Adrian Hates (music, composing & vocals) from Diary of Dreams
Here we are again with the second part of our interview. In the first part we were talking about the artwork and the mythology of ‘hell in Eden’, about the video for ‘hiding Rivers’ and about the first two songs of the album, including the video for ‘Epicon’. Today, Adrian has interesting things to tell about the remaining songs of the album and he reveals some details about the upcoming tour, supported by label mates SLAVE REPUBLIC, who just released their new album. The following interview was held in German and translated afterwards.
“Is this not how you wanted me to be?”
When we finished the song, I commented that this sounds for me like the club song of the album. Adrian laughs and replies that this might be true, but that it is not so easy for him to categorize the song in this way. He explains that back then when ‘Traumtänzer’ was released he never thought that anyone would be interested in this song and that it nearly would not have been included on the album. But then, he reveals more about ‘Decipher me’, a song that deals with the question: What are the dreams that I receive, that are circulating in my head, doing to me? “I try to decipher the mystery which dreams I receive and why. It's indeed a fact that I have really intense dreams, and I don't know why this is. I’ve often tried to explain it. It is also very disturbing stuff. A horror movie is sometimes nothing compared to it. Those dreams often haunt me for days. You feel it, it is mentally depressing. It is a burden and sometimes I only recognize it after half a day… then little pictures from the dream flare up and slowly the dream assembles piece by piece in my head, I in fact can trace it back. And then I understand why my mood is depressed. This is the case since my early childhood. I remember fever dreams from my childhood…” Dreams are indeed a topic accompanying Adrian Hates his whole life, being also reflected in the band’s name, DIARY OF DREAMS.
Back from dreams in general to the song. I found especially the beginning nearly Trance-like and extremely electronic and of course I wanted to know how this came. The process of creating this sound was really interesting. Often there are those moments when Adrian and the band start experimenting and try to put samples together to create a scenery of sounds. This album is again co-produced by Daniel Myer, a fact many people probably don’t even recognize. The cooperation between Daniel and DIARY already started back in 2000. He is a very creative mind and according to Adrian probably the most underestimated artist in the scene. Even though he had great success, 100% deserved, he did not have enough success, especially in a commercial matter. “He is an unbelievably creative mind and the magic he creates with DIARY conjures a smile on my face.” Especially within ‘Decipher me’ you can hear Daniel’s influence. “That’s the things we experiment together and find new sounds”, replies Adrian. “I am always happy and thankful about this productive collaboration. I also have the feeling it becomes better with every year. He exactly knows how I want it to sound, where I want to go after all these years…”
If we speak about co-production I am of course interested if there were experiments with other producers. “This is always such a question… if there is no need for it, why should we do it?” But of course DIARY tested a few things with different people, additionally and not replacing, but Daniel and Adrian never were really satisfied and convinced to continue such collaborations. Just like its predecessor, ‘hell in Eden’ was mixed together with Thomas Hannes, first in the DIARY studio and then again in a second studio in Düsseldorf, where they re-worked and examined anything. It was a very expensive and well-measured studio, Music Making People (http://mm-people.media/music/) in Düsseldorf, and funnily enough, Adrian and the studio owner already knew privately without knowing that he was running this studio. “We know each other for years now and so it happened that we reworked anything there anew.” There are always different steps when finalizing an album. “I once again spent much more money on the album than I wanted to… and much more depth of detail than I wanted. I also wanted to finalize it much earlier, as we all know. But that’s always the case with me… Now I still can look at myself in the mirror since I am convinced that I delivered the best possible album and that I gave the maximum at this time…. for me. The point is to be at peace with myself.” We got interrupted by a noise from outside. Adrian laughs. “As you see, even my dogs are dreaming, maybe a nightmare… hopefully it is not infectious. But maybe Eden only messed up something…”
Speaking about Eden, we now reach the title of the album that already confused the fan crowd. I had read comments on Facebook, asking why there is not even one German song on the album…
hell in Eden
„Lass mich los
und lass mich fallen
Es wird hell in Eden“
‘hell in Eden’ is such a song which is desperately unhappy on one hand and on the other it is extremely hopeful. “’Ich bin nicht mehr ich, hab mich umbenannt’, that’s a line I live so very much in this song“, Adrian comments. “I love this childish naivety in this line… I cover my eyes and one cannot see me anymore. This is the picture behind, this naivety of man, how he deals with life, how he deals with history and his future.”For Adrian, this song is the development of mankind, how man acts against himself. “In fact, this is a song where I did not know if I can deal with it at the beginning, when I had finished the instrumentals. I did not know if I can arrange it the way I wanted to and I was short before skipping it for the album. And then I read the text, the lyrics that are included now on the album… I wrote this text down in one night, in one piece. That happens very rarely to me… that I sit down and write down the text in one piece without a break. Well, and that’s this text. I only adjusted odds and ends so that text and song fit well together and can be sung, but that’s 99% the text how it was created in one night within twenty minutes.”
