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More Alive Than Ever
on music, creativity, and the meaning of life
by Majo Aguilar
México City, October 22, 2021
Photography by Victor Avila
On an atypically sunny October afternoon we are set to reunite with French-Mexican singer, producer, actor and director Adan Jodorowsky. Born and raised in a family surrounded by arts, with a mother passionate about music and a filmmaker father, Adan has managed to make a name of his own since his solo debut album Étoile Éternelle in 2006. His musical talent goes beyond himself - he has contributed with his touch to various productions of some of the most recognized artists in Mexico and Latin America: León Larregui, Natalia Lafourcade, Bandalos Chinos, among others. Overall, Adán's musical talent is matched by his generosity and charisma on and off stage, his taste for movies and vinyl and his sense of family and home are some of the qualities that make him a down to earth artist. The intimacy of his shows and the connection with his audience before, during and after the show is something that few artists manage to do, the effort and creativity put into the direction of his own music videos speaks of his level of commitment and longing for quality of his craft. An artist head to toe and an innately charismatic human, Adán invites us in his beautiful library and studio in his apartment to discuss his free point of view.
For you, Who is Adan Jodorowsky? How do you perceive yourself?
I don’t know. I feel like a silly mutant. It is very difficult to describe myself, one always changes minute by minute, we are all mutants, so I feel I’m in constant change and evolution. I couldn’t describe myself because then I would be describing something that no longer exists.
Before becoming a solo artist you were in a punk band.
Yes I was. I went back to listening to it, the other day I found some CDs, they were awful! We were terrible, the band was truly bad!
Because the singer was a fan of The Clash and punk music. I liked jazz back then and 50s rock n roll, the other members liked Queen, Ramstein… It was a mixture of tastes that didn’t match, so we didn’t have a sound identity, but there I started.
"I feel like a silly mutant. It is very difficult to describe myself, one always changes minute by minute, we are all mutants...I couldn't describe myself because then I would be describing something that no longer exists."
Have you ever felt identified with the punk spirit?
Never. I was never a punk, I might have been a rebel, but I never felt part of a movement or a musical style, it was never a part of myself.
Besides being a musician you’re also an actor, producer, and director. In which facet do you feel the most comfortable and the most free?
In every single one, but particularly as a director. Just yesterday, I directed a video and I realized I love it. I enjoy it a lot, because in direction there’s music, there’s a script, there are images, there is design and editing; Cinema is a very complete art, I love directing actors and making music videos. It feels like directing silent films.
Whose video was it?
Mine, I direct my own videos.
And what do you want to achieve when you direct your videos?
First of all, to express the frustrated director that’s inside me. I always wanted to make movies. When I was nineteen I was evidently very young, so I wanted to direct but didn’t get much attention, then I moved to music and then doors started to open to me. Overall, I think that expressing artistically as a director is what matters, and finding a universe, to create a universe. For me, music is not only music, it is like a play, like a happening, a spectacle, that sort of thing.
"Overall, I think that expressing artistically as a director is what matters, and finding a universe, to create a universe. For me music is not only music, it is like a play, like a happening, a spectacle, that sort of thing."
You’ve also been in the role of producer, you’ve worked with Bandalos Chinos, Leon Larregui, Daiela Spalla, Natalia Lafourcade as well, in her newest record. Did you enjoy the final result?
A lot! It is a gorgeous album, absolutely stunning. I worked with Marc Ribot on that record, Tom Waits’ guitarist and Robert Plant’s as well, Fiona Apple’s double bass player. We had excellent musicians playing on that record who did an amazing job and we all got along very well.
What do you seek to contribute to the people with whom you work? What do you look for in them?
To sublime them. To get the best of them. Sometimes artists can’t see certain qualities in themselves but I can. I like to take them out of their comfort zone, to pull them into new worlds and to make that a success for them. It's something truly interesting to me and that satisfies me enormously. I feel very proud.
How different is it for you to compose music for records and music for soundtracks?
For artists, I work for them so they can grow. Being a producer is a generous art, you are slightly in the shadows, not completely unless you’re a star producer, then you get recognition, but otherwise it’s a humble work. Soundtracks are also a humble work but in that case it’s more a question of your own creativity coming to light.
Along your career you’ve had different characters, alter egos. You’ve been Adanowsky, Amador, El Idolo (The Idol)
Ada as well.
Where do they come from? What do you base them on?
