As the world is still in a pandemic and the European cultural landscape is surrounded by a fog of the unknown, we got in touch with Krakow-based artist Chino, to talk about his point of view on the current situation in his hometown but mostly about his new EP ‘Autostrada’ on Uncanny Vally and what inspired him. In a nice conversation did we got to know more about the Unsound resident, former We Are Radar Member, 1/2 of @radiation30376, a new project with fellow artist Olivia and Chinos journey as a producer, that has shaped his sound and identity through personal routines, own experiences, and the chosen place to be, Krakow.
How is Poland doing right now politically and socially and how can we imagine it being a musician and culture-driving person there?
It’s a very hard topic right now. And very wide to be honest.
I would say that pandemic is a terrible moment to have such an (incompetent) government as we do. It’s an extreme populist group of people that just don’t care about anything instead of their own position. Even when everyone knows that economically the worst time is ahead and our budget is in a very shit situation, they are not ashamed of stealing incredible amounts of public money. But the worst thing is something much deeper — they were trying to avoid responsibility of their (idiotic) decisions by redirecting public attention to some other problems. So they opened the pandora box with the abortion laws which were already super strict in Poland. I think they just didn’t expect so much anger from society. For over a month there have been huge protests every day. People are incredibly mad. This problem is also connected with the influence of the Catholic Church in Polish politics. It became a political superpower in the past few decades. I think it doesn’t have anything in common with religion anymore. It’s all about money, control, and power. Like it always was in the Catholic Church, but before they were trying to hide that fact. Recently it became some kind of extreme pathology. Trust in the Catholic Church has been also that have rocked Poland in recent years*. It makes people so angry that they started to protest under churches and accuse priests of all their sins.
On the other hand, it’s really great to see how many people — especially young people are involved and supporting the protests started by Strajk Kobiet — a polish female rights organisation. I never saw so many people, buildings, private properties and institutions showing solidarity by exposing the symbols or slogans of a social movement (In this case red thunder) since Solidarność. And the abortion laws problem is one of thousands. People are blocked and left just like they are without any support. Tourism industry, farmers, gastronomy, and obviously artists.
The support offered by the state is just ridiculously low compared to what people can get f. ex. in Germany. It’s not even an equivalent of a month’s salary. And usually you don’t just get the support — You have to prepare some exclusive material, video or sth to publish on the internet. And it’s not rare that you will lose your property rights to the work you did. In my opinion, it’s a robbery, not a support.
We want to get you know a bit better and I would like to ask: when you write on your bio ‘keeping hi-tech dreams and lo-fi reality’ what do you describe here and in which relation does it stand with your work in general, knowing you do graphic work and musical works?
Yeah, some time ago I wrote: keeping balance between hi-tech dreams and lo-tech reality. It’s taken from titles of Mike Banks tracks. I had the pleasure to spend 2 weeks with him during RBMA in Berlin. He’s definitely one of the most noble people on the scene I have ever met. That’s not only because of what he did, but also what his life attitude is, the way he treats people and how he perceives the music business. One day I had a talk with him about my current life and work situation — music is not the only thing I’m doing in my life — sometimes I’d like to get rid of my daily job and just focus on the music. He said that actually having a daily job is the best thing you can do if you want to stay in a healthy relationship with your creativity. Otherwise, you’ll lose your independence and become a slave of your music career and probably lose the spark — and don’t find it attractive at some point. So for me, the phrase is about the relation between being a music maker, the dreamer, staying in touch with real-life, daily problems, and not losing a sense of being honest in what I’m doing.
Tell us about the relationship with Uncanny Valley and how the release came about? Who was involved in it and which corners of yourself have you discovered by producing it? You also mention that you always drive long hours to Dresden with your car, which is cool. I love long drives too, I use my car to go to Berlin and get to listen to a lot of music and especially podcasts. It’s like therapy with a lot of ideas crossing my mind.
We’ve been friends with the Uncanny Valley crew for a long time. I met Carl and Conrad when they came to play at Rozrywki Trzy club in Kraków. Then I met the rest of the crew when I played at Altes Wettbüro in Dresden. Since then we’ve been seeing each other regularly a few times a year. There is a strong Polish-German connection between Saxony and Kraków. We have many friends in Dresden, Leipzig and Görlitz. Also Nachtdigital was a traditional every-year point on my summer map. And vice versa. Lot’s of our german friends come to Unsound every year. I also think that the connection between our regions is so easy because of the A4 highway, which actually Autostrada is about. As you said — I really enjoy driving this road. It’s always like in a road movie, especially when I travel with a group of friends. It’s so much fun and time for nice talks, listening to music, stopping for food and so on.
