"Electric Lights - Women in Electronic Music" – Kraków Loves Adana

Kraków Loves Adana: “A melody can touch your soul without any barriers immediately”

Deniz Cicek –  Photo by Katja Ruge for “Electric Lights – Women in Electronic Music”

Deniz Cicek und Robert Heitmann met way back in 2006 in Hamburg, the city they are still based at. Ever since they produce under the mystical name Kraków Loves Adana enigmatic pop song that combine ecstatic feelings with a deep understanding of melancholy. In the fall they gonna debut on the Italians Do It Better imprint with an album entitled “Darkest Dreams”.

We are very happy to present them to you here as part of the ongoing “Electric Lights – Women in Electronic Music” project series by Katja Ruge and Thomas Venker.

Deniz, which music was the first to touch/inspire/move you?
Deniz Cicek: I never had this aha moment where I felt that a certain piece of music changed my life forever. In retrospect I would say that music has always been a part of my life, from the Turkish and Kurdish music playing at my parents house to watching MTV all day and later in my teens going to concerts regularly, buying records, sharing music with friends and therefore discovering and consuming it in different ways.

What made it so special and standing to you?
What made music a big part for me growing up was the experience of exploring myself and my emotions through it and feeling some kind of belonging even though in general I felt left out and misunderstood in real life. Music was my safe space and it still is.

Have there been people whose contribution to the development of your musical identity was of special importance?
Definitely meeting Rob, falling in love and forming a band together. Without his encouragement I would have quit making music years ago. Until this day he sometimes still has to defend my music against me and my self-doubts.

Are you able to share the process of evolving your identity with us?
First of all I have always felt lost regarding my identity. My parents are immigrants, I grew up around people that were mostly white and sometimes racist, so most of the time I struggled between wanting to fit in and knowing that I could never live up to these standards without losing my origin in the process. My mother always gave me the feeling that I had to work twice as hard as the others to make it in life. That’s what I have internalized until this day and that is what keeps me going- wanting to prove myself and others wrong and to always try to reduce the gap between what I am able to create right now with the skill-set that I have and what I am still missing the words and skills for.

What do you hope to find in music? (both your own music and the ones of others?)
It sounds so corny but music gives my life some kind of purpose and writing it helps me to understand what I feel especially when times are tough.

What do you prefer, the seclusive working process in a studio or the live presentation of your music in front of the audience? And why so?
Definitely the former. I like the feeling of writing a song and being absolutely focused and pulled in completely by an idea to the point where I lose all sense of time and even forget my primary needs like thirst or going to the bathroom, haha.
It feels so odd performing in front of an audience because of course I want to share my music with people but on the other hand I feel like an animal in a circus, trapped and pressured to be my best self in that situation. As Thom Yorke once said pretty accurately “I want to be alone and I want people to notice me – both at the same time.”

Photo by Katja Ruge for “Electric Lights – Women in Electronic Music”

What is your ideal space/place to listen to music?
At home where it’s nice and quiet and nothing ever happens.

Please name female artists without whose music you wouldn’t be producing music? Why those?
Kate Bush because she wrote, composed and produced “Hounds Of Love” all by herself which is just the cherry on top of being an outstanding singer and performer.
More recent artists to mention are definitely Anna Calvi, Annie Clark and Natasha Khan. But The Kills’ Alison Mosshart holds a special place in my heart since I saw her live first in 2008. That show really changed my view on women in music forever, she has this powerful and confident aura and has since been one of my favorite performers.

What do you think sets your “voice” or creative expression apart from other’s?
It is hard to tell this myself. But when we met Chromatics’ Adam Miller last fall he said about our music that it has this pull you get from listening to it that makes you want to rip your heart out in the most beautiful way – that really stuck with me.

What empowers you or helps you to overcome obstacles and challenges in your work?
What empowers me the most is the urge to complete an idea. If I have an idea that I can’t let go of then I will push through no matter what. Some ideas come easily, some need more time and effort to come to life. The difficult ones are the most rewarding.

Your most beautiful experience focused on your music?
I have been a huge Chromatics fan since day one and their music had a huge influence on mine so signing to IDIB and being on tour with them was definitely some kind of culmination for my creative path so far.

Which music did you buy most recently that carries a lot of value/meaning for you? Where did you buy it and what makes it special to you?
I bought a reissue of OMD’s “Architecture & Morality” which was first released in 1980. I had to hunt it down online since it was pretty hard to get here. It is one of my favorite synth pop records and listening to it for the first time made me realize that I was definitely born in the wrong generation.

What’s a secret guilty pleasure, an idiosyncrasy of yours or something that would surprise people about you?
I love to bake. In another life I would’ve probably become a pastry chef.

Do you see a connection between your femininity and your work? And if so what is it?
There is definitely a connection between me struggling to identify as a woman and my work. On my upcoming record there is a whole passage about a girl that is torn between having to fulfill the expectations of society and wanting to explore her darkest desires hence the title “Darkest Dreams”.

Looking at your lyrics one immediatelly feels there importance for the project. What are you searching for in the words? How easy are you able to connect them with the musical ideas?
I write lyrics to understand what I think and feel. Oftentimes I only understand in retrospect what moved me to write a certain lyric in a song, it is almost like a self-fulfilling prophecy which can be a scary yet powerful experience. Connecting lyrics with the music is almost like filling a big cup until it starts brimming over- at first it may feel pointless and slow but there is a certain point where things just flow.

Photo by Katja Ruge for “Electric Lights – Women in Electronic Music”

You exist since 2006 – 14 years are in general a long time, but especially now with all those sociopolitical and economic changes happening in our societies in general and the cultural environment. Can you tell us a bit about how this reflects in your daily life as artists?
The problem these days is that most people struggle to commit to one thing, be it a job or a relationship. Like every other couple we’ve had to overcome certain hardships and times where we didn’t know how to go on. Being in a band and being in a relationship is almost the same thing, you have to commit to it on a day-to-day basis with all its ups and downs that come with it.
It is the interplay between struggling as a band and/or struggling as a couple from time to time that gives you power for the other thing.

You just signed with Italians Do It Better – how did that happen? What does the label and the other artists mean to you?
We just gave it a shot, sent them our demos and they liked them right away.
As a band that struggled for almost a decade in the German and especially Hamburg music scene, I was used to being said no to and feeling left out and ignored so it was a huge deal-breaker to sign to IDIB. Everything that Johnny Jewel does has inspired and influenced me so much creatively so it was like we finally found the support we much needed to have the strength to go on as a band.

You are from Hamburg, but your bandname refers to the Polish city of Krakow and the Turkish city of Adana and one of your single is dedicated to an „American Boy“ – would you agree that „Krakow Loves Adana“ is an international band in every sense? And that asked – what does that imply to you?
Yes, you got that one right. As I mentioned earlier I faced a lot of latent racism growing up, it was always a big deal where I come from, so I tried my best to hide it and to fit in. When I met Rob it all changed, being together we didn’t care about these things, we just fell in love and formed a band and have been inseparable ever since. We wanted to combine city names with the word “loves” to destroy and rebuild the concept of origin and identity. Since his mother is from Poland and mine is from Turkey we chose those two city names but it could have been any other city, too.
I think music is the most international language and the most direct form of art, even if you don’t understand the words, a melody can touch your soul without any barriers immediately.


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