What song is used in About Adam
Adam Green's new albumComics, films, fragrances, songs
Bernd Lechler: The chorus of the pre-single of your new album "Engine of Paradise" reads: "I'm gonna freeze my love, because technology has changed me." How should we understand that?
Adam Green: My last albums were thematically related to the fact that humanity is hypnotized by technology. I think since the year the iPhone came out, people have been obsessed with machines. Like when you get infected with a parasite! We are probably a species that creates its own successor - in our case it is the machines that we build. At least that was my point of view for this project.
Lechler: But it's not a concept album on the subject, is it?
Green: Well there is a connection. I also did this comic here, it's called "War and Paradise", a graphic novel. It comes out on the same day as the album called "Engine of Paradise". So they belong together. The book is about a human war against a kind of hyperdeveloped insect with artificial intelligence. The first half of the story is this war, the second half takes place in the afterlife. It allowed me to think about war, religion, and the afterlife. You can find a lot about this in bookstores and on the Internet, I did the right research.
Album and graphic novel belong together
My album was made at the same time as the graphic novel. Hence it covers the same subjects. My way of writing is usually: it all comes in a long scroll, and at first I don't even know whether a line is intended for a song or whether it will end up in a book. It all comes from the same pool.
Lechler: But back to the technology that you previously called a "parasite": When I think of the video for this song "Freeze my Love", with its very naive, colorful paper mache backdrops - that's very analog, if you will, not technical at all .
Green: Yes, that's probably what it was about for me. I believe that if you suffer from technology running our lives, the best way to alleviate it is through real encounters, face-to-face communication. Physical activity with others. Doing things that are "real", for example eating together, visiting people at home, drawing together, painting together, singing together ...
Lechler: You do that? Paint together?
Green: Yes! This is how this comic came about. I was sitting around a table with two friends and we were drawing. 150 pages, in pencil. Then we scanned everything and asked some other friends to do the coloring. We drew three days a week for six months. And all along we heard only Billy Joel.
Drawing to the music of Billy Joel
Lechler: Why Billy Joel?
Green: We somehow got to talking about him. Then we looked up his stuff on Spotify, heard this song "Goodnight Saigon" - and then we looked for more deep cuts, that is, lesser known songs by him. Then we listened to all of his live concerts, then every single album from the first to the last. It culminated in seeing him live when the comic was almost finished in Madison Square Garden. We could read the lyrics word for word, it was insane. I was a huge fan then.
He is often not taken that seriously, according to the motto: "He is not the Beatles." I think his music sounds like a major league baseball player wrote the Beatles catalog. Do you understand? Emotionally, he's like Babe Ruth the baseball legend. It also fills stadiums. Musically he is a Harry Nilsson, he is as good as Velázquez was as a painter. But then he uses this art to express something that is emotionally a bit plain. It's mind-boggling good, but other parts of its instrumentation are a little ... dull.
The new Adam Green album "Engine Of Paradise" (30th Century Records)Lechler: Her new album goes back musically to those beautifully orchestrated Scott Walker or Serge Gainsbourg stories ...
Green: That's true. Sometimes you feel like just doing what you like. And I just like strings and crooning and folk music ... these baroque songs and arrangements. I just feel good there. As an artist, you should plant yourself in a soil in which you can grow. It's a terrain that I know my way around, I know how to make this stuff sing.
A studio with equipment from Serge Gainsbourg
And I've had great musicians, the best I could have ever dreamed of. Loren Humphrey, who produced the album; James Richardson, who plays guitar for MGMT; Jesse Katanski, an excellent arranger trained in Macedonian and Turkish music, that gives his arrangements such an Eastern influence. That was great.
I felt like I was making my most elegant record to date - and Loren taped everything in his studio, which was based on the studio of the sessions for "Melody Nelson", Serge Gainsbourg's album. He collects equipment and devices that were used in the process. His drums sound the same and he has learned to play laid back and groovy. Jazz influenced. And now the whole album has something baroque about it. Like the musical version of a church window or something.
Lechler: How is it that Florence Welch sings along?
Green: Loren plays drums with Florence. I literally walked into the studio one day and Florence is sitting on the couch and says, "Hey. Can I sing something here?" And I said: "Sure! Great!"
