it was time to leave London, got answered by the gods with an eviction, and boarded a plane bound for California. Six months since we moved to the North Welsh Coast, where I applied for a US Visa and got in the best shape of my life by walking up a mountain into the woods every morning and running barefoot on the beach every night. Now summer is over, I’ve got a US Visa, and my flight’s booked. On October 22nd I’ll be above the clouds, headed for Los Angeles, and destiny.
Two weeks left then, even less right here, on the border on Rhos On Sea and Colwyn Bay… just a fistful of days to enjoy this beautiful place we made our home for a couple of seasons one year in the first days of Satya Yuga. Just a few more runs on my beach. A few bike rides along the coast with Hercules on the back singing “yeahyeah“. We’ll never be as young as we are right now, and we’ll never have this again. I’m excited about the future, but I’ve loved this present, this perfect last, long Summer in Wales, before me and my beautiful little family roll the dice and embark on a new adventure.
MEANWHILE… the Emigration sale is still on. We ran out of hoodies, and the T-shirts are down to a few boxes, so get in quick before its all gone forever. Get 50% off your order by entering the code “THEEYA” at checkout…. that applies to everything, digital bundles (lots of you clever cats have been getting the entire back catalogue for a crazed £45), CDs, even hand drawn art. I did this A2 don doodle for a cool cat called Jordan in the USA yesterday, amongst a bunch of others.
He got one off me before while I was out in America last and I did it on paper plate in the studio cos I couldn’t find any paper. This one will fit in a frame and he’s psyched which is a beautiful thing.
Oh, and some new music dropped today. Our remix of the Twin Peaks theme, in a timely fashion. I’ve actually been working on this for a while, so it worked out perfectly. I think we accidentally created a new genre. I’m calling it trapgaze. Its like the introspective version of peakwave. Dreamy shit to bliss out to in a pile of leaves on an autumn afternoon.
My dictionary definition awesome all-over-print shirts have moved from my imagination, via graphic design applications, through the air, off of satellites, into manufacturing studios, and over goddamn OCEANS, into REAL LIFE and are now being worn by REAL LIFE HUMANS across the lands and by Jovi they are beautiful.
Hold tight Wade modelling the Unified Unicorn Plasma Sunburst shirt. It took me a while to find a decent supplier, but we got there. These joints are gorgeous, the colours pop like Kpop videos, and cos they’re printed first then sewed, there’s no white marks on the seams like with a lot of sublimation prints. PLUS unlike most sublimation shirts they’re cotton not polyester so they won’t give you cancer.
GET YOURS HERE! RARE! BEAUTIFUL! OTHERWORLDLY! GUARANTEED TO MAKE YOU FEEL ENTIRELY KIRBYESQUE!
Meanwhile the 50% off everything ATD Emigration sale rages on until I emigrate to LA in a few weeks. Grab the bargains of 12 lifetimes quick! Digital bundles! Shirts! CDs! Everything half price! Use the code “THEEYA” at checkout. RING AMBERLAMPS!
Hey gang! So, as we learned the other day, I am officially an Alien of Extraordinary Ability and am off to live in the USA and find my fortune like Piers MorganJohn OliverCharlie Hunman The Vikings. In preparatoon for the grea Move across Oceans I have been brutally slashing my already brutally slashed possessions down to a few boxes of comics and records, and am having a great big fucking EMIGRATION SALE in the Don Shop. 50% off everything! CDs, shirts, hoodies, digital bundles, the lot! Enter the code “THEEYA” at checkout.
Meanwhile TWO new MIDNITEMEN remixes just dropped!
A club freaking next west splashout take on the new Taylor Swift joint:
…and a subtle and glorious peakwave reshaping of Kim Carnes’ immortal Bette Davis Eyes, one of my most very favouritest of songs ever.
More coming soon! Wade is in the country and will be joining me in Wales to edit the first MIDNITEVIDEO and work on some music before we head to LA and start our MIDNITECLUB and make all our MIDNITEDREAMS come true.
Brothers and sisters, it is with a great joy and relief I can finally reveal what I’ve been up to these past few months since Le Don Familia got back from LA in February and decamped to North Wales (other than running jellyfish obstacle courses on the beach every night and getting into the Best shape of my life, of course, but you knew about that already).
