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An Interview with Adam Fields

Musicians and producers of all a stripes know it when the Big Break happens. For former McNally Smith College of Music student Adam Fields, who graduated in 2006 with an AAS degree in Production, that moment happened recently when the Tortilla Factory album Cookin’ earned a 2010 Grammy® nomination for the “Best Tejano Album” ( Category 61). The 25-year-old group is legendary in the Latino world of music.

Fields will be “a wide-eyed attendee” at this year’s Grammy Awards in Los Angeles in February since he is now voting member. We spent a few minutes online with him recently. Fields was at his recording studio and home, now in Austin, Texas, and talked about his new-found success and what he’s working on as a producer, singer, songwriter and piano player, guitarist and drummer, who also has his own record label, Monumental Records.

1) What did it feel like when you heard the news?
This time felt different than the dazed shock associated with our nomination two years ago in the same category for the band’s All That Jazz record. After we didn’t take home the Grammy in 2009, we’ve all been very eager to return for another shot at it. It was less than a month after the 2009 awards before Alfredo (Guerrero, son of founder Tony “Ham” Guerrero and current lead singer of Tortilla Factory) called me to ask if I’d be interested in working on the follow-up to All That Jazz.

One of the biggest goals was to create a commercially-successful “Urban Tejano” hybrid sound that further diversified Tortilla Factory’s already distinct blend of fusion, jazz, salsa, and Tejano. In short, it felt amazing that we’d met our goal of returning to the awards. It’s an incredible blessing, and it is a very humbling honor to have worked on Tortilla Factory’s Cookin’.

2) How did McNally Smith College of Music shape your progress in the music business and lay the groundwork for this honor?
Attending McNally Smith was a great way to prepare for an educated entrance to the music industry. It’s a valuable place to learn the skills you’ll need to stay ahead of the next guy in terms of getting work. There have been many times in the studio where I was the go-to guy for troubleshooting.

When the gears of a session grind to a halt and time is money, you have to perform under that pressure – or risk losing an opportunity the next time that client needs an engineer. A lot of times the issues were already things I’d dealt with while using studio time in college, and it was great to have gained “experience” in school before I ever had a real gig. A special Shout Out to B. Fresh (Bryan Forrester)!

3) How did you meet the other guys in the band? Did any of them have any ties to McNally Smith?
I met Alfredo while we were both making ends meet by checking groceries at HEB (a Texas grocery store). He introduced me to many of the guys and his father’s contacts as we continued to work together, trading sessions across the country between Austin, LA, Miami, and NYC. Their only real tie to McNally Smith was their mention in the news article about the first Grammy nomination a couple years ago.

4) What are you working on now?
I’m working on finalizing mixes of my debut solo album, which will also be the first release on my indy label, Monumental Records. I also play in a blues rock band in and around Austin on the weekends, which serves as my ‘fun’ music time.

5) Any links to tracks or a U-Tube video we can share with readers?
Tortilla Factory:

Adam Fields links: (this one currently features a blog entry mentioning the McNally Smith 2009 article and has a link to it).

Tune in next month during the Grammy’s broadcast February 13, or check your other news sources, to see if Adam and Tortilla Factory brought home the music industry’s highest award.