Adam Ambrose has barely started playing gigs around his hometown of Calgary, but a song he recently released on Spotify has taken off with more than 100,000 streams – and he’s just getting started.
The 23-year-old’s six-song EP ‘Little Green Cabins’ was uploaded to Spotify earlier this month, and the first single ‘Relax’ has landed on curated playlists around the world.
“Relax got onto New Music Friday, which has 3 million people following that playlist,” said Ambrose. “Then I got on New Music Canada, New Music in Germany, France, North Africa – basically all over.”
How Ambrose came to record his tracks is an interesting story about being in the right place at the right time. Although he didn’t know it when he first starting penning tunes, Ambrose’s neighbour was music producer Danny Patton.
Over more than a quarter century, Patton has worked with plenty of big name artists – from Jann Arden and Ian Tyson to Rage Against the Machine.
“He’s lived across the street from me since I was really little,” said Ambrose. “I had no idea that he did music. I just knew people went into his house really late. I never really thought about it.”
Of course Patton’s Airwaves studio wasn’t going to record for free, so Ambrose saved cash from a part-time job at a movie theatre to pay for studio time.
“I would basically save my money from working at Cineplex, go in, record a song, maybe two songs, and then do some revisions if I didn’t like some stuff,” said Ambrose.
That shoestring budget forced him to really sharpen his skills and go into the studio ready to record. Established artists might spend months working on a song, but he got most of his done in one take.
Patton said he hasn’t seen an emerging artist garner this many streams this quickly.
He said other artists come to the studio with an idea, looking for direction, but Ambrose had a sound already in mind that he wanted to lay down.
“He seems to really know what he wants,” said Patton. “It’s not like he’s in doubt about stuff. He comes in and seems to know what he wants to have happen.”
He added that the young artist has done really well, considering he’s pretty much a one-man band.
Ambrose said he plays with a piece of equipment made famous by UK superstar Ed Sheeran – the looper pedal.
Controlled with foot switches, it allows him to record backing tracks live on stage, loop them, and then sing and play over top of them.
He even used those techniques in the studio with Patton. The percussion on his recordings is mostly just Ambrose tapping and beating on his acoustic guitar.
“For the style I want to do – I didn’t want synthetic drums,” he said.
Ambrose’s EP has caught the attention of a record label, and he’s in talks with them about signing a contract. He said a deal like that could open him up to radio play, or having his songs on TV shows and movies.
He plans on finishing his psychology degree at Mount Royal University, because he wants to have something to fall back on, but the year ahead also includes shows and more recording.
He’s still trying to make sense of the sudden jolt of listeners and fans that came through uploading his songs to Spotify. He said having that hard work pay off is like getting a good mark on a test.
“When It happened, me and my buddies, we just started freaking out. When I went to tell my parents, I just started crying.”