Adàn Ilse is a synth project signed by USHERsan (ex-Norma Loy, Die Puppe, currently in command of the Black Egg), Pedro Peñas Robles (HIV + , Fluxus) and Peter Rainman (People Theatre). Pedro runs the french label Unknown Pleasures Records. A discussion with Pedro,Peter and Usher is always interesting.
What does the name of the band mean?
Pedro : It was a private joke between Usher and me. When we started the band we were a duo, Adan (me) and Ilse (him). We made Space Factory (french techno label) believe that we were two homosexual lovers and they signed us on their catalog for the release of our first EP “From The Waves » in 2013.
Peter : When this all started we were named Adan & Ilse feat. Peter, because i joined the team few weeks after they created the band. David Carretta suggested we removed the « feat. Peter » bit because it was too long. I'm supposed to be the « & » now, hehe.
Tell us a few words about ‘Adan & Ilse ‘ start . At what point did you get attracted to music? How do you meet each other and if there is someone that helped you in the beginning.
Usher : I'm attracted to music since I'm born. After my birth my “third uncle” gave me a small toy guitar with a sticker of the Beatles on it as a present; and I’ve never stopped having music in my head since that.
Pedro and I met via FB a few years ago. He saw me when I was in Norma Loy and he asked me about a Suicide cover. I don’t why I agreed and recorded “I Remember” on which he sang before, and we started doing things together. “I Remember” was on our first “Ushersan+HIV+” record on the Black Monolith EP.
Pedro : Adan & Ilse was born from the musical encounter between Usher and me in 2012. The arrival of Peter allowed us to have a new way of working on arrangements and mixes, o make them sound more modern and technical. Peter enables our recordings to sound cleaner because Usher and me in the studio are two old punks torturing analog machines without trying to please. In our band mainly I am the singer & performer but I always give precise musical direction to Peter because he didn't have exactly the same musical and cultural roots that us.
Peter : Yep, i'm not from the underground world, basically, though I tend to go darker and darker nowadays. The guys had marvelous songs but everything was disynchronised and required strong knowledge in mixing, because these machines we use need to be precise and respectful. They have soul, you see.
As you are three members, how does it work and which is everyone's participation in the project? Since you have other projects, what determines when the time is right to return to Adan & Ilse?
Usher : Generally I compose the music, the general idea of the song, sometimes its together with Peter and then Peter did the arrangements and mastering process, and Pedro and I put the lyrics and vocal on the music. But we had some exceptions, the process is not always the same.
What determines it will be an A&I track? Hard to say. Some tracks are more Adan & Ilse than Black Egg (my other project) for example (less dark, less industrial) and so the destination is here!
Pedro : I do lyrics and counter ténor backing voices with more darks vocals, Usher also sings with a cold wave crooner voice. Sometimes I do also the mixing of our songs as on "Sadisco R3mix3d". I also propose the names of remixers, external musicians collaborators & ideas of our artworks.
Peter : There isn't any classical recipe, no habit, actually. Sometimes Pedro comes with an idea, we make it real working together. But most of the time it comes from Usher. Then we use to play some kind of musical ping pong, exchanging mp3s all the time. When we three are crying on the result, we know it's a good song we shouldn't touch anymore. I bring ideas too, especially tips on the production and mix. The new thing, since the third album is we built Usher and I a kind of laboratory to create sounds that will be included in the songs. “Boys in eyeliner” and “Failures” for instance started that way. That's for the irrationnal side. The more rationnal one comes from Pedro : he brings time schedule, photos, ideas and songs he's heard. He's very good at motivating us, trying to catch what we are reluctant to show sometimes.
What is your creative process to compose you music? Can you explain what ‘Adan &Ilse’ is all about?
Usher : I don’t know. Its things I hear in my head, it comes from the inside.Adan & Ilse is about pleasure, loss and knowledge.
Peter : It's hard to explain actually. The more we work and exchange together, the more we think as a trio, capturing each other's feelings. That is an inspiration. But most of all that band is a kind of alchemy no one can change. Separated, we work and sound differently. United it gives those special sounds, atmospheres... Magical... Dark magic, I would say.
As I see some great artists have collaborated with you (Gabi Delgado from D.A.F.) and some others have remixed your songs (David Carretta, John Lord Fonda, Motor, Haujobb) so I think the feedback from the other artists has been very good so far. From the audience side, on a worldwide level how has the feedback been to your music?
Peter : We could say we had very positive responses from serious and real artist. Now it's easier. In the beginning, we were totally knew to the audience a lot of pros even didn't replied to mails we sent. Later they recognised they were jealous or didn't realised what it was all about. Too late guys ! We always work with people that say “yes” from the very start. David Carretta has the guts to sign what he likes and not what should be signed to please some people in the little world of music. Usher, Pedro and I have strong connections with talented artists, and they give us the best of them (Thanks John Lord Fonda, Melanoboy or Daniel Meyer!!), but for others, though we were totally unknown, they said yes just because they listened and liked our work. Gabi Delgado was the perfect example, and so did Oly from band Motor.
Well, I do love the new album (‘Cold Diamonds’), it appears to be consistently good all the way through and in my opinion it is your best album to date. Do you feel the same?
Usher : “Cold Diamonds” is the most coherent and mature album we did I guess. Its also the one where our new wave roots are the most obvious. But I like the others as well. Its hard to say. I feel its different but I cant explain why. It was not something conscious.
Peter : The thing is they all sounds different from each other. The two first ones were more based on demos from Pedro & Usher, now we are first experimenting, thinking, trying, we go deeper and deeper in our soul. What is clear to me is the fourth album is the rel first of a trio, not two plus one or one plus two, etc. The best proof is I often listen to it, thinking “my Godness, how did we manage to make this bit?”and the answer is simple : we surprised each others all through the sessions.
Could you discuss about the concept behind ‘Cold Diamonds’?
Usher : In this for the first time we have integrated our gods. I mean Ian Curtis with the JD song, using his real voice, Bowie with the cover, Cure with the very“Robert Smith like” voice on Sun king, and others less obviously. The Cold Diamonds are inside the music, and its like some re-generation.
Peter : I think we now are ready to play with our icons, instead of thinking about them as the unreachable top. It's like playing with jewels, diamonds in our hands : they show us a different image according to the move and the light.
In the last album there is a cover in ‘love with tears apart’ and also your label’s name is the name of Joy Division’ album. In addition to,the cover of ‘Cold Diamonds’ is similar to the cover of Bowie’s ‘Aladdin Sane’. What do ‘Joy Division’ and ‘Bowie’ mean to you?
Usher :Joy Division and Bowie mean a lot to me. I started to love rock music listening to Bowie (and then Iggy), he was so different, he had the perfect “sound and vision” attitude. And then with joy Division emerged the sound and soul of the generation. My inspiration is close to Joy Division’s inspiration, I mean Bowie, Iggy, Velvets.Icons.
Peter : I've never had the chance to discover them at the right moment, I guess. I'm more into electronic music, but some tracks fascinate me a lot : i'm fond of Bowie's trilogy, or “outside”. For Joy Division, it came after I bought some early New Order tracks. Anyway, what i'm looking for, whatever the style, is SOUL. And no one can say Bowie or JD don't have.
The last album brings me a nostalgic new romantic feeling.Is your music looking back to the past?
Usher :Well I think that actually the music of today is the music of the past, less the spirit. We put the spirit in again, and try to change something from the inside.
Peter : We have to look on what' been done in the past to understand how and why they created such songs. On the other hand, the most important for me is to have tools that “talk” to us and inspire us, whetever the tool is old or brand new.
Having been in the industry for sometime, what’s your reaction to how it’s changed, and what about the Internet and file sharing activity?
Usher :Yeah it changes a lot with the FSA : people who never met can do music together, that was totally impossible before. And it goes faster as well.
Peter : Good thing is we can communicate easily. Bad thing is lots of people are pretending, acting, but lie and just duplicate what they see or hear.
Could you mention some of the bands or musical styles that have had an influence on your music and also what are you listening to nowadays?
Pedro : early Depeche Mode, Fad Gadget, Kraftwerk, Coil, Yazoo, Klaus Nomi, Suicide, Joy Division, The Cure, Liaisons Dangereuses, DAF, Nitzer Ebb, Norma Loy, Trisomie 21, Ultravox, Mute Records, Internatioanl Deejay Gigolo, and more electro clash, ebm, synth pop, dream pop, cold wave, dark techno...
Usher: Bowie, Iggy, stooges, Beatles, Throbbing gristle, Coil, suicide, Joy Division, PIL, Velvet Underground, Mùm.
Peter : without Vince Clarke, Alan Wilder and Kraftwerk, i'd be nothing.
‘Unknown Records’ is a label that growing day by day and some interesting artists have already joined it. Tell us a few words about your label.
Pedro : Unknown Pleasures Records is a record label of passionate people for passionate people ! There's no place here for the cynicism, the cult of personality or the greed.
We seek to produce from the best possible music that we've always liked, outside scenes, musical hype. When artists like Alan Vega, David Carretta, Haujobb, The Horrorist, Dave Clarke, Dominik Nicolas or Étienne Daho support our music we know that we are on the right way.
What about your future plans with Adan & Ilse?
Pedro : I'm currently working with the label on « Chirurgie Plastique » an special remix album of songs from "Cold Diamonds" with amazing versions by PSYCHE (« Boys In Eyeliner »), HAUJOBB (« Sun King »), NEON ELECTRONICS (« LosT Overdrive »), IN DEATH IT ENDS (« Red Star »), ELECTROSEXUAL (« Like Me »), MATERIA SUSPIRIA VISION (« Stardust ») and more remixes by THEREMYNT, DIMEUHDUZEN, JAPAN SUICIDE, LAAG, MELANOBOY, WATERWALLS, PHLLOX.
Peter : We already are trying new tools and ideas, but i'm also packing things in order to be ready for some eventual dates and tours.