What it is, is I have been applying for a US Visa. Specifically, the O-1 Alien Of Extraordinary Ability Visa. As it says in the title, this is a rare and highly coveted Visa only issued to Aliens of the most Extraordinary of Abilities. They are damn hard to get and many have tried and failed. So it is with pride and an effervescent, visceral delight that I hereby confirm that I have been issued that rare and coveted visa, and will be moving myself and my beloved little family out to Los Angeles next month to do all manner of extraordinary Alien shit that you’re gonna be hearing all about soon.
IT IS TRUE!
I AM AN ALIEN OF EXTRAORDINARY ABILITY AND I HAVE THE PAPERWORK TO PROVE IT!
LET US RUMBLE!
Now, many people would finish the blog post right there, maybe add a gif of Usein Bolt doing his arrow dance or something, but not me, I am super nice and helpful and I believe knowledge should be shared, so I’m gonna tell you how I did it, in seven easily followable steps.
STEP ONE: Make A Life Changing Decision
I first flew to the USA in 2004, when I blagged a bank loan to pay for the ticket and then swiftly afterwards a record deal after deciding, fuck it, I’ma go to America and make some shit happen. For years since, I’ve been wanting to get back there, and made a decision in 2012 to move my life in that direction. That year I made a record in San Francisco and performed and hosted at Morrissoncon in Vegas, both incredible experiences. In the Summer of 2013 I visited my dear pal Wade in Los Angeles, had an incredible time, the most refreshing and creative since I started making music a decade prior, accidentally formed a band, and realised where I was supposed to be. I told my girl, who had never been, but was excited about the idea, and we decided to try and get our asses over there within the year. Then in October, after experiencing the worst show I’d ever been involved with in my life, we sat on the steps outside the back of our old flat in Nu Olympia, and made a decision to get the fuck out immediately. No “soon”, no “when maybe we’ve got the money,” but NOW.
(Did I ever tell you about that gig? Dear God what a fucking almighty shitshow that was. It was sold to me as a festival in which I’d get a live brain scan whilst rapping, but was more some sort of Chris Morris performance art nightmare. The opening act was an hour long discussion about the history of Hackney Wick between a writer who seemed to know what he was on about, a deeply pretentious and self absorbed poet, and some film school kid who’d lived in the area for about a year and said he moved there because it was groovy. You can imagine how riled up for a rap show that shit got people. Before I went on the crowd had suffered a performance poetess in a cage in the dark talking about rape, the pretentious self absorbed poet from the opening discussing bleating interminably and shaky handedly about not being able to get laid in London, and a compere with rubber teeth doing some dreadful sub Harry Enfield comedy pretending to be a doctor and not actually compering. The few hardy souls that remained, mostly my dear friends and some staunch supporters who’d travelled far too great a distance had been shuffled outside while the rape cage was dismantled, and Harry Enfield was far too involved in his rubber toothed twat act to deign to do a host’s job and get them inside for my fucking performance, so I had run outside shouting. The much hyped “brain scan” was a farce and a nonsense and not even mildly entertaining and by the time my performance began the last trains had long gone and there were about 17 people left in the building to witness me desperately resorting to throwing myself down a flight of stairs and riding a bicycle across the overlit, cavernous maw of the “stage” (floor) whilst rapping in an attempt to wring some semblance of an exciting rap show out of the thing.
“That was very interesting,” said Frankie from The Darkness afterwards, when the V-necked beardy dictionary definition Hipser who owned the bike I’d ridden finished screetching at me for riding “Lucy” without asking and throwing her to the ground afterwards, which was very kind of him and I could have cried, were I not such a fucking professional.)
Sweet baby Jesus knows we’d tried. But it wasn’t working in London. Everything was so fucking hard, everything was struggle, like tearing bricks from walls with bare, nail-less hands. Meanwhile LA felt simple, fun, a million opportunities presented themselves in a 15 minute walk round the block to the comic shop.
So we made a decision. The following week we were evicted, and a week after that, we were in Los Angeles. Charlotte and Hercules loved it. Three months later our tourist visa had run out, and we were on a plane back to the UK. But the decision had been made.
STEP TWO: Lawyer Up
I met my lawyer in LA. He handled Wade’s Visa. We met while I was under the weight of a considerable hangover and he was breezy and patient and made the whole crazy thing seem entirely obtainable.
