Julek Ploski: ‘The more engaging the music, the safer I felt.’

When you’re a DJ Hero expert you have to go on and do something more. you live too close to Tesco so you make an album devoted to it, you move to Warsaw, you play some gigs, you play some more gigs (one of them at Unsound), you release your second album, śpie, on Gin&Platonic and there’s a lot of other stuff coming up that you will release someday. you work on your third LP for Orange Milk Records, you do kickboxing bum bum and finally fall asleep and finally wake up and finally fall asleep and do kickboxing bum bum.

We had a chat – literally, over Messenger – one evening ahead of his performance at Unsound Festival on 15 Oct.

How are you? Preparing for Unsound?  

I’m probably more overworked than ever in my life. I’m preparing for Unsound, finishing my third LP, doing some graphic design gigs, a day job, studying. It’s really hard and I’m not getting enough sleep, but there’s just a few more days of this and then I’ll be free. So I’m also very, very excited about the things to come. Maybe more excited than ever. Even during this interview, I’m trying to finish this new track haha. 

Do you think this constantly being busy is some typical part of these times?

Totally.

Why do you think it’s like that and what are the ways to counter it?

Almost all of my friends (especially art friends) are always doing something and always in the middle of some serious project. We’re always too poor and always not paid enough and very often treated shittily as contract workers. I don’t have any idea how to counter it. I would love to have one, because maybe then I wouldn’t have to work so much.

You have a “day job” in addition to your music I guess?

Yes, but not for long! I’m doing graphic design, editing and animations for motivational coaches BUT I’m finally quitting in a few days from now.

And then you’ll focus on music full time?

I’ll try to make a living from making music, which has been my biggest dream ever. The risk is really high, but I’m finally willing to take it. I can’t wait to be poor because of being paid shittily for my music. It’s way better than being paid shittily for work for motivational coaches!

I’m also asking because your first album was called Tesco.

Oh yes, I remember that album!

Was this in some way related to this topic, capitalism etc?

Naah. I named the album this way because I was living next to the biggest Tesco in the city. It was more of a personal than a social issue thing.

But your albums are conceptual, no? Related to a certain topic or issue, like śpie or Human Sapiens. śpie was about sleep, while Human Sapiens addressed homophobia in Poland.

Yes! śpie was about the time when I had non-stop, almost daily sleep paralysis and Human Sapiens is about trying to feel like a real human in a country which is erasing LGBT+ people.

So in a way, for you music is a channel for expressing personal issues, as well as comments on society at large?

It’s really hard for me to directly address some social issues through my art. I think words are a better tool for that, at least in my case. My music is always about me and it’s always personal. For example, Human Sapiens Ep was for sure about homophobia in Poland, but it was only a side effect.

In the liner notes to Human Sapiens, the term “self-therapy” is mentioned

The album was created for me to cope with the feeling of rejection and to find a safe space. 

What sort of rejection?

Social rejection, I guess. It was not easy for me to grow up in a smaller Polish town, and the constant fear of being harmed on the street because of the way you walk, dress, smile etc. unfortunately stayed with me. That’s why I wanted to make some really escapist, fast, colourful, sharp beats. The more engaging the music, the safer I felt.

Do you feel being part of a more global (music) movement can help alleviate these local threats? Is there a correlation?

I’m not sure if I feel like a part of a movement and I’m not sure if it can really help. For me, the biggest help was always my wonderful friends. Talking with them and hugging them are the most precious things I have. The second best thing is therapy, haha

What is your relationship to fastness in music?

I love dancing to very fast music, but lately it’s getting harder and harder for me to do this at home.

Dancing at home?

I mean, it’s harder for me to enjoy this kind of music at home

I can imagine   What music have you been listening to at home lately?

Well, it’s really hard for me to listen to hyperpop and I’ve almost completely stopped following that scene. I’m listening mostly to movie soundtracks, especially Johnny Greenwood and Jon Brion. I’m listening to “The White Lotus” soundtrack on repeat, but haven’t watched the show yet. That’s why on my third LP I’m trying to connect slow, epic, orchestral melodies with pretty fast, Eurodance synths.

You also run glamour.label. Can you talk about the label?

We’re trying to keep glamour as fluid as we can. We’ve released beautiful wobbly harpsichord tunes, post-jazz, bubblegum stock music, hyperpop,  abstract, dystopian electronics, gabber and colourful, singeli-inspired tracks. 

Do you feel in general that these days music genres are obsolete, unimportant? That it’s a hybrid of styles and approaches?

Sure, nowadays every field of art works that way. Everything, or almost everything, is based on references. For example, we’re now working simultaneously on a reggaeton release, a doom metal release and a post-internet sound collage release.

What do you think is the thing that brings all these together on your label?

There’s just too much good music in this world to focus on one field / genre. Our releases are of course tied together somehow by our aesthetic, but we’re trying to limit ourselves as rarely as we can.

And what about your references?

Lately, it’s mostly movie soundtracks. I love big instruments, big drums, big choirs and big emotions. Okay, movie soundtracks are not all about big things, but this is the aspect that is most inspiring for me. Lately, it’s mostly been movie soundtracks, especially horror soundtracks! I love music from “The Omen” and “The Beyond” soundtrack might be my favourite soundtrack of all time. I’m trying to connect these influences with some Euro tunes. I love Scooter, Basshunter, Gigi d’Agostino and also some Polish classics like Kalwi & Remi or Stachursky.

Cool! And what are your dreams?

Making a living from music would be the best thing in the whole world. I just want to make music all day and not die of hunger. 

Interview by Lucia Udvardyova

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