Retrofit Podcast # 8: SLG

Next up on our Retrofit podcast is SLG, one of those rare polish producers who managed to get their names known outside the polish borders. His production career started back in 2005 with releases on Trapez with further tracks & remixes on labels such as SUOL, Pets Recordings & Cynosure. He’s latest imprint on Studio Barnhus is one of his best yet…

Marysia caught up with SLG to talk past, present & future plans.

Thanks so much for the podcast ! I’m super happy we can have a little chat too as even that we’ve known each other for quite a few years, I don’t know that much about the SLG history.

When you asked me to record a podcast for Retrofit I was trying to have some concept behind the mix. I’m quite a gear geek and in terms of musical gear, retrofitting is modifying vintage analog synths to equip them with MIDI features etc. so I decided to make an analogue-sounding mix based solely on music created on all those vintage drum machines & synthesizers. There are some 20 year old tracks and some fresh ones, somehow there’s lot of early 90’s Warp records stuff, but it was a huge influence for me back in the days.

You’re from Lodz, Polish town which I always admired, but still haven’t had a chance to visit! It’s well know that David Lynch is a great fan of this city & did one of his movies there. You’ve lived there all your life, what is so magic about the place?

It’s quite like polish Detroit. It used to be industrial town, but most of this old factories are closed now. Maybe it’s not as neglected as Detroit, but there’s mainly concrete and it’s not too pretty.

Probably that’s why some people, including David Lynch are really fond of this “dark” atmosphere, but I’m not. I’m bored of it. To be honest I don’t think there’s anything magic in this place. The main reason that keeps me there is that I have my own apartment so the living costs are really cheap. And It’s just in the centre of Poland, close to Warsaw, so it’s not that bad logistically when I’m traveling. But I’m slowly planning to move out.

Are you a fan of Lynch yourself?

I do like some of his movies but unfortunately that movie he partially shot in my hometown – “Inland Empire” is not his best one. I was a bit disappointed ( or call it bored ) when I went to cinema to see it.

What about the music scene there?

It sucks big time, lol.

Do you have any music background?

Not at all, but I was interested in music since I was a kid. I started playing guitar in my very early teens, but then I got more & more interested in electronic stuff. I think I was quite a promising guitar player, but unfortunately I can’t say that about my keyboard skills, which are, to put it mildly really basic. But for sure, knowing how to play and instrument and knowing basics about notes & harmony helps me to compose music.

You’re first release was back in 2005 on a small label from Dusseldorf. How this cooperation come about?

Accidentally. I played on a party together with Oliver Hacke – you remember him? He did an LP on Traum back in the days and some other nice records. He asked me to send him some tracks and gave them to his mate Daniel, who runned the label. I got an e-mail asking me to release some stuff. It was a really small underground label, but this record was quite successful it sold out and got repressed. I still think it’s one of the best records I made. Production wise I don’t like the sound of it and I’d do it much better now, but when it comes to some musical content and some emotions I wanted to express in music.

… and shortly after you started your work on Trapez, which was a big thing, wasn’t it? Tell us more about it.

Yeah, I sent them some of my straighter, percussive, technoid tracks and got signed. Those records were quite successful, especially “Caffeine” was my biggest one. I started regularly touring overseas and making a living out of music. This was the time when “Minimal” was starting to be big. Artists like Daniel Bell or Robert Hood were indeed my huge influence, but I never really gave a fuck about my music being “minimal”. For me it was about being funky not minimal. I always loved melodies and I didn’t really reduce my arrangements – I rather preferred to make my tracks a bit non-linear and complicated than loopy, hypnotic and reduced. The stuff I released on other labels was always much more melodic, but the records on Trapez were most successful so some people started to pigeonhole me as a minimal producer, but I never felt like, cause my music was always about the funk and had this strong housey groove too. And it was much more varied than the stuff that got released on Trapez. And on the other hand “minimal” got big and it meant that that the scene started to be overloaded with all this really stupid, cheesy crap classified as “minimal” so I really didn’t wanted to be a part of it anymore. I needed to reinvent my sound and go back to the basics.

You toured China, Japan & many countries in Europe. How would you compare or where do you see polish scene in comparison to the places you visited? Which of the places made the biggest impression on you?

It won’t be original but the most impressive place I’ve ever been was Tokyo. You know, it was one of the places I really wanted to see, it’s so big and so different, feels a bit unreal, like being in a sci-fi movie, haha. When I got booked there for the first time I was excited like a little kid! Japanese people are so nice and hospitable, and they really love electronic music and go crazy on parties, especially in Tokyo.

What’s next on SLG agenda release-wise?

First of all there’s my new EP for Studio Barnhus, a swedish label run by Axel Boman, Kornel Kovacs and Petter Nordkvist coming in early october.

It’s real maxi single – a 5 tracker, and there are 3 solo tracks and 2 collabs with my good friends – Catz ‘n Dogz that need no introduction, and DJ Mo aka Motyl – my good mate and one of my favorite DJ’s out there. I am always critical to my own work but I believe it’s one of the best records I ever made and I’m really happy to put it out on Studio Barnhus cause i really like their attitude – playful and quirky, but with soul. and so is the record. Some of those tracks are not so new, but when i got to know Axel Boman personally, I felt I should show him the tracks and then there’s rest of the story… It was really nice to work with the Barnhus crew and I’ll be doing a little swedish tour shortly so I’m really looking forward ’cause it sounds like lot of fun!

Another track I did together with Catz ‘n Dogz some time ago will be featured on big 10 Years Watergate Compilation. The title “Loud Sandra” sounds like some porn, but refers to this cheesy german pop singer from the 80’s you remember her? It was a temporary name of our project, hence the oldschool style cut-up vocal snippets, and in the end we left it as it was.

And finally, I did an exclusive edit of an unreleased Chez Damier’s remix of Till Von Sein for Catz ‘n Dogz “Body Language” mix CD on Get Physical. Voitek and Greg wanted to have a lot of exclusive tracks and edits on their mix CD so they asked me to do it. Basically I just sampled a 4 bar loop form the original and built a completely different track around this sample.

And now I’m slowly starting to work on my first LP, scheduled for next year. I don’t want to unveil too much for now, but I want to make an interesting record and showcase different sides of my musical horizons on the record so It’s not going to be a strictly four to the floor record.

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