Apr 2014 14

by Nicole Powers

[Adan Jodorowsky as the Young Fenix in Santa Sangre]

Adan Jodorowsky’s life story reads like a plot from one of his father’s surrealist masterpieces. The son of Chilean filmmaker Alejandro Jodorowsky and Mexican actress Valerie Trumblay, Adan was born in France and raised in an exceedingly Bohemian household, where standing on the table and peeing in the soup was considered a legitimate form of expression rather than an act worthy of being sent to your room.

At the tender age of ten, he won the prestigious Saturn Award for Best Performance by a Younger Actor for his portrayal of the Young Fenix in his father’s 1989 psychedelic horror epic, Santa Sangre. Adan continued on a cinematic path, with a string of roles in front of and behind the camera, while developing a career in parallel as a singer, songwriter, and musician.

Having achieved rock star status in his native France and throughout South America, Adan has recorded his first album in English, which was released in the United States on April 1st. The record, entitled ADA, is a therapeutic endeavor and a homage to a ghost that he finally hopes to lay to rest when the album runs its course.

SuicideGirls recently spoke via Skype to Adan, who was calling in from his home studio in Paris. Surrounded by beloved items from his childhood, such as a mariachi doll and a 4-track tape recorder bought for him by his mother, Adan spoke to us about his past and future from his preferred place –– the present.

Read our exclusive interview with Adan Jodorowsky on

Nicole Powers: I first saw you in Santa Sangre when I was doing research for an interview with film composer Simon Boswell. It was 2011 and they were releasing the film for the first time in the US on DVD. The coming of age scene in which you get tattooed is very iconic. How much do you remember about shooting the film?

Adan Jodorowsky: I remember everything, because it was my introduction to cinema. It was quite amazing. It was like playing with tattooed women, dwarves, and clowns. I was on top of elephants. It was quite impressive for me.

NP: It must have been a very surreal endeavor to enter into as a child. Did you understand what was going on?

AJ: I knew what was going to happen. It was a movie and I knew that. I saw the fake blood and everything. I was more having fun than being afraid.

NP: Do you have any tattoos now?

AJ: I have only one tattoo.

NP: Which is?

AJ: It’s love inside of my heart.

NP: I got that one too.

AJ: No, I don’t have any tattoos. I always wanted to have a tattoo, but the thing is, I’m always changing my tastes. I’m someone who doesn’t like to be stuck in the past. I’m really afraid of the past. It’s my worst enemy. I feel that I have to move on, you know? So that’s why I’m not doing any tattoos.

NP: Really? You think that your past is your worst enemy?

AJ: Yeah, because if I think of the past, I think of the youthfulness of childhood. I would love to still be this child. I am this child. But, physically, I would love to be 15 again. But I’m really happy now, so I don’t want to think about the past. I’m living in the present and that’s more important than anything.

NP: I would have thought that you were living the life now anyway, because you’re incredibly successful in France and South America.

AJ: I am living the life now, but it’s because I erased the past and I’m erasing the future. I’m not thinking about a future. Before, I dreamed about being a big rock star and being a successful singer — kissing girls like Elvis Presley. I was dreaming about that. One day, I started to have little success, but I realized that my goal wasn’t this anymore. Now, when I create, it doesn’t matter if it doesn’t go out. Because I’m having so much fun doing the piece, I feel like I don’t need to show it…I’m not a hypocrite, so something in me says, no, you have to show it, you have to show it because you have to give something to the world. This is your goal in your life, to give some dreams to the people. So now I’m creating not for my ego only, but to give something to the people. It sounds really new age, but I really create with this goal.

NP: I think that’s a very healthy way to view music and art. So many people see music as a means to an end, a means to success and fame, which is a really unhealthy. You should be making music for music’s sake, and if people like it, then that’s a wonderful thing.

AJ: Everyone is creating for the money now –– for the money and for the success. I’m trying not to do that. It’s really easy to be famous and to sign autographs and really be satisfied with ego, but this is not healthy…

For example, I have makeup now. Why I am like that? I’m like this every day now. I decided to be like this every day, during the album, which means maybe it’s two or three years, I don’t know. Every day I wake up in the morning and I’m like this because I’m half woman and half man. I come from a father and from a mother –– a woman and a man. I’m half and half…We come from the universe, and if we come from the universe we are part of the universe. If we are part of the universe, we are the universe, right? We’re not seeing it as separate, we are together. We are one thing. Only one thing. Like a heart beating in the universe. There is no difference about men and women really. Every man who hates women, he hates himself in fact. The same for the woman. If she hates men, she hates her masculine parts.

That’s what I’m saying and also why I am putting the name Ada on the record. Because before being born, my mother was pregnant and she said, “We’re going to put the Tarot cards on the table and we’re going to see if it’s a woman or a man.” And it was The Star. The card, it’s a woman putting some water in the river. [My mother] said, “All right, it’s a woman. We have to find a name for this woman.” She went to a supermarket and she heard a mother calling her daughter Ada and she came home and said to my father, “I have this name, Ada.” He said, “But it’s incredible, I had this name too in my mind.”

