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[Exclusive Interview] Adam Griffin, Co-Founder of Perfect Havoc



Adam Griffin is no stranger to the music industry. With a career spanning 25 years, he’s done it all, from promoting at prolific London’ clubs (Hanover Grand and Ministry of Sound) to working at major record labels Sony, Sony/BMG and Virgin Records as a remix manager, promoter and marketeer, to traveling the world as a DJ.

In 2014, he co-founded the independent 360-degree music company, Perfect Havoc, where he steers the A&R ship. With his business partner Robert Davies, they’ve generated over 10 billion streams, signed numerous platinum certified releases, and discovered and broke the UK talent, Joel Corry.

As a producer, Griffin made his debut in 2019 with “The Sting” in partnership with Tobtok to create a club-ready house record with strong piano lines, hints of Miami-style electronic disco, and plenty of feel-good energy. Adding more strings to his bow, he has been working on a series of high-profile collaborations and picking up some heavy radio and DJ support along the way.

Recently Adam released his latest high tempo, energy ridden collaboration with PS1 called “Late Night Lover.” The talented PS1 is best known for his hit single “Fake Friends” of which Griffin championed it into the UK charts. We had the change to sit with the consummate all-rounder Adam Griffin to find how he identifies a hit record, producing with PS1, and the lessons he’s learned along the way.

Nocturnal Times: Congrats on the new release with PS1. That’s quite a journey from signing his biggest single to now producing with him. What was the transition like for you to go from A&Ring his music to then collaborating with him on new material?

Adam: Smooth as a baby’s butt!  I have always got on so well with Pete and been in tune musically, so the transition has both been easy and natural.  We know each other inside out and it’s always been very easy, musically, and personally.  The differences between those two things are very minute in the grand scheme of things. I’m already looking forward to doing another one.

Nocturnal Times: You have collaborated with many other producers like Tobtok, Todd Terry, Anton Powers, Simon Field and James Hurr. What do you enjoy most about working collaboratively? 

Adam: Learning and developing friendships. My experience is diverse, and in some areas, I have been working a very long time, but not so much production.  So, working collaboratively with some of the best producers in the world is the quickest and best learning curve anyone could wish for. I love the energy these people bring, and they are masters of their craft; it feeds back into the A+R process.  I love the camaraderie element and that feeling of having nothing at the start becoming an actual release, like preparing a fine meal, like a Bouillabaisse (cooking is also one of my favourite things to do).

Nocturnal Times: Your career is already spanning 25 years in the music industry. What initially drew you to this field, and how did you get started? 

Adam: The development of Acid House and House as a scene and musical genre in the UK.  By not stopping until I got into it first as a club promoter at Handover Grand and then work experience at Sony Music. I spent a brief time employed at Virgin records first but missed Sony Music desperately (no offence to Virgin) and its location in Marlborough Street W1. I worked at a dance label called INCredible, but my first actual job was a P.A in the commercial division. I was product managing dance though and had the taste of early hits like Sunset Strippers “Falling Stars”, Jurgen Vries Feat. Charlotte Church “The Opera Song”, Khia “My Neck, My Back” and many more.

Nocturnal Times: Can you share some pivotal moments or lessons you learned during this journey, especially when working with major US acts like Beyoncé and P!nk?  

Adam: Working with super managers like Matthew Knowles and Roger Davies was both scary, in a good way, and literally learning from the best.  I only realized after working 12 years at Sony Music how much I had learned when I left and in so many areas. It was like not a penny but a huge pound dropping.  There were tough times, for example, the rise in illegal downloading and the fact it felt like we were just working hard to build more awareness to steal. Going through that was like treading water and demoralizing, but eventually I saw how it shaped me. I loved every minute deep down; I was living my dream and knew how lucky I was.

Nocturnal Times: As a co-founder of Perfect Havoc with Rob Davies, what was your initial vision for the label and does that initial vision match where you are today? 

Adam: To find an identity and a sound and, yes, I think we went some way to achieving that.  I wanted to be a label that was first and foremost known for quality and that anyone who saw the label name would instantly wanna listen, shaping a creative sound.  We can always improve, and we still have a legacy to shape, but I’m very happy in the moment, at the moment. The team around me and all the artists are incredible and it’s a pleasure to work with everyone, everyday. Rob and I are living a hard earned, but super rewarding work life.

Nocturnal Times: As an A&R for Perfect Havoc, you have helped the label secure five UK Top 10 singles. What qualities do you look for in artists, and how do you identify potential hits?  

Adam: Hard work and talent. Without the first part you can have the second but the person around the corner with double your drive, but half your talent, will do you every time.  I look for basic human qualities, manners, decency, honesty and integrity and no divas or entitled people. I find that if you get on with people really well, that can be reflected in success.  Hits are very hard to spot, otherwise I would be doing it all the time. But simplicity in all areas and unusual sounds with very well-arranged edits and layers give you a chance.

Nocturnal Times: As someone who has been involved in both A&R and strategic marketing, what strategies have you found most effective in promoting chart-topping singles?

Adam: Luck, ha! No, it’s not just luck, but you do things to go your way. For me, timing is an important part of the jigsaw puzzle of a hit, especially when a debut doesn’t quite align it can be hugely frustrating. You get a playlist and then it comes off, and your record can literally be ruined by a day – it can be so tough without lady luck. I know it sounds cheesy, but hard-graft thinking every week – what can I do more, even if it’s small things like YouTube, a static ad, a DJ mix, a competition, whatever you can to keep driving and moving the dial. The dial makes you smile eventually. It helps working with driven and well-experienced people. Combining old and new marketing and promotion skills and processes is key.

Nocturnal Times: We hear you are taking part at the Brighton Music Conference this year. What discussions will you be involved in?

Adam: I’m involved in a panel called DIY on the Thursday afternoon, discussing how to self-release and set up a label. We’ll be exploring the pros and cons of going at it alone, each bringing our own experiences to the table. It’s moderated by the excellent James Wiltshire of Freemasons fame, who I’ve commissioned various remixes for over the years, alongside my fellow panellists, J-Felix (Tru-Thoughts), Katherine Ellis, Naomi Bressani (Republic of Music) and Scott Diaz. I hope to see you there!

Nocturnal Times: Looking ahead, what projects are you currently working on, and what can we expect from Adam Griffin in the near future?

Adam: I have some great irons in the fire. A collaboration with T. Matthais, another Scott Forshaw collaboration and with James Hurr who I think is one of the most talented and hard-working producers out there.  Perfect Havoc has just started managing Scott and it’s going beyond well.  And a cheeky little collaboration with super one-to-watch – Northern Ireland’s young cheeky chappy, Jack kelly.

Nocturnal Times: Finally, in light of your time as a club promoter in 90s London, if you could resurrect one iconic London club from the past, which one would it be, and why?

Adam: “The Cross” hands down. I say it every time and I love the new version, but nothing ever beats the old coal drops yard location, whipped-up-cream-with-a-cherry-on-top-hedonistic, beautiful place, full of wonderful, like-minded people. 

Nocturnal Times: Thank you for your time and we are looking forward what Perfect Havoc has in store for us.