Being true to yourself is one of the ultimate goals in life. To grow and to be comfortable in our skins and gain that peace is everything. That’s especially true for an artist. To not only achieve the truest version of you, but also share it with others and have them connect with it is a dream come true. It can be challenging, though. There’s the tough inner journey of discovering the full truth of who you are and finding the right ways to channel that. Then there’s the outside pressures, including industry gatekeepers and expectations of what a piece of art should look and sound like. Breaking through all of that is a challenge, but when it is accomplished there’s nothing better. Cisco Adler has embraced himself and his vision now more than ever, and the results are evident. On his upcoming album Hippieland and in life in general, Adler is striving to be his truest self and help others get there, too.
If you want proof of how living your truest life can soften the mental burdens of the world, you only need to talk to Adler. There is an ease in his demeanor that’s contagious, a lighthearted charm that permeates every word he says. “No complaints are needed, only blessings and goals,” he tells me early in the conversation. The announcement of a big project always puts the spring in an artist as well, and Hippeland‘s unveiling earlier this week is no exception. “It’s always good when the ship sets sail and you can smash the champagne bottle on it,” he says.
Hippeland–Adler’s third solo effort–might be his truest album yet, according to the man himself. “It’s definitely a snapshot of sort of my essence and my truth, and I feel like it translates [to] both my truths in life, but it also sounds like my truths in music,” he explains. He views his work in the cosmic sense, saying that Hippeland started “when [he] was born” and he’s just discovering it now. On a shorter timeline, the album comes from almost two years of off-and-on writing. The writing process was aided by the breaks he had to take from it in order to pursue his work as a producer (he’s worked with Mike Posner and Cody Simpson, amongst others), giving him a chance to gain perspective. He acknowledges this is not a privilege everyone has, and he is accordingly grateful for it. In this case, all of the pieces and ideas came together perfectly. “It just seemed like as these songs presented themselves and started coming out it felt like it was a moment for me to take a breath and focus on myself as a musician and an artist and a human and cohesively tell my story of where I’m at right now,” he reflects.
Adler tries to bring that focus on goodness into all aspects of his life. “I take a holistic approach to my life in general. Make sure I’m feeding myself only good energy, only good food, only surround myself with people on a mission of their own that we can feed off of each other,” he says. He cites his family as a major influence, saying they’re one of his biggest motivators to go out and be the best he can be. Like everything he does, his musical goals extend past moving records or selling out shows to a higher purpose. He says “It’s just truly for me, it’s a life force. I’m writing songs every day whether there’s a project or not. It’s kinda like I’m just looking for outlets for this creative force that drives me.” He looks for that same purity in his working relationships, and believes you can hear in the music when someone is holding back. He’s the first to admit he doesn’t have everything in life figured out yet, but it’s the commitment to the journey and being open to it that counts.
This can be a process, as we as humans are constantly changing. For Adler, that’s part of the fun of it. He explains he puts constant thought into how his music reflects on himself and whether it will stand up to the test of time as he evolves and grows. Furthermore, he says sometimes his old songs will even surprise him with new meaning when he listens back. “I’m like woah, I really understand now what that song meant to me,” he says of this practice, describing his old discography as a “photo album” he can look back through. He uses this not only to gain clarity from past experiences, but to inform his music going forward. “…Everything I’ve learned from the last song I take it into the next song and the last project into the next project, and I’m constantly searching for new wormholes of music that I haven’t fallen into yet to just pique that childlike inspiration, and [I’m] trying to unlearn constantly as much as I learn,” he says. It’s through this perspective that Adler continues to grow and innovate in his music.
Circling back to his production work, Adler explains how his work for others and his own work coexist and feed each other. When talking about some of the corporate structures in the music industry, he says “I think again the beauty is that all my work as a songwriter and a producer and all that, that pays the bills for me, and allows me to then as an artist be completely free of any of that.” Because he’s able to make a living this way (although he’s quick to say he still loves doing the production work, too), he can approach his own music with “the purest intentions” and make what he wants to make. He acknowledges it’s hard to have that freedom at the beginning of a career, but hopes everyone can strive towards it and believes the current era of streaming and access can help in that regard. “It becomes an ecosystem and a symbiotic relationship of as long as you guys are out there and want to grow with me, I’m going to keep doing this music for the right reason, and if it resonates with you, I’m happy,” he says.
This is another part of the mission of Bananabeat Records, Adler’s own label through which he’s releasing Hippieland and helping others find their way. He’s not coaching them through the exact same beats as his career and life, as every single artist is different. “It’s sort of like let me just find awesome raw talent, charisma, and genius, really before they even know they are, and help them by giving them the tools that I wish I had,” he explains. He notes it’s a balancing act between teaching them and staying hands off enough to “quantumly fucking up their shit,” as he puts it, but at the end of the day he wants to give the artists on the label the same love and connection he shares with his own audience.
Whether as a producer, the head of Bananabeat, or as his own artist, Cisco Adler is entirely himself. Hippieland represents the latest chapter in his long life journey, one that constantly sees Adler strive to provide the purest art and experience he can muster. If he can give that to someone else, that makes it all better. “Hopefully what I love is what they love and we can all have a fucking love fest in Hippieland,” he muses as our conversation ends. There’s no better way to put it then that.