ADAM GREEN – Interview

Foto-© Sophia Kahlenberg

Adam Green ist so ein richtiger Typ. Egal was er anfasst – seine Handschrift ist unverkennbar. Und nachdem wir das, was er macht ziemlich gut finden und nun nicht nur sein neues Album, sondern direkt auch ein weiteres Buch veröffentlicht werden, nahmen wir die Möglichkeit eines Interviews in Berlin selbstverständlich jauchzend gern an. Ist einfach ein guter Typ, dieser Adam, ein richtig guter Typ:

Whoah a day jam packed full of interviews for you – how are you going?
It’s been a long day, it’s fine though. You get in the mindset of giving interviews. It’s almost like oh, what do I tell people about myself? You know what I mean? You create an open book.

Did you have to repeat yourself all day long or was it alright?
I’ve been sort of just talking, but I mean, yes of course. Eventually you only have so many things you can say about a project, especially factual things. You know, I want to credit people on the album for example.

Alright, shall we start with them and get it out of the way then?
Okay, okay. So, my album. It was recorded by my friend Loren Humphrey. He was the main producer on it. He also played drums on it. He’s an awesome drummer, really really nuanced. James Richardson, he played on it, he’s the guitarist of MGMT, he’s excellent. Florence Welch from Florence and the Machine sings on it too, she’s great. Delicate Steve, who people may know. He’s an instrumentalist, guitar player, he’s awesome. Jonathan Rado co-produced two of the tracks, he’s from Foxygen. That’s how my record started, I went to his house, recorded two tracks, came back to New York and then started recording other stuff and it got flushed out into an album. It became more of a record through the work with Loren. His studio is this crazy old fashioned, analogue studio with tape machines and stuff. He’s really into old records, especially Serge Gainsbourg. He loves the Melody Nelson record and he kind of tried to find out what sort of equipment they used to record that and purchased it himself.

Duh, pretty big names! So the work with Loren.. how was that?
I’ve known him for a while, I just hadn’t worked with him yet. The last three record I’ve done in LA with Noah Georgeson. For me that was becoming the drill, write some songs, go to LA, get a band, record. But this time I kept it all in New York. It was good, I have a little family, you know I’ve been.. making two people.

How has creating offspring changed your vision? Or creative, artistic idea if you will?
It’s almost like genetic time travel or something. You sort of are moving yourself, well, half of yourself, into new beings and try to guide them on their way. It’s different than making up things like songs and art and such. With people, there’s so much maintenance, it’s probably more like running a restaurant.

I don’t know what sort of answer I’ve expected here, but please keep going.

Every night, you need to make sure that everything happens. You open up the restaurant, you make sure that everything is clean and good. Or let’s say you had a play and there was a call time and everyone had to be there. It’s a real production, having children. You can’t not pick them up from school, you can’t fuck that up. If you don’t come – and if you think about it that’s a really easy thing to forget, to pick someone up at school – it’s a huge issue. You can’t do that. If you’re five minutes late for school, they’re super mad. Everything is very much on time and you have to use a part of yourself, that…. oh okay, see basically that stuff is all very present. You can’t be too cool to parent. It’s not actually that cool of a thing. You just need to be very present and not cool at all. But as soon as I drop my children off at school, I immediately flip into some other mode.

Turn on the artist mode?
Yes, the artist version of me. The second I walk away, I have a note pad going. I have a part of myself that’s always engaged in making up art. It’s like my little garden and I keep it pretty safe. And whenever I have some free time, I go there, exploring. Oh you know look, I made this comic book. So this is coming out the same time as the album as a companion piece. It’s called War and Paradise, the album is called Engine of Paradise.

How are they related to each other? Would you like them to be approached as two individual pieces or should one read it, whilst listening?
You could think of this as a movie I was going to make. The album is sort of the soundtrack to it. They’re thematically related, but they’re not.. you could enjoy one without the other. This is a story of humans vs. AI Insex, that look like this. It’s a satirical story and humans go to war with the Insex. The first part takes part in the human world which is called regular world. It’s like a universe where a lot of my artworks exist in. The second half is in the after life. Me and my good friends, Toby Goodshank and Tom Bayne. We sat around a table, like this kind of, and for six months we met three times a week and drew together. We drew all on pencil, then scanned it and hired a colorist to have it colored.

Have you had thoughts at all regarding creating another movie? Like you did with Aladdin?
I did think about it. I didn’t really have any people to produce it, it’s really expensive to make a movie. I would still like to make another movie some day. It’s a 150 page comic book, it still took a long time so it’s not exactly that this was the easy way out.

And it absolutely doesn’t look like that!!
Can you explain, what the album is about?
Well, the album, I think it’s about maneuvering through things. My wife works for google, so we have a lot of conversations that are like a combination of art and technology. And a lot of my artwork has been about humans being sort of possessed by technology in a sort of hypnotized state. And through my art envisioning outside of that state. To show people that it helps them in their own perspective. I’m not saying that it’s another dimension, but…usually when I’m trying to make art work I try to get the feeling like I’m going into another dimension. And then that’s the feeling of with which I’m trying to carry information. I’m usually building little bridges for myself and then I go down the bridge and I grab a nugget and come back and I see if it feel good and what it’s like out there. I sort of reach into something and get it. I’ll do that for years and then I’ll just take the things that I think really feel like they’re part of this unhypnotized other dimension state. And as an artist I feel like I’m communicating with people, using only those. From there I’m hoping that, if people are open to it, they’ll sort of take that in and it’ll perform a sort of emotional surgery on them and help them through something. For the benefit of humankind it is, that I do this.

