Adam H. Hurstfield: When Dreams Come Full Circle
A Google search reveals our guest, Adam H. Hurstfield“… as a music and film producer, songwriter, record executive, and artist manager. Adam is a Multi-Platinum Producer/Songwriter from Vancouver, Canada, and owner of XOXO Entertainment Corp., which spent the past 5 years as an imprint Label with Universal Music, and recently moved to eOne Entertainment…” You get the idea.
It Begins with Just One Record
But, what’s in a song? Adam H, also known as Adam Hurstfield is a homegrown success. Growing up in Vancouver, like so many of us, Adam scraped together the money to buy this favourite records. Unlike most of us though, he was driven to understand not only how his favourite songs were made, but how they were produced.
The love of music is infectious. Adam began to write songs and perform. At the age of 17, he signed to a major label, had a hit and began to tour. He had worked artists as diverse as George Clinton and was performing with C + C Music Factory when fate intervened. Just as his career was taking off, Adam was hit by a truck causing substantial injury. It was during this time of recovery that he took advantage of the time to further develop his songwriting skills and deepen his understanding of how to record and produce hit songs. To not only be skilled at songwriting, but to be skilled at writing hit songs.
Adam H with George Clinton. New York City, age 17
Once Adam had recovered, he realized that both the public and his record label had short memories of his earlier work. It proved impossible to pick up where he had left off with his performing and recording career.
But the hunger doesn’t stop. Adam H persevered to become the owner of his own label and recording studio that produces artist from around the globe for most of the major labels. A self-described jack-of-all music-trades, Adam also happens to be the Dad of Chance Hurstfield, a brilliant young actor who’s been “in the business” since the age of 4. His most recent feature film called Fatman recently opened, co-starring Mel Gibson.
With an amazing career and brilliant story to tell, I had the opportunity to interview Adam recently. Here’s the story of someone who follows their dreams until one day, those dreams had come full circle.
And Now… Our Interview
VP: The people will want to know - What was the first record you purchased as a kid -The album that kicks off this crazy adventure?
Adam H: Well, that would be Loverboy, their first album, self-titled. You know that song, “The Kid is Hot Tonight”? I LOVED that song. The album was amazing, but that song…I became curious about why I loved that particular song so much. Why it stood out for me. The in-your-face vocals. Learning why I loved certain songs drove me forward.
Loverboy's first album
VP: Sounds like The Force (of music) was strong with you.
Adam H: Yeah! I remember being 14, driving to down to Seattle with my best friend to Tower Records and sleeping on my car in the parking lot just so we could be there when it opened in the morning. The dream at that point was to be a DJ, so we’d go to Tower to find the best new songs…Working hard just to spend my whole paycheck on records…Huge love!
VP: How was your accident formative to your future direction? Sounds like a serious fork in the road.
Adam H: Yep… I knew how much work it had taken to get my first record deal. But my record company was not especially pleased with me, getting hit by a truck n’ all. But, I wanted to continue to create music, so my Dad came up with the idea to go to another country where I wasn’t under contract. And, that country turned out to be Mexico. I flew there with my brother, Bert Hurstfield; my Hype-Man, DJ Marquee; and one of my best friends, Andrew Urrea who was the only one of us who spoke Spanish. (He later became my first business partner)!
Together, we shopped my American songs and because of my record deal in the US, they signed me to RCA/BMG (now called Sony Music) which allowed my single to get added to the ALFA 91.3 rotation, which was one of the largest radio stations in the world at that time. That gave me credibility to shop other artists, so Andre and I signed our first singer from Argentina, Uschi, and we ended up signing a deal with Polygram (now called Universal Music).
VP: Brilliant. Sounds like a new lease on life. Now, how did you spend those fresh funds?
Adam H: I immediately went back to Vancouver, and bought a recording studio with Andre. We set it up in my Dad’s garage and dedicated myself entirely to learning. Long days, and even longer nights. It was thrilling and exhausting and it literally took years until I had the song I was comfortable to promote. In those days, I had to learn and do every job because we couldn't afford a staff.
VP: What happened next?
Adam H: Well, after being absent from the North American music industry for a handful of years, it was pretty much like starting over back home. I worked and worked to get that one song played on the radio. And, by a stroke of luck, a radio DJ finally took a liking to my song and decided to put it on his “Battle of the Beats” contest. Awesome right?! There was my song matched up against… Justin Timberlake. But, the DJ really told my story well on the air, and the listeners reacted. That song went on to win 5 nights in a row. It was retired a champion and added into regular rotation. Crazy, right?! That spurred on other Radio Program Directors and Music Directors to give it a listen and the momentum kinda grew from there… It was so exciting, but I had even bigger dreams…
VP: Pretty exciting! What was the next step for Adam H?
Adam H: At that time, I dreamed of working with the BananaToons guys… They were huge at the time, producing for 98 Degrees, Kelly Rowland, Jessica Simpson among others and had created this like, hit factory. I wanted to be part of that.
Remember that song from Battle of Beats? Well, the BananaToons guys heard it, called me up and were surprised to find out that I had written and produced the song myself. From there, we began a great working relationship and we wrote the song “Crushed” for Rosette together.
I learned so much from them and worked hard, taking our songs from the studio to the charts, basically as a one-stop shop. I got a label deal with Universal with the label I had partnered in, when the BananaToons guys began to wind down. At that time, I formed XOXO Entertainment… My own label! And, Universal Music gave me another label deal!!
