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A Quietus Interview

Magic Brutalism: Kuba Ziołek AKA Stara Rzeka Interviewed
Filip Kalinowski , March 7th, 2014 04:07

Polish guitarist and composer Kuba Ziołek may have authored one of the Quietus' favourite albums of last year as Stara Rzeka, but with three new albums in the pipeline, he's clearly not resting on his laurels. Filip Kalinowski meets him to discuss the creative process from conception to outcome

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The Polish independent leftfield scene is currently highly charged. It doesn't matter if the reasons for this situation stem from a sudden burst of creativity or from the contemporary means of publishing and promotion that are getting this music more attention both at home and abroad - either way, the figures speak for themselves. There are countless interesting gigs. There are dozens of independent, DIY labels. There are hundreds of artists, bands and projects working at their full capacity, doing their own thing and – finally – not looking up to their foreign confrères, as used to be the case during the noughties. The recordings are being pressed, the press packs are being sent, and highly positive reviews are being published both in the Polish mainstream press and the music media from all over the world, including the Quietus.

Kuba Ziołek, a guitarist, composer, producer and multi-instrumentalist hailing from the city of Bydgoszcz, is one of the most important wheels in the well functioning machine that is the Polish experimental scene. His solo debut as Stara Rzeka brought him into the focus of journalists who either mentioned him in their yearly lists (the Quietus placed Cień Chmury Nad Ukrytym Polem at number 12 in their top 100 albums of 2013 list) or nominated him for one of the most important Polish cultural awards (the Paszport Polityki was finally awarded to the pianist and composer Marcin Masecki). "This extraordinary album" – as tQ Ed John Doran called it – is just one of numerous musical projects that Kuba is engaged in however. From the noise/punk clatter of Ed Wood, through the drone-driven psychedelia of Kapital, to the narrative yet ambiguous improvisation of Innercity Ensemble, Ziołek's prolific output is led by his open-minded, always seeking approach to the guitar. Co-creating other bands like T'ien Lai, Alameda Trio and Hokei, and being a part of the Milieu L'Acéphale collective, he's searching for the rawness and magic enchanted in the material objects that his instruments are. The meaning of rawness is taken from Le Corbusier's definition of brutalist architecture, while the sense of magic is derived from the magic realism which searched for charm not in the subconscious and metaphysics but in the tactile world. And even if Kuba is taking rare excursions into the realm of theoretics and the word itself, the sound is the main thing that counts.

With the Innercity Ensemble's second album, II released a few days ago on Instant Classic, Kapital's debut No New Age, and the successor to Ed Wood's 2010 album Anal Animal, Post-Mortem Lovers waiting for its premiere, the beginning of 2014 is already bringing new insights into the realm of Ziołek's holistic vision of sound. Yet the four albums he released last year with Stara Rzeka, Alameda Trio, Hokei and T'ien Lai still feel like fertile ground for further exploration and analysis. Discussing how he is able to operate in so many different projects, how he approaches the instrument and whether he prefers playing with a score or to improvise freely, the Quietus chatted with Kuba during one of his infrequent visits to Warsaw.

Concerning the views and opinions that you talk about in the interviews published on your site, you seem to regard your creative output as a whole, no matter how many projects you're engaged in; it looks like it's a holistic approach. Does this kind of idée fixe have any specific aims? What motivates you to pick up an instrument and play?

Kuba Ziołek: I have a bunch of thoughts that constantly accompany me during any production. Many of the sounds result directly from these ideas, although none of them are fully conscious. Often, only the end product of this process lets me verify the elements of this bunch of thoughts. That's why there are so many projects I'm involved in and there are so many different ways to express myself. It is so I can capture those ideas which – I hope – I'm able to confirm through music. Or sometimes it is so I can disprove them. Often, when I listen to my recordings, I can see the things that came out subconsciously and they stand in contradiction to the things that I thought about consciously. This adds an element of self-discovery, I think. The more of these tests and experiments I am able to execute, the more I learn about myself and the more I'm also able to verify some of my concepts. It's never the case that music is created solely on the basis of certain, given thoughts or ideas. The concepts are the effects of the process, not the beginning of it. Frequently these concepts are also quite surprising because I didn't think they could be there.

