An Interview with Adeline Hotel

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“The idea of being lonely is something we associate as a negative, but the lyrics flip that, to be “having a good time”, when you’re lonely. Which is something we’ve all had to try to do over the last year.”

Adeline Hotel has recently released Good Timing, a record that builds on a peaceful crescendo with small touches, drawing attention within the indie folk scene. Mainly one person, Dan Knishkowy, is responsible for the harmony in Adeline Hotel. We reached out to Knishkowy to do an interview on his musical journey and the album. You can read the Turkish version of the interview here.

How did your music career start before Adeline Hotel?

I started playing drums when I was 10 and then guitar after that. I still play drums in a few bands here in Brooklyn, or at least I was before the pandemic. Adeline Hotel began as a solo project, but has become a larger collective of different voices who rotate in and out depending on the music.

Actually, music is not just about playing an instrument for you. At the same time, lyrics come out of your pen and inner world. In this way your songs are even more personal creations, with you being involved in every aspect of the production process. If so, how does it feel to share such personal creations?

It’s a strange feeling. There’s basically nothing I love more than to write songs and share them, and yet it is such a vulnerable experience that takes a lot out of me every time. I think Good Timing was a really great experience because although the work is very personal to me, it was able to resonate with people in a way that felt really genuine and honest to who I am as a person, not just as a musician.

We see that Adeline Hotel has ceased to be an individual project day by day and turned into a team. Shortly before Good Timing, Adeline Hotel had been a quintet that is as calm as possible but expressive of their personality as loudly as possible through music. It sounds difficult to find harmony during this personality manifestation. What does harmony mean for Adeline Hotel?

I write songs, I think, to build some sort of intuitive, unspoken new language, whether with myself or with my bandmates or with someone listening. So for me, I use songs to recalibrate and balance my own thoughts into something shareable with someone else, and I think there’s hopefully some sort of personal and musical harmony in that.

On the contrary, Good Timing is your solo work. The pandemic has made everyone a little bit lonely and isolated. Can we say that Good Timing is the result of discovering the harmony within yourself in this loneliness?

Yes, I think that’s exactly right! It is just me playing, but there are many strands and layers of myself in each piece, reacting to the one before it. Good Timing sounds like combining the disparate selves into something that, while still dissonant, can feel harmonious. The only lyric on the album is “good timing, when you’re lonely,” which really speaks to what you’re asking.

Guitar, piano and saxophone sounds are dominant in your songs. Are there any other musical instruments you would like to include your music?

I am mostly done with the next Adeline Hotel record, which for the first time, features no guitars. It’s also the first time I’ve ever played piano on a record before, and features a collection of songs I wrote on my childhood piano last summer. It has very elaborate violin, saxophone, and flute arrangements, which is new for me, as I tend to work more on spontaneity rather than structure, but it is nice to stretch in new directions.

What about the different styles you want to try?

Yes, this next record I think will be stylistically very different than either Good Timing or Solid Love. It is more “song” based than instrumental, but it’s much more spacious and ornate than anything I’ve ever done. I like to have self-imposed limits sometimes, and playing piano – an instrument that I am not very proficient at – means that there is more space within each song. It forces me to push my vocals into becoming more of a lead instrument, instead of relying on the guitar to lead as I usually do.

What are your inspirations for writing and composing?

People, mostly. I write songs to process the way I relate to people, which has had to change during the pandemic – although there’s more time to be creative at home, I realize that most of my creative intuition comes from being active in the world, so I have had to find new things. Maybe that’s why I turned to making an instrumental record, I’m not sure. Some things that are inspiring me now: Italo Calvino’s novels, the new Leanne Betasamosake Simpson record, Miyazaki movies.

Time plays an important role in many of your lyrics. The most concrete example is of course Good Timing. What does time mean to you?

The title has a few meanings to me. The first is a bit tongue in cheek, as we’re all kind of stuck in something that really is “bad timing.” But also, the album feels out of time, it doesn’t adhere to any sort of set rhythms or tempos, it feels very untethered, but I think that’s part of the charm. And the idea of being lonely is something we associate as a negative, but the lyrics flip that, to be “having a good time”, when you’re lonely. Which is something we’ve all had to try to do over the last year.

Has your goal of building a shared language with someone else with the music you aimed to achieve in Away Together continued in your other albums? And where are you in this epiphany?

That remains my guiding principle, although recently I guess I’ve become focused on just building that language within myself (as I tried to do with Good Timing). I’m still learning and working on this all the time, and part of that means working with new collaborators on each record, even if the core group remains the same.

What are your future plans?

I’m excited to just keep writing and releasing records, and to someday be able to play live again.

Is there anything you want to add?

Thanks so much for listening to the record, and sharing it. It means a lot to see it resonating with new people in new places, and I appreciate the thoughtful listening!

You can check out Adeline Hotel’s Bandcamp page here.