Aside from the rather well-known beginnings that are rooted in Philadelphia — the founding of the country, the first U.S. Mint, Made in America — one of the lesser known Philly foundations is British musician Adam Bainbridge's disco turned R&B, neo-soul project Kindness. A musical history that saw Bainbridge playing bass as a teenager in unfulfilling bands to DJing as a young adult, a musical residency at The Philadelphia Institute for Advance Study brought the Brit to the states and, thus, Kindness was born.
What began as a friendship with an "eccentric character" in Berlin in 2004 turned into an invitation to stay in Philadelphia and create in a collective artist warehouse in 2007. Bainbridge found it impossible to say no.
"I had a hard time making collaboration work in London, where people are a little less generous and a little more careerist," he said. "And I'd seen similar things in New York where New York pushes everyone to be an instant overnight success."
But he found, as many do, Philly is a place of its own and was, to him, more fostering than other art-driven cities.
"I think it was refreshing to come to Philadelphia to meet a community of artists, even if their art was very different from what I do, who all kind of had a more relaxed mindset based on creativity and long term accomplishment and not really on making a quick buck," he said.
Then he got to work. Battling a late spring heat wave, Bainbridge took to his bike and explored different parts of the city, rummaging through various thrift shops for old cassette tapes.
Though much of what resulted during his stay in the City of Brotherly love, packaged as Live In Philly (the album also marked Bainbridge's first time using the creative moniker Kindness), is conceptually different than the music he produces today, two facets persevere: his ability to collaborate and his ongoing tribute to pop music.
"What I did in Philadelphia was pretty different," he said of the ambient, drone, punky and at times groovy album. "It doesn't sound like anything like what I do now. It was maybe discovering what could be done and what could be done with people who were up for anything, even if it wasn't guaranteed to work."
One of said people include Kurt Vile, who's credited on the sprawling 10-and-a-half minute instrumental "Acceptance Is Path To Serenity Pt. 2 & 3" from Live in Philly.
A product that was more on brand with his current musical aesthetic, but didn't make the Live in Philly cut, resulted from one of Bainbridge's thrift store expeditions. He found himself at a shop near a mosque, he can't remember exactly where, and hit the "absolute mother lode" in the form of a tape of young girls performing TLC's "Waterfalls."
"That's what music is — it's having fun with your friends," he said of the odd find, which eventually turned into a fun remix project.
Now, Bainbridge still employs help from outsiders — a handful tracks on his sophomore full-length Otherness feature other artists like Robyn, Devonte Hynes (of Blood Orange) and singer Kelela — and still gives a nod to influential pop tastemakers of the past and present — he's sampled English synthpop group Art of Noise's "Moments in Love" on "With You," a song on Otherness and most recently shared an edit of Kendrick Lamar's "Institutionalized," off of To Pimp a Butterfly. Continued practices that caught hold in Philly.
He returns to the city that gave birth to Kindness on Friday, March 20, becoming one of the few musicians to play a Making Time event more than once.
"It's a homecoming every time we've passed through," he said. "I remember the last Making Time just being insane and the crowd being amazing."
However, if you're there — keep your phone away.
"It's great if you make videos to shows, please don't upload them to YouTube," Bainbridge warned. "We only have one set of jokes, if you put it online you're screwed."