Adrian was really fascinated about this fact since he usually works very differently. Usually he changes a text millions of times until it is finally ready and he is satisfied with it. Together with Flex, he later recorded the guitars for this song and the whole album. Flex played most of the guitars on the album, only a few were delivered by Adrian. ‘hell in Eden’ was such a song where Flex delivered wonderful guitars which join in at the chorus. First you nearly don’t hear them… but it’s like a dream, as Adrian calls it. He speaks very excited about these guitar lines. “They are opening so wonderfully, you first don’t feel them as guitars. For me, they achieved a lot within this song. And then together with the lyrics… all of a sudden I knew that this song would be a personal highlight to me, a song that has a lot of power to me.”
Besides the guitars, especially the piano line in this song is very striking. I asked him who created it and he reveals that musically, nearly everything on the album comes from himself. The album was completely written by Adrian, like also the strings on ‘hiding Rivers’, except of the solo line in this song which was added by Sophie. When it comes to the guitars, it was the fact that Adrian sat in the studio together with Flex and Thomas and they worked on the real guitars based on guitar lines Adrian already had prepared with keyboard-guitars. He usually works that way since this process is faster than taking a real guitar. “I sketch the guitar lines and later we elaborate the guitars together. Guidelines for the guitars were set for each song and then we are finalising the guitars from there together. Flex is extremely creative and intuitive, that’s why we could go through the songs extremely fast. That was crazy and a lot of fun and a special experience.”He furthermore tells that it was great to work with Flex together in the studio, even though he cannot be on stage during each concerts… it is very rare currently as we all know. But it shows that they are still working perfectly together in the studio and there is surely a chance Flex will join a few live shows in future. He and Adrian are connected by a deep friendship and a close and creative collaboration.
„Ignore all the shame
Life is perfect … for you“
For me, this is a song with a lot of depth and details in the lyrics. If you first only listen to the sound and especially the chorus, if sounds very positive. But only at the first sight. In fact, this song is very cynical and sarcastic when you have a closer look. Then, things are not positive and friendly anymore. Adrian confirms my impression and says that he loves to combine contrasts; that he likes to wrap sad or aggressive cases in an opposite sound. For this song, he wanted a certain ease; that it is catchy in a certain way and kind of friendly… but this friendliness is only pretended. You can hear it under the surface. This song includes layers underneath, not being friendly anymore. “It was important to me that there is a strong cynical and sarcastic vein in this song. So, it was clear for me that this ‘perfect’ sample plays an important role.”
In the course of the discussion he explains that today we are living in an age of superlatives. There is no commercial, no report or review dealing without superlatives. And so, he wanted to present this “perfect” since this is the incorporation of a superlative for him. “I wanted to say, basically, anything is perfect, we are all doing fine and as long as you only think of yourself and run through the world with blinders, anything is super. I wanted to compare this behaviour with the truth. That someone who was running through his life successfully with his blinders and gets them removed all of a sudden and then he gets this panoramic view and sees the truth right and left of him, that the misery is everywhere. This song is a short eye-opener. Therefore this contradiction between pleasant song and extremely deep lyrics.”
Beast of Prey
„The truth lies here
Beneath and beyond”
“I love this song”, Adrian grins when we finished listening to it. “To be honest, this is a song that gained more greatness and width the longer the production process lasted. If I had finished the album at the time I originally wanted to, such a song would have been meagre.”He explained how ‘Beast of Prey’ won during the production process. He remembers how he worked out the notation together with Max. He first recorded anything with keyboard, also the strings, and then built the notation with a great new program, called “Notion” by PreSonus (he showed me the program on the computer, https://www.presonus.com/products/Notion). They built also the notation for the strings that were recorded later by Ella (cello) and Sophie (violin).