Some of these ideas seem to be more fixed and steady than others. On the Facebook pages of Stara Rzeka and other projects that you're involved in we can read a short introduction to 'magic brutalism', a concept of yours which combines ideas derived from Le Corbusier's view of brutalist architecture with the materialist aspect of magic realism. What was the process that lead you to this concept?

KZ: I don't know if you noticed – probably no one did – that this introduction underwent some transformations during the course of last year. I've changed some paragraphs and added others, which were the results of the things that I talked about earlier – the surprising outcomes of different experiments. I think of myself – which also may be some day verified - in terms of being a radical materialist and atheist. This is reflected in this introduction and the music which I try to make. It may be a vague and nebulous definition, but the most obvious result of this is the fact that I attempt to seek what is hidden in material reality, not in something that is supernatural or out of this Earth. I think that all that we have ever faced is here and now, mostly in the material form. So it's necessary to pay attention to this reality and try to describe it with the help of science, which in the course of the centuries has developed really good instruments to explore it. Furthermore, it's important to record our own feelings and our own perception of this reality. To create music in the interaction with the object - study this reciprocal action with certain types of musical instruments and also explore how the environment affects us. But this is not about symbolic, cultural meaning, but the most physical of meanings.

Do you think that it's necessary to write those reflections down and publish them? Do you treat this introduction as a kind of guide to your music that a listener should read before playing the record?



KZ: I had a big problem with this question. I thought about it over and over; as to whether to publish it or not. My biggest mistake was to publish it via Facebook account. All Facebook content is contaminated with ridiculousness. Yet another disposable quasi-experience to clutter your brain. Also, I didn't want to be accused of being high-brow, pretentious or insolent. But at the same time I also encountered some really important readings, which reassured me that the path I'm following is quite interesting and the publication of this introduction may be a voice in the origination of a new intellectual formation which is currently - more and more visibly - marking its place in the world. This is the same world in which people need mystery and truth, but they know they can't look for it in the skies, nor in themselves, nor in society, so it's necessary for us to reimburse to the simplest things that surround us – objects - with meaning.

Do you see a direct influence of these readings and thoughts on your sound, the music that you play and how it changes over the course of ? The matter of word is quite different to the matter of sound and it's often hard to transcript one into the other.

KZ: It's the matter of constant experimentation. All the time I'm trying to refine and even modify those initial thoughts. I used to think that you can try to make music that would dispense completely with those typical, traditional human functions – without emotions, with no sensitivity. But in the course of action it turned out that it is not possible, so I had to do something to implement a man back into those sounds. Although it sounds a bit artificial and vague. The direct translation of sounds into the words and vice versa is not and never will be possible. If we want to keep some variety in the human world, we need to agree that there are certain phenomena, the certain ways of working that are untranslatable to each other. It seems OK to me. It's possible that nothing will ever be created from those contradictions and conflicts, but also it is possible that something new and interesting will rise in the course of this process. Because of that I'm not afraid and I know it's a constant work in progress.

This kind of attitude is quite familiar to the artist who are associated with the free improv scene. As we're talking the new release of Innercity Ensemble is being released. How do you approach playing without structures and does it play a big part in your creative process?

KZ: When it comes to improvisation, I really am the last person who should be speaking on this topic. I am a layman, and I'm only recently beginning to know the hardships, the highs and the lows of this kind of approach. I have a feeling that - at least from what I have experienced so far - the most important thing is the openness of a person to associate with an object of any sort. If it is an instrument, it's the case of being constantly open to its capabilities. This translates into practice – the communion with the instrument, the more we learn about its harmonic and sound potential, the more this enables us to hear what is happening around us, among the musicians we play with. We will also be more open towards new objects, new instruments, this basic sensitivity towards the instrument will be formed. It'll enable us to be impressed by the instrument and to think about it as a kind of mirror in which we can view ourselves, even if it is happening outside of our consciousness. Often the best concerts that I've taken part in, were those in which I forgot about myself while playing to the point in which I felt like the instrument was playing by itself. It happened that I didn't remember the concert at all because I was so connected to it with my body and mind, that I couldn't separate myself from it.

