Like a flashing green light across the sound, Ptaki were responsible for some of the first murmurings of life from the bowels of the Polish underground to the outside world. While the duo no longer make music together, their legacy lives on and both Bartosz and Jaromir continue their creative pursuits separately, the former under no shortage of aliases. Following outings as The Phantom and his own Bartosz Kruczynski, Earth Tracks represents a more focussed, DJ-friendly sound, which debuted on Rhythm Section last month, alongside youngblood Newborn Jr. (Matat Professionals) with further efforts lined up for Dopeness Galore and Phonica. A busy period for both and about the right time for us to catch up with their first joint interview, which you can read alongside a mix that takes in Public Possession, Patrice Scott, International Feel, Aniara and Antinote.
First, our usual ice-breaker. What’s your first musical memory?
Adam (Newborn Jr): My grandma teaching me some simple songs on the way back from kindergarten.
Bartosz (Earth Trax): My mother singing folk songs to me (especially ‘Jest Drożyna, Jest’), but also probably something to do with my father. He was very into Mike Oldfield, Jean Michel Jarre, Klaus Schulze, Vangelis, Tomita, Vollenweider and some classic bluesy-rock like Peter Green. He used to listen a lot to their records, cassette and reel-to-reels tapes. ‘Five Miles Out’ was one of my favourite songs. He was also very into sci-fi & fantasy art, books and movies too.
Earth Trax, this is now the fourth alias (that we know of!). Why did you feel ready for another and how are you aiming to put distance between Earth Trax and other projects?
I’ve always enjoyed making up new names and have a lot of respect for people like Orlando Voorn for example (30+ aliases!). With Earth Trax, I’m finally focusing more on DJ friendly tracks rather than fully formed albums. I’m kind of back to basics now.
Newborn Jr, could you tell us a little about your musical background, and how you came to this point?
At the beginning, I was very into abstract and intense electronica, I was a big fan of Autechre at that time. Later on, my friend Wojtek/Selvy, introduced me to idea of making some four-to-the-floor rhythms as I was already DJing that kind of stuff but I wasn’t convinced that I could produce dance music. Then Matat Professionals happened and I had opportunities to work (finally!) with gear and studio equipment. Newborn Jr. is about that joy and fear working with analog equipment.
How did you both start making music together?
Newborn Jr: Before Matat P. I was sending Bartek my demos and he wrote back with some kind words. After I moved to Warsaw it was kind of natural to do it. Both of us had some admiration for a variety of approaches to making music and we were able to have a first recording in studio full of gear.
Earth Trax: I was totally blown away with those early demos. We started making some music together when I was sharing a studio with Studio Barnhus’ SLG, Project Mooncircle’s Michal Lewicki and some other friends. That’s basically how Sax & Flute came together. We actually own a lot to these guys as we used a lot of their gear like Roland JX3P, Elektron Machinedrum, KORG DW-6000 and the Roland Space Echo. You can hear them quite clearly, especially in ‘Sax Track.’
And how did the EP (above) come together on Rhythm Section?
Newborn Jr: ’Sax Track’ was recorded at that first meeting in the studio. ‘Flute Track’ was constructed from elements recorded during that first session.
It’s a simple, yet affective, formula in its presentation and track names. What was the inspiration behind it?
Earth Trax: There wasn’t any concept to be honest. All the tracks we make together are just live jams that we later edit down and re-arrange. These two just happened to have a lot Korg M1 on top of them.
Newborn Jr: We tried (a little) to figure out something but in the end it was like “the tracks are already intense so let’s go with something simple and transparent”
Did Bradley have much input in how it all came together, or did you present it to him as the finished article.
Earth Trax: We sent a couple of different tracks to Bradley and he eventually thought it would be a good idea to make the release very simple and coherent, which is great.
Is this a partnership that’s here to stay or was it just a one-off collaboration?
Earth Trax: We share a studio now and we spend a lot of time jamming together, so there’s more to come. We’re working on a slightly more ethereal and analogue sounding material now.
Beyond the Rhythm Section release, you’ve also lined up a solo EP for Dopeness Galore without Newborn Jr (below). Could you tell us a bit about that and how it reflects a side of Earth Trax that is a little different from your collaboration with Newborn Jr.?
Earth Trax: It’s not that different. We use a lot of the same tropes in our music and listen to the same artists. I think Adam’s output is a bit more psychedelic, dubby and gritty with a live jam feel. Mine is perhaps a bit cleaner and tamed.
It’s been great to see Polish house make big strides in the last few years. What new/young talent is particularly exciting you at the moment?
Newborn Jr: Waiting for some more “bongo and bass action” from Kixnare/Universo and enjoying a debut EP by my friends Matt vel Tamten called Plemiona/Tunele.
Earth Trax: Adam is too humble to mention his other project with a friend of his. There are plenty of producers who were around for some time now, but only now finally released some music – Mutual Attraction, Yamaha Freeride Team (the amazing Bartek Baran), Kosel. The new Transatlantyk by Freux is worth checking out too. A special mention – Brutaż & Światło nights by RRRKRTA or simply Jacek and the great taste of Charlie – I loved her set at Unsound last weekend.
What’s been your favourite discovery of 2016 (music or otherwise)?
Adam (Newborn Jr): That producing music could make you travel places outside your country (Matat Professionals in Tallin and Newborn Jr. in London).
Bartosz (Earth Trax): The ‘Alien Megastructure’ star! Music wise, every other week I learn about new albums from the informal minimalism/electronic/folk scene here, like Tomasz Mreńca, Wacław Zimpel, Resina, and Piotr Kurek of course. There’s also a new record by the legendary Księżyc.
Could you tell us about the mix you’ve made for us?
Newborn Jr: It was recorded in our studio that’s in a former strip club (in it’s office to be correct). Lately I’m a huge fan of the last Gonno release on International Feel, so I played that Call Super remix.
Earth Trax: I’m really into the new Convextion album. The very last track is a new one by me.
What’s coming up on the horizon for both of you that we should look out for? Anything in the pipeline with Ptaki as well?
Newborn Jr: We are now finishing and polishing up some recent recordings, figuring out what will happen next. As for myself, I have a few other projects I’m now working on… one of them is like “balearic r’n b” with a very special person.
Earth Trax: Right after my EP for Dopeness Galore there’s one for Phonica Records and some more next year. I’m finishing another downtempo record as Bartosz Kruczyński (I released one on Growing Bin earlier this year). We no longer make any new music as Ptaki, but Jaromir is making a lot of new quirky little jams as Karara.