For our feature interview of the week we catch up with Pawel Tux aka Tuxedo. The Polish producer created the Electronic Tree imprint in 2012 and has been a producer and club DJ for nearly ten years. Now over two years into its journey Electronic Tree is home to over 100 artists and close to 100 releases. I’ve always thought the label was not only one of the progressive house underground’s most consistent but also most interesting. Pawel has created a lot of unique projects on Electronic Tree; many of which you wouldn’t expect. It’s a testament to his unique vision and I’m curious to see where the label goes in the future. Pawel has a brand new remix of Distant Fragment’s ‘Your Finest Desire’ which is out now on Round Triangle. I had a chance to catch up with the Polish producer just prior to the release. A transcription of the interview is below and I hope you enjoy it.
1. Hi Pawel, thanks so much for joining us here. Let’s give the people some sort of background info on you so we’ll start with some basic stuff. Where are you based and how long have you been DJing and producing?
Tuxedo: My pleasure Mitch, thanks for having me. I live my whole life in Gdansk, one of the most beautiful and interesting from historical point of view cities in Poland. Been into music since my early childhood as my mother plays violin on professional level, touring the world with her chamber orchestra for more than 30 years now. My father has a master degree as an acoustic engineer and most of my family have or had something in common with music so it was pretty natural for me to get involved, however I did not attend any music school. I’ve been just learning to play guitar and piano as a teen on my side activities.
2. How did you first discover electronic music? Where do your musical roots lie and when did you know you wanted to pursue electronic music seriously?
Tuxedo: I’ve been a musical freak since I remember, listening to a lot of pop stuff, collecting magazines and watching MTV (at times it was a true music television). I feel like I knew bands like The Prodigy, Chemical Brothers or Faithless since forever but according to Discogs chronology it surely started in the middle of primary school and became more intensified at the age of 15.
School radio was a great opportunity for me and my friend to test out some various electronic stuff on breaks between lessons. One day he brought a track and said it was done by himself. I’ve been curious on how it’s possible to make something like this for an ordinary guy without wider musical background. Next day he introduced me to one of the first versions of Fruity Loops Studio (demo of course, with no “Save” option). I’ve been impressed how easily it’s possible to put ideas to life with low technical knowledge about sound engineering. After months of experimenting with sounds and hard tries to get full version of FL, we both gone separate ways, high school ended and there was time to focus on more “down to earth” issues like studies and work. Situation changed in 2004. While I was spending holiday in the UK, I met a guy related to d’nb scene in London who heard some of my amateur tunes, liked them and surprisingly wanted to book me as a dj for the chill-out stage at his next party. Problem was I knew nothing about using dj gear so had to refuse but started thinking about buying my first decks after I got back to Poland. Motivation increased even more when my good friend became resident dj in one of the most popular clubs in my hometown. In few months I bought first pair of decks (not 1210’s, which I regret shortly after), basic mixer and first bunch of vinyls. Short warm-up I played on one of saturday house parties (with 600 people average attendance every week) was my first gig and a stressful but memorable experience. After few busy years of active dj’ing in some of the best and worst clubs in Poland I felt it’s time to try myself again as a producer in 2009. My first ever record contracts signed with Xaric’s Atlant Digital, Nicolas Coronel’s Mestiza Records and Ogi’s Balkan Connection were the start of a new period.
3. What is the electronic music scene like in Poland? Are there clubs you can go to hear the music you love and do you get a chance to DJ very often in your home country?
Tuxedo: Scene in Poland seems to be in good condition at the moment but it doesn’t mean it couldn’t be any better or that few years ago was much worse. There are always people with passion, ideas and willingness to do something more than ordinary, especially in big agglomerations like Warsaw, Poznan, Krakow or my Tricity. Every week you can find some interesting acts performing in clubs but just a few (3-4) have the ability and potential to book top names on regular basis. Luckily I live near one of them (Sfinks, Sopot) so I shouldn’t complaint.
Few years ago we had big boom for events like Creamfields, Global Gathering etc. It’s over now and even legendary Mayday being organised in Katowice for 15 years is now musically closer to Tomorrowland than it’s rave, techno roots, that concerns most of dedicated fans.
However there are some great new projects arising from true underground and love for electronic music like Audioriver – the biggest and most important festival at the moment in Poland with huge line-up each year and over 20 000 attendance. Some other events worth attention are Unsound, Free Form, Up To Date, Nagle Nad Morzem, Silesia In Love. Our most successful worldwide act – Catz’n Dogz is also highly influential for the whole scene.
