Name: Michaela Dippel aka Ada
Occupation: DJ, producer
Current Release: Ada's Moon Rider EP is out via Pampa.
Recommendations: Steve Hiett – Girls In The Grass (album); Stefan Zweig – Rausch der Verwandlung (book)
If you enjoyed this interview with Ada and would like to stay up to date on her music and live dates, visit her on Instagram, Facebook, and Soundcloud.
When did you start writing/producing/playing music and what or who were your early passions and influences? What was it about music and/or sound that drew you to it?
I first started producing music in 2001 – shortly after I had moved to Cologne (from Friedberg/nearby Frankfurt). I had just discovered the art of sampling and at the same time my interest for electronic music grew.
The minimal sound of Kompakt and the playful techno of my friends from Areal Records were a big influence by the time.
Some people experience intense emotion when listening to music, others see colours or shapes. What is your own listening experience like and how does it influence your approach to music?
Some people listen to cheering music when they are in sorrow. I find this strange. Music even gives me sorrow sometimes. But it feels like a companion in this moment. It’s there but it doesn’t harm you. It inspires your imagination but doesn’t judge your feelings, doesn’t matter if it’s a piano ballad or the darkest techno.
How would you describe your development as an artist in terms of interests and challenges, searching for a personal voice, as well as breakthroughs?
I was lucky enough to travel a lot – mostly alone which could be challenging at times.
But travelling has also broadened my horizon not only related to music. Besides music the impressions I collected during my travels have been a great inspiration.
Tell me a bit about your sense of identity and how it influences both your preferences as a listener and your creativity as an artist, please.
I grew up in the 80s and instead of classical piano lessons I got organ lessons from a solo entertainer. He taught me how to play the hits I already knew from the radio.
I did not learn to play by notes correctly this way, but my hearing has been trained and I’m thankful for that.
What, would you say, are the key ideas behind your approach to music and art?
I try to do what I do best.
How would you describe your views on topics like originality and innovation versus perfection and timelessness in music? Are you interested in a “music of the future” or “continuing a tradition”?
It’s hard for me to define “music of the future”. It somehow implies the refusal of “classical instruments” or approaches. I think it’s important to stay open minded for new possibilities but not at the price of creativity.
Over the course of your development, what have been your most important instruments and tools - and what are the most promising strategies for working with them?
An intuitive approach has always been important to me. To grab the instrument that is just near me and ready for use instead of tuning and shaping a kick drum for an hour.
Sampling is also an art form that I appreciate and love very much.
Take us through a day in your life, from a possible morning routine through to your work, please.
You don’t really want to know.
Could you describe your creative process on the basis of a piece, live performance or album that's particularly dear to you, please?
For my latest song "25 or 6 to 4" I gradually deleted everything I had recorded before until I ended up with just a beat and vocals. That felt quite liberating.
Listening can be both a solitary and a communal activity. Likewise, creating music can be private or collaborative. Can you talk about your preferences in this regard and how these constellations influence creative results?
Working on music with my friends from “Cologne Tape” was a great experience, for example.
Cologne Tape is a collaborative of befriended musicians like Barnt, Philipp Janzen (Von Spar), John Stanier (Battles), Jens-Uwe Beyer, just to name a few.
At this time I learned a lot about simply letting go, listening to the others, communicate and catch their sound. That was very liberating and flowed into my later productions.
How do your work and your creativity relate to the world and what is the role of music in society?
My friend Dj Koze always says “we are just a tiny blob in this world and shouldn’t be taking ourselves to seriously”. I agree with him.
Art can be a way of dealing with the big topics in life: Life, loss, death, love, pain, and many more. In which way and on which occasions has music – both your own or that of others - contributed to your understanding of these questions?
Music might not bring enlightenment to the world, but it can bring comfort and connect people. While the paths of people separate, music always stays.
There seems to be increasing interest in a functional, “rational” and scientific approach to music. How do you see the connection between music and science and what can these two fields reveal about each other?
There are no general rules in music as there are in science. You can learn music production or how to play an instrument through standardized physical methods, but the unique thing is the way you play it/the way you use what you’ve learned.
The current tools for music production are a good example for the relation between music and science and how they affect each other. You can let them do all the work for you – finding chord progressions based upon a single note, pitch-correcting your vocals – but they are not able to create something unique, respectively something that can’t be copied.
Creativity can reach many different corners of our lives. Do you feel as though writing or performing a piece of music is inherently different from something like making a great cup of coffee? What do you express through music that you couldn't or wouldn't in more 'mundane' tasks?
Making a good cup of coffee is certainly an art. Good food can also be very sensual, but it doesn’t make me want to dance, laugh or cry (or maybe sometimes it does).
Music is vibration in the air, captured by our ear drums. From your perspective as a creator and listener, do you have an explanation how it able to transmit such diverse and potentially deep messages?
There is no way to explain the mystery of music. It’s a story untold. You can analyse music pieces in the manner of Chilly Gonzales, from the perspective of an artist who knows his craft. composing a song based on music theory and listening habits we grew up with may seem simple. But the magic lies somewhere in between.
There are chord progressions that seem dull and dreary to me - for others they are fulfilling. Again, most of the songs I love can’t be found in the charts.