Home Featured small Adrian Roman [Interview]

Adrian Roman [Interview]

32 min read

Born and raised in Spain, Adrian Roman has quickly emerged from his country's avant-garde electronic music landscape. Noted for his attention to detail, obscure musicality and inventive drum arrangements, Adrian’s craft shines through vividly, making each one of his creations an absorbing experience. A 2021 debut on ISOLATE foreshadowed what has been a breakout year for the fast-rising phenom. A string of well-received projects for MoBlack, Radikon and Melodic Diggers Equanimity imprint have yielded play from Dixon, Fideles, Frankey & Sandrino, Innellea, Toto Chiavetta and Trikk. Now continuing on this explorative path, Adrian makes his microcastle debut with a four-track showcase entitled ‘Disturbing the Perception’. We had a chance to catch up with Adrian for an interview leading up to the release. Enjoy.

Hi Adrian, thanks for joining us. What is your current mood and what was the last piece of music you listened to?

Hello! First of all, thank you so much for inviting me to chat for a while, it’s a great pleasure. Right now I'm trying to decongest my ears a bit and lately I've been listening to a lot of crazy californian garage rock group called "The Garden".

How has your year been so far? And what are your plans for the coming week?

This year has been very special for me. I was able to release my music on beautiful labels and fortunately everything has gone very well and we have received very good support. I've also had the opportunity to play my music in places around the world I've never been before, so it's all been very positive. For next week I’m planning to lock myself down in the studio to let flow some ideas I had for a long time. It is something that I have not done so much this year.

What music from your youth had the biggest effect on where you are today? Are there certain tracks or albums which profoundly influenced you?

I didn't listen to big names of electronic music in my youth, but at home there was never a negative stigma about nightlife and clubbing. My parents loved the 80's disco era and in my house we always played songs by Rick Astley, Jimmy Sommerville or Status Quo. If there was an album that influenced me later, it was Jamiroquai's 'A Funk Odyssey'.

How did growing up in Spain influence your music taste and direction? Or did it at all?

I think it didn't have a very big effect on my taste. It is true that the instrument I learned music with was the spanish guitar and most of the compositions we studied were written by artists from my country. In any case, now I am reconciling myself a bit with spanish music and I have discovered some very interesting groups that may not be so famous but are making very underrated music.

Who from your home country inspired you the most when you first discovered the music?

If I had to choose a spanish artist, it would undoubtedly be Manolo García. Not only I do love his music, also for me he is a reflection of what an artist really is. I think there is practically no one left like him. He plays all the instruments on his demos, paints pictures, writes poetry and after forty years of career he keep innovating with his sound. He does not talk about his private life, he does not have socials and he intervenes in social assistance. For me he is like a mirror to look at.

You have very unique and distinctive drum elements in so many of your tracks, where does your fascination and also skill at crafting these arrangements stem from?

Thank you very much for those kind words. The truth is that percussion has always fascinated me, and it is the part that I enjoy composing the most. In the end, everything is the result of a mixture of influences and inspirations. My father's dream was always to play the drums and I think that through my songs I get a little of what he wanted to do. I'm also very influenced by the more organic drums of the groups I listen to, far different from the usual drum machines’s sounds in electronic music.

You have a new EP ‘Disturbing the Perception’ out this week on microCastle, tell us a bit about the release and how it showcases your individualities.

I feel like 'Disturbing the Perception' is another maturity step in my sound. The four songs were composed at the same time and it is something that can be seen on the album. For some reason each one belongs to a different style, but it is a good showcase of my variety as a producer.


What does writing a track look like for you? Could you walk us through the production process on one of the tracks from your microCastle release?

Producing a song is becoming a process and an experience for me lately. Metaphorically it is like digging in the sand until you find the precious treasure. Many times you find it quickly and you are very clear about what you are going to find, but other times the process is much longer and you have no idea about what the result will be. The creation of 'Lady Hester' was the strangest one for instance because at that time I returned to an idea I had before. I created some new percussion and a kick to serve as base for the song. From there it was very fast and it was just a matter of enjoying my synths. I also recorded the tambourine in my studio and the rest are processed samples.

It’s quite a varied release in terms of style and mood, it feels like a complete body of work in a way, was this something you aimed for when writing this collection of tracks?

Quite the contrary. I don't usually think of an EP as a global concept when I compose music, normally the songs are related to each other if they are made at the same maturational moment even if they are not intended to share a release. Normally I make the music I feel the most at the moment and it's later when I try to make sense regarding the EP.

microCastle has been home to artists like Ivory, Mulya, Echonomist, Upercent, Radeckt, Yubik and more, what made the label the right home for your new EP?

microCastle is definitely my fetish record label. For years I have admired their aesthetic proposal and the care they treat the releases with. Probably, I would have never released any of these songs if they hadn't come out on microCastle and I would have preferred to keep them as a secret weapon for my sets.

Let’s talk about production a bit more for a moment, where does the impulse to create something come from for you? What role do often-quoted sources of inspiration like dreams, other forms of art, personal relationships, politics etc play? And was there anything that inspired the tracks which make up your ‘Disturbing the Perception’ EP? 