ALWERNIA which is heavily inspired by dark sci-fi movies. If Tarkowski met a bunch of 24-Hour-Party-Robots, this could be the soundtrack.) That’s a crazy one… what do you imagine they would do at a club in a Tarkowski movie, dancing to your music?
I didn’t meet that many robots in my life to be honest. The only one I know is my vacuum cleaner which is mostly turning around and declaring that he’s doing something serious. On the other hand, as I know, what people do at 24-hour parties in case of robot activity would probably be something like experimenting with hacking their firmwares or at least trying to maximise the speed of their normal action. In sync with music of course. But if it would be in Tarkovsky’s movie, probably someone would forget to record it.
What is the difference of this release to the previous releases you have done?
I think this one is much more diverse. The previous ones were more focused on one genre or idea. This one is much wider in terms of temperatures, inspirations, and situations the music could fit in my opinion. It was also recorded in a much wider range of time (2015-2020). Most of my releases are sort of reports of more or less one year of what I’m playing in my live sets. This one is a combination of fascinations from many different eras, but for me, it tells a common story.
Do you take your inspiration from the current state of mind and how would you describe your evolution of the past releases you have made?
Autostrada is mostly based on one day sessions. Recently I just did the mixing part and added some final elements/overdubs. So it’s definitely based on my state of mind from the first sessions’ time. That approach was about to catch the vibe of the day. Next release will be much different in approach I think. Now I’m more into sound design, composition and some production tricks, so usually tracks are results of many days’ work and different states of mind. I’m also tweaking the sounds more patiently now to get something more atypical, which just reminds some classic sounds but it’s more complex and processed.
Playing every week, releasing music, taking part in the global scene, how was it to stop all of a sudden? Where does your energy come from to keep going and how does it look in your circle of friends? From what I have been reading you are quite a close group and all very connected to each other and electronic music. Do you keep each other busy and inspired?
At the first moment, the lockdown was sort of a relief. Nice break from a rushed way of living. I had more time to spend at home with my lovely wife and dog, enjoy time in the studio, explore some stuff I never had time for and test some cooking recipes I always wanted to check. But after a month it was like a nightmare, especially that the restrictions were getting more strict. Luckily during summer it was a bit easier and even some bars or open-air places were open again, so it was possible to play again for a couple of weeks. The first gig after the 1st lockdown was something really special. Like the first gig in my life. So much fun and pure joy. And you could feel that energy from the people as well. That day we played live with my buddy biøs and at the moment that party started it also started raining like crazy, but people didn’t care about it at all. They were dancing in puddles to the ankles. We also had a small festival called Nurt here in the suburbs of Krakow with just local artists and a limited number of people. Great time and vibe. So the summertime allowed me to recharge my batteries in terms of my joy and people-dosing. Unfortunately, the bad times come again and I have no idea when it will end. But I’m thinking about the time when everything will come to the normal rhythm all the time and I guess that’s where my current energy comes from.
Reading about Krakow and Poland’s scene and the difficulties to make parties pre-pandemic (who knows know about post-pandemic?) happen and sustain the platforms to create music and culture, how was it, how is it now and how do you think it will be?
I had a feeling that everything here was slowly going in the right direction before the pandemic started. Of course some nice spots were closing but others were opening which always gave some new and fresh kind of feeling to the scene. Also 2020 seemed to be a really great year in terms of my dates. We just started a new project called Radiation 30376 with Olivia. We had a couple of great gigs scheduled for the beginning of the year. There was Berghain, Drift Festival, De School, so the best start for a new project that you could imagine. All of those bookings are postponed, but f.ex. De School is permanently closed now. So it’s really hard for me to imagine how it will be after the pandemic. How long will it last? How many of the clubs will survive that hard time? Especially here in Poland. I didn’t hear that any club was bankrupt till now and I hope none of them will be. How many festivals are bankrupt because they had to cancel the 2020 edition? I’m sure that the scene will survive but definitely not in the same shape. It will take some time to rebuild everything we had before.