Whether improvisation is effective and good - in my opinion – depends only on practice and exercise. Without constantly communing with the instruments, the objects, the things that surprise you over and over again, this kind of sensitivity for the sound doesn't have any chance to evolve. It is why often when I'm inventing lyrics, songs or even playing at home for the sake of playing alone, I play the guitar which each time is tuned differently. Every time I try to do something, so I can't rely on the tested features, because they just won't work on this particular tuning. Often I operate on open tunings. In fact, every open tuning creates a distinct chord and its specific features can not be translated – but of course you can always try to - from one open tuning to the other. What is most interesting for me is the fact that it creates new harmonic opportunities - the combination of sounds that allow you to do something new every time you come to the instrument with an attitude of openness. You don't need to play a pre-set function, but every time you start from scratch, as if you are learning to play the instrument again, creating something out of nothing.

It seems to stay in contradiction with the classical/prog rock paradigm of mastering the instrument, to take control over it every little function...

KZ: That's true, but it goes hand in hand with the fact that every time when I'm already able to come up with something on this given guitar tuning, I practice it for half a year to master it and play it really well. I really appreciate the traditional values such as the articulation of sound. Not only the fact that you can play something, but also how the sound resonates. I feel that the articulation of the sound is where the lyricism hides. There is no lyricism without articulation, it is extremely closely related.

As we're talking about sound, it's interesting to compare how it different during recordings and concerts. Taking for example Stara Rzeka – the album is full of lyricism while the live show is sheer, raw power, the sound pressure. How do you approach transplanting the albums to the stage?

KZ: I was brought up in the spirit that the album must be different from the live performance. I don't know why, but I have this dogmatic feeling that it just has to be this way. I also dogmatically assumed – as a way of limitation but also a liberation - that I will perform it all alone. The things that I knew from the beginning were the facts that I won't play the exact album live and that I won't be able to do it without a computer which I also dogmatically neglected as a part of live show. Although I played the first three shows with the computer, I found that this is not the way to go. Playing Stara Rzeka live is an experiment, something that I'm constantly trying to cope with, which is quite odd as I'm invited to give concerts in London or New York. One would expect that I'm going out there as someone who already has a well planned set and knows everything that will happen. But by the very fact that I just recently started to play solo, I'm a total amateur as it comes to performing live. I'm just slowly recognising the reality of playing alone and it's a very difficult thing to do; it's maybe even overcoming me. I'm constantly being surprised by it and – to be honest – I would prefer not to play live for some time so I can prepare and be sure that I'm prepared. But it just turned out that the album somehow gained some notoriety and I have to give the label some support and promotion by playing it live. It gives me much motivation, so I try and learn in the course of it. But as I say, this is a very preliminary step for me.

If it's a matter of experimentation, what's the basis on which you shape the final – surprising as you said – outcome?

KZ: There is a kind of concept-like structure. It's not an improvisation, except for some parts. It's hard to explain... Maybe I'm not convinced by this live show and it's a mistake, because I got some positive reviews and people are telling me that it's OK. Maybe there is something in me or in it that I can't cope with... Maybe it will change... But I really don't know what can change.

You mentioned earlier your musical upbringing. Do you remember your first conscious decision to make a sound, to create a piece of music?

KZ: When it comes to playing music or coming up with musical ideas, I've done this since I can remember. It's some kind of curse that weighs heavily on me, because I've always had too many sounds inside my head, I've sang to myself all the time and people probably thought I was autistic. I was conceiving whole imaginary bands when I was young, my thoughts travelled back to the 70s and I was playing in a band similar to Black Sabbath, inventing riffs and imitating them with my mouth, because I couldn't play any instruments. This was my first conscious effort at sound making – the vocalisation. The serious thinking about music begun later - in the third grade of high school when I took the bass guitar and started playing in metal and hardcore punk bands. Then somewhere on the horizon Ed Wood appeared and it was the first band that thought outside the box and had something original in it.

So You're a self-taught man?

KZ: Once I signed up for bass guitar lessons, but after two of them I ran away, because I was not convinced... I don't know why.