Those recordings were done in yet another studio in Duisburg, the studio of Thomas Hannes, Tresorfabrik. Preparations were done by Adrian and Max and then they were sitting in the studio where it all grew. All in all, this song has more than 170 audio tracks. This was one of the most elaborate songs on the album. The audio tracks cannot be displayed on one screen. In fact it needs three screens on biggest possible resolution. Adrian speaks about the difficulties with this song, that there was huge discipline needed since it was easy to move or delete something or just to destroy something. This was another song where he was happy that it was finally finished and mixed and recorded and that he has not to touch it anymore.
Excitingly he also speaks about the moments he loves so much in this song. “At first place - and Dejan will be happy about it - I love the drum cue into the second chorus which was created by him. He likes fills, long fills having a build-up in the drum line. I usually like when you run your head against a wall, means when something big, loud and thick comes all of a sudden without notice. Such a fill is always an announcement that there comes something and you know something happens. But in this case I have to agree with Dejan… in this case, this fill I needed and it always carries me away.”‘Beast of Prey’ was difficult in several cases, and the album is too. All in all, Adrian has sung more than 150 hours to record this album. “By a long way, this was the most psycho I’ve ever done in my life. It brought me to my capacity limits. Anything is behind me now, but it really exceeded my limits. I did not have any power anymore.” Just to imagine… there were days when he was singing from morning to night. Later, when he did not have any power anymore, he slept three hours, set the alarm, and recorded vocals for one song, slept again for three hours, set the alarm again… and so on.
His daily rhythms were completely destroyed. As he said, he “was not in this world anymore”. He dwelt in the studio and at home alone for weeks, since it was not possible differently. He was not socially accepted anymore. “This may sound overblown, but it was really like I said. At the end I did not like myself anymore. Honestly, I usually don’t like me very much anyway, but in this moment, I found myself terrible. And yes, such songs are the result and the satisfaction you receive afterwards. It’s the reward for all the things you’ve gone through.”We were furthermore speaking about the choir you hear in the background during the song. It was one whole night of work. He doesn’t remember exactly, but it was six to ten hours of singing, a whole night, just for this choir in the background, making only noises and not even singing a text. But he needed it exactly in this way. Probably no one will recognize it and will cherish it appropriately how he’s done it. But he believes in the end that the whole work counts… the drum work, the way it was mixed with Thomas in the studios, the recordings, first and foremost the strings… even though there are some synthetic strings, most of them is real, the cello and the violin, being outlined first by him and Max to unfold this special impact during the song. To conclude, this “is a song that means very, very much” to him.
listen and scream
„Speak and be quiet
Listen and scream“
When I listened so this song, I immediately connected its colour and mood with the ‘Nigredo’ album. Basically he agrees when it comes to the mood which might be connected a little bit with ‘Nigredo’ and something in the keyboard lines as well. On the other side he denies since this song has hardness and aggressivity a ‘Nigredo’ song would have never had. And it also has a guitar and drum power, a ‘Nigredo’ song would have never had. Not speaking about the vocals itself. But at the end, he thinks to know what I meant. “This is really a mood, a colour that is similar. I like to play with this kind of memorability, to add such a little trademark to the song…”and so he uses sounds, samples or noises having a cyclic function. This song has also an interesting story behind. They were sitting in the studio together, Adrian, Flex and Thomas, and elaborated the guitars and the current guitar riff of the chorus for this song. Flex created a very interesting guitar line…
“We were sitting there and I said, well, that does not work for a break. Based on this, I reworked the whole song, eliminated all current choruses and made the break a chorus. I then reworked the arrangement of the whole song totally… a song which was basically ready and only some guitars should be added. Such things happen… you realise in the studio during the finalising works, during the vocals, the guitars, the strings or whatever, that the song needs something completely different. And then it depends on how you deal with your own work. Are you rigid and deadlocked and you say no, it should be like this and I want it like this… or will you let go and give the song what it needs. And this here gives the song what it needs... Listen to man and scream!”