It depends, since they are born neither how nor why, at the moment of creating them I don’t care about what people think, whether they’ll think good or bad about them. Creativity has a lot to do with an instinctive impulse that needs to be heard, so I don´t ask myself much, to me it is not rational what I do, I never knew what I did but I made it.
Are your characters a reflection or mere creations?
I enter a kind of trance, I don’t even know who I am in that moment, an idea comer, I express it, I go 'well, if it ain’t good it will eventually become the past, it doesn’t matter, I will go forward.' One makes mistakes, but I’m not afraid of failure, that’s why I dare making strange things, because I don’t mind failing. Fame is not what motivates me, but the quality of the work, the result of the work.
"Creativity has a lot to do with an instinctive impulse that needs to be heard, so I don´t ask myself much, to me it is not rational what I do, I never knew what I did but I made it."
You just played a show at the Black Berry Auditorium, it was highly enjoyable, I liked it very much. Before the interview you were telling us about the amount of work it took to make it possible, How was the process and organization like?
It was three months of organization. Since I had been gone for four years and only worked as a producer I had to tell people that I was alive. I went to the streets, I made announcements, I went to see people outside concerts telling them about the show and the date, I went to my fans’ houses to play songs for them. I made a whole movement to reach people, because after the pandemic when everyone communicated via their phones I thought that people might want contact. It reminded me of my first years when nobody knew me. I was in Paris on my motorcycle and pasted flyers by myself across the streets, I handed them to people. I remember that when I went to the cinema, before the film would start I stood in front of the screen and announced my shows. That’s how I started to fill lounges in Paris, and that’s just what I did here, it reminded me of that time. We made a sold out show, which I never imagined, and that’s because I went and personally reached people.
Why did you decide to revive Adanowsky? Why him over your other characters?
I felt like I had not finished something, it was like a cycle. Once I took back my name Adan Jodorowsky I thought, 'I will never call myself Adanowsky again, he’s over, I need something more real,' but I had encounters with myself, disassociation too, and it felt like something was unfinished. It marks part of a period in my life where I had plenty of artistic freedom, something I also had with Adan Jodorowsky, but I needed to find an alter ego so I could return home and rest myself as an artist.
Did you manage to do so?
When I return home I am rested, then when I play onstage I’m Adanowsky, but when I’m back home I have my books, my movies, my music and I disconnect from Adanowsky.
What is your favorite part of getting home?
Observing my library, that’s right behind you. It gives me a lot of peace- home. I am a homebody, in fact, I’m planning to move to a house with a garden in the south. I need calm and silence because there’s a lot of noise inside my head and sometimes I don’t have the best time with that, so I need plenty of silence.
'I am a homebody, in fact, I’m planning to move to a house with a garden in the south. I need calm and silence because there’s a lot of noise inside my head...'
You’ve recently been working with El David Aguilar, who played with you at your show. How has your partnership been?
The first time I met him was with a project he had with Caloncho, a project called Vacación, I produced that record. When I saw David I instantly wanted to be his friend, that doesn’t happen to me with many people. That also happened with Jay De La Cueva and Leiva, they are people with whom I had a deep connection and with them I created a new band.
I was just about to ask you about it. Your name is The Guapos, why did you pick it?
Because we are handsome!
Very creative. What are you planning to do with this new band?
I met Jay De la Cueva about ten years ago, we sat one day and wrote a song, we proposed making a band, we laughed and went 'Imagine if we called ourselves The Guapos.' Years later we went to record that song, ten years later!
Why did it take so long?
We had a lot of things to do, we needed to grow artistically. So, we gathered in Desierto de los Leones to record at a studio. We invited David Aguilar to play second guitar with us, just to enjoy ourselves, then we felt like he might be another member of The Guapos. We told him about it and he agreed. Then, I was producing Leiva’s record Cuando Te Muerdes el Labio, and told him about our band, I told him we were looking for a drummer but I knew he had projects and lived in Spain and he told me 'Adan, I would love to be the drummer of The Guapos, I want to be one of them.' The four reunited at Jay’s house and we had an immediate connection, we went to Chicago with the help of the management who financed that record and recorded it there.
So the record is ready?
Yes, it is already recorded.
When are you planning to release it?
Next year, around February. We have already presented ourselves at Leiva’s show in Metropolitan Theater, he had sold out as well, he told the audience it was no longer a secret we had a band and invited us upstage to play a song by The Guapos.
How was the audience reception?
Amazing! Because people knew it was the band’s premiere, everyone picked up their phones and started to film us, and as we finished, everyone was asking for another song. We gained five thousand followers in three hours, it was such a success!
