Ada Kaleh, or Iulian Cuculea, the founder of the homonymous record label, whose releases can be found exclusively on vinyl, delights us with tracks that combine different, contrasting styles and approaches. As the techno or minimal beats transpose you into the track, organic elements, like warm instruments or nature-inspired sounds, surround you and build a special space, or as he puts it, an eternal present. We talked to him about his creation process, sources of inspiration, the frequency of love in this week’s feeder insider, click to read the interview.
Keywords: hypnosis, synesthesia, 432 Hz, frequency, space, organic, vinyl
Hello, Ada Kaleh!
Here is what feeder would like to know about you:
(please, fill in the blanks)
When I was little, I wanted to become…a guest, and then a retired person.
The secret spot I visit when I want to chill out is…I don’t have a certain place or places. I like green spaces, surrounded by water.
I would have liked to learn earlier on…that everything comes in its own time and that patience is the greatest virtue.
If you were to write a short self-description, you’d say you are…totally incapable of doing a self-description.
Beauty is in…anything, as long as we want to see it.
My favorite club is…I can’t say I have a favorite one.
I always got along well with…nature and cats.
The instrument I never get tired of…drums and percussions. Ba dum tsss.
The track I’ve been listening to lately is…the last track I’m working on, the repetivity test. If I don’t get bored of it after many auditions, it goes on to the next selection phase. Sort of a maturity exam regarding music.
3 artists who helped me discover new sides of music…
The Future Sound of London – Papua New Guinea
Sigur Rós – Svo Hljótt
Explosions in the Sky – The Birth and Death of the Day
Ana Grama: You’ve been producing music for a while, under different names and covering different genres. How did you reach the Ada Kaleh identity? By the way, when did you discover techno music and who were your influencers?
Ada Kaleh: I’ve discovered techno, along with electronic music, in the early ’90s. My biggest influencers were Future Sound of London and Basic Channel. Until I got to the identity of Ada Kaleh, I had to go through many music genres and experiments with different sounds and production techniques…to mature as a person and as an artist. I still don’t think the Ada Kaleh identity is complete, I just began discovering new sound dimensions.
AMG: From what I’ve heard, you compress your tracks at 432 hz, a google search and I found out lots of interesting things about this. From your point of view, what are the most important differences between 432 hz and 440 hz, especially when it comes to your tracks, the way they are being perceived, felt and the mood that they create? You mentioned once that 432 hz is the frequency of love, how do you feel this connection?
AK: Yes, I detune all the elements with 8Hz. It’s not a thing that can be explained in words, it’s rather a sensation, you feel the roundness of the sound in a different way, the frequencies lose some of their sharpness, they turn warm. If I were to compare, to me 440Hz would be the agitation of the city that sometimes overwhelms and burdens you, and 432Hz would be a small glade full of green and quietness.
This frequency space offers only the ideal dimensions through which you can explore the sound; the mood and the atmosphere are created by composition.
Yes, that’s what they say, that 432Hz is the frequency of love…but after all anything you do with love, conveys love, you just have to find the right channel and frequency to transmit the message.
AMG: Your tracks are a harmonious combination between techno beats and organic sounds, your compositions have multiple layers, and they embrace and surround you. How do you build a tune in order to reach this synesthesia, how does the creation process look like?
AK: I don’t have a certain pattern when creating a song, I have certain techniques but they’re always applied with small modifications. The creation process is a moment of temporary madness, synesthesia is born right then. I enjoy a lot working with various layers of sounds that intertwine and embrace like a lotus flower. I like using field recordings with humans and nature, that offer that familiarity you’re used to and the perfect space to explore as a listener and as an artist.
AMG: Speaking of creation, do you have any rules you stand by when you work, how do you organize, any specific ritual? How does a day at work look like?
AK: I never plan working like one does in a day at the office, when it hits me, it hits me. As I said before, temporary madness.
AMG: Every release of yours comes alongside a visual artwork. How does the collaboration with the artists play out, how do you work towards translating the sound into an image?
AK: I believe in the collective conscience, so I know someone has already created, or is now creating a painting, a photo, etc that fits my music and vision. All that’s left is for me to discover. Until now, I discovered two artists that are dear to me with whom I collaborated, Anita Frâncu and Horațiu Lazăr.
AMG: Who do you consider to be the best international producers at the moment? Who do you appreciate from the Romanian music scene?
AK: I thought for a few minutes about it and nothing came to mind. This, regarding international producers. Though, regarding the Romanian music scene, I like Barac and Vlad Caia a lot.
PS: Otherwise, I have numerous bands of indie, post-rock which I could mention: Sigur ros, Explosions in the sky, Red Sparrowes, A silver Mt Zion, MUM, Epic45, Moogwai, Collapse under the empire, etc, etc.
AMG: Have you noticed any difference between the Romanian and international public? How’s Bucharest when it comes to nightlife?
AK: The Romanian public hasn’t reached its maturity yet, it’s somehow speculative and follows imposed trends. But I think it’s on the right track and it’s beginning, naturally and oragnically, to grow a culture of electronic music. In a few years I hope we’ll all reap the benefits.
AMG: What are your plans for this year? Any new release, a party in a special place, new collaborations?
AK: Until this year’s end I’m planning two releases, one in September, called Introspecție, one of the first productions under the Ada Kaleh identity from more than three years ago. It’s the track closest to my soul. It comes alongside 2 remixes, Faster (Vinyl Club, Kurbits) and Takashi Himeoka (RORA). At the end of this year I’m preparing an EP called Detașare / Regăsire.
AMG: As it goes in any art, when you create, you have a certain mindset and you imprint a part of you in those sounds. What moods do you want to convey with your songs? What is the impact you wish for when people listen to your tunes?
AK: I’d like to believe that I only transmit the framework, and people have the complete liberty to create any mood they want and to explore the sound and the atmosphere. I wish they feel liberated and at the same time captive for a few minutes in the space that I created.
AMG: You’re an excellent connoisseur of electronic music, both old and new. Do you think we’re heading towards a good direction? What are the trends that you feel are not just right, overestimated or used in excess? What would you like to hear more often?
AK: For sure, things settle with time and eventually they will find the right direction, which I consider to be happening already. I can’t say much about trends because I try to avoid them, consequently I’m not up to speed. I’d like to hear more about broken-beat/breakbat or dub-techno.
AMG: Thank you very much!
AK: Thank you too, I hope we can talk again soon.
Words by Ana Moca-Grama