"When my own stuff is at a place that I can let go off then my perception starts to shift and it is this wonderful thing: suddenly I feel the joy of listening again and I am deeply moved and amazed by the beauty and art instead of scanning the structures for the mechanics"
Gajek creates music that works in all settings and transcends genres. We had a chance to talk to him, so enjoy your reading and check out his latest releases. Read our interview below to find out more about Gajek’s wide-spanning influences, creative environment and studio methods.
Hey! Where can we find you right now? How did you start off your day? I'm in my home in Berlin right now. I started my day with some green tea and a sunbath on the balcony. Currently I am considering making some coffee as well. Its this kind of world now. You know how it is. How did you first get into electronic music? Was it your first real musical love or were you a keen listener of all sounds when you were younger? I was and still am a keen listener of all sounds. But I have loved electronic music for a long time. I first encountered it when I was about 9: A friend of my father who was an artist gave me a cassette tape that had a couple of Underworld tracks on the A-side and some Gabber on the B-side. I remember that I kept this cassette a secret because the music felt so forbidden that I feared it might be taken away from me at any given moment. Especially the Gabber sounded dangerous and seductive and it had been my experience that things that were enticing in this way - like movies with aliens, which I was very fascinated by - tended to be age restricted. Listening to the Gabber I estimated that this tape was probably meant for people who were 36 and older. Even 18 seemed too young for the way the music made me feel. I still have the cassette. It has a lovely DIY design made with stickers. There is something about hardcore music and children that somehow makes perfect sense: the directness and intensity, the way it´s so hyper, brutal and innocent. I don’t know. What I do know is that a lot of parents had a hard time in the early 90s. How did you decide to dedicate to producing? When I started I wasn’t familiar with the word producing. I didn’t even know the difference between a synthesizer and a mixer. I just wanted to make music. Because I loved music and because I was a teenager and bored out of my mind. I played in school bands but most of them didn’t last longer than one evening because we would get into fights. I started scratching with a record player at some point. When a friend gave me Reason it suddenly felt like the right thing for me. I had fun with it. I remember using the pitch function a lot. I really started making electronic music because I was curious about how its done. It was difficult to get information about producing (these were the early days of the internet) and it all sounded like pure magic to me. Later I started working with logic and had some hardware as well. And then I guess I just didn’t stop.
What does your studio look like? And what type of hardware/software do you like to work with? My studio at this time of my process is really a blank space. Most of my equipment I have stored away in boxes, except for a mic and a Casio midi guitar which I use to get some movement into to the digital grid of the production and which I also use for performing live. I produce the music on my computer using Ableton, Reaktor and Max. What can you tell us about “Vitamin D”? What did you want to transmit? What inspired you? Vitamin D is really an autobiographic record. Its like a tribute to the way I grew up in East Germany around the time the wall came down. I was born in a country that doesn’t exist anymore, raised by people who had spent a big portion of their lives in a different political system and also, really, in a different culture than the one that was beamed into our lives in the 1990s. I guess my record is about the fact that the Gabber I listened to as a child was blasted into my room through speakers that my grandfather had built from spare parts he secretly collected in his job as a technician. We had a lot of records, because my father is a huge music fan. Records were as precious as gold for him, for his whole identity. Maybe because he had not been able to chose a profession when he grew up he somehow defined himself through this - all these sounds. So when I grew up I somehow listened to the archived history of western popular music using technology that itself came from different side of this history, the history of my family, of their troubles and dreams and joy. It just kind of struck me somehow when I listened to Krautrock especially as this German thing, that what it stood for is really only one side of the path that led us to where we are now (which is a shitshow, to be sure). And that the way that this music came to me was itself a story that had not really been told all that often. And I think that there is value in that story because it is a story of change: there is nothing inevitable about the way things are. There are ruptures and breaks and things are messy. Like I said: the country I was born in doesn’t exist any more. What can you tell us about the track 'The Shape Of Pipes To Come'? What is your production criteria? The Shape of Pipes to Come was one of the first tracks I worked on for the album. It wasn’t supposed to have vocals on it, actually none of the tracks were meant to have vocals on them. I sent the finished instrumental to my friend Paul Barsch who I collaborate with on the artwork and videos and he was like: you know what would be cool with that? Blues vocals. I was shocked because he was right. That was a great idea. Two years later here we are. For my production criteria: I want the music to move in a way you wouldn’t expect. I like to play with time and rhythm in a way that is catchy but still has elements that feel like an improvisation. Soundwise I like to keep most of the elements very clean so that you can get a clear picture of the weirdness.
How did you want to pose the video clip? I suppose the video is like something that you would find in a leaden box in the basement of a abandoned house, together with a faded photograph and some coins in a currency no-one remembers. The plot twist being, of course, that it is actually from the future. What kind of music do you listen to at home and have there been any go-to albums or producers helping you manage the crisis with their music? Not really. Contemporary music kind of stresses me out whenever I am deep into production myself because I cannot stop listening to everything with hyper-sensitive and analytical ears. When my own stuff is at a place that I can let go off then my perception starts to shift and it is this wonderful thing: suddenly I feel the joy of listening again and I am deeply moved and amazed by the beauty and art instead of scanning the structures for the mechanics. What are you most looking forward to doing when the corona pandemic is over? I really don´t know. I’m very confused by the slow shift back to normal that is happening in Germany right now. There are places in Berlin where the crisis is almost invisible. Then you check out the news from other countries and it seems almost apocalyptic. So I’m cautious. Isolation also lends itself to the kind of lifestyle I have when I make a lot of music. Now that I am done with my last couple of bigger projects I guess I have to invent a new way of life. It would be great if at some point in the future going swimming would be an option again. I miss being in the water. What makes you happy? Watching X-Files in bed after a rough night out. Spending time with my friends and then spending time alone afterwards. Bibim-Bap. What projects are you working on at the moment? I’m still recovering from recent projects. I’m working on a nap.