In today’s climate of electronic music record label ubiquity, it pays for a label to have something distinctive about their approach; be that a particular sound, aesthetic or geographical focus, the labels that stand out from the crowd often have a defining feature. It is the latter approach that Maciej Zambon has used over the past few years. Beginning with his label The Very Polish Cut Outs, and now with the freshly inaugurated Transatlantyk imprint, the emphasis has been on providing an outlet for Polish dance music to be brought to wider attention.
With the recently released Polo House compilation and a debut album from Ptaki, Transatlantyk is currently gathering increasing attention. Zambon has kindly answered a few questions about the label and the Polish scene in general, and has put together a mix to give us a flavour of what it’s all about. Ranging from deep and grooving house music to sample-laden goodness, the mix is a great introduction to the imprint and the wealth of great dance music currently coming out of Poland.
A quick google told us ‘Oficyna Transatlantyk’ means a ‘transatlantic outbuilding’. Are we remotely close here? Either way, would you mind explaining the name of the label?
The name of the label is just Transatlantyk 🙂 Oficyna means outbuilding but also means “publish house”. So just added the name on Soundcloud to make it more polish 😉
What prompted you to start Transatlantyk last year?
I had an idea to start a full fledged label with original music already like 2 -3 years ago but, at that time, I couldn’t exactly find the right music made by Polish producers that I wanted to put out. But it changed very fast the last year. Now I have more music I can release and the schedule is already very full.
Does your work with sister label, The Very Polish Cut Outs, feed into Transatlantyk, or do you like to keep them very separate?
I consider Transatlantyk as an standalone separate label that, in some way, is the continuation of TVPCO. TVPCO – edits of old polish music. TRNS – modern Polish music. So there is a bigger idea behind it, an idea that connects both. But besides that I try to keep it separated.
There seems to be something quite distinct about the music coming out of the Polish underground at the moment. Are we onto something here and could you give a bit more insight into what makes the Polish underground so special.
Honestly, I feel its just freaking good music that doesn’t stand out from anything else that is produced right now. For sure you can feel a tone of melancholy in the productions of The Phantom, Ptaki has a very Slavic feel, there’s some weirdness in Lutto Lento and Naphta‘s tracks, and usually the producers tend to go into deep regions. But besides that, I wouldn’t make a great distinction that it is unique. We are still working at that sound 🙂
Our way into Polish electronic music was in 2013 and, even then, it seemed things had been bubbling under for a few years prior. How has the underground scene developed over the last decade or two? Has their been some key moments or movements in its growth?
Electronic music never was big in Poland not during the communist times and not in the 90s. I think the last 15 years changed a lot and now, in my opinion we are having something like an outburst of talent. So many producers covering so many styles from house, techno, ambient to contemporary electronics that it’s pretty insane. We are having now only a few established artists that are recognisable in the world but there are so many more people on the way there like Zamilska, Kuba Sojka, Ptaki, Selvy, Das Komplex. The scene is stronger than ever.
It’s been great to see Polish electronic and dance music flourish over the last couple years. Why do you think it’s enjoying such success outside Poland recently?
Well I wouldn’t say its a big success yet. Besides Catz n Dogz and Jacek Sienkiewicz who are enjoying big esteem and play all over the world, most of those people are still underdogs. Of course The Very Polish Cut Outs are already very recognisable but more as a label. But I hope the success will come also now for all the individual artists thanks to Transatlantyk and other new Polish labels.
What do you feel are some of the most important records for Polish electronic music?
Transatlantyk has just put out a compilation called ‘Polo House…’. What are you trying to say about Polish music, in the way you have curated it?
It’s there, it’s dope and you should listen to it! That’s basically it!
How did you go about choosing the tracks?
All a matter of my taste but also wanted to cover a broad spectrum of house styles. From balearic, deep to uptempo, classic and tropical.
It’s a busy month for Transatlantyk, with the release of Ptaki’s debut album. What was the thinking behind moving away from their predominantly balearic sound and creating such an eclectic and diverse LP?
Well they both listen to lots of different kinds of music. We knew from the start that it wouldn’t be a clubby record with 4×4 dance tracks, as they wanted to record something like The Avalanches. I wouldn’t also like to put out a record with 10 dance tracks like lots of dance music producers do, as I think that’s always very boring.
How important are Ptaki in where Polish music is at right now?
They started to be hugely popular and their shows are mostly full. All major newspapers (even daily ones) had a review of the album. I think they are kinda leading the pack right now.
Who else do you think is doing good things for Polish music at the moment you’d like to shout out?
Well there is a ton of people who for years keep the underground alive here in better and worse times – either by putting money or time in parties, releasing records, bookings or just their own precious time. People worth mentioning are Wojtek from the Sideone Record Store in Warsaw, Groh (owner of U Know Me Records), Grobel (owner of S1 Warsaw and promotor of a lot of great underground parties), Maciek Sienkiewicz (the brother of Jacek, the godfather of Polish balearic, who just established the really promising Father and Son Records And Tapes record label), Pudel and Sąsiad – the guys behind the Wosk Club in Poznan (which for me is the best underground club in Poland that doesn’t get into trends and where only vinyl DJs are allowed). Besides that tons of producers and DJs like Ptaki, Selvy, Eltron John, Get The Balance Right, The Phantom, Naphta, Mattat Professionals, Das Komplex, DJ Dook, Risky, Mitura, Hadrian, Disco Mule, DJ SZY, Chrono Bross and Radar, The Dubniki Crew, Bisti, Jazxing, Cyman, Plastelinowy Joe, Ryan R, Kazula, Old Spice, the Plug and Play peeps…and so many more!
And looking into the future, what up-and-coming DJ and producers should we be keep a close eye on in the next months and years?
Keeping our eye on the horizon, what’s next for Transatlantyk and Very Polish Cut?
Transatlantyk – many new releases…from the usually high quality house 12” (next one is by Lutto Lento), edit EPs to ambient albums…to maybe some other crazy stuff. Schedule is pretty full here till mid 2016. The Very Polish Cut-Outs will be running until the end of this year. Two more samplers and two special EPs (Soviet and Yugo edits) and the label will be done as I think the mission is done here.