Technical progress and easy access to any kind of music through internet attracted many young people who started producing their own sounds and dj’ing, which have good and bad sides. There is a funny picture flying over the social media where dj role today is being compared to 90’s. Few more things like being also a promoter, graphic designer, web programmer, social networking master, PR manager, business negotiator and booking agent are pointed out as the necessary to become a succesful dj nowadays. After a while in this industry that picture looks less funny as it’s nothing but true. I think dj’ing as a profession is generally much less respected than before and getting larger recognition on the scene without being a producer (or promoter) these days is nearly impossible.
Regarding frequency of my own bookings it’s about 20-30 gigs a year. I’m also a resident dj in one of the clubs in Gdansk. Refering strictly to progressive scene some great promoting job is being done by Cream, I-Rec and Deepersense collective connected with CJ Art.
4. What do you do outside of electronic music? what is a regular day like for Tuxedo and what do you enjoy doing besides producing and DJing?
Tuxedo: I have engineer degree on economics and management made on Technical University of Gdansk. I’m working daily in housing industry as a property agent. It’s hard for me to split time on many things in one day and be enough effective, especially when I’m producing, so I always try to work in advance on what I need to do for living, settle obligations and than dedicate whole next day or two just for music and things related. In the meantime I love skiing, biking, playing table tennis, watching good films, walking at the sea with my beautiful fiancee and travelling to historically marked places. I’m also a fan of mixed martial arts.
5. Your Electronic Tree imprint has been running for just over two years now, what was it that made you want to start your own label? What is the vision you have for the future of the label? and has it changed from two years ago?
Tuxedo: One of the crucial moments was receiving a message from the eminent person on progressive scene in reply to my demo submission. After saying few good things about the track he refused to sign it to his label due to the fact “it’s not 100% style Hernan Cattaneo prefers in his podcasts”. Although I admire Hernan for years, that argumentation really sucked for me. Second thing was the moment I met Jason from Proton, who introduced me to their unified distribution system for labels and all the advantages of using it. Third and most important issue – my friends E.F.G., Neptun 505 and Plicherss that supports me from the beginning with their enthusiasm for making music, various thoughts and ideas. Together with many others joining us later we managed to create an excellent producers team on polish scene around Electronic Tree, with strong friendship foundations and still opened to new artists from around the world. That was my main goal at the start. Vision for the future is straight as always – ET is ought to be source of good, entertaining music without exact style barriers. A tool for promoting talented people for which making music is a way of life and not just an attempt to achieve temporary fame. At the moment we have our schedule full for the next seven months and be sure it’s all worth waiting for. Hopefully there will be more opportunities to organise label club nights in the near future.
6.Tell us a bit about your Electronic Tree show on Proton Radio, when can your fans tune in to hear it and is it a good representation of what you might play in a club setting or do you get a bit more adventurous on your radio mixes?
Tuxedo: Radio show on Proton is an integral part of Electronic Tree existence. Since the beginning we had great response to following episodes. Many of them made it to the top popular charts on the station. I also started to invite interesting guests and for some of them it was the first step to build closer relation with Proton or even have their own successful shows later (E.F.G, Cream).
My radio mixes are significantly different to what I mostly play in the clubs. I’m trying to select more floating and melodic stuff to enjoy riding a car, chilling at home or simply as a good accompaniment during the day at work, rather than playing repetitive clubby tracks. I use a lot of promos that I receive every week from various labels, it’s a great opportunity to check how they work. At the beginning of 2014 ET show was extended with one additional hour. New episodes starts every 4th tuesday at 2:00 PM EST
7. Your productions always have a great sense of atmosphere and emotion, where does your studio inspiration come from? and how does the production process work for you? How has your sound changed over the years?
Tuxedo: First question when I sit to new project is – if it have to be a straight club tune or can I give free rein to my imagination ? I love experimenting with synths, checking new sounds and solutions which often leads to unique output. Generally I’m inspire by things that makes my body move or force my brain to think. That might be orchestral music, oldschool house/progressive/garage tracks from vinyls I found once on a low shelf or modern club music I absorb in large quantity almost everyday. But still the most inspiring are parties, either when I perform myself or listen to great artists, especially when I didn’t know much about them before. The impression might be much more intense when you enter the club with completely free mind, I love it!
Regarding question on how much my sound changed during the years I think the progress is obvious in technical aspects including mix/mastering, intuition to make better build-ups and harmonies but the spirit remains the same. Many of my tunes were produced in memorable moments of my life and that emotional value is really important for me. In case of style I’m usually broken between classic deep/tech house feeling and progressive nostalgia. Seems like it won’t change in the near future. Making music is all about the right flow and a shot of creativity that can make the process very simple. Some of my best projects were finished in just one day, other time it’s hard to keep two months deadline, still being unsatisfied with an outcome. Anyway rush is always a bad advisor, I apply this rule to my label and all connected artists.