Maybe because of this metal/hardcore/punk background. All the Polish guitar-driven subcultures were quite orthodox at that time.

KZ: I've never been a fanatic. On the contrary – I listened to almost everything. Of course, I listened to a lot of metal, but at the same time I could listen to all sorts of different stuff – from Marillion to Gastr del Sol, from Tortoise to Pantera and Mayhem. It's quite odd, because in my early musical development, I never made any distinctions, I didn't think that The For Carnation were better than Limp Bizkit for example. I just listened to both and I loved everything about them both. That's why I've never been an orthodox metalhead, if I've ever been one at all. I think I was more a grunge fan, I've listened to many of those Tool-alike things. Of course I've known many people who were die-hard fanatics, but we weren't close friends, they probably thought I was a spoiled little brat and a phoney.

So it was always more about the sound not the ethos...

KZ: Yes. But the ethos came later when I moved a bit more into the hardcore-punk scene. It was associated with the exploration of the musical worlds of bands such as Fugazi and those worlds were becoming more interesting and important to me, because of this certain ethos. From that time onwards I was thinking that it was inseparably intertwined with music and should be cultivated. I know that today it seems a bit anachronistic – all these market mechanisms and their inclusiveness - 'cause it seems derivate and funny, but I don't feel that it has to be that way.

Aside from the market, it's also the question of those orthodox fans that we talked about. In the days of global eclecticism it seem to be less and less of them.

KZ: The big part of the punk scene is still holding firmly onto these matters, but on the other hand they are wading into this hermeticism and debarring anyone who thinks differently, which immediately makes me think that it is not about music but some socio-political camaraderie. It's all about catching an appropriate balance between music and ideology or ethos, not to fall into the ethos which is dogmatic and covering everything else in concrete. For me, Fugazi was the first such example of a band whose ethos was so closely engaged with the music and at the same time it was so open and progressive, that it made sense. Then I realised that you can do it, and do not fall into the trap of hermeticism and dogmatism.

So what are you doing to cultivate it?

KZ: I'm trying to keep my ethos closely related to the music, so I'm not a purist when it comes to the matters of food, clothes or drugs. It's the question of being independent and being a part of this little Polish underground scene. It's been a long time since I have thought about the components of this attitude - I just act according to my conscience and my inner voice tells me what to do or no to do. It all arises from the fact that a lot of things I did in the past made me feel ashamed afterwards. So it's not the question of theorising and showing how nice I am, because I am not. I took part in those actions and I'm really glad that I took part in them, because they taught me something - what not to do. Now I don't have to think about it, I just sense my gut reaction and I know whether to say yes or no. I'm not dogmatic, I act according to my intuition.

How does this kind of attitude affect the way you're working on different collaborative projects? You're involved in a large amount of bands and collectives. Is it a clash of your vision of music with the views of others, or do you differ your approach according to the project you're working on?

KZ: I really like to work with others, because they bring an element of destabilisation, they change the borders of the territory within which I'm often playing. When you come up with a song or even a simple riff, you know exactly how it should sound. And then when your bandmate starts to play it completely differently, you feel the physical pain. But afterwards some kind of mental lock opens, something breaks, and suddenly you start to listen to the person with whom you're playing and you know he's right. The thing that you came up with actually works better when it is combined with the attitude brought by the other person. Of course, every musical action with each of my colleagues that we're working with is different, although I feel that I introduce myself to all of them in a similar way. I operate as a kind of virus that probably will begin to take over the cells, to capture them and to create a friction in music and in personnel. I have played with a lot of people and many bands, and it takes much work and learning to create conditions of cooperation such that everyone can give what best they can give without anyone imposing anything on the other.

But it also isn't a democracy. Democracy in music rarely works, it's often frustrating, because at the time when no one has a vision of what to do, everything is falling apart and it causes a terrible creative impotence. On the other hand, excessive authoritarianism gives rise to the situation in which no one is open to suggestions of other people, and then the music is dead. In the course of experiments I was able to work out a solution, and no matter whether I'm the "leader" or I'm playing in a band which is led by someone else – for example Hokei is led by Piotr Bukowski – I can find the golden centre – the balance between proposing something from myself and attempting to capture the vision of someone else and how I can dialogue with that vision. When it comes to collective improvisation, like in Innercity Ensemble, that's the only place which is fully democratic, because there is no vision, no objectives, no conversations, we just meet and play. But the Innercity Ensemble have also got all the defects of this kind of democratic approach to playing. Suddenly it turns out that what we're doing is not going in any direction, it might be nice for us, but the music is not created, it's just an amorphous structure which often melts and... disappears.