So, they decided to call me Ada. I was raised in the stomach of my mother like a woman. When I came out, my father took me and he said, “It’s not Ada, it’s Adan.” So my name is an accident. Adan is an accident. I felt I had the ghost inside of me, so I have to kill this ghost…At the end of the tour, I’m going to do a big show and I’m going to kill Ada on stage –– it’s kind of like therapy for me.

NP: But that’s killing the woman inside of you?

AJ: No, I’m not killing the woman, I’m killing the ghost inside of me. The ghost who doesn’t exist, Ada.

NP: That’s like a plot from one of your father’s movies.

AJ: Yeah. You know, I think that we have to use art to do something useful for other people or for ourselves. Just to do art, to shine, it’s not deep, it’s not important.

NP: You seem to share a similar philosophy to your father who talked in interviews about how he didn’t see himself as a movie director, but as someone that just directed movies.

AJ: Maybe because his goal is not to be Steven Spielberg. He has other goals…It’s not to be famous in Hollywood. This is not the real life.

NP: Do you feel a similar way about the industry of music?

AJ: I’m talking about all the arts, not only music, not only movies. I think it’s all the art. If you go to an art show, galleries, it’s the same. [It’s as if] they are selling socks…everything is about money…That’s why we have to be careful…It’s the piece that matters. You understand?

NP: I completely understand. You say that you think that art should be useful; in what terms do you think art can be useful?

AJ: Well, it’s not useful when there’s no soul inside. When you’re only doing music just to be famous, this is not useful…It’s just an ego trip. That’s all…We are doing something useful for myself, I’m healing something in myself.

All the albums I did in my life, I was healing something. For example, when I did Amador before. Amador is a guy who’s obsessed with love. Why I did that was because I was incapable of loving people. My heart was closed so I had to open my heart. I created Amador to open my heart. The album was about love. So, yeah, we have to help each other with art.

And we have a mission, the artists, because everything is inspired by art in life. Politics, fashion, everything is inspired by art. So we have to give the best [for the] mission. For example, the world today is decadent. It’s really decadent, and we’re hearing a lot of decadent music without hope. I’m stressed when I hear music sometimes. I don’t want to do this kind of music, stressful music, I just want to give hope and happiness. That’s what I want to give to this world because it’s needed.

NP: What do you hope other people will take away from this album?

AJ: I don’t know…Maybe it’s going to talk to some people and maybe some people are going to say, okay, he has makeup and that’s all. But it has a meaning for me.

NP: Do you think that too much importance is placed on sexuality and gender? Most of the time sex is an irrelevance, but our society is very focused on defining people by their gender and their sexuality. Do you think that we need to evolve a bit more?

AJ: I don’t know. We are animals. That’s all. We need to fuck. I’m a product of two people having sex. It’s all about sex because we have a goal on this earth…When I said that we are a heart in the universe, I really mean it. I was thinking, why are people destroying the planet? Maybe people want to be reconnected with this eternity. They want to destroy the material. They want to destroy it to be part of the immense field of the universe. Maybe they want to connect again with something spiritual — who knows?

NP: Well, given the planet’s limited resources and over-population, we’re going to be fucking ourselves out of existence. We need to be more like pandas and stop procreating in order to help this planet survive.

AJ: I think the goal of the universe, with the human being, is not to create something physical, but that the universe wants to create a consciousness. That’s what he wants, I think.

NP: I guess that speaks a little bit to your sense of spirituality and religion. Where do you stand on that?

AJ: I’m not a religious person. I believe in an energy, but I don’t believe in a religious god. I’m sorry, I would love to, but no.

NP: But you feel there’s a higher power in some kind of collective consciousness?

AJ: I feel something. I feel other dimensions. For me, life is not only this. Yeah, I feel something, and I think a lot of people feel something. We all feel the same thing. The people who don’t believe in god, they say that they believe in an energy. And the people who are religious, they think they believe in a god. But in fact, it’s the same thing. They feel something.

NP: I guess that leads to the question of what you think happens to people when they die.

AJ: I don’t know. I’m not dead yet. I’m waiting. When people say life is short and we have only one life, it’s terrible to think like this because they’re really stressed with life. They’re anguished, they’re going to die and it’s short. I prefer to think that there’s something else after death, or maybe I’m going to transform and be something else, and that life is long and I’m going to live until I’m 120 years. I prefer to live like this, because I live with hope. I don’t like to live being stressed.

NP: One of the reasons for wanting to be an artist is because it’s one of the few ways that you can buy a slice of immortality. The work that you leave behind lives on in a way other people’s work doesn’t.

AJ: I thought about that, about leaving something in this world. But…if I do that, if I become immortal, I hope it’s going to be useful for something or inspire something. I’m not doing this for this, I’m not doing art to be immortal, not yet.