Adam H producing at Armory Studios in Vancouver
VP: But it really didn’t stop there, did it?
Adam H: Maybe it was only getting started?! [Laughs]. I was a judge for a Radio Talent Show where this beautiful singer was a contestant. Turns out, Elise [Estrada] won the contest, we worked together, had a bunch of hits, and she eventually became my wife. People thought my partner and I were geniuses for signing her (she was the first Asian artist to top the Billboard Charts). Weeks into our first hit, thousands of fans showed up to a mall and waited for hours to get her autograph. It was an untapped market and people gave us huge credit for calculating that. The truth is though, I didn't even think about her heritage. I just thought she was an incredible talent! Regardless, it worked, and that led us to Korea during the infancy of K-Pop where we landed some big hits. Timing is everything! People here hadn’t really heard much about K-Pop at the time, but it’s now the largest music movement in the world.
Adam H and Elise Estrada, in Hollywood
VP: Why do you think K-Pop has become such a phenomenon?
Adam H: I think it’s a lot about the culture. North Americans are so over-stimulated with the sheer volume of content they’re exposed to in the form of music, movies and pop culture in general, that we’ve lost our…Frenzy.
I remember when Lady Gaga became the biggest star in the world. I joked that in between albums, she would literally need to grow a third arm to regain America's interest, even after all the success she’s had. She made so much noise in the most brilliant ways, that there was really not much she could do to top it. On this side of the world, fans seem to love an artist until they hit the top, then they love to see them fall, or they simply lose interest. In Korea (and Asia), fans are still fans. When Elise does an autograph session in Asia, more than 15,000 fans fill the mall and scream like Michael Jackson is in the building. Enthusiasm counts, and it’s contagious!
VP: Tell us about the moment your career came full circle.
Adam H: Remember that first Loverboy album? The first album I ever bought? Well, I had the incredible fortune to work with the band, to write songs, produce and build friendships. Mike Reno is freakin’ hilarious, he just is.
Of all the amazing artists I get to work with, that project really got me, because, I feel like Loverboy’s music and that one song in particular, literally lit the fire for me. And when I go to work tomorrow, I’ll be in my recording studio, writing songs for my own label. I mean, how rough is that?
Adam H with Mike Reno, lead singer of Loverboy
VP: Chills! Now share with us… What’s it like being the Dad of Chance (Hurstfield)?
Adam H: Being Chance’s father is my favourite thing. He’s a total ham and he’s just always been that way. When he was little, we’d host parties, and Chance would wait until he felt the crowd was just right, and then he make his big entrance, driving his little battery-powered motorcycle into the living room, much to the delight of our guests…He’s just always had a love for the spotlight!
VP: How did he get started in the business?
Adam H: Well, he auditioned for his first movie at 4 years old, and he got the part! First audition, first part! Just like that…It was crazy! He booked a movie with Bill Pullman and Richard Schiff and he loved being on-set. It just came natural to him
Because he was so young, we didn't really pursue a “career” for him yet, but he started asking when he was going to go back on set, because he missed it.
Singer, songwriter, personality Ray J, and Chance with Dad
Then when he was 5, he started auditioning more but wasn't landing the roles at that time. It actually took him more than two years to land his second role. He calls those, “The Lazy Years” ! LOL!
Even though he wasn't booking the roles, I knew he was getting close, so instead of focusing on not getting the parts, we decided to celebrate all the close calls. I would take him to a restaurant and celebrate the fact that he was getting closer and closer, and inside Chance's mind he knew he was going to start booking. I would take him to auditions and he would get so excited in the waiting room, like a boxer about to go into the ring. He would plan to do or say something shockingly funny to the Producers and Casting Directors, and by the time he was 7, he started booking roles. By the age of 8, Chance was working nonstop, and now that he's 14, he's on this incredible ride, basically getting to choose which roles he's interested in reading for. The power of positive thinking is incredibly strong in Chance's mindset, and he's such a sweet and appreciative kid. Being his Dad makes everything else pale in comparison!
Adam H with son and star, Chance Hurstfield, Vancouver harbour
VP: Sounds like such a good time. Tell us about his latest projects.
Adam H: His new movie with Mel Gibson, called Fatman, just came out and at the same time he just had the Season 3 premiere of an ABC TV series called, “A Million Little Things.” He plays “Danny Dixon” on the show and that role has been a game-changer for Chance's career.
VP: Does Chance have his own fanbase already?
Adam H: Sure he does [laughs], but we keep it in check. Chance understands more than most adults how important it is to keep his feet on the ground. He appreciates the attention, but he doesn’t let it define him. At the end of the day, he's just a kid, and he knows how lucky he is to have such an incredible career.
VP: Amazing… Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers on Vinyl Pursuit?
Adam H: Follow your passion! I know that sometimes it’s easier said than done, but if you truly want to achieve something, you can. If you put your mind to it and aren't afraid to work your butt off, it'll happen eventually. I'm living proof of that!
VP: One last thing. How’s the pandemic going for you?
Adam H: I’m an extrovert so this locked-down feeling isn’t ideal. Whenever I do have to go out, I just love seeing people. Like now, I love going to grocery store because there are other humans there! Is that weird? [Laughs].