After taking a bit of a break from making music, the Detroit electropunk duo of Adam Lee Miller and Nicola Kuperus known as ADULT. are back with a new album The Way Things Fall, this time on the highly acclaimed Ghostly International record label. Releasing music since the late 1990s on their own Ersatz Audio imprint, ADULT. has been a cutting edge group from Detroit infusing dark goth electro-synth music synergistically with equally haunting visuals. During their break, they focused on other audio/visual artistic endeavors, including a 113-minute trilogy of horror flicks called Three Grace(s) triptych. The time away from music did the duo good, recharged their musical spark, and with a little nudging, ADULT. have returned with a new album that is a testament to the true grit of Detroit music and our cities deep artistic side.
ADULT. is set to play the Ghostly International curated Movement Festival stage at the St. Jerome's Laneway Festival at Meadow Brook on Saturday, September 14th, and I was able to sit down with Adam and Nicola a few months back before their performance at the Movement Festival this past Memorial Day weekend at Hart Plaza in Detroit. We chatted about the new album, the artistic side of ADULT. as a group and a couple, and the current state of the city of Detroit.
ADULT. releasing an album on Ghostly International seems like the perfect idea. How did that come about?
Adam: About three years ago, Sam Valenti, who runs Ghostly, wanted to reissue our very first album Resuscitation. It had been out of print for a long time and we weren't interested at the time because we were really burned out on the music scene. We needed a break from it. So we decided we didn't want to do it for the wrong reasons just to make a buck or what not. Every time we would see Sam he would bring it up and it kept going on for a few years. Finally....
Nicola: The time felt right.
Adam: We were recharged.
Nicola: We were in a good mood (laughs).
Adam: So we agreed and we played our first live show in a couple years in Detroit. We did a couple cover songs in the live set. One being Shar Vari and Sam saw some of that online. He said 'I want to release that too'. We'll do a 7" and then, the album came.
How does ADULT. mix in the music with the visual arts?
Adam: We don't spend a lot of time thinking about that because I really do believe that whatever comes out of you is always going to be a reflection of you. We do have a strong ascetic. My paintings tend to be very brightly colored but very organized and geometric. Just going to the films, doing the music videos then grew into the films, it all just relates just easily for us that we don't think about it that much.
Nicola: We're so like one. It's such a hybrid. We don't really think about it.
Adam: We act very intuitively even though the work seems... conceptual.
Since it's so intuitive, where do you find your inspiration?
Nicola: Think just life, really.
Adam: One thing we are very lucky about and I really do appreciate that we have this ability, but we are never out of ideas. When people talk about writers block and what not, I haven't ever experienced that. Usually I just don't have enough time.
You two have a marriage in all aspects. How do you keep that going for so long?
Adam: That goes back to the creativity. We don't run out of ideas and we don't run out of motivation luckily.
Nicola: I think we both really enjoy crafty things, making things, and we are both completely obsessive over it so its not like it becomes a problem where one of us would be 'Oh you're spending too much time on this or that and you're not spending enough time with me.' That's not like. We are both completely obsessive about what we work on. In a way, we're really fortunate that we're exactly the same in that regard.
Adam: I don't think opposites attract.
As long time Detroiters, what are your thoughts about the state of Detroit right now?
Adam: I think of it the same as any political system. I've watched Detroit have so many "potential rebirths" and "potential disasters" and I know its serious but after a period of time, it's hard to get too invested. I found an interview. Something we were doing around 1996 just starting to work together on running the record label. I found this article about how Detroit has on the brink of being the new epicenter. That was in '96, so you know, it's tough to take it seriously.
Nicola: It's a weird thing because there's so much activity happening. I don't know what Detroit will hold. I mean I think it is a little scary. There's a lot of history with this place. I do worry that people are going to be this struggle between all these new people coming in and the people that have been here for a long time. Obviously, the last thing we want to do is to go back to 1960 and have race riots all over again. It was a terrible time but I do sometimes worry that there is a lot of separation in the city. On the other hand, the people that live in Detroit have an incredible energy.
How can the creative people in Detroit get by in times like this?
Nicola: In a way, people who are sort of creative arty types are very open and sort of more accepting to change and situation.
Adam: New experience
Nicola: Maybe helping bringing different sides together in a way. Unfortunately, they always say follow where the artists go and that's where to invest your money. There are definitely plenty of creative people here. I'm not a politician. I'm excited to see change in Detroit but I'm obviously leery of it. I've lived here for 20 years now. I want good things to come for the city.
Let's talk about the new album. What kind of new energy is on it?
Adam: There's a confidence that only comes from experience in the record. I'm very proud of that because it's something you can't fake. That's very satisfying for me as an artist. Sometimes you work at it so long you are like 'Why am I doing this?' and that would be one example why just continue to fight as you get to have these moments where it just fell out and it feels very natural in an unnatural ADULT. way. We worked very ,very frantically even though no one was waiting for the record or anything.
Nicola: It wasn't supposed to be a record. It wasn't supposed to be a full album. I think it has that sense of freedom, a free feeling in it where there was no pressures. I think that's why it flows really well together because where was not a deadline for it. I really like this record. Generally, when I finish something I'm over it and I do really love this record. I don't think I ever felt so...
Adam: Normally by the time we are on tour and done a music video and all that, you get to a point where you don't want to hear yourself anymore. This record has a different feel. I don't get tired of hearing it.
Talk about your performances early on in your career.
Nicola: Terrified! But then I still feel terrified.
Adam: Awkward. This band in some ways is an art school project. It grew out of when we went to school and we're not traditional performers. This is a big art piece for us. The performance part is probably the most difficult part for us. Not that after 17 years it's horrendous. Not like someone has to drag me on stage and I'm scared, but it still the most to think about. Whereas I know other musician friends I'm very jealous of that are just like 'Whatever, chill out' and they just go out on stage. I'm like thinking about all day like I stay in a car like a broken computer from like war games where I'm going through everything in my head.
ADULT. is playing the Movement/Ghostly Stage at the St. Jerome Laneway Festival along with Matthew Dear, Shigeto, Heathered Pearls, and Beacon. For more information and set times, please visit detroit.lanewayfestival.com. The new album The Way Things Fall from ADULT. is out now on Ghostly International. For more information on ADULT., please visit adultperiod.com.