Records hold a very special place in the hearts of listeners, especially musicians. Whether it be through the distinct artwork or a stand-out track, records have the unique ability to instantly take us back to the first time we heard them. We spoke to Adam Rudegeair from The Bowie Project about his experiences and thoughts on some of his favourite records and the influence they’ve had on his life as a musician and the making of The Bowie Project.

How to did The Bowie Project come to be?

I didn’t grow up with Bowie, but I had many friends that did. Of course, I had seen Labyrinth but had very little concept of him as an artist outside of that film. I was sick of my friends always going on about what a genius he was, I just didn’t get it. So I threw a Prince vs Bowie party to settle the debate for good. But in preparation for the party I listened to a whole bunch of Bowie albums because I wanted to make some mashup tracks. By the time the party rolled around, I totally got it! And because David’s compositions can be very strange I thought it would be a great vehicle for improvising musicians. We perform instrumental jazz quintet arrangements of Bowie, the idea being that when you listen to his songs you can’t separate the music from his charisma, delivery, and iconic status. By removing the lyrics and focussing on melody and harmonies as vehicles for improvisation, we can throw a spotlight onto Bowie’s immense talent for composition.

What is your favourite David Bowie album of all time?

I’m pretty partial to Outside, because it’s a future noir detective story concept album, but I think I’m gonna have to go with Let’s Dance, it’s just crammed with classics, like Modern Love, China Girl and the title track of course!


What was the first David Bowie album you bought with your own money?

I guess it was Outside and Hours in a double pack, in the bargain bin at JB. I paid about $8. My girlfriend at the time had heaps of Bowie albums so I never needed to buy any before that.


What has been the biggest surprise release of 2015?

The biggest surprise was from one of my favourite artists, Janelle Monae. With her new tune ‘Yoga’, it seems she’s decided to go in a much more commercial direction than with her previous releases. Was it a good surprise? Hmmm…I’m not sure…

What was playing on your family stereo growing up?

My mum played a lot of jazz records constantly, especially Vince Jones and a very young Kate Ceberano. There was a lot of Kylie, Dannii and Melissa Tkautz emanating out of my sister’s room. Don Burrows Quintet’s Christmas album Cool Yule got a good spin every year and it remains the funkiest Christmas record of all time (yes, even trumping James Brown and Bootsy Collins)


Which album did you play to death as a teenager?

Every Prince album. Especially Diamonds and Pearls, the O{+> album and also a cassette tape with Parade on one side and Lovesexy on the other.

What is your favourite David Bowie album cover?

They’ve been wildly inconsistent over the years. Aladdin Sane is probably the most popular choice but I think Earthling is equally iconic.


What was the inspiration behind the artwork for The Bowie Project?

The artwork was done by a local artist, Emily Beasey. We worked up a concept I had thought of which was based on a picture of Bowie from around the Aladdin Sane era wearing a bodysuit designed by Kansai Yamamoto, inspired by “samurai and kabuki actors”. It’s got huge bulbous pants and these amazing silver stripes. The front cover of our album is a close up of Bowie’s crotch. The orange part that most people have interpreted as phallic is actually the background!

Front Cover_cropped

If you could only listen to 80s Bowie, or 70s Bowie for the rest of your life, which would you choose, and why?

Where’s the 90s? You mean I have to miss out on Black Tie White Noise? I reckon I’d go with 80s because, being a child of that era I love the bombastic production on those songs. A lot of the 70s stuff sounds very crusty today! Also, the funk influence started coming in more (I’ll thank Nile Rodgers for that).

If you had to dress-up as David Bowie to a costume party, which of his many and varied styles would you pick?

I’d go as Nathan Adler, the hard-boiled future ‘Detective Professor’  from the album Outside. He works for a division of Art Crime Inc.

Which of David Bowie’s characters/personas do you most identify with?

Let’s Dance Era: The guy wearing the garish yellow suit who doesn’t dance too well.

What was your most memorable moment while recording The Bowie Project?

We recorded most of the album (except for the solo piano medley) at Burwood Sound Studios, which is easily the nicest studio I’ve ever recorded at. There’s a very fantastic Steinway piano I got to use. We invited some friends from Bowie Down Under, the Australia/New Zealand fan club, drop by to watch us record, and my Mum came along to watch as well. It was a beautiful vibe and I guess my favourite moment was when Thom Mitchell, Adam Spiegl and I laid down the first trio tune, Golden Years, and we were really feeling very telepathic. There was a very intense energy on that tune and so it now opens the record and has been given the most love on the radio.

Adam Rudegeair Quintet: The Bowie Project – Live at the Paris Cat

6 Goldie Place, Melbourne

June 17th 8:30pm

Ticket bookings at