8. You’ve got an impressive discography of almost 150 releases in the last 5 years, which of your tracks or remixes are you most proud of and why?
Tuxedo: Was it really that much ? 🙂 “Medina” released on Stellar Fountain was a definitely one of those tracks. I made it just after I got back from holiday in Tunisia and realized that my grandmother passed away few days earlier. This emotionally loaded track became a bestseller for long time at the young hungarian label which developed later to one of the most interesting on progressive scene. “Groove Anathomy” released on german imprint Tanzbar was my first track in a global physical distribution. Remember the great feeling while looking at the CD in local store with my name along Valentino Kanzyani, Renato Cohen, Cosmic Cowboys and other great artists on the front cover. Third important track was the remix I made on “Love Code” by Tvardovsky. Original was on my playlist for weeks when I surprisingly received the request from Particles. Feedback and support on this one was pretty huge and opened many doors for me.
I should also mention “Pandemium” single played in 2011 by Moshic and many other great dj’s which was a big motivation and got me even more into progressive house music.
9. How did you come up with your artist alias? Is it simply an extension of your last name or do you have a fascination with Tuxedos? 🙂
Tuxedo: It has nothing to do with my real surname. Tux is just a short version of my nickname used by many of my friends. To be honest it doesn’t have any special story behind. I used it first for my strictly deep house sets when I felt in love with this genre back in 2007. It sounded bit more nobly and mature than my previous aliases and that was all I cared. Yes, I do like tuxedos : )
10. So you’ve been producing for many years, how has your studio changed in that time?
Tuxedo: At the beginning I had a basic computer set with speakers and subwoofer plus few popular VST’s and sound banks. Nowadays I work on Adam A7 monitors and the second reference pair of Sinn7 Active. I use standard 49-keys midi controller, MPD24, BCR2000, Kaoss Pad, Presonus Audiobox sound card, lot’s of VST’s and about 500GB of various samples. I’ve never been freaky about hardware studio stuff to be honest and prefered to invest money on good VST’s which never made me feel limited on creativity. However I like the classic warmth of analog gear very much and luckily have few friends near my place with fully equipped professional studios I can ask anytime for help or an invitation.
11. What does the rest of 2014 look like for you, any upcoming releases you can tell us about?
Tuxedo: I recently joined one of my fav progressive labels back in the days – Baroque with brand new track called “Roundabout” and I’m happy to see the release in Top20 Beatport chart at the moment. I’ve also signed original with Movement for their 5-anniversary compilation and another one with new label from Argentina – Seven Spirits. There are few remixes on the way as well – for greek producer Distant Fragment (to be released soon on Round Triangle and Spring Tube Limited), Katrin Souza (Box4Joy), Misha Tune and the one for Controlwerk. We’re close to celebrate 100th release at Electronic Tree and I hope to finally finish my own EP for that occasion.
12. I read that you have an impressive vinyl collection, are you still buying records today and have you ever thought about doing vinyl for Electronic Tree?
Tuxedo: Yes indeed, I’m still buying vinyl records. There are about 3000 titles in my collection at the moment. I treat each of them as some kind of a musical postcard. Vinyl record has it’s own magic, hardly compared to CD or any other physical medium. I’ve been lucky to start dj’ing at the time when pair of Technics turntables was a standard in clubs. Good to see selling stats rising again for some time and sure – I hope to see a limited pressing with Electronic Tree logo in a bit of time, definitely thinking about it.
13. I’ve noticed that you don’t have a twitter account for yourself or your label, how come?
Tuxedo: We’re all overwhelmed with informations these days and to be honest I never felt the need to use it. I believe those who are really interested knows how to find what they search for, without receiving reminders every single hour. However due to the new Facebook politics and limits on spreading infos using fan pages, it’s becoming more reasonable.
Ok now it’s time for some quick fire stuff which is generally reserved for our 12 Questions segment but for the sake of this interview lets have some fun and add it on here.
14. If you had to pick one track which solidified your love for electronic music early on what would it be?
Tuxedo: Members Of Mayday – “Sonic Empire”
15. What was your first and last DJ gig?
Tuxedo: My first gig was the short warm-up I played on a house party in Gdansk, thanks to my good friend, resident dj at that time. Last time I played two weeks ago in the nice club at the sea with guys from my old collective “One Life, Live It”.
