Self-Portrait: Earth Trax

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.

As Polish electronic artists go, Earth Trax a.k.a Bartosz Kruczyński is one who has certainly carved a name for himself on Western soil. As half of Ptaki, alongside friend Jaromir Kaminski, their releases on The Very Polish Cut Outs gave us our first taste of his deft sampling, while their debut album, on TVPCO’s sister label Transatlantyk, unearthed a penchant for deeper and darker textures with tracks weaving through dub, ambient and balearic. Endlessly multifaceted, his many guises exhibit the different sides to his production abilities; from the nostalgic immersive tastes under his own name and as The Phantom to the club ready sounds he explores as Earth Trax.

Over the past three years, he’s made homes on labels like Phonica Records, Growing Bin, Emotional Response and Lost Palms, while his exploits alongside Newborn Jr. have graced Peckham’s Rhythm Section, Echovolt Records and Les Yeux Orange.

He’s got a ton of new stuff on the way and a brand new alias to add to the ever-growing list, so what better time to get an insight into what makes him tick as a producer. This sits alongside a mix of 100% original unreleased material. 

Earth Trax and Newborn Jr. will play their first ever UK B2B for After The Jump, alongside fellow Polish artists Tamten and Aheloy!, on 31st March at The Waiting Room in London.

Let’s start with an ice breaker, what’s your earliest musical memory?

Listening to some of my dad’s reel-to-reel tapes and cassettes with music ranging from Madonna and Mike Oldfield to Tangerine Dream and Vangelis.

Have you had any professional musical schooling? What first led you into music production?

No professional schooling. My way into music production was trying to mimic some of my favourite tracks and failing.

Can you talk us through how you might construct a track? How much of your material is sample based and how much is original?

Pretty much all the music released as Earth Trax or the downtempo works under my real name is original, except for some tiny bits here and there. Ptaki – another project I was in with Jaromir Kaminski – was all sample-based, built from hundreds of samples ripped from mostly old Eastern European records.

As well as releasing music under many different aliases, you also frequently collaborate with friend and fellow producer Newborn Jr. How does your approach differ when you’re together, if at all?

We usually record long live jams, edit them down and re-arrange into actual tracks. We’re locking ourselves in the studio with a lot of gear and recording hours of music. The process is slightly slower and I work in the box a lot when recording solo.

Are there any particular rituals you go through before you head into the studio? Do you come in with a destination in mind before starting a jam?

I kind of do that with my ambient music, I test ideas when travelling around Poland. I don’t really have any particular rituals, but I try to create this gloomy nostalgia in my tracks and make them sort of hazy but very direct at the same time.

Are there any producers or artists who have inspired your productions?

I think I kind of reached this point where I’m just referencing some tiny bits I got saturated with over the years. It’s hard to pin point any particular producers, but there’s minimal music of course; European ambient techno and chill out scene, nods to cut and paste culture, breakbeat stuff and synth pop. I like music that’s both sad and happy.

What kind of stuff do you reach for in your DJ sets? Name three records that are firmly in your bag at the moment?

Let’s see…

‘Unreal’ by L’Age Synthetique played at 33 rpm.

‘Damascus Danse’ by Bad Behaviour bought at Yam Records when I was last in London, played at 33 rpm as well.

‘From All Sides’ by Profligate bought after hearing it in Avalon Emerson’s set. I think she mixed it with Leonard Cohen!

As well as producing together, you also DJ with Newborn Jr. Could you tell us a bit about that dynamic? Do your sets together differ a lot from the sets you play on your own?

Funny thing is that we don’t really DJ together that often, so it’s always an interesting journey for both of us. We test each other a lot.

Release wise, we’ve heard talk of new material on the way. Could you tell us a bit about what’s coming up?

EPs for Shall Not Fade and Dopeness Galore should be out pretty soon, both with Newborn Jr. I’ve got an ambient/electronic album with Poly Chain coming out on Into The Light before summer. There’s Baltic Beat 2 scheduled for autumn, another downtempo record for Emotional Response, a sample-based album in the vein of Ptaki – recorded under yet another alias – Pejzaż – and a couple of other projects.

We put this question to Tamten in his recent Self-Portrait interview and he had a lot of positive things to say about the scene in Warsaw, and across Poland. So the same to you, is there anyone – parties, DJs, producers, venues – doing good things for the scene locally?

There are plenty of interesting artists and parties, especially those DIY ones. I’m really enjoying Private Press of course (Adam Newborn Jr. and Janek), RRRKRTA and his Brutaz label, Olivia and Leona AKA DJ Charlie from Cracow, FOQL, Dunno parties and Lutto Lento’s DJ sets, Poly Chain live, Antonina Nowacka, Dextre or Ever Moving’s tracks. I’m also liking the minimal music scene; Hubert Zemler, Waclaw Zimpel, Kuba Kapsa.

This mix is comprised of 100% original Earth Trax material. Could you tell us a bit about it? Any tracks that are particularly special to you?

Uhm, nothing interesting to say about it I’m afraid. Some unreleased, some solo tracks, some with Adam – Newborn Jr. and one with Poly Chain.

Earth Trax and Newborn Jr. will play their first ever UK B2B for After The Jump, alongside fellow Polish artists Tamten and Aheloy!, on 31st March at The Waiting Room in London.

Earth Trax & Newborn Jr. – Untitled [Unreleased] Earth Trax – Untitled [Unreleased] Earth Trax & Newborn Jr. – Untitled [Unreleased] Earth Trax – Untitled [Unreleased] Earth Trax – Untitled [Unreleased] Earth Trax – Exit [Lost Palms] Earth Trax – Where There’s a Will, There’s a Way [Forthcoming Dopeness Galore] Earth Trax & Newborn Jr. – If You (Club Mix) (feat. Annjet) [Forthcoming Shall Not Fade] Earth Trax – Untitled [Unreleased] Earth Trax & Newborn Jr. – Untitled [Unreleased] Bartosz Kruczyński & Poly Chain – Untitled [Forthcoming Into The Light]

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