Instalment 13 in our podcast series brought to you by Polanski (Humancy / B L A N C) – born in Poland, and known for seeking inspiration for his production through re-expressing the rural landscapes of his youth in a modern digital interpretation, we are delighted to welcome Andrzej to the series.
First cutting his teeth at Trusty, just before the turn of the millennium, Polanski journeyed overseas before returning to Poland two years later to begin his first project, bOMBER cLOCK. bOMBER cLOCK was a weekly night, focused, much as we are at Backdrop, on bringing like-minded people together, and led to Polanski breaking onto the national scene before moving to London to pursue a career outside of music. However, the magnetic pull of the rave proved itself too strong, and when the minimal scene began to make way for the denser sounds of the 2000’s, Polanski began to itch to delve once more into that dark, transcendent place where the musical throb reigns. Beginning his largest club project to date, HUNTED at Corsica Studios (where the roster was formed up of Ali Renault, Alexander Robotnick, and Richard Sen, as well as the legendary Legowelt), the music began to shift into deeper sounds, poignantly fusing melancholy and joy. This led to Polanski performing at KAOS – the famous and infamous queer night – which proved to be a life-changing experience, inspiring the next big project: B L A N C at Electrowerkz.
B L A N C, started by Polanski and likeminded creatives, began in 2013, and aims to bring together aesthetics and sound in a unique, stylish and profound fashion – rightly earning a passionate and loyal following. We cannot wait to attend!
When it comes to his sets, diligence is key for Polanski, and, as RA says: ‘it’s not unusual for Polanski to work on one set for several months – seeking out rare and special music, old and new, and shaping it into a highly personal journey that he shares with his audience’, and this is exactly what he has done for us, so strap the headphones on tight and let Polanski guide you into the stars.
Where/What was the mix recorded on?
Done at home using Traktor and two channel mixer.
Any tracks you want to bring special attention to?
I guess they are all special in their own way, that’s why I brought them together in my compilation, but Rrose and Melania get my special attention.
Any record labels you love currently?
I learnt a long time ago that one label cannot deliver the same high level quality in each of their instalments, hence I am more of an explorer when it comes to digging online. I tend to use bandcamp much more these days. However Khemia, Ways to Die Records and Blackwater get my regular attention as they are imprints owned by friends and are London-based.
When you construct a set do you think about the piece as whole, or do you think just a few songs at a time, or do you just go on instinct and feeling? Or even some other method? For instance, some like to challenge the listener, others like to build tension for long periods with a sustain-release approach, others work for eyes closed/heads down style dancing and others clamour for lots of hands in the air euphoric moments. Where do you stand?
My sets are very much about selection; it has been this way for many years. I started as a vinyl DJ, at the end of the 90’s and it was a period when people where fixated with beatmatching. When most of my friends moved from playing vinyl to CDJ’s, I decided on the mp3 format and continue with that to this day. This allows me careful planning of my sets – each has its own very unique moment, and as I don’t accept only one style to my selections I can differentiate between the parties I play and moods I am trying to create. To hear true Polanski is to hear me playing, or performing as I see it, a very planned, carefully selected journey. I use Camelot harmonic scale to compose my sets and I pay a lot of attention to know at which moment to enter with a new track and how long they should stay together.
What tracks have not left your USB or record bag in recent times? The sort of tracks you keep going back to and don’t mind paying out a lot?
There are always few of these, but as with everything – it changes…
-> ‘Ardent’ by Kangding Ray, ‘Omerta’ by Rrose, ‘Arcing’ by Inigo Kennedy and that’s only for the harder selection. I still occasionally play more mellow stuff.
One of the topics we covered at Backdrop Sounds of Solidarity : Power & Politics of Dance Music was the protection of music & arts venues. Much like London is suffering from club closures, we in Newcastle are fighting to protect a vital artistic hub, The Ouseburn Valley. This is being taken over by privately owned building operations to build housing, thus risking many of the musical and creative spaces. What practical advice would you give to people and any authorities reading this on what they can do to prevent this worrying cycle from continuing?