16. What was the first and last record you purchased?
Tuxedo: First ever was the maxi-single by Roxette called “How Do You Do” back in 1992. When it comes strictly to electronic music the initial one was “We’ll Never Stop Living This Way” by Westbam. I recently bought Vincenzo’s brilliant “Wherever I Lay My Head” 2×12’ vinyl album from 2011 and Guy J’s “Dizzy Moments/Diaspora” (cool to see it on vinyl as well!)
17. What would you say is the highlight of your career thus far?
Tuxedo: Electronic Tree project and massive support worldwide for it is one big highlight for me! Also the presence in top ranking for 2013 (Best DJ/Producer category) by most prestigeous electronic music service in Poland – Muno.pl made me feel special.
18. Tell us something about yourself that might surprise people?
Tuxedo: One of my earliest tracks made for fun on FL Studio (demo version) dedicated to my beloved local football team became a big hit somewhere around 2002, having hundreds of thousand streams and downloads at times when internet connection was still quite a luxury.
Besides clubby stuff I produce also background music to short films and video reports.
19. Who are some of the best undiscovered talents in your eyes?
Tuxedo: Hard question as there are plenty of them if someone dig a bit deeper than famous labels and mixes of dj legends. I’ll focus here on some guys related to my Electronic Tree label – Darkployers, Plicherss, No Schematic, George Yammine, Alfonso Muchacho, Color Ray, Kay aka Khalil Touihri, Lost Chord, Controlwerk, Andromedha, Lorchee, Sander Frame, Aitra, D.M.P. were already supported by the biggest names so it’s a bit hard to say they are “undiscovered” but still deserves much more recognition. Bright future ahead of them for sure.
20. Which producers consistently inspire you?
Tuxedo: Robert Babicz, Funk D’Void, Vincenzo, Ten Walls, Scotty.A, Petar Dundov, Derek Howell, James Holden, Namatjira, Airwave, Sasha, Dousk, Jon Hopkins, Jimpster, Guy J, Detroit Swindle, Chymera, The Timewriter, Jamie Stevens, Karol XVII & MB Valence, Pig & Dan, Dosem and lots of others…
21. What artist or track would you love to remix? and who would you love to be remixed by?
Tuxedo: I’m always ready to accept remix proposal on any interesting and well-produced track. I’d love to be remixed by all mentioned above in 20th question.
22. Record labels are a dime a dozen these days and the majority of people feel most of them are mediocre music factories. Which ones if any standout for you?
Tuxedo: I’m a big fan of Bedrock, Dessous, Freerange, Plastic City, Darkroom Dubs, Cocoon and Anjunadeep when talking about old wolves on the market, constantly providing quality in their releases. Focusing on todays progressive scene I got lots of respect for Sergey from Spring Tube/Round Triangle labels, Jason, Renee and Marina at Particles/Proton Music, Max and Jacob at Silk Music, Movement operated by Tash, Milos at Balkan Connection, Ben – Suffused, guys at Stellar Fountain, Sudbeat and of course microCastle which is out of competition.
Starting a record label seems like a very easy task these days. It’s not that easy when it comes to dedicate huge amount of time and effort receiving very little as a reward sometimes. Being successful is not possible without true passion, knowledge, positive attitude, motivating people by your side, luck and a bit of distance.
23. What would you say is the best mix compilation of all time?
Tuxedo: James Holden – Balance 05
24. Current Favourites (you can list more than one per category if you like)
Drink: Coffee, Pepsi, Whisky
Drug: Music and my beautiful Fiancee
Animal: My white rabbit
TV Show: I like Polish edition of “Fifteen To One” but rarely watch anything on TV
Movie: “Heaven Is For Real”
Video Game: Not playing any, too addictive. Used to play a lot football managers as a teen
Album: Ioan Gamboa – Vibrations, Nigel Good – Nothing Out Here
Track / Song: Derek Howell – “On Swift Wings”
Producer / Band: Funk D’Void, Chymera, Scotty.A, Stas Drive, Mario Basanov
Record Label: Bedrock, microCastle, Freerange, Plastic City, Anjunadeep, Cocoon, Suara
Nightclub: Sfinks (Sopot) and any other with good soundsystem + demanding, open-minded crowd
DJ: John Digweed, Jimpster, Robert Babicz, Mario Basanov (Ten Walls), from those I heard live
25. If the final DJ/live set of your career was next week what would your last track be?
Tuxedo: The Timewriter – “Superschall”
Tuxedo’s remix of Distant Fragment ‘Your Finest Desire’ is out now on Round Triangle, you can purchase the release: here