Guest singer Florence Welch
Lechler: You wouldn't come up with this combination by yourself. She is such an exalted, over-the-top, very emotional singer, and you are more so laconic, at least very different ...
Green: Well, I've known Florence for a long time. The last time I saw her perform in New York, it was crazy, she really is a stunning performer. It was one of the best concerts I've ever seen. Also, we both got into the so-called fraghead scene, which is an internet subculture of people who analyze scents, perfumes and that sort of thing. So we collected both perfumes for a while. It's a really interesting hobby. Smells evoke such strong associations! And some perfumers make fragrances that are almost like snow globes that conjure up a certain place or time. For example, I have a scent that should smell like the Moroccan desert at night. And he does it really well, he has such a dry desert feel, very spicy. Another one I have is said to smell like a garden full of mango trees on the Nile. And it really smells like that. I like that kind of snow globe scent.
The ideal: art that stimulates all the senses
Lechler: It is interesting how you are obviously after all kinds of sensory experiences, from music to films and painting and drawing to smelling ...
Green: In art one traditionally wants to stimulate the most varied of senses. There is a famous picture of Manet in the Metropolitan Museum in my city, of a lady holding a bird and a piece of fruit and a flower. In any case, there are different elements in the picture, one for each of the senses. There should always be an aesthetic equivalent for everything that can be felt. And as an artist you strive for the all-encompassing work of art. Ideally, I want to draw, paint and build it, be in it myself, play in it, make the soundtrack, put it on, feel it, smell it, everything! Say it! Write it!
This is what I was talking about in my "Aladdin" film, which is probably my most complete artistic work. You can watch it, by the way, for free, just enter "Adam Green’s Aladdin" on YouTube. In any case, this is a film to immerse yourself in. We built 30 paper mache rooms that you can walk into. It looks like the characters are playing in a comic because everything is so handmade and colorful. It's the story of Aladdin, only the magic lamp is a 3-D printer.
"I also want to make total art for the soul"
Lechler: And Aladin is a rock singer ...
Green: Yes, I play that.
Lechler: And the film again shows this naive, colorful, childlike world of images. I believe that part of your particular art is that you leave us puzzled as to how seriously all of this is actually meant. How much irony is there in what you do?
Green: I've always been drawn to satirical art. I got there by listening to Beck's music or reading William S. Burroughs' books. Things that are funny and satirical, but also romantic at the same time. And explicitly. I liked these different branches, because I like to steer through. So when I have something tragic, I often cushion it with something funny. Or when something is funny I give it a romantic aspect. If a job has no sense of humor, then I'm missing something. That means, just as I want to make a total work of art for the senses, I also want to make total art for the soul.
I want to put all the parts that define me as a person into a song. Therefore, one part of the song will always have a sense of humor, another part will be romantic or sexual. Or compassionate, or whatever. It all belongs in.
The Corso conversation with Adam Green - you can hear it here in the original English version
Lechler: That is, through your art you learn about yourself.
Green: Absolutely. It's a purely introspective process and I'm my own audience for it, it's my style of meditation.
Lechler: And the big picture? Or, let's say who is currently president, how much does that affect your work?
Green: That affects everything! I mean, this whole presidential paradigm has shaped everyone psychologically. In America, when someone uses the word "he" without any special context, they are talking about Donald Trump. This shows the extent to which the presidential ego has infiltrated the moment. How could that not affect my creative work?
"When it comes to the Internet, I've definitely taken a step back."
Lechler: And can you say more precisely what this influence looks like? Because it doesn't appear as a topic in your songs.
Green: I avoid him, honestly. Something like Twitter was fun in the beginning, but now I don't look at it anymore. I try to focus on friends and family; the people I really know; writing and drawing. When it comes to the internet, I've definitely taken a step back.
Lechler: So what?
Green: So that I have time. Everyone only has a certain amount of time, you can't readjust that. So I set priorities. I do my job. And do something with real people.
Statements by our interlocutors reflect their own views. Deutschlandfunk does not adopt statements made by its interlocutors in interviews and discussions as its own.
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