How Adanowsky and His Best Friend Ended Up Recording an Album in a Castle

Photo by Francisco Outon for Remezcla

Damn Adanowsky! Back at it again with the sexy, acoustic jams! But he’s not alone this time. In one of the best surprises of the year, the French-Chilean-Mexican artist and his fellow Frenchman and longtime friend Xavi Polycarpe of the band Gush teamed up to write and record a new LP.

“You know, at the beginning we were not supposed to do an album,” explains Adan of the 10-track album Adan & Xavi y Los Imanes. “We were in Spain, playing music, and we said ‘ah, we should do an album,’ like we should record together. Just songs like this in a house.”

The album gives the pair equal time on vocal duties at five songs each. Xavi plays some classic rock and pop à la Harry Nilsson and Badfinger as is his proclivity with Gush. Adan does his usual sexy crooning in Spanish while Xavi sings mostly in English with a little French thrown in for good measure.

“At the beginning, we wanted to do it in the desert, and at the end, we ended [up] in this castle,” explains Adan of the old castle in the French countryside, where they recorded the album straight to 8-track. The group, which also includes Xavi’s brother Edouard as well as Julien Boye, was originally set to record inside a friend’s home. Oddly enough, said friend didn’t inform them that the house would be filled with people and, therefore, too noisy to record in.

“We didn’t know how to record an album in this house,” he continues, “so we wrote messages to all of our friends and suddenly, there’s a friend of [ours] — Cerván — who said, ‘I have a castle. It’s the castle of my family.’ Her grandfather was a blind piano maker, so there was a piano in each room…we arrived around Christmastime.”

The initial seed of the album was planted four years ago, but busy musicians being busy musicians, the friends were unable to do anything together until recently. Ironically, the four-year wait was met with a rather brisk recording session, thanks to their decision to record on 8-track tape as well as their limited time in the castle. We sat down with the duo to talk multilingual music, creative lessons, and the recording process.

On the multilingual spirit of the album

Adan and Xavi originally planned on releasing their work separately. Adan had written and composed his own songs, Xavi had his ready to go, and they helped each other perform and record each other’s tracks to tape. After a few listens, they were convinced they had to release their separate work together as an album. “You know, at the beginning we were not supposed to do an album,” explains Adan. “We just wanted to record music just to have fun.”

“Yes, because the last album, the Adanowsky album — it took a long time; [it was] a long process,” adds Xavi.

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Unfortunately, they ran into some trouble finding a label to help them distribute the album. A lot of folks at French labels just didn’t get what the two created.

“As a project,” explains Xavi, “we can see the challenge was to make it work between the [Spanish-speaking] guy, the English, and [with] two different voices.”

“Everyone has advice like they have an asshole.”

“There’s a lot of people in labels in France that said, ‘well we don’t understand the concept, you know, singing in Spanish then English,’” adds Adan. “It’s confusing; it’s weird. But we are like, this is our strength.” They considered going straight to iTunes on their own, without a label, but eventually found some open-minded people who believed in their project.

On lessons from Papanowsky

As most folks are already aware, Adan’s father is none other than Alejandro Jodorowsky, the acclaimed film director with a taste for the avant-garde (see El Topo and The Holy Mountain). Adan followed in his father’s footsteps by studying cinema and directing some of his own videos, but has also focused on his music. However, Papanowsky did give him a bit of creative advice that has stuck with him ever since.

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“It’s to not listen to any advice,” says Adan. “Because he says that everyone has advice like they have an asshole. But I like to listen to people now. I’m not really agreeing with that completely.”

On collaboration

Adan is no stranger to collaborations. The musician has worked with many artists throughout the years, including Ana Tijoux, Natalia LaFourcade, and Teri Gender Bender (in a very NSFW music video). He’s also worked with freak folk (don’t say it to his face, though) artist Devendra Banhart. “I opened the door and [Devendra] said ‘Ah, we look like cousins so you’re my cousin now,’” says Adan of his first meeting with Banhart (he goes into interesting detail on the meeting in this clip). “So he said ‘primo’ and we wrote a song in his terrace in LA. It was ‘You Are the One.’ And he was very nice. And now we’re still friends.”

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