I wish there was something from our London experience that could be useful as advice, but sadly (except from Fabric) we were not very lucky here, as possibly everyone in the country might be aware. I ask myself this question and sometimes think there is only one way to see this: anything that comes to an end will be a starting point for something new. Just think how much more space there is to sign another petition or protest. In the eyes of evil money and politics we are just nobodies and sadly the creative sector suffers a lot.
Another issue for Backdrop S.O.S is that of how we can create safe spaces within our nightclubs and associated dancing venues for LGBTQIAP+ communities, women and marginalised groups. Which parties, in your experience, succeed in these aims and why/how?
This is still work in progress, but thankfully we can notice now some positive change. I think promoters need to work very closely with the venue and security. In a recent event I was playing and hosting, we had guests who don’t define their sexual identity in a simple binary definition – sadly as we missed this crucial point – communicating to the venue’s security about a non-gender toilet policy, caused a lot of unnecessary tension. It seems trivial, but queer spaces need to cover all of those, often simplest, points to pass as safe and welcoming. In London I only tend to go to places where I feel that the crowd is either very mixed or simply friendly. The obvious would be KAOS, which is not only queer but also the most ass-kicking techno night in London, but this acceptance is now also seen in what could be considered straight nights, like Tales. But I don’t even see it this way, we are in an exciting time when people are coming to the scene much more educated and open-minded and queerness and otherness is simply fabulous!
You co-founded a series of parties, B L A N C at Electrowerkz in London, it sounds awesome – can we come?
Sure, if you are friendly, unprejudiced and open-minded you have only four chances a year…
See you there! Can you tell us about B L A N C? I could explain what I see it as, but it’s better coming from yourself. .
It is a techno night I run at London’s Electrowerkz, it is a place for everyone to dance and socialise. However it is the music that makes the night. My music choices are very similar when it comes to putting a set together and drawing an idea for a line-up. Now it is mostly showcases of labels, but the key idea is to nurture local and up-and-coming talent from London and Europe.
B L A N C’s mission statement of ‘situating the DJ on the dancefloor’ for ‘the music and its audience to take control’ sounds as if it’s inspired by David Mancuso’s famous Loft parties. Were the ideals of those parties something you aimed to emulate?
Well it all starts from that basic level of actually placing DJ booth in the middle of the dancefloor. It is a matter I have discussed, also wrote about in my current studies. The media and space are my obsessions. As for Mancuso; yeah all the work I do is influenced by him and no doubt any club takes its idea from his Loft space… Although we all know, and this goes back to the earlier question, those spaces aren’t that safe, nor friendly – hence my mission is to bring this element back. To strip DJ’s of stardom and place them with the dancing crowd is another way of sticking my middle finger to the mainstream media giving more and more credit to those who don’t need it nor deserve it and all this ‘underground’ art scene is creating on a shoe-string budget.
A commitment to fun and providing ravers with a safe, non-judgemental, open haven to lose themselves in is something we aim to achieve at backdrop. What immediate action could we take to make this a reality?
First and foremost find venue that wishes to accommodate you without any prejudice. Hire your own security if necessary. They need to be people not only with muscle and brain, they also need to have a soul – tell them what is OK and what is not! If you are rammed and popular, obviously have the most glamorous door host to do a door selection, who will not only be the glam flower on your front but will attract lots of friends, who are also night flowers.
What are some of the common pitfalls or mistakes made by promoters/club owners/ dancers or DJs that may leave people feeling unsafe, unwelcome or objectified?
I think the above toilet story is a common example. Girls who are boys, or vice-versa, should feel free to make their own decision about where and how to pee. Also security can be a major downer. To be honest I feel like I am in a bubble having working with the Electrowerkz team, who are just so fucking amazing. I have been mostly partying there in the recent years, and I pretty much always leave satisfied (unless the music wasn’t that great).
What’s next on the horizon for you?
Just launching new after-hours Love Saves the Rave, I guess you can add the rest of the comments here… Graduating is on top of my list, but in the meantime I engage in a few musical projects and hoping to expand on my modular system.
Apart from studying and completing your dissertation, what do you like to do totally disconnected from music?
Disconnected from music? That’s not possible….
If you weren’t involved in music professionally what would be your career choice?
I’d be dead.