You’re a singer, songwriter, film maker, visual artist and poet. Could you only ever focus on just one? There somehow seems to be the idea, that a human can only really pursue one art and be only good at this one chosen form. Is that something you’ve faced before or did you ever feel like it’s been tried to put you into one box?
I feel like for me this is the calling to try to make total artworks. I think there’s a German word for it … let me look it up: „Gesamtkunstwerk“. To try to get all the senses integrated. In theory I’m technically stuck with the same interior landscape for my whole life. It changes a little bit, but it’s basically all in there. If I’m drawing a cliff, or anything, I’m tracing around my emotional interior landscape. Nothing is by accident, it’s all in there. Like a program and I’m mining it. My ego and It and superego or whatever are all components of a mechanism and if I’m gonna write a story, I’m basically taking those components and turn them into a character and attach different parts of my personality to those characters. Then I’ll have them negotiate through a myth that I decide. They find their way and I watch them fight with each other and they’re all clock working.

So the observer of your artwork can basically walk around Adam Green’s garden.
Yes, exactly. Walk around the interior and meet all the people in there. But that to me is the specific calling of an artist. As in a calling in itself.

Okay I guess and then you can take it to all to another level. There’s obviously your interpretation of yourself and then someone else is looking at that and will relate their own stories and project them and then it becomes this whole back and forth play.
Yes, that makes sense to me! I’ve seen that before, when people pick up on something.. I honestly feel like I write for years. And I probably just write about ten things. If we look at all of my writing from all these years, we could probably put them in ten categories. I don’t think that the landscape is that complicated. I mean it’s complicated, but it is and it isn’t, you know what I mean?

It’s complex, but there’s a red line.
Exactly, people are interested in certain things and that’s what they think about. That’s just life. Not everybody thinks about everything and maybe it’s ten things they’re interested in. That’s my theory and in the end of the year, I look back at all the stuff and I’ll try to put them in categories. I’ll be working on a story and that way I can see what I’ve been thinking about the last year and what it’s been centered around. There’s war, and these were my thoughts about the afterlife and love, this is my thoughts about eroticism, this is my thought about technology. There aren’t that many categories- It’s actually so stupid, this guy Adam Green, just thinks about love, technology, sex and his family. And artwork.

Ha, us humans are some interesting creatures hey?
Oh you know one thing I think about is perfume. Cause I collect perfume.

Oh, like what? What do you collect?
There’s a whole scene called fraghead, which I found on the internet. It’s a subculture with people who are interested in fragrance and smell and notes and the history of it. A few years ago, I started to learn about it and started to collect all kinds of historical perfumes and new ones. I get interested in a perfumer and what they’re about. My favorites are, when they create these scents, that are almost like snow globes.

Snow globes?
They’re supposed to describe a time and place. I have one fragrance that’s supposed to smell like the Moroccan dessert at night. And it really smells like that! It has spices and it smells dark and night timish, but it has a dry note that smells like sand in your nose. It’s really really cool.

Gosh I find that so fascinating, I get that with songs sometimes. When I listen to a song and I know exactly what the place smelled like, when I was listening to the song for the first time.

For me it’s super connected, it’s like I’m being transported back into that moment.
That’s awesome! The limbic system is deeply connected to memory.. I mean I love it, it’s kind of decadent, but I love just being surrounded by weird fragrances. When I’m writing, I spray different smells on me or around the house or on papers. Or I just smell them when I’m drawing. It’s all coupled. I have a little cabinet filled with different smells and I can pull up any kind of different smell, it’s pretty fun.

Whoa, that’s incredible!! I’m inspired!
Also, it just smells really nice, That’s the best thing about it.

Do you consciously use them as inspiration?
I think I do a little bit. But all the disciplines are really different. When I’m drawing, I think I do it in a pretty primal, expressive way. Almost child-like cracked out line style. That’s probably in some degree informed by me playing guitar in the Moldy Peaches. A lot of the stuff you do, when you’re playing crazy punk guitar, is that you use your hand in a kind of cave person way. Well but then cave people are probably really elegant.. I’m just speculating. But the way I play the guitar, is a similar feeling to when I’m drawing in that way. So I think they’re combined. But then when I’m writing songs, that’s more about the feeling I have. I have a feeling and the words kind of just get swept along in the current of that feeling. I just feel something and I sing and the words become a part of it.

How do you create?
I think I have two personas, one is the me that’s trying to reach out for something. And the other one is the editor me, that is pretty respectful of the artist guy. When I’m the editor me, I’m like wow this guy really is productive, he’s got a million of sentences and he needs me to go through them. Let’s say if my schedule was a week long, then 3 or 3 and a half days I’d just walk around and write down everything that came into my head. And then the last day and a half I’d go through it all and try to make sense of it.

The editor seems to lead a pretty busy life.
The editor is busy, but at the same time I have faith. I don’t really remember the state I was in, it’s usually really ecstatic and there’s a lot there. There’s so much energy there. And when I’m the editor, I’m not like that. When I’m the editor I’m like okay, it’s another day at the office. And I look at the artist guy and think woah this person was really on fire. I’m not gonna fight with that guy, he knew that this was the best way to say this. He had a really good energy. I wouldn’t question it, he was honest. I’m really faithful to the writer version of me, but when it’s not working, it’s not working. That being said, I did have another editor on the book, which is my wife. My wife edited this a lot, cause even editor me is not quite good enough to really actually do a story like this. It wouldn’t make sense to anyone. So I try to keep my stories at least making sense to Yasmin enough so that she can endorse it.

Sounds like a great collaboration of three people.
The artist me, the editor me and Yasmin.

Adam Green Tour:
28.10. Stage Club, Hamburg
29.10. Bi Nuu, Berlin

Sophia Kahlenberg

Sophia, 29. Fotografin. Dann kam das Schreiben. Verspürt starkes Herzklopfen beim Wort ‚Australien‘. Aber Berlin ist auch ok.

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