Words by Art Jefferson
Photos by Anna Wegelin
The music of Kraków Loves Adana stems from a place of truth, depth and life. Comprised of Deniz Cicek and Robert Heitmann, the Hamburg-based pair who met in 2006, have gone on to create a solid discography of emotive and ultimately moving indie records that are as core and touching as they come.
Kraków Loves Adana released their debut album Beauty in 2010, which featured the beautiful single ‘Porcelain’. The atmospheric LP, tender in sound, was followed-up with their raw 2012 record Interview. Intertwining haunting indie, shoegaze and post-punk, the album displayed a slightly different texture than the previous, yet was firmly built from the group’s original foundation. Kraków Loves Adana’s 2015 Contrast EP was a lovely return to their mood-driven sound with Cicek delivering an even more personal window into her journey.
Back with their third album Call Yourself New, the record reflects the next transformation and transition of the duo with a middle ground of nocturnal indie, lo-fi and more. Whilst the LP may be the telling of their personal growth, it is also a catalyst for inspiration, giving the listener a soundtrack to help his or herself focus inwards.
In previous interviews you have mentioned that the band name in a sense challenges the idea of identity. Your new album is titled Call Yourself New, which to me feels like a rebuilding of the self. Can you explain the idea behind the album title?
Deniz Cicek – When we first started to work on the record, actually I didn’t have a special theme in mind for it. With Robert starting his own record label and us separating from our previous label and producer the idea of creating a new identity for Kraków Loves Adana kind of naturally evolved.
The internet has made the world smaller, with music these days meshed to the point where it’s almost hard to tell where the sound is from anymore. Do you think that it’s liberating in a way or is having a strong sense of identity more important than ever these days?
Deniz Cicek – It is not the origin of the sound that is the problem, it is the shallowness of the whole package.
I don’t care if the sound comes from a computer or an actual instrument but without any substance or deeper meaning, a song is just a song and neither a reflection of the person who is singing it nor can it stand the test of time.
Whilst I know that you and Robert met back in 2006, musically where did everything start for you? Were you already creating music before that time?
Deniz Cicek – I come from a classical music background, learning classical guitar at the age of 8.
In my teenage years I was more of a silent admirer of everyone who had the capability to write their own music and perform it. Sadly, there were mainly boys who had the courage to do so. My first boyfriend had a band that was popular in the town we grew up in. I often visited them during rehearsals and even wrote a song for them once. It became one of their most liked ones actually. When we broke up, I met a band that was still in need of a front singer. It was pretty desperate to be honest. There was a strict hierarchy and I wasn’t allowed to bring in any ideas, can you believe that? The head of the band actually hated me but wanted to keep playing in a band with me for the sake of success.
At the same time I met Robert, we fell in love and he was the one who encouraged me to leave the band and do my own thing.
At that time I didn’t own an electrical guitar, let alone a guitar amp!
We started rehearsing, recording fragments and that was the start of KLA.
Can you talk about your song ‘Youth Unbroken’, taken from the new album? There is a line that says “let’s drive and become another stereotype two people who may never arrive”. Can you tell me about that particular line and also, was this song autobiographical.
Deniz Cicek– I wrote this song after finishing the second season of Bloodline which really got to me because I saw so many similarities to the struggles of my own family and how the things you and also your parents experience in their adolescence can be a burden you carry all of your life and define who you are.
That particular line is meant to be a little ironic because of course you are looking for reasons for your mental restlessness, just like everyone else. This restlessness, this quest for peace of mind is so common that it is almost a cliché.
Another song that I’m curious about is the track ‘Illusion Of Control’. What inspired this cut?
Deniz Cicek – It is a straight forward indie guitar track. The main instrumental theme is the lead guitar, which can be seen in a Lo-Fi / Surf context a la Mac Demarco or even the Beach Boys.
With the lyrics of this song I wanted to give an example on how nobody can control the dreams they have or the love they feel.
On another note it was kind of a funny coincidence how a few months after recording the song the whole city was plastered with posters for the second Mr.Robot season (one of my favourite TV-shows!) with the slogan “Control is an illusion”.
Although there is a tinge of melancholy throughout the LP, there is also an air of hope that follows. What would you want the listener to take away after listening to the new record?
Deniz Cicek – That is a very good observation. Call Yourself New is a record that emerged in a time of upheaval, after almost a decade of self denial and not having the courage to be the person that I want to be, not having the guts to live up to my own expectations. I was sick of it, sick of myself, sick of all my self doubts and worries that kept me in a cocoon of fake security.
I want to encourage people to have the guts to stick up for their beliefs and their dreams, I want to tell them that they are not alone with their darkness and that I am with them along the way, with my music.
One day you have to pick yourself up, take all that negativity and transform it into something brighter, something new. That is the quintessence of the record.
They say pain helps to foster some of the best art. Do you think that’s true and also when creating, where do you go for inspiration?
Deniz Cicek – I am always walking a fine line between having my personal struggles as my fuel and letting them paralyze me and drag me down. I still haven’t figured out how to control them, but in moments of absolute clarity, when I feel so close to figuring everything out, I am the most productive, almost like in a tunnel.
Finally, what does the band have planned for the Summer in terms of shows, etc.?
Deniz Cicek – We will play a couple of shows along with our album release in April and some festivals in late summer.