Traces of Light
„Now I can see
how life has changed me“
According to Adrian, the song points out the importance of human togetherness, how much you need each other and how much you need to rely on each other. That you need team spirit and you are looking for it during your whole life. That you long for someone who strengthens you, that you are strong as a unit. “And if you imagine how strong you could be as a unit, it is sometimes embarrassing”,he said. “Of course this is very much reduced to a few words, but look at mankind and observe another one who is important to you… and imagine how it would be without him… this is basically the matter this song wants to express.”
„There is nothing I can do
I stand and watch it all go down“
While I commented that this song is again very electronic and kind of poppy, Adrian added that he cannot really handle such terminology. Not because it bothers him, but because he has not the possibility to classify it like this. “Sometimes something is obvious, but I cannot say that this song is poppier than another one on the album. For me, this song has a story and a colour, a certain fascination and many beautiful electronic gadgets we have included and which excite me totally and somehow have something very own and very new. And that’s what enthuses me in this song.”There is something nearly brute in the drumming and the sound design of the keyboards, but still there is something very melodic and slinky in the chorus. Adrian likes such stuff.
Bird of Passage
„So strange to learn
it is the end“
Compared to other songs on the album, this one first appears nearly reduced, at least for a long time… “I think you need a moment during such an album where it gets a bit calmer, where it gets centred a little and concentrates to one point musically. You have it here, but I also wanted to break this rule.”That was obviously the reason why he was leading the listener down the garden path. He pretends that the listener hears a ballad, and then when he has the feeling it totally calms down, it is breaking loose and passes over to a relatively long instrumental part. “I found this fascinating. I wanted to create an antipole to the calm feeling. That was the idea behind.”
„Forgive me tomorrow
I live for today!
This is another song where the catchy melody first distracts from the serious lyrics. Adrian says, this is a heavy song. There are numerous things he could speak about. It would be a topic for a whole evening. He tried to make it short, but he also admitted that the explanation of the song’s title alone would last an hour, at least to explain what it means to him. “’I try to forgive myself just for one moment’… to forgive oneself is often the heaviest thing existing.” With this song, he tries to compare this statement with the popular attitude in life: that you live for today, to run riot, do what you want and the other day you ask for forgiveness. “That’s a comfortable way of living, but it is laden with guilt and I believe it is hard to live with this guilt. Sister Sin is also the sin, the ever present little sister you have always with you.” So, one meaning is that it is a sibling you have.
“Sin” is not meant in a biblical sense here, not in a religious sense, but rather in the sense of something wrong, something you should not do and you know that it is wrong. “That’s sin for me, I use the word ‘sin’ since I think it is a very nice word foremost and secondly it illustrates very clearly what is meant, but I never mean in a religious way.” Generally, he never uses religious terms in a religious sense. Besides, the wordplay with “Sister” is like with “Brother” as ecclesiastical term. In this religious meaning, “Sister” for him is at the same time something that can represent sin. “This might sound contradictive and it is, but for me, this is a representative for a system that surely is laden with a lot of sin during the history of mankind.”
„Heal me stitch by stitch
Fix me piece by piece“
Adrian is often asked how he comes up with the order of song on an album. This song now very well represents the position it has on the album. Of course, a certain flow, a continuity and traceability dominates an album, acoustically but also regarding the content. But especially first and second position as well as the last two songs are very important to him. They form the framework of the album and until those positions are not taken, an album is not finished. Adrian writes songs until these positions are occupied. “With the second last song, I want to include a certain difficulty into the album, a certain discomfort just before the end… just before the end I want to ask questions again, I want to be cumbrous, maybe even asking too much of the listener, and I want to irritate a little… and this function has ‘nevermore’ on this album. Just to ask questions with whom you dealt on the album, be harmonically complicated end even brittle… what the refrain of this song shows very well.”
„In her dreams she is hiding
for the shadows will stay“
I can understand very well why this song was the first release of the album. The string section at the beginning is striking. About this song alone, Adrian could talk a whole evening, he says. The story is very long. The music is very much influenced by one instrument of one endorsement partner who supported the band a lot. Overall, DIARY OF DREAMS is very happy about the creative partners in the music industry, who provide fantastic equipment, not always for free but for very good conditions. And of course that helps a lot. For this album, the whole studio was technically renewed completely and a lot of new software was bought. According new equipment and software, Thomas Hannes provided advice. So the technical basement for the album was prepared. One of these new devices was the Seaboard RISE from ROLI, the black keyboard Max also uses on stage.