This kind of leadership that you're talking about - must it be imposed, or is it possible that it may be passed on, like a baton in the relay race?

KZ: Sometimes you can see that look in someone's eye – they're taking control of the creative process and pulling it in some direction. That should always meet with the feedback from the rest of the band. This is the basis and if anyone thinks that's the "wrong" direction and "we shouldn't do it" they're either unprepared or they have chosen the wrong people to play with. If you are flexible enough that you can always follow someone on their own path, it should be cultivated, because - in my opinion - the most interesting things arise when this kind of intention is being born. This is what I'm searching for in the music. When we compare improvising with playing the leader it has all of those advantages and disadvantages that we talked about. Often 90% of the improvisation is rather poor, but the 10% left is as near to the greatness as it can get. This kind of greatness is really hard to interpose when playing with a leader. There is some in-depth psychological analysis that should be made to clarify these mechanisms, because I do not understand them at all. One thing is clear - playing with someone who really has a vision is much safer, but at the same time it's nearly impossible to achieve this kind of greatness if you're playing this way.

Many people reach out for metaphysics to describe this moment of greatness. As you call yourself a radical materialist, where are you searching for the explanation of it happening?

KZ: For me, these are the moments of beautiful chaos, when everything is in its place, even though it is chaotic. There is no need to search for the explanations in the skies, if you can simply appreciate the beauty of those harmonies and structures that arise from the chaos. It suddenly begins to act as a well tuned machine and then again falls apart into the chaos. Music is all about those moments and it got no importance how you explain them.

As we're talking about collective work and the politics of playing in a band, Bydgoszcz – the city that you come from – has always played an important role on the musical map of Poland. It was one of those few cities that not only had a circle of people involved in music but its own sound and an idea standing behind it. Do You feel a part of this legacy?

KZ: It's an undeniable fact that many concerts that took place in Mózg [a 20-year-old club in Bydgoszcz that gave place and opportunity to play to hundreds of left field, experimental bands from Poland and abroad, Ed] and other places broadened my perception and affected the way that I think about music. When it comes to the question whether there was a scene or is there any scene in Bydgoszcz nowadays, you always have to be really careful. When you look at the facts from the historical perspective, you see those musicians who recorded albums, played live and there was much comment about them - they were in the newspapers, they played on TV, but these are not the things that constitute the scene. Neither the records, nor the musicians, nor the reviews. What creates the scene is in between. Nowadays it's hard to create a scene, when everyone sits at home. In Bydgoszcz, Mózg ceased to fulfil the function of uniting people from different backgrounds. Also many people left the city. Just look at my colleagues with whom I used to and still play – Tomek Popowski lives in Warsaw, Mikołaj Zieliński – in Gdańsk... In fact, from the colleagues with whom we worked in Bydgoszcz and did satisfying – in my opinion – music only Łukasz Jędrzejczak and Artur Maćkowiak are still here. It's hard to create a music scene if there are three people to work on it. Of course, there still is this jazz music spirit which – as spirits used to do – knocks on the door sometimes. There are excellent musicians like Jacek Buhl or Wojtek Jachna, but there also is a rather complex problem of this rebellious spirit of improvisation being steadily killed by the music school which is one of the most conservative in Poland, the one which people really laugh about. How long can you play those standards, for 30 years; the same thing, over and over again. There is no positive atmosphere, no energy, that could encourage musicians to do something more. Everyone who comes from Bydgoszcz and does not enter this academic way of thinking, is running away because there are no opportunities to develop. So either you can stay and rot playing these standards or... stay at home.

Still Bydgoszcz has a pretty high hit rate – especially when you compare it with other cities of a similar size - of intriguing, talented musicians who came from there. Do you see any link between this and the city itself?

