Collaborations can take on many forms. What role do they play in your approach and what are your preferred ways of engaging with other creatives, including the artists on your label?
I mentioned about not asking for an opinion, but it doesn't apply to working together. This aspect is crucial for 1000HZ Records. When I am directly involved in recordings as a producer or musician, I attempt to create a new quality, a new space. This sonic and social new space does not necessarily mean the creation of the illusion of being in a different cultural place for the listener. The example of such an attitude is the album of WILD/LIFE project in which I took part as a musician with over a dozen artists from Malawi, Tanzania, Rwanda and Poland.
Artwork plays a similar role in our activities. We often provoke cooperation between European and African designers, maintaining balance in the process of the common work.
Can you take me through your process on the basis of a release that's particularly dear to you? How do you decide to release it, what did you start with, what sources did you draw from for all tasks related to it and how did the finished product gradually take shape?
The first is the Doctor Kanuska Group record from the Sacral Grooves series. It is an album that combines ethnographic, musical and curatorial experience. I recorded it in a small village in the mountains of North Malawi with the ritual band playing for the possession cults. All recordings were done during nocturnal rituals. I lived in the village of Katokole for a few weeks. During this time, I got to know the people well, the whole context of the ceremony and the meaning of each song. The album encapsulates all this knowledge and at the same time presents the musicians under their own names as creative individualities, which is not a rule in such "cultural" recordings.
The second album is the newest premiere of the Digital Indigenous series, the album of Andy One also from Malawi. The series presents independent electronic producers who use simple digital tools to create mixes of electronic and traditional music. As usual, the album was preceded by long conversations with Andy (who also took part in the WILD/LIFE project), careful listening to his material, getting to know the subject of the songs and learning about Andy's artistic goals. Compared to the Doctor Kanuska Group album it was quite simple because the music was complete and coherent. On the other hand, both series result from our interest in technology and the difference, nevertheless, the final form of the idea and the name was the result of sudden revelations (and some discussions with friends).
Could you take us through a day in your life, from a possible morning routine through to your work? Do you have a fixed schedule? How do the label and other aspects of your life feed back into each other - do you separate them or instead try to make them blend seamlessly?
It depends on the moment, but I divide my time into writing, music production, curatorial and promotional work, as well as being for and with people who are close to me. I usually split my weekdays into certain creative activities. I am currently working on a book, so it involves me the most. There are many more 1000HZ releases on the way, so I'm cutting my time to make sure the quality will be there.
There are many descriptions of the ideal state of mind for being creative. What is it like for you? What supports this ideal state of mind and what are distractions? Are there strategies to enter into this state more easily?
Perhaps I am a typical product of my times, and maybe also of my space because Poland is too fast when it comes to the tempo and the amount of work, but I can feel the over-stimulation in my environment. Therefore, I appreciate a state of mind that allows for precise actions, focusing on the process, not necessarily by escaping from the world, but by affirming it. This can be compared to meditation in motion. The environment today is not necessarily favourable to this, so it is rather a constant practice of keeping the balance.
How is listening to the actual music and writing or reading about it connected? What do you achieve and draw from each experience personally?
I understand this as a matter of mediation and I would add a visual aspect to it as well. I believe that illustrating or describing sound only seemingly represents it. I am interested more in what is created and added in this mediation. As a result, what we do as 1000HZ and what other labels do, are clouds of linked multimedia. Personally, I feel excited about it, because it gives a chance to enter the thicket of images, sounds, words. It invites you to tread a path through it, and does not allow for routine.
There has been an exponential growth in promotion agencies and there is still a vast landscape for music magazines. What's your perspective on the music promo- and journalism-system? In how far is it influencing your choice of artists, in how far is it useful for potential buyers, in how far do you feel it is possibly undermining your work?
I try to distance myself from the business model and to act according to artistic, ethical and political goals. It helps me to worry less about the contradictions and problems of the business model. I am interested in the way of writing about music, discussing it, which concerns not only what and how to sell, but also asks how music can shape or reflect the world. On the other hand, I am concerned about the model in which most of the costs are passed on to artists. So, economically it is also not the case of selling this or that artist, but to think of how artists, journalists, publishers can economically benefit.
Art can be a purpose in its own right, but it can also directly feed back into everyday life, take on a social and political role and lead to more engagement. Can you describe your approach to art?
I am interested in the definition of art coined by Alfred Gell, who understood artwork as something that affects a person, influences people, changes them. In this respect, art appears to me as something powerful and active. Of course, there is also a political aspect of art, but I do not understand it as the possibility of using an image or a song by a political party. I rather think that the power of image or sound can affect people on a broad social scale.
It is remarkable, in a way, that we have arrived in the 21st century with the basic concept of labels still intact. Do you have a vision of labels, an idea of what they could be beyond their current form?
Is it really so? Perhaps our understanding of labels lags behind the actual conditions in which we operate today. I think that the decentralization of the Internet, the collapse of physical recording formats, the current big lockdown question mark - all this makes comparing today's labels to those of the 20th century rather a fantasy. Nevertheless, I would like to continue working towards less centralized, non-commodification, critical-action ways of publishing music. The challenge is to develop a new economic model (I'm not talking about a business model on purpose). Perhaps, when it occurs, we will be able to fully grasp and understand the change.