Since I am an ignoramus when it comes to musical equipment, Adrian explained this devise to me. It really is a strange instrument, since it is a piano keyboard, but it is soft, like silicone and you can stroke over it and drag the sounds. There is no separation between single sounds, when you stroke over, the sound just changes. He offers me to feel it myself later and indeed it really feels different and strange, it is very soft, like velvet, and has no real keys, you can stroke in any direction and so the sounds float into each other. “It really has its own haptic. I plugged the device in and was immediately excited. I found a great plug-in for it with great sounds. And there was a string sound on it and to play such a string sound on a keyboard, to have the feeling playing the sound like on the real instrument, means with vibrato, to drag the sounds, to drag one sound into another and don’t need to change the sounds like on a classic piano, this was a mazing an delivered the acoustic and harmonic base for ‘hiding Rivers’.”
“This song means so much to me, it is probably the most personal song I have ever written, that‘s for sure… and this song, just like the title song of the album, made several people in my surrounding crying… including myself”,he admits. “These two songs are affecting me deeply; still today… they go under my skin and will remember me of the last year eternally. Sometimes, this is sad,” he laughs, “but sometimes it is also an enrichment to have such memories.” There are indeed songs accompanying you your whole life and wear the legacy of a whole era. “’hiding Rivers’ together with this video - that’s a final! I already explained during the previous song how an album needs to end. That’s how I want to be released from an album, with this feeling, with a heavy desire. Exactly the human and emotional mood I’d like to have more present nowadays… more empathic, more in balance, more at peace with oneself. I think when mankind is one thing today, than not in peace with itself. And if I could only contribute a little share with the things I am doing, with this album maybe…”[and he leaves the rest open]
This would have been a great final word, but I still have some more things I’d like to know.
“Thomas is a very experienced studio technician, intensely working with bands live and in the studio, and so, the work with him was great. So to say he choreographed the recordings.”
We already talked about the strings on several songs. As much as I know, Ella Rohwer and Sophie Moser from KARL THESING, from a band that now is signed to Accession Records, the very own label of Adrian Hates, are playing them. How did this connection evolve? KARL THESING is a trio consisting of Max as Karl Thesing, the head of the band, and the ladies accompanying him with strings. For the album, there first were a few people at choice for the string sections. At the end, the connection to Max called for collaboration with his creative team. He knows the girls very well and could rate their abilities. Adrian did not know them before and first met them in the studio. “But it worked very well from the beginning”, he added. “Besides, Thomas is a very experienced studio technician, intensely working with bands live and in the studio, and so, the work with him was great. So to say he choreographed the recordings.”
Speaking about Thomas… I found it interesting how the contact to him came together. I knew that in the past, there were other people, like Rainer Assmann, mixing the songs. I learned that SLAVE REPUBLIC were recording their second album together with Thomas and Adrian knew about this fact, but did not know Thomas personally. Thomas lives in Düsseldorf and someday they met during the mastering of ‘Elegies in Darkness’ in the studio of Kai Blankenberg, Skyline Tonfabrik in Düsseldorf. Adrian remembers: “Thomas was sitting there when I came to my appointment for the mastering of ‘Elegies in Darkness’ and he stayed for a while. He was sitting there, listened and then we came into talking and so I said, well, you are the one who made SLAVE REPUBLIC, and he said, well, you are the one making this and that…“ During that time, Adrian was looking for people he could work together with in future since Rainer Assmann, who accompanied him many years, was simply in an age when he wanted to enjoy life more, travel around and wants to spent his free time differently and not in the studio for days. “It is not that he said he does not want to work with me anymore, but such Odysseys like this one (I don’t know how many days we spent in the studio, it must have been around fifty)… you really need to want to.”
“the album was created over two years with much blood, sweat and tears”
He was laughing and reveals more: “we all will not get rich with this; I never will earn a single cent with this album, that’s already sure by now. I never will see a success big enough to recompense the spending. But that doesn’t matter”. Then we return to the point we discussed before. Thomas was predestined for this position. And since then, he is an important consultant to the band. “He is such a guy sitting in the studio, telling me honestly, that he does not like a break, that something is missing, that a verse is too dense or whatever… I ease down and usually I need my time after such critics until I can accept it.”Well, of course any artist first resists such critics, does not want to accept it. Adrian thinks about critics a lot, it is wearing him down and he questions it for a long time. Sometimes, he leaves things as they were, after he has examined it for himself, but sometimes it shows him weaknesses he did not recognize before. Therefore, critic is very important. Even though it first bothers the ego...