KZ: Not to answer with platitudes, it would be necessary to do a quite decent analysis. There are sound analyses of the cities being made which could investigate what the sounds that Bydgoszcz reverberates with are, how musicians respond to them and whether they transfer any of these into their music. Of course, you can also do this kind of banal interpretation – a post-industrial city in which everyone plays really sad music and... this is somehow true when you take bands like Variete, George Dorn Screams or 3moonboys – as a trademark of the city. If we think about the alternative music coming from Bydgoszcz it isn't cheerful and happy which may have its causes in the city itself.

Taking your ears as a gauge to this kind of city sounds analysis, what Bydgoszcz sounds like for you?

KZ: I always lived close to a park so paradoxically in a quite big city the sound of the park, greenery and squirrels it's the sound of Bydgoszcz for me. It's generally a very green city. We have two rivers going through the city, and one passes straight through the centre, the place called the Venice of Bydgoszcz, which is really beautiful and the atmosphere over there reminds me of holidays. My city associates in my mind with the silence, but it's not this good kind of silence. Lots of things has perished and it's quiet because a bit of life fled away.

In the village of Stara Rzeka you searched for more of this silence and nature?

KZ: Stara Rzeka is the place to which I travel form Tleń which is something like 5 km away. I have been going there since my childhood for holidays, and for the last few years I always try to spend half a year there. There is no story behind it, it's just the prosaic reality. Often the fortune decides for us in certain cases, and this feeling in the guts that we talked about.

Stara Rzeka – the project, not the village – has this hard to define and hard to find in other Polish left field projects, element of locality. It's one of these few albums that has this 'neck of the woods' feeling that even those projects that are thematically based around roots, villages and other folk themes doesn't have. Is it something that you planned?

KZ: All the problems and complexes of Polish art lies in the fact that Poland is the main theme of this art. I didn't want to follow this path. If some kind of Polish character or atmosphere is present in what I do, it's because I'm a Pole, not because I made it a subject of my work. It also stems from the fact that at some point you have to ask yourself whether your music will always be an accurate reproduction of certain patterns taken from foreign music – what I have done with the bands like Tin Pan Alley, George Dorn Screams or Turnip Farm – or you will try to find something which is more "yours". For me of course the answer was simple, but it came rather late. I think that when it comes to the reception of Polish music abroad the categories of exoticism and strangeness come along. If a band was called Old River not Stara Rzeka, and the title of the album wasn't Cień Chmury Nad Ukrytym Polem but The Shadow Of A Cloud Above The Hidden Field, then I think it would work differently. I do not know how, but it would be different. It's a matter of presentation and as I don't know much about it, I won't try to look smart. Those elements of Polish or Slavic folklore doesn't come from my assumptions, they rather result from the fact that I am where I am, I grew up in this and no other country, so inevitably as a person from this country I have to respond to what surrounds me. Even if I take some influences from abroad, I try to filter them somehow. This is what I have always been fascinated by in the music coming from non-English speaking countries – how the artists from different parts of the world could take the influence from American or British music and create this whole new level of meaning; something which is absolutely irreducible to the original, and although these references are quite obvious, you have the feeling that this music is something original and unique. There are plenty of examples. I'm not saying that I studied all those cases and tried to figure out how to do it, but still at the back of my head I had this thought that even if I took some inspiration from abroad, it would still have to sound like the music made by someone from here. This of course is also related to the fact that music is created as a direct response to the reality and the objects that surround you. You can't do anything about this. You are surrounded by the objects coming from a particular environment. So the music is steeped in this environment.

As You look at the Polish scene, do you see this kind of saturation as somehow being common for the projects which come from different parts of the country?

KZ: No. I don't see anything like that. In my opinion there is nothing common between all these various musicians, no common features, no common style. It seems to me that nowadays there is nothing like this anywhere in the world. I think we should forget this category, try not to think about these kinds of unifications. Perhaps one day it will come back, but at the moment I can't see any of this.

Nonetheless, there is something going on in our backyard – there are more releases, more concerts... even the foreign music press shows a bit of interest in the Polish scene. Being a part of it, where do you see the causes of this situation?

