Self-Portrait: a series that dives deep into the sounds of some of our favourite producers and labels with a mix of 100% unreleased and forthcoming original material.
We have always been strong advocates of the Polish music scene, intent on documenting the sounds and producers who are consistently coming out of the woodwork. One of our most recent discoveries is Warsaw native Tamten aka Matt Brzezny. Popping up on Polish imprint Transatlantyk’s second Trans Afryka EP, he then went on to chart his first solo release Diamentowa Sutra on the label in October. His productions are beautifully intricate and meticulously thought out, which on receipt of this mix a few months ago, inspired us to start the Self-Portrait series.
Working in the city’s premiere record shop, Side One, has furnished him with a unique insight into the workings of the scene. Here we talk to him about inspirations, collaboration and the promoters, parties and DJs working to make Poland’s scene a vibrant hub. This sits alongside a mix of 100% original material.
Let’s start with an ice breaker, what’s your earliest musical memory?
Of all the toys my mother bought me when I was about three years old, I remember the little guitar was always my favourite!
Did you have a particularly musical upbringing?
I learned to play flute and trumpet in an orchestra when I was a kid and had private guitar lessons when I was a bit older.
What led you into music production?
I produced beats for all my friends who wanted to rap and played in lot of different bands when I was in junior high/high school. I was always recording a lot of sketches of songs and tracks in many different genres like rap, rock, electronic at the beginning and some more specific styles later on as I got more interested in the recording process and sound itself. The more I was working on producing my solo material, recording demos that would never see the light of the day, I concentrated on creating my own style/flow.
Are there any producers or artists who have inspired your production?
I’m sure there are plenty of them. My biggest influence for some time now is Arthur Russell. I also have idol-like characters throughout my life like Gil Scott-Heron, Fela Kuti, Grace Jones, Vangelis and Andre 3000.
In summer we saw your name crop up for the first time on the second Trans Afryka release, and you’ve recently had your first solo release on Transatlantyk. Can you tell us a bit about how the EP came together? What was the inspiration behind it?
I meant for those tracks to make up a story about a really odd time in my life, when a lot of things suddenly changed around me and inside me. Every piece of the record reflects a specific aspect of this transition: rebirth, being on the road, dreams, spirituality, time, sexuality and truth/beauty/love or whatever you call it. It’s about dancing with chaos and constantly giving a style to your life or your persona(s).
What kind of stuff do you reach for in your DJ sets? Can you tell us three records that are firmly in your bag at the moment?
Specific moods, emotions and sounds that take you somewhere else. I don’t think I have a favourite style of music, I wouldn’t even name a few. I was always looking for elements that I would find tasty enough because originality and authenticity in music is the most important factor for me.
You work in Side One Records which must give you some good insights into what’s happening in the city and, more specifically, the music coming out of it. Can you tell us a bit about the scene in Warsaw?
There are many talented musicians, producers and DJs around, but the scene for underground electronic music is still not too crowded, especially when it comes to people who record their own stuff. For some reason, they have a hard time breaking through with things they do. To be honest, the infrastructure is still not the best. There are hardly any media who write about good, new, original music in an interesting fashion. Sure there are some that try but they have microscopic audience. I thing that last thing is the biggest problem here. There are not too many people in Warsaw that are interested in real music. I wouldn’t blame people, it’s also because of this media and promotion problem, it’s a full circle. It’s still not a thing that big money is in – you need to work hard to make a living from it, but it’s possible of course.
Is there anyone – parties, DJs, producers, venues – doing good things for the scene locally?
There are so many great DJs and producers in Poland right now that it would be a shame if I forget about someone, but to name a few producers: Earth Trax, Lutto Lento, Das Komplex, Poly Chain, Private Press, DJ Stoner Dad, Naphta, Universo, DJ Dook and Richu M. And for DJs: Zambon, Dzuma, Huragan, DiscoMule, Janurz, Facheroia, Ensor. Tons of massive parties like Syntetyk, Move Mozg, Bas, WYSIWYG and Brutaż/Światło.
When it comes to venues, there is a new place called Jasna1 and it has brilliant line ups every month. They are opened for two months now and they already booked people like Soichi Terada, Optimo, Madteo, Prins Thomas, Soundstream and Public Possesion. But there is also a great place called Mózg on the other side of the river – it curates tons of great cultural events each week.
Last, but not least I have to mention Side One record store – mecca for most of music lovers in Warsaw – and the man behind it, shout outs to Wojtek Żdanuk! There are also great promoters that put a lot of effort in to keeping the scene alive and deserve to be mentioned as well – Robert Kamionek in Warsaw and Michal Piwowar in Katowice.
What new Polish talent should we be keeping tabs on?
It’s very subjective, but a couple of my good friends recorded lots of great material in the last couple of months and I’m sure it’s going to be out one way or another soon. They are totally underground rats right now, but keep an eye on FOPA and Axel Krieger soon. Another friend of mine, Sasha Zakrevska aka Poly Chain, is creating magic/psycho/druggy/mysterious ambient soundscapes and playing great live sets on her prophet 08. Recently I really enjoyed the set of Czapla Siwa at the Syntetyk party – young gun definitely!
This mix is comprised of 100% original Tamten material. Could you tell us a bit about it? Any tracks that are particularly special to you?
To be honest, almost every one of these tracks seems special to me in some way. The opener, ‘Apollo’, is a memory of me spending two weeks in a country side all by myself. ‘Szaleństwo’ (madnesss) is a demo track from an LP I’m working on. ‘Warszawski Dom’ and ‘TBA’ are tracks from a collaborative EP I recorded with FOPA, that will be out next year. ‘Friends’ is a track I recorded with my friend Aleksander Grygier (aka axel krieger) – it’s also part of an EP that we already finished and will be out in 2018. I’m also working on hot dance floor material, but I can’t say to much about it for now.
Anything on the horizon for you? Any bookings or releases we should know about?
I’m still working on my dance-floor oriented EP and conceptual long play which I hope to finish next year. There are two EPs I’ve done with FOPA on the way. And I’m involved in two secret projects right now, we’ll see how they turn out. I’m excited to play in London next year! I have couple of gigs in Warsaw and outside of it in the near future, the first on the way is Syntetyk in Warsaw next week. Next month I will be very glad to host another episode of my Space Jams party series, this time with maestro Lutto Lento. I can’t wait.