“But well, most artists have a fragile ego, even though they don’t show it. It is difficult, also with reviews and comments in the internet, may it be by journalists or by fans… they write, ‘this is all rubbish, I cannot deal with it, I don’t like it, I want such an album as back then’, etc…. I try not to deal with it too much, but it hurts. Any single negative critic hurts just because of this reason: the album was created over two years with much blood, sweat and tears, I sacrificed a lot of time to it – more is not possible. I spent a lot of money, as much as it is completely irrational… but I did it because I believed I was doing the right thing…”Of course this does not mean than anyone has to like the album, but still it means that it hurts when the album is smacked down just with a few inappropriate words. At the end, Adrian is just human.
“That’s the biggest light show we ever had”
Now to another point that was interesting to me. During the album listening session before, we often commented how good a certain song must sound live on stage. Of course I asked Adrian about his concept of the upcoming tour, what we could expect and if there would be any surprises. Would there even be very old songs in the set? Certainly, Adrian already thought a lot about the tour. When he’s in the studio working on the songs and the album, he tries to block out the thoughts of the live implementation, but of course this does not work in any case. “There are those moments when you sit there and you think, wow, I cannot wait to play this thing live! I need to play this on stage!” But he tries not to be controlled by those thoughts since he wants an album to emerge out of itself, out of the moment and not out of the stipulation that it must fulfil a certain live situation. But of course, when he is working on a song, then there are also thoughts of the tour during the creative process. “And let me tell you, this time it will be sad for any song that won’t be played live, this will hurt me personally, but of course I know that many fans come to a concert to listen to songs they love from the past. And I won’t take those songs away from them.”
At the moment, the band is working on the setlist for the upcoming tour and it will also contain songs that haven’t been played for a long time, which probably most people did not even hear live so far. Beautiful new versions of their beloved songs! They won’t be estranged, and they won’t sound as they have nothing in common anymore with the original versions. “I don’t like it myself. When I see bands live I love a lot and when I stand in front of the stage then and don’t recognize the song anymore… that’s not my intention. I always try to take old pieces along with the new ones, so that they feel comfortable within their harmonies and sound in the neighbourhood of the new songs. Otherwise they could sound too different besides each other.”So, a song like ‘Butterfly:Dance!’ or ‘the Curse’ will be recognized at once. He just likes to add a little gimmick at the beginning so you don’t realize the song in the first second; but when it evolves in its relevance then you will recognize it. It will be a very colourful set containing anything for anyone. Together with their light engineer Vadim, they created an “insane” light show. “That’s the biggest light show we ever had”, Adrian says with a touch of pride. “That’s for sure! It is economically nearly unreasonable, but I don’t care about it. I want it to make heavily bling-bling”,he laughs. Currently, the band is already working for one year on the realization of the live shows.
Well, since it is that expensive, people have to buy a lot of merch so that the tour will be profitable and there will be further DIARY albums in future. “Yes, please”, he replies. “I would like to make another album. And nowadays you never know… I don’t want to produce an album low-budget, fast with little time and money. You will hear it and I don’t want it. That won’t meet the standards of the last twenty-five years, and it won’t belie the expectations of the audience. It won’t meet my very own standards! When I reach this point, then I will stop releasing music.”Strong statement! “To be out of pocket might be a funny story, but… then I would take a job and if I take a job, the fans could forget that I answer personally to Facebook messages, reply on comments and be there after concerts… and that I play concerts around the globe in such an amount. At the end, anything is shaped by my hand and that’s at the end, so I think, the trademark if DIARY OF DREAMS. People love the things I am shaping with my wasted head.”
Well, that’s now really a good final statement. ‘hell in Eden’ will be out on 6th October 2017 and I promise you: It’s worth buying. Wonderful music in a wonderful package! Thank you Adrian for this interesting talk and your time!
Promotional pictures by Silke Jochum and Frank Machalowski, studio pictures by Daniela Vorndran (http://www.vorndranphotography.com / http://www.facebook.com/blackcatnet)