by Joep Vermaat
Part 1, 2
Adult are Adam Lee Miller and Nicola Kuperus. Although they are married they only recently got involved musically. They have just released their first record called "Dispassionate Furniture". In October 1998 the MURDERCAPITAL label invited them to play at a party here in Rotterdam. I interviewed them.
How did you start?
Adam: 'I used to record solo stuff under the name Artificial Material. And then we started working together. We decided that we become a unit. At first it was her working with my solo project and then it became a new project. It started a while ago.'
Nicola: 'A year ago.'
Nicola: 'Oh, I thought you meant how long we are working together.'
Adam: 'It all started fairly recently, because our first EP should be out in December. Up till now there's absolutely nothing out under the name of Adult. But soon there will be about three or four different records.'
On your own label?
Adam: 'No no, on Ersatz Audio the "Dispassionate Furniture EP" should be out next month and distributed through Star67. A remix for Clone records, a remix for Sabotage we are working on right now and a remix of loops on Seretonin.'
Why the name Adult? I know it's a corny question, but I'm probably the first one to ask it.
Adam: 'You not the first one, but you're the first one with a microphone. One, it is a very powerful word, it becomes very loaded. It's unique when it's all by itself. Because it's usually with something else. Like "adult entertainment" or "adult prices", that kind of thing. I think also maybe it's a reaction to a sort of generation gap that is starting to happen in the scene.'
Adam: 'Or maybe I'm making this up. But do you know what I mean?'
Adam: 'Well you know, there are the fourteen year old candy ravers, and there seem to be mid-twenties and mid-thirties generation of electronic musicians that take it pretty serious.'
Is it that prominent in the scene?
Adam: 'Well I think so. It's really bad in America.'
But I can't see that difference, maybe because we only get the records down here.
Adam: 'Oh, I'm not talking about the musicians. But I'm just stating that this kind of music is a little more mature. No I don't want to say that. This music is not..'
Nicola: 'I don't know where you are going with this.'
Adam: '..I'm just stating that. It sort of sets up a separation. Our music is not candy-rave music. It's serious.'
So are you that serious about it?
Why did you set out to make electronic music anyway?
Adam: 'I have been doing it a long time. Ten years on and off. Six years very serious. When I started it was punk rock. And it sort of started morphing into electronic. Then I guess it was in '89 or '88 that I finally broke away from that. Because I was trying to add more and more electronics into the band I was in at the time and all the other people were like "No way!". And I thought alright and I left the band and started my solo project.'
(to Nicola) And for you?
Nicola: 'Well I always hated technology. I mean truly hated it. Just by being around Adam I have started to appreciate that there are other kinds of electronic music not just techno, the four-on-the-floor beat. So I think I just started working on it only a year ago. But then working and doing stuff for Ersatz Audio for awhile.'
Adam: 'And she has learned to play the piano.'
So you both have always been busy with music?
Nicola: 'Yeah, well, yeah. But not electronic. I have always liked punk rock.'
And now you're making electronic music yourself, have you started to appreciate it more?
Nicola: 'Actually I don't listen to a lot of electronic music.'
Adam: 'But how about that CD that you take to work, that's electronic!'
Nicola: 'Yeah that's true, but it is not electro, or techno or dance. The only thing I listen to is eighties dance music. New Order and Heaven 17. Things like that.'
But what do you add to Adam's music then?
Adam: 'Well, that's the thing. It used to be that she added things to the music. But now we are working together. I mean she is the vocalist.'
Nicola: 'I'm not a vocalist.'
Adam: 'Yes you do, you do the vocals to the music. It's just a different definition of vocalist.'
So your vocals are electronically altered?
Nicola: 'Yeah, I don't have a trained voice. So I'm happy that the instrument alters my voice, because I don't like my real voice.'
Not at all?
Nicola: 'No. Like in junior high school when you think: "oh my friend can sing, but I can't". I'm so tone deaf as far as that goes.'
But you're a trained pianist?
Nicola: 'Yeah I took it for about five years. So I can read notes and know how to play Beethoven and stuff.'
Adam: 'I think it more affects your approach to our music. She approaches the music with the knowledge she has about playing music. And I have no piano training what so ever, so I approach it different.'
Nicola: 'He draws graphs and charts.'
Adam: 'Yeah, I do graphs and charts and she sits and does it her way. So I think that the two together synthesize into one project.'
Do you notice the difference?
Adam: 'The old stuff I did was a lot more.. I guess a little less notation and a lot more.. I don't know. Less cold. Although, it's pretty cold now. Oh well, just different.'
Nicola: 'But that was the concept.'
Adam: 'I had been working in a certain way for so long, that I started to figure out my own formulas. So now I work with Nicola she suggests: "what if you do this?" and I'm like, oh no, that doesn't fit the formula. But it still works. So it is a truly new project for me too because it's so different working like that.'
Wasn't that a problem in the beginning, that it first did not fit like you were expecting?
Adam: 'Well it just happened real slow, because we are married. So we live together. And so she comes around to the studio and check out what I am doing and started to mess around with things. And then it just became more and more. And now I get into the studio and ask her what she's doing. It happened real gradual, so in the end we noticed the difference and changed the name because it is a new project.'
Are you still working on your old projects and your solo things?
Nicola: 'You don't?'
Adam: 'Well, I might someday. But not now.'
But you had so many outlets. Like Le Car?
Adam: 'That's not solo.'
Are you happier doing things together?
Adam: 'Yeah. I have done solo stuff a lot longer. Even before I put out records. As I said earlier. I kind of reached a formula and this is new way of loosening things up. Someday I probably go back to doing solo stuff. But now I barely have time to work on one record, let alone two.'
Is this what you do? Do you make enough money with this?
Adam: 'No, we both work full time in Detroit. And I don't want to give that up. I don't want to be a full time musician. The reason is that my label Ersatz Audio has always been based on the punk ideal of breaking the rules and that sort of spirit. Thanks to having the job I don't have to compromise anything about what I put out. It's whatever we believe in and that's it. And if it doesn't make any money, that doesn't matter, because we got jobs. But the art can survive.'
But aren't you surprised that most people like what you do?
Adam: 'Now they do.'
Nicola: 'Yeah, now they do.'
Go to part 2