What kind of rock do you play?
It's 1962 Rock.
Your new song "Todo es Perfecto" just came out. Is this a preamble to your upcoming album?
Yes, it is a single that forms part of my upcoming album.
Does it have a name, date?
Yes it has! Name and character. I can’t tell much because it isn’t out yet, it is set to come out in February as well. I have two records prepared for February, but I will be releasing singles monthly with great videos and great collaborations, international collaborations that have to do with the US. I can’t tell much, all I can say is I’ll be releasing a song for Halloween and might have a surprise show.
What influences your music the most right now?
For a while I was influenced by other singers, by movies, and I slowly looked for my identity. I no longer need to be influenced, now I pick up my guitar and have something of my own to say, but that happened to me just about three years ago. I think life itself inspires me, the events, the experiences, those inspire me.
What’s your biggest engine in life?
My son, Alion. My son keeps me alive, he gives me hope and makes me want to live for many years and be creative.
Do you transfer this artistic and musical part to your son?
Yes, since he was born I taught him rhythms, I put him in piano and drums classes. I introduced him to many things, I showed him silent films, 80s films, The Goonies, The Gremlins, everything that I saw when I was a kid, he has seen it too.
What do you share the most?
Humor, we laugh a lot, we make jokes all the time.
Do you think that he looks like you? Personality wise, I mean, do you see yourself reflected on him?
He is less calm than I was, as a kid I was very calm. He is already 6 years old and he is turning more calm with time, he is a very delicate kid. We do have similarities but at the same time I feel like he has nothing to do with me, he has his own identity and personality.
What artist/movie would you suggest to our readers?
City Lights with Charlie Chaplin, I love it. Also an unknown film called Shock Corridor by Samuel Fuller. And about music, I would highly suggest the record Histoire de Melody Nelson by Serge Gainsbourg, that record influenced so many musicians, myself included.
What's your take on Gainsbourg? He’s regained popularity recently.
I am French, I was born and raised in France, I went to school there, and he [Gainsbourg] is a great part of its culture. If you see frenchmen now, they are all disheveled, they don’t shave, they take a bath once or twice a week, Gainsbourg set that trend, it used to be like that before but he sort of popularized it. He certainly revolutionized music, it’s very rare because few know about it. I would recommend Scott Walker as well. From the artists I’ve worked with, Devendra Banhart. The Psychedelic rock bands of Sean Lennon, Robert Johnson the bluesist, Jean Vincent, Eddie Cockrin, Little Richard, Jerry Lee Lewis… I love 50s rock and roll. Neil Young as well, there are so many things I could suggest!
I would very much like to make a suggestion to you, I am almost sure you might know them, the band’s Fontaines D.C.
No, I don’t know them!
Well, I highly recommend them then! Personally, I find them to be the finest that current rock has.
I'm going to listen to them, I'm very interested, I love discovering new bands. I used to go to a store and grab CDs without knowing what they were, I'd buy ten and of those there were six that I liked and the rest I would throw away. But that's how you discovered music, or in the store you could listen to the CDs, see if you liked it or not, that's how it was.
How do you do it now?
I search for myself. I look up which singer worked with a certain guitarist and so on. I’m currently listening to a lot of old music. At home I listen to 50s and 40s jazz, but mostly late 50s and early 60s jazz. I don’t enjoy virtuous jazz, but Billie Holiday, Chet Baker, Oscar Peterson –even though he is too virtuous to me– Charles Mingus, they all reassure me after making too many rock and guitar solos. I’ve been into blues too, I read Keith Richards’ fave blues songs and listened to them all.
Finally, is there any event that changed your life? The thing that defined you.
Since the moment I started to make music there was no turning back. It’s like a drug, it was made for me since I was a child. Behind you there’s a picture of me playing a trumpet when I was three years old, I was very excited. My mother played piano at home, she sang me songs because she wanted to be a singer and wrote music, though she never did anything with music, she was a kind of frustrated artist, and it’s said that kids do what parents never could. My brothers too, one of them played drums, other played piano but never really made it, the other played the sax, and another one the guitar, I played piano. I am the only one in the family who persevered and made it with music.
Beyond his versatility and ever changing characters, Adán Jodorowsky has set something clear: he has plenty of new sounds to share. More active than ever, his two upcoming albums are just proof that not fearing a couple of falls on the way and caring about what you do for yourself and yourself only make any work love worthy.
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