Name: Klaudia Gawlas
Occupation: DJ/ Producer
Current Release: VISION on Credo Records
Musical Recommendations: Raphael Dincsoy and Christian Gerlach
Website: If you enjoyed this interview with Klaudia Galwas, check out her personal website for more information and ordering her music.
When did you start DJing - and what or who were your early passions and influences?
I have always wanted to work with music but never thought about DJing as an option. In 2002 I spent a year in the USA and actually started DJing there. But I had already been really passionate about Techno music and what actually brought me into it was an old Jeff Mills tape. And the raves I went to back in the days only deepened the passion.
For most artists, originality is first preceded by a phase of learning and, often, emulating others. What was this like for you? How would you describe your own development as an artist and the transition towards your own style?
Well, the first DJ who showed me how to do it was a Hip Hop DJ from the States and we became best friends. In the beginning I did it only for fun. Later I just got addicted to the feeling I got from mixing two tracks, that emotional high and the goosebumps. But I never tried to imitate other DJs, because I have always had my own idea about techno and what I want to play.
What were some of the main challenges when starting out as a DJ and how have they changed over time? What is it about DJing, compared to, say, producing your own music, that makes it interesting for you?
The first challenge is how to get gigs or organize your own events. Once you get known and have a fan base both of these things get a lot easier. Since I joined my booking agency I haven‘t had to take care of that anymore and so I can focus on music and productions.
Performing in front of a crowd, working huge sound systems and travelling are still a great part of the fascination the job holds for me. Compared to that producing a new track in the studio can be quite lonely.
What was your first set-up as DJ like? How has your set-up evolved over the years and what are currently some of the most important pieces of gear for you?
I started with turntables and vinyls. Later I switched to CDs because it´s easier and faster - no heavy bags and you don‘t have to go to a record store or wait for the postman. You can download the last track in the hotel and off you go. I do appreciate playing with the latest Pioneer 900 and CDJ 2000 as they offer a great range of possibilities.
How do you see the relationship between the tools you're using and the creative results – in which way do certain tools suggest certain approaches, in which way do they limit and/or expand your own creativity? Do you believe in the idea of progress in DJing from a technological perspective?
On the one hand using a laptop would give me even more creative possibilities when performing. But I must admit that setting up all the hardware you need, is a bit deterring. So using CDs – and the devices I have already mentioned – is a good compromise for me that works well. Generally, the technological progress in the last years has changed DJing profoundly. Some of the basic skills like syncing the tracks are done by the machines now, so the DJ can focus more on effects and interacting with the audience.
Could you take me through the process of preparing for one of your gigs, please? How do you select the tracks you like to play, how do you prepare and how do you decide on the opening phase of your set?
During the week I listen to all the demos and promos I get and also search in the stores. I put everything I can use or like on a USB stick and listen to each track, sometimes even while working in my office. I mark tracks I like and then play them on the weekend. But it always depends on the crowd which of the tracks I selected during the week actually make it into my set. I also buy a lot of tracks which I don‘t take with me. It depends on so many things why I decide to play the track or not and sometimes it is just spur of the moment.
What constitutes great mixing from your point of view? What are some of the sets that have personally impressed you over the years?
First of all it is the track a DJ plays. Then if he can match two good tracks, accomplish the mix and show a good feeling for the beat. I don´t know which set impressed me most. Most of the time I am so full of projects there is not much time left for listening to long sets.
How would you describe your approach to building a set? What are some of the characteristics that define who you are as a DJ?
I want my sets to be special but still recognizably me and part of this is that nobody really knows how it will end – not even me. I usually start with a slower track, then build up the tension. But of course, it all depends on how long I play and how the audience reacts. My music could be defined as energetic, driving techno that is also emotional sometimes.
It has today almost become customary to radically change pieces in the act of mixing and to increase the creative input of the DJ even to the level of the actual composition. What's your take on that and in how much do you make use of these possibilities yourself? Is there such a thing as 'disrespectful mixing'?
I know there are a lot people, who would say radical changes are disrespectful, but if it´s a mix the people love, then why not? I have had some very positive reactions towards some of my mixes. Of course, the producer is never too thrilled to see such things, but this is also music, it´s art. In that way we also inspire each other.
One of the most important aspects of a DJ set are the transitions from one track to the next. What makes a transition successful from your perspective?
Of course, there are some objective reason why some tracks just don‘t match but I just follow my feeling. Sometimes I play a track and I hear this one vocal, so I play the vocal track. For the next one I need a stronger bassline, then I pick one.
How do you see the balance between giving the crowd what they want and treating them to something new? What's your take on the idea of the DJ as an "educator" and is the relationship with the dancers a collaborative one or, as Derrick May once put it, a “battle”?
Well, I see myself as an entertainer not primarily as an educator. I want the people to have a good time but it´s also important to introduce them to something new. I have never perceived the relationship with the crowd as a battle. It‘s quite the contrary for me, we work together to create a memorable night.
It is customary for many DJs to also produce tracks of their own, thereby lifting the former 'division of labor' between the two. How do you feel about this – and in which way can both sides benefit from this? How does your work as a DJ influence your studio productions and vice versa?
As a DJ and producer I get an immediate feedback from the audience when I play my own productions. Moreover you gain a lot of experience if you perform every weekend, sometimes on huge sound systems at big events. This does, of course, affect my next session in the studio.
With more and more musicians creating than ever and more and more of these creations being released, what does this mean for you as an artist in terms of originality?
When you produce tracks you cannot reinvent the wheel, so to say. You always use sounds that have already been heard before. So originality in this respect is quite relative. And I‘m a DJ, so it‘s quite obvious that I also use tracks produced by others.
Reaching audiences usually involves reaching out to the press and possibly working with a PR company. What's your perspective on the promo system? In which way do music journalism and PR companies change the way music is perceived by the public?
Promo systems and the work of PR companies are a necessary part of the whole business. As an artist you need to be heard and seen, you need to reach out to your fans and they want to know about new tracks you have released or gigs you will play.
It is remarkable, in a way, that DJing has remained relevant for such a long time. Do you nonetheless have a vision of DJing, an idea of what it could be beyond its current form?
I believe that the progress in technology will also change DJing in the future. Maybe we will have a huge touchscreen and play music on that? Or even a device that you can control with your emotions and play music notes out of that? It does sound like science fiction now, but who would have imagined DJing with laptops in the 1980s?