NP: But say 500 years from now, people are still listening to your music, what impression would you like them to have of you?

AJ: It’s a very difficult question. I don’t know. I never thought about it. Maybe something to do with freedom. This guy was free. He was really free in his mind and he was doing exactly what he wanted to do, without caring about what people were thinking…I’m doing something really honest with what I’m doing…But I don’t want to give myself some importance. I feel bad with that…

NP: You put a lot of weight on freedom, but it seems to me, given your upbringing, that’s something you’ve always had.

AJ: Yeah, we could pee on the wall when we were kids, it’s true. I remember there was a cooker –– not a hooker, a cooker –– who was a chef who was cooking for the family. The soup was really bad, so my parents said to my brother, get up on the table and pee in the soup. He started to pee on the soup and everyone was laughing, and the chef left the house. It was a big scandal.

So, yeah, I grew up in a weird family. My mother, when she was angry, she used to take a samurai sword and cut the chair in two like this, “Ahhh, ahhh,” screaming. The music started for me when I was a kid because my mother used to play piano in the house. She was crying, always, when she was playing piano. I used to say, “Why are you crying?” She said, “No, you can’t understand.” In fact, she was abandoned when she was three by her father who was playing music. Always, when she plays piano, she was thinking about her father so she started to cry. When she left the house when I was eight — they broke up, my parents — I buried the piano in the garden and I put a tree on the piano. And I started to do music…I buried the piano when I was 10 and I started to play guitar, bass, and piano.

NP: And you had an amazing guitar teacher.

AJ: Yes. But it was only time. George Harrison, we went to his house. He had a gorgeous guitar and he said, “Do you play?” I said, “No, I don’t play,” and he gave me the guitar and showed me E, A and B, and said, “All right, now you know the blues. You know how to play guitar now. Now you can continue.”

NP: Were you mainly self-taught or did you take lessons?

AJ: No, I started to listen to some records. I was a Jimi Hendrix fan when I was a teenager. It was a normal thing when a teenager first starts to play guitar. Chuck Berry, also, and Eddie Cochran. I was listening to Eddie Cochran a lot, and the Stray Cats. After, I started to hear some oldies, rock & roll and some ’70s, ’60s funk. Sly and the Family Stone, Al Green, this kind of stuff. I started to play listening to James Brown’s bass. Also early ’80s Prince, I was listening to a lot. He inspired me for the drums also. The beat was really straight and it was great. It was a good school for me.

NP: Children learn by imitation, but part of becoming an artist is making what you learn your own.

AJ: You start imitating someone and then suddenly you start to find your own thing. But all the artists are inspired from someone. This is normal…I was imitating Elvis Presley. I was singing like this at first and moving my ass. Suddenly I stopped that and I started to find my own moves. I did like 100 shows and then…you incorporate everything you learn and suddenly you accept who you are and you don’t need to imitate anymore.

NP: So the new record comes out over here in April.

AJ: Yeah.

NP: Are you going to be coming to North America?

AJ: I would love to come…I’m going to do a big tour in South America, and Spain, and France also. But yeah, I think I’m going to go, for sure…If I have a record there, I have to go.

NP: I understand the success in France, because it’s your home country, but why South America?

AJ: I was in France and I did one album. The album name was Étoile Éternelle. It came out and I thought it was going to be a big success. It was the time that I wanted to be a big star and all — I was obsessed with that. And it didn’t work. It didn’t work at all. No one bought the album and I was completely depressed. One day a guy said, “Do you want to do a tour in Chile? I can maybe try to put the song out there…” So I went to Chile with my band Gush. Now they’re kind of famous in Paris. They were my backing band. We went to Chile and the venues were full of people because my song “Estoy Mal” was going really well there. So, I said, “Wow, what’s happening here? Maybe I have to sing in Spanish.” I went back to Paris and I said to the producer, “Please, please, I need to record this album in Spanish. I want to translate everything and record it again.” So, I did it again and, I signed in Argentina, Chile, Mexico, and Spain. I started to sing in Spanish and I became a Spanish singer suddenly, and it went really well. One day, I came back to Paris and it started to go well again. Now I’m singing in English because I want to travel a bit more, and because singing funk music in French or Spanish, it doesn’t work.

NP: Having the perspective of hindsight, probably the biggest favor the universe did for you was not allowing your first album to be an instant success. Instead of being a well-rounded artist that travels and has a world view, you may have become one just hooked on fame.

AJ: Yeah. It was very good for me. It was like a punch in my face, like wake up, this is not real life.

NP: Is this the first album that you’ve done in English?

AJ: Yeah, it’s my first album. My last album, Amador, I did one song with Devendra Banhart, “You Are The One.” This was my first approach to the English language.

NP: Have you got any ideas for what the next album will be?

AJ: I’m composing some things, but it’s like a secret. I don’t want to tell it yet. But, yeah, I have an idea.

NP: You’re such a tease.

AJ: I like secrets and mystery.

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