Poland maintains a unique character and aesthetics in Europe. If you mind me asking, how are the party nights there? Would love to know dance floors in Krakow, maybe you feel comfortable to share a good memory 🙂
It’s really nice to hear that you perceive it like this. I’m really happy to be a part of this scene. I think because it’s relatively small compared to some other western european countries’ scenes, we all know and treat each other with a lot of respect. Also each city has its own unique character. I feel that I found the right place for myself here in Kraków. The city is quite small but also busy enough and full of people from different parts of the world that it’s never boring for me. I also have a feeling that all post-soviet countries have a very unique character. Poland, Ukraine, Latvia, Serbia, Czech Republic, Belarus, Romania are the places that I was lucky to play in and I have great memories only. Maybe because of the fact that everything came to us relatively late, there is still a lot of excitement and joy in terms of perceiving the music. The audience is also always really great and wild here. Big part of the scene is also the Unsound Festival. It’s always a very unique week.
There are so many great acts and people coming to Kraków, so even if the city is small you have a feeling that there is more happening here than wherever in the world.
Once a guy from Australia — Adrian Mancuso came for a week of Unsound. He felt so comfy here, that he decided to stay a bit longer. In the end he stayed for a couple of years and became a very important part of the scene. Then he met Ola from Kraków and they decided to go to Australia, but I have a feeling that they will come back again here — like a boomerang. The only thing that he didn’t like about Kraków was the incredibly cold winter time, but recently winters are much warmer here. So Mancuski, if you read it — now you can wear your PAM surfer hat and look great the whole year!
I saw that at We Are Radar you had some Latins NGLY, Lokier and also released on the same Record as Retrograde Youth. I love them all three to be honest, Retrograde played at CIRCA and I remember Lokier was once at Yu Yu in Mexico City, when Interstellar Funk played. NGLY is quite known because of the productions for L.I.E.S. Do you guys know each other or what is the relation?
Yeah. Great people. NGLY and Lokier played at our We Are Radar nights here in Poland. Esteban was here twice. I really like his music and live sets and it’s also inspiring to see how it changes over time. I also noticed that even if he’s known for his dark and wavish L.I.E.S. releases, now he’s trying to smuggle some more futuristic elements into his works. That’s something I’m also really into right now. Retrograde Youth played at DT Camp last year and we’ve been going back to the airport in a car together, so we had a chance to talk for a while. He’s a really nice guy and also a super talented producer. Since then we’re in contact. We also invited him to We Are Radar in Kraków last year, but unfortunately, the pandemic started, so we’ll have to find another date when clubs will be open again. So yeah — the Latin American people I’ve met are really great and sometimes I really regret that they live so far.
What are the topics and ideas you plan to touch base on within your music productions anytime soon or even at the moment? New machines, new sounds you want to try out, people you want to work with?
I just got into the eurorack synths zone, so it’s the most burning issue at the moment. I’m spending long hours on checking what’s possible and how to manage the new setup.
I was trying to not get in the trap as long as it was possible, because I knew it’s a never ending story, but now I’m really happy that finally I got trapped.
Some of the modules are super inspiring and completely changing the way of writing music.
I also got into making some visuals for the music during a pandemic. It’s also a lot of fun. I just finished the video for Autostrada.
I’m slowly thinking about some A/V show. It will probably take some time to organise it in a way that I’ll be able to focus on both aspects of the show. It would be easier to have 2 pairs of hands for this one.
I like to ask locals always about a nice recipe and food recommendation. What would you recommend me to cook, now that I have so much time cooking and getting myself cozy in the winter? Maybe a winter dish from Krakow?
I can share one of my secret breakfast weapons and personal inventions at the same time. It’s based on a local kind of bagel/pretzel called “obwarzanek” and it’s typical for Kraków. I would say that it is something in between bagel and pretzel — the central hole is much bigger than in a bagel. Because I’m also a psychofan of eggs, you’ll need 2 of them.
So you have to melt something like a soup spoon of butter (maybe a bit more 😉 ) on a pan. Then you cut the bagel across to have the same size and thickness circles. Put it in the butter (flat side to the pan). Then you knock the eggs inside the holes of the bagel. You have to fry it at quite a low temperature because otherwise the roll might be burned. It’s cool to put some slices of parmesan cheese on top of the yolk, but it’s also fine without it. To make it faster you can cover it with something like food-grade aluminum foil. It’s really good with chive and black seeds. You can do it also with one egg and put some bacon, cheese, and veggies between the slices of bagel and eat as a sandwich. The magic happens when the yolk flows during the first bite 🙂