KZ: I'm not a music journalist, so I don't know the reality or the artists that worked here in the past well enough. I know few names, but I don't know the background, I don't know the history. It seems to me that there was a weak moment in Polish music from 2005 to 2010, it was a dark period. Maybe because of those talent shows that came here in droves, and this paradigm of the bio-puppet – those commercially produced untalented people who roamed through television and gathered massive audiences. Also the alternative music was dominated by a post-Joy Division, post rock dolefulness and - indeed – there was almost nothing interesting going on. The fact that now we can talk about an "outburst" of this scene is because we're coming out of a really weak period in music and it doesn't mean that the music is now better than in the 90s. It rather seems to me that if you look hard enough in the 90s and – especially – in the 80s – this whole post punk scene, the bands that no one had the slightest idea that they existed – there were lots of local scenes that made really amazing, innovative music. Nobody knows about the industrial scene from Włocławek that Requiem Records just presented in their Archive Series. They presented really unbelievable ideas and recordings for those times in Poland. So it seems to me that we're not experiencing any special boom nowadays. Polish music was as good as I'm sure the music of many other countries around the world. There was probably nothing special about it then and it doesn't stand out today. But at the same time it's probable that we're now pulling ourselves out of a hole.

Do the positive reviews coming both from the country and the world affect you in any way?

KZ: I think it's too early to analyse this. I try not to pay too much attention to the reception of the album, because I've always felt a certain distance to music critique and writing about music in general. I'm not tempted to read and think about it. I'm not a fan of writing about music beyond the aspects of promotion, marketing and pushing through the things that are good. I don't think that those few reviews changed my situation that much. Perhaps there have been more concert proposals, maybe I sold a few more records than usual – although these are still rather ridiculous amounts. I think the biggest merit for all of this should go to my label – Instant Classic - which, like other record labels nowadays, is able to respond really quickly to the new reality and new media. Those labels five or ten years ago couldn't do it and they disappeared. I hope it won't happen to the new ones.

So what are your plans for upcoming months?

KZ: I didn't think that I would have any plans but it turned out that if you put this wheel into motion you can't stop it that easy, which is cool because I'm still able to mobilise myself instead of being lazy which I simply can't do. Instant Classic just released a double album of Innercity Ensemble which is a recording of our collective improvisation which took place last year in a palace near Bydgoszcz. We invited our fellow sound engineer Jarek Hejmann who set out the microphones and we played for two days - whatever came into our minds. It really came out very well and it stands a bit in contradiction with what we talked about earlier because we managed to do a very condensed piece of music, based on some specific structures and it all holds water. Not like our first record on which we threw out something like 80% of the recording. Besides, Kapital - my duet with Rafał Iwański will be released on CD by Bocian Records and on cassette by Sangoplasmo. Also everything seems to suggest that we'll finally manage to release the Ed Wood record which was lying in a drawer for two years. Furthermore there are plans to record two splits with Stara Rzeka, one with Artur Rumiński (THAW, Furia) and one with GAAP KVLT. During the summer we also record a new album of Alameda Trio and I hope it will be released in the autumn cause I don't like the recordings to wait, especially after the experiences with Ed Wood. We will also definitely record something new with T'ien Lai.

This huge family of bands and projects is still growing or is it closed for now?

KZ: Recently I had to reject some proposals that were really interesting, but the limit of my processing capacities has been reached. I think that if I take one thing more, everything would fall apart. Although I still have some concepts and ideas that I would like to realise. I'd love to make music based on vocals – naturally processed by effects, because it's the only way I could do it, but nothing concrete has been done in this area yet.

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baikonour
Mar 11, 2014 12:48pm

Good interview, thank you. Really looking forward to a new album by Stara rzeka.

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Peter
Dec 16, 2015 2:41pm

I am devouring all of his projects discography and I must say, although time has to confirm this, that Kuba and all the other people he is collaborating with, are such a big thing happening, I can't say how excited I am about whats going on up there (geographically, I am to south from them, in the next country). All these project really click something in me that only few bands can, I feel like there is some "atmospheric connection" in terms of mentaly or psychology, I am not sure. Anyway, I will support their work by all my humble possibilities because I just feel like this kind of things aren't happening very often.

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