I am a producer of paper and pencil. Normally, if an idea comes to me, I write it down in the notebook I have in the studio with the main aspects of the possible track. Then I try to reproduce it and I keep writing down new changes that occur to me. However, I don't usually add any kind of meaning to my songs, with very few exceptions. I consider myself an almost exclusively aesthetic artist. I don't normally try to express any feelings with my music, I don't want to be a slave of them. I just produce what I want and it is later when the listener chooses what kind of feelings my music creates.

The vocals on ‘Aeren’ are lovely, very elusive and mysterious sounding, who did those and is there any meaning behind them?

Unfortunately, the 'Aeren' lyrics were composed and recorded by me the same day my girlfriend and I were informed that a friend in common was diagnosed with a terminal illness. She passed away two weeks after that day. It wasn’t a tribute at first,  just a way to escape from the deepest sadness, but nowadays I always remember her when I play the track. 

For you to get started on a track do there need to be concrete ideas – or what some have called ‘visualizations’ of the finished work? What does the balance between planning and chance look like for you?

I usually have ideas but the final work always surprises me. I think it's something very typical of electronic music that we have to preserve. Making sounds from the mistake, exceeding expectations and keeping that essence of random music.

Do you have certain rituals to get you into the right mindset for creating? What role do certain foods or stimulants like coffee, lighting, scents, exercise or reading poetry play?

Honestly, I am a man of customs. I like staying in the studio with the light off, with a remote control besides me to turn it on when I have to connect a synthesizer, wires or to record an instrument. I need no outside light. It is a very strange thought, but I think that the curtains are not well placed and the acoustics of the room are affected when some outside light comes in.

Especially in the digital age, the writing and production process tends towards the infinite, I think. What marks the end of the process for you? How do you know when a track is done?

I think this phase is key in order to become a successful or a frustrated artist. When I already have the final idea in my mind and I know how to get it I try to do it as fast as possible and I never think about it too much. If I can't stop listening to the song, it's good enough.

Once a piece is finished, how important is it for you to let it lie and evaluate it later on? How much improvement and refinement do you personally allow until you’re satisfied with a piece? What does this process look like in practice?

It depends on many factors. I don't like to revise my own songs too much because I don't like to make a lot of changes later. Normally I only make mix improvements, but I don't change main parts of the composition. 

How much road testing or friend feedback is done before you’re ready to say a track is finished? And who is someone you share your new music with first for feedback?

Testing your music on the dance floor is very useful to know if you have to make improvements or not. Many times it gives you good clues about what they need, and even how they sound on different speakers from yours such as a club might be. Regarding the feedback, in the last few months I have stopped showing my music to anyone while I'm doing it. Before, the others opinions affected me a lot, and I felt that the tracks ended up being contaminated. This is not negative at all, but I decided that I wanted my music to have its own message and that I would be my own harshest critic to know that my ideas are created from start to finish.

What is the task you enjoy the most when producing and what would you prefer someone else to do?

The best moment is when you find that key element that makes the song make sense. Normally it usually appears playing the synthesizers or creating some catchy percussions. Once achieved, you visualize the rest of the track and it is a more automatic process. But I would definitely love someone else to do the wiring and stuff like that.

What would be a musical extravagance for your studio you would pay for, if you were very wealthy?

I would doubt between a Neumann microphone or a Yamaha CS80. 

If you could set up an event with a line-up of five artists of your choice, who would you book and what set times would you ascribe to the artists?

I think I would open the event with a performance by Mndsgn (because I guess it would be one of the few chances to see him live) and Kamaal Williams to follow up with the jazzy vibes. Later it would be Jacques' turn, although his latest album is more pop. Then Moderat and finally Santiago Garcia because he is someone I admire a lot and to whom I am very grateful for the support I receive from him.

What’s a book you’ve read or film you watched that has left an impact on you, and why?

The answer to both the movie and the novel is the same: 'Revolutionary Road'. It continues fascinating me how Richard Yates was able to express a certain beauty in the most acidic aspects of the human being. Then Sam Mendes did an amazing job turning it into a movie.

If you could travel anywhere for one day, all laws and limitations void, where would it be?

I would go to visit my dear girlfriend, since unfortunately right now we don't live together.

What is one superpower you would like to have and how would you use it?

Not thinking too much, I would use it daily.

Apart from music, what makes you happiest?

Without a doubt, cycling.

What does the rest of the year and onwards into 2023 hold for you? Anything you can share with us?

I am very excited right now because I am finding a little more time in this busy year to materialize in the studio the ideas I had in mind. I can also say that for the rest of the year and the beginning of the next one I will release two tracks on labels I love for a while and I am really looking forward to finish the collaborations with artists I have admired for years. 

'Disturbing the Perception' is out now via microCastle: https://bit.ly/3N0U32U

Load More Related Articles
Load More By ProgressiveAstronaut
Load More In Featured small

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *