Adam Green is an artistic polymath — a songwriter, filmmaker, visual artist, and poet. As part of New York’s downtown antifolk scene at the end of the nineties, Green made up one half of The Moldy Peaches, who later enjoyed mainstream success via the 2007 Grammy-winning Juno soundtrack. As a solo artist, Green has recorded 10 albums, many of which have become cult hits. His songs have been performed by artists as diverse as The Libertines, Carla Bruni, Kelly Willis, Dean & Britta, and Will Oldham. His 2005 record Gemstones went Gold in Europe.
Green’s paintings and sculptures have been the subject of exhibitions in America, Asia, and Europe, including a 2016 solo-show at the prestigious Fondation Beyeler Museum in Basel, Switzerland. Green first combined his visual aesthetic, psychedelic writings and musical compositions in the The Wrong Ferarri (2010), the first feature film shot entirely on an iPhone. The “screwball tragedy” was described by Rolling Stone magazine as “Fellini on Ketamine” and went on to feature in the curriculum of NYU’s Tisch Film School.
His second feature film, Adam Green’s Aladdin (2016) — an immersive fantasy film starring Macaulay Culkin, Natasha Lyonne, Alia Shawkat, Jack Dishel, and Francesco Clemente and shot entirely on papier-mache sets — was described by Buzzfeed as “the trippiest movie ever made,” while RogerEbert.com called Aladdin “a movie that belongs inside a museum.” An instant cult hit, the movie was screened theatrically in a midnight movie context, at over a hundred of Green’s concerts around the world, as well as the Andy Warhol Museum in Philadelphia.
After first publishing a bilingual volume of his poetry with Suhrkamp Verlag, Green’s newest book War and Paradise is a graphic novel that combines his lyrical and visual vocabulary. The satirical war epic is about the clash of humans with machines, the meeting of spirituality with singularity, and the bidirectional relationship between life and the afterlife. Green’s 10th solo album, Engine of Paradise, is a musical exploration of these same themes. Recorded in Brooklyn, New York, by Loren Humphrey, the forthcoming album reimagines the baroque orchestral style of his early 2000s era records and features performances by James Richardson (MGMT), Florence Welch (Florence + the Machine) and Jonathan Rado (Foxygen).
This edition of Introducing doubles as an edition of Three Great Things — our feature in which artists tell us about three things they absolutely love. To introduce his new video for “Cheating on a Stranger,” Adam Green told us about some of his favorite things right now. Check them and the music video out below!
— Annie Fell, Talkhouse Associate Editor
1. Girls With Attitude EP
I don’t know if this was ever officially released, but you can find their full eponymous EP on YouTube and One Kind Favor’s Bandcamp. The band comprises eight eight-year-old-girls (Cassandra, Jennifer, Emily, Christina, Andrea, Lisa Marie, Sophie, and Kayla). They sound like a mix between The Shaggs and Ariel Pink — hand-played-drum-machine, glitching synth-bass, and out-of-tune unison vocals. It almost feels like this is a summer-camp project led by a visionary camp counselor. This dynamic creates a hazy world in between adult and child realities where an adult is encouraging children to portray childhood, and yet the children end up trying to emulate adults. Nobody seems to know who recorded this record, where, or when, though I heard it rumored that GWA are Canadian. Here’s a breakdown of the songs:
“Don’t Judge Me”: A role call where you get to meet the girls as they rally against a judgmental friend who “plays dumb games.” “You don’t do that like the clubs we used to join,” they cryptically sing, “you just judge a book by its cover, but in this case by me.”
“Nothing In My Dreams”: A meandering lament wherein the girls mourn a collective lack of imagination. They are “sitting on their bed reading fairy tales” when they realize that they are unable to imagine anything to dream about. They reach the nihilistic conclusion that “there’s nothing to think of.”
“A Fun Time”: From the twangy guitar opening, it’s clear that this one might be “the single.” “A fun time is a great time, just you and me, that’s fine.” It’s a tender friendship ballad that describes the cause and effect relationship between fun times and great times — fun as seen from the interior.
“You Know”: A dark funk masterpiece, this one is sort of their “Family Affair.” The girls sound sedated here, almost like eight-year-olds on heroin. After a stanky synth-trumpet intro, they come in chanting like a satanic choir ringing deaths bells. “Baby you know love can’t ever be broken, when you’re there right in front of me. Saying that you love me like anything in your life, always in your head thinking of girls at the beach.” The lyrics describe an odd mixture of malaise and hurt, “Boys don’t act that way to girls, only you do, Why do you do this to me baby?”
“When You Do This to Me”: On this understated finale, the girls chant over a new-age-jazz atmospheric backdrop. “When you do this to me, I just feel so bad,” “so will you stop, stop, stop, doing this to me.”
2. The Metabarons by Alejandro Jodorowsky (illustrated by Juan Giménez)
A lot of people are aware that Jodorowsky gloriously failed at trying to make his own movie version of Dune. For some reason people don’t seem to know that he ended up cramming a lot of his ideas for the Dune project into an epic graphic novel called The Metabarons. Told by one robot to another robot, The Metabarons is a space-opera spanning multiple generations of a family of warriors. It’s an astounding artwork, containing some of Jodorwosky’s best writing, always a combination of perverse, tragic, and majestic — his “Jodoverse” contains a scholarly mashup of world religions and occult references. I wish the new Star Wars trilogy was more like this! Since 1980’s The Incal, Jodorowsky has been quietly tinkering away, completing over 20 graphic novels! In the last four decades, he’s produced a canon that rivals Miyazaki’s. Jodorowsky is in the top tier of living artists.
3. Sundog by Scott Walker
Sundog is a collection of all the lyrics from Scott Walker’s late-period albums. On their own divorced from the music, the lyrics read splendidly. The song text is a vast post-modern landscape, evoking Joyce’s Finnegan’s Wake or Burroughs’s Interzone.
Inside is a mixture of references to Old Hollywood films, Greek and Roman decadence, bloody anecdotes of fascist political intrigue, slapstick vaudevillians, etc. Throughout his writing, Walker fetishizes flesh, blood, rot, lust, meat, and sadomasochism, creating a feeling that reminds me of the paintings of Leon Gollub and Francis Bacon. “I’ve severed my reeking gonads, fed them to your shrunken face,” writes Walker in his Satyricon-like opus “Zercon Flagpole Sitter.” The book is a carnival of language that is almost like something you could imagine Orson Welles dreaming up.
(Photo Credit: Pete Voelker)