He was doing a Game Of Thrones cast member’s Visa at the time. The case he’d been building was about the size of a phonebook and it wasn’t finished yet. The idea is to conclusively and inarguably prove the case for Extraordinary Alien Ability.
The Game Of Thrones cast member’s main issue was that having the most pirated TV show in the world meant nothing to the immigration cats as the rules hadn’t been updated since before there was an internet. As a famously digital Alien, this worried me for a moment. We were gonna need to work in analogue. I was going to need real world examples of my Extraordinary Alien abilities.
“Say you had a song in Hollyoaks,” he said, an American Hollyoaks fan who’d been having tapes sent over since the 80s. “I DID have a song in Hollyoaks,” I said. Which was true. Dead Babies soundtracked a gay teen romance on the show for a year. My lawyer remembered the storyline. Everything was going to be OK.
THREE: Money Up
Great lawyers don’t come cheap, and the process itself costs a whole bunch of money. And you don’t just have to pay the government. There’s unions that need their palms greasing too. You’re looking at something in the region of $8000. Then there’s gonna be flights, shipping your stuff, or putting it in storage, all that. You’re gonna need a whole gang of dollars.
So we didn’t go back to London, where you’re dropping a couple grand a month on rent and council tax. We found ourselves a lovely little flat by the sea in North Wales for £500 a month. I made music for a bunch of adverts and Michelle Obama’s Drink Up campaign. I made dope psychedelicmusicvideos for people. I had a look on MoneySavingExpert to see if anyone out there owed me. Turns out my bank had ripped me off four grand in PPI. Splash. Charlotte wrote the copy for a major telecommunications company’s website. Charlotte’s mum and stepdad looked after Hercules when we were both working and did our washing for us so we didn’t have to buy a washing machine. We worked our little asses off all Summer long, punctuated with the odd afternoon on the beach or walk in the mountains or bike ride along the coast with Hercules on the back singing YEAH YEAH. It was a very special time that I will always remember with a great fondness.
FOUR: Build An Unfuckwithable Case
You could get worried at this stage if you haven’t sold 50 million albums and sold out Wembley or something. What’s so extraordinary about your shit?
I’ve been professionally writing about music since 2000. I’ve been professionally making music since 2004. All that work and all the contacts I made were invaluable at this juncture. Turns out I’ve actually done fucking loads of extraordinary shit. I provided my lawyer with reams of press, articles and documentation of fourteen (14) years of Extraordinary Alien Excellence. Formats pioneered. Singles of the week awards garnered. Top forty hits produced. World class Collaborations executed. I spend a disproportionate amount of time beating myself up for not having achieved enough, but when I stacked it all up it looked pretty fucking Extraordinary, I had to admit.
Then, to add to my pile of proof, props. I was able to secure letters from a whole gang of high placed industry motherfucking pro-fess-ionals in the required “senior positions” – magazine editors, label heads, company owners – to write letters to the US Government about how very Extraordinary my Alien Abilities really are. Holy crap, what a wonderful thing to have! Everyone should do a that at some point in their life. Other people pointing out the dope stuff you actually did, rather than you worrying in your silly head about all the stuff you didn’t. I wanna frame them all.
FIVE: Sit Tight
Case built, money paid, case submitted, its then an entirely unpredictable period of time to wait to find out if you’ve been APPROVED, and that new life you dreamed of is about to begin, or you’ve been NOT APPROVED, and all your dreams have been crushed like snail shells under tractor tyres. I’d paid for expedition which means theoretically one could have an answer in weeks, but in practice the process took over three months, mainly due to a backlog related holdup with one of the unions. Once the thing finally got past those dudes the government got us our answer in ten days.
It came in the form of an email from my lawyer. It said, “Adam: Great news! Your case has been APPROVED per the USCIS website! Congrats!”
My heart jumped out of my chest and did a backflip.
Oh dear baby jesus on a segway how we whooped and hollered and screamed with joy when that email came through, having just descended from basking in the mighty soaking violence of Aber Falls, AKA The Welsh Niagra. I screamed. Charlotte screamed. Hercules screamed. APPROVED! APPROOOOOOOOOOVED!
But hold those champagne corks! For while the they may have approved my extraordinary alien ass in theory, there’s still an interview to be booked and conducted at the US Embassy, and a myriad questions to answer online, like whether or not one has been involved in any genocide (I hadn’t). So it’s fill in an online questionnaire, book that appointment, and sit tight some more…
SIX: Visit The US Embassy
And so, at 8:30am one off-white September morning five months after submitting my case, I found myself joining a queue outside the US Embassy in Central London, papers in hand, my passport, my Approval Documents, some handsome photos of my Alien self, a copy of The Rum Diary, which I always seem to be reading around the the time of crucial life shifts. No phone, as the Embassy website advised no electronic items would be allowed inside. Turns out they changed that a few weeks ago, so everyone had their phones out except me. But I was glad I had no distractions. I wanted to remember everything.
The terror alert had been raised, and the building was patrolled by heavy set polices with movie guns. I smiled at them all as I made my way to the front of the queue, and was asked politely to remove my sunglasses by the well mannered and well spoken young man responsible for ushering people through security. Everyone had been so nice already – the women who took my passport and showed me to the back of the serpentine line outside the embassy, the south welsh lady who kept said line in order, then the security guards themselves, and finally the smartly dressed young man on reception, pressed and creased beneath a great bronze eagle and five lifesized paintings of ancient Americans, who enquired as to my health and pointed me in the direction of the waiting area, wished me an excellent morning as I went.
The waiting area contained several hundred humans of all shapes, sizes, colours and dress styles, sat expectantly on blue chairs gazing up at a giant screen, across which numbers streamed to a steady, Windows 95-esque chirp, at the sound of which they’d leap to their feet and make their way hurriedly to one of the 10 or so booth windows, not unlike those you’d find at a train station, or a post office. Some wore business suits, some wore track suits. I’d gone for a white linen suit jacket, granite wife beater, faded stretch denim jeans, fluorescent Osiris shoes. “You’re not wearing those to the interview are you?” asked Hercules’ taid a few days earlier. “You know who Osiris was married to. They won’t like that.”
The room was already full when I was ushered through, and I found a seat at the back, next to a fellow long hair, and a plumber. He looked like a plumber, and he was, in fact, a plumber. He was getting a visa waiver due to previous criminality, having been sent home from Vegas after failing to make it through immigration on the same plane he’d flow out on. “They offered me the same seat I had on the way out too,” he said. “They weren’t dicks about it.” Now every time he wants to go to America, he has to spend a day in the Embassy, waiting hours for his number, getting called up to the booth to confirm his identity, then getting sent back to wait another few hours to be called for his interview, for that is the procedure. Answering the same questions as last time. “They always ask when I last smoked cannabis, and I have a date memorised cos if I get it wrong they won’t let me in,” he explained. He told me about how he was learning to fly a plane, and hoped to fly a commercial flight one day although he was probably too old. I told him the story about when Bruce Dickinson from Iron Maiden flew me to Paris on his own Iron Maiden branded jet. It dawned on me towards the end that was exactly the sort of story an Alien of Extraordinary Ability ought to have come to mind when discussing aviation.
The longhair to my left, who looked like a musician, was also there for reasons of former criminality. It turned out he was a musician too, proving one shouldn’t always discount judging books by the covers, no matter what you’re taught in diversity training, and his band and crew had been in the Embassy all week, as were they most years. “I’ll be out in a few hours, but our singer was here all day, they always have a lot of questions they wanna ask him.” He said they were starting a US tour next week which would last until November, at which point he’d retire to the Caribbean for a spell before heading up a mountain to make an album. I asked him what his band was called. “Judas Priest,” he said, and started explaining that they were a rock band from the seventies before I cut him off and said of course I knew who Judas Priest were, and Joey Diaz was talking about how he saw Maiden supporting them one time on the podcast I was listening to last night. “I remember that show!” he said. “That was a special show.” How often do Judas Priest come up within 24 hours in regular life? I wondered. It was a small coincidence perhaps, but a coincidence regardless, and Grant Morrison once wrote that the first step to becoming magician is noticing them, while Malcolm X used to say he knew he was on the right path when they occurred. He called it “walking with Allah.” I looked round the room for Bruce Dickinson just in case but I couldn’t see him anywhere.
The guitarist from Judas Priest was eventually replaced by an affable Scouser of some 60 odd years, who had no idea why he was there. “I applied for an Esta online like always, and it was refused, and they said I had to come down here, but they won’t tell me why,” he explained. “I’m most intrigued, I’ve never done anything wrong in my life, and I’ve been going to America since the 50s.”
I never found out what they wanted him for though, as my number came up not long after that. I wasn’t nervous. Initially I’d imagined being summoned to some vast marble-desked boardroom with three stern faced military types on the other side of it, grilling me about every blog post and lyric I’d ever written, but Wade had assured me it was more like going to the post office, and just a formality really. So I strolled jauntily up the corridor, lined impressively with seven hundred foot tall Goliaths armed with Arnie Guns, to a little plexi-glass covered booth window, behind which sat a figure so perfectly american looking I could have drawn him in advance and he’d have looked identical. Immaculate, marine issue crew cut, 40s movie style cereal packet jaw, piercing blue eyes, Clark Kentian farm boy physique strapped up in a fine, navy blue military looking suit. A proud US flag unfurled behind him, casting shadows across bronze eagles, framed noble ancients and a cacophony of telephones, like a scene straight out of 24. He eyed me sternly, and a woman appeared seemingly from nowhere behind his right shoulder, peering grimly and inquisitively through half moon spectacles at his computer screen, never once meeting my own eyes.
He then proceeded to grill the living crap out of me in a wholly unexpected manner far closer to my initial idea of what might happen than Wade’s promise of “just a formality”, all the while clattering cooly on a keyboard, like someone in a TV show who isn’t actually writing anything at all, just rattaatattatatting the keys like gunfire without ever once looking at his fingers. Question upon question rained down on me like punches, Who I was, Why I was what I did, Who I’d worked with, Who else, go on, Someone he’d heard of, How much I earned, How much I was going to earn, What was so Extraordinary about my Ability. Ratatatatatata. “I’m pretty great,” I floundered, not expecting any of this. “I’ve been doing it for over a decade. I’ve done my 10,000 hours.”
“What’s your artist name?” he asked, cooly, the woman at his shoulder growing at his screen. “Akira The Don,” I said, which was true. He RATATATATATAed his keyboard, and the whole place fell suddenly silent, ghostly silent, the sort of silence that carries weight, weight that can crush a man, slowly, until there’s no more breath in him and his toes are ground bone and red paste.
He glared intently at his screen, as did the woman, eyes squinting through those half moons, occasionally moving in my direction then quickly returning to whatever it was he was looking at. The keyboard’s silence rang out around the Embassy like a shotgun.
Then he turned to, slowly, and the cold, hard face melted into a smile. “Akira The Don,” he said. “You are approved.”
I was a little stunned so I din’t say anything, but I think my eyes bulged cartoonishly. They felt like they did.
“I’ve just been looking at your Wikipedia,” he added.
An that was that. As if in a dream, I floated out of the US embassy, past all those nice people I’d seen on the way in, and before I knew what had happened I was in the arms of my beautiful family and we are drinking celebratory whiskey and then I was at Soho Radio to guest on my favourite radio show, The Southern Hospitality Radio Show, no less, and my old pal James Meynell who I once shared a place with in New York was there, entirely unexpectedly, hosting the prior radio show, and he was about to press play on his last record.
That wasn’t quite the end. After the interview, they take your passport, do some final background checks, then put the visa in your passport and send it back. So there’s a final few days during which your ridiculous dreams could still be smashed into tiny pieces like so many dinosaur eggs dropped off of so many Empire State buildings, every worst case scenario in the world suggesting itself as you try and fall asleep in what you hope will not be your bed much longer.
Tuesday was a long ass day. Eventually it was over, and I slept. The doorbell rang on Wednesday morning at 8:30 or something. Charlotte went to answer it. I still had one foot in a dreamworld in which my eyes were purple and I could play piano like Chilly Gonzales. I was playing Erasure’s Blue Savannah. She came back, saying I had to go downstairs, “they need you to sign for your passport,” she smiled through wide eyes and a Christmas Eve smile. I floated downstairs and, half dreaming still, gave my autograph to the man who held in his hands the golden ticket to our new life. A choir of angels sang, and the sun rained down blessings upon my upturned face. The sky was as blue as a lagoon, and when I looked down almost all of my bellyfat was gone. It was going to be another beautiful day in Colwyn Bay.