All Photos by: Yonathan Baraki
“It‘s called friendship,” says Grzegorz (Greg) Demiañczuk about Catz ‘n Dogz’ next LP, “because we are really good friends and we trust each other.” He and Wojciech (Voitek) Tarañczuk have an extensive history of working on music together as Catz ‘n Dogz with three albums and several EPs marking their tenure together, but on their next LP, Greg and Voitek believe they’ve hit a new stride in their music.
The first single from the new album, New Love is “one of the best tracks” they’ve ever made according Greg, and the rest of the world concurs. New Love has received a favourable reception already in its first week out, getting playtime on BBC radio, Hype Machine and some deserving love from the music media.
Raspy strings and a stabbing synth imbibe a premature feeling of summer on “New Love,” with Catz ‘n Dogz’ distinctive upbeat melodic nature underpinning the track. It’s a sound that’s evolved considerably from the deep Tech of their first EP “Armadillo” but still retains that accessible and engaging nature that Greg and Voitek have always maintained across their records. Even in light of their last EP, “The Feelings Factory“ (Dirtybird) Catz ‘n Dogz make a bold leap in the evolution of their music, one that has paid off considerably and has all the markings of a crossover success for the Polish duo.
Greg and Voitek started DJing and making music together back in the nineties in the city of Szczecin, where their relative access to Berlin paved a way to a career in electronic music, that would lead to more than just the music. Today they count a label (Pets Recordings), a talent agency (Feast Artists) and a festival (Wooded) as some of their accomplishments, with their work as producers and DJs the central focus of their creative endeavours.
Today they travel the world as DJs between recording LPs and EPs, and split their time between their hometown, Madrid and Berlin when they are not on the road. They are still putting the finishing touches on their LP and the next single, when I call up Greg at home in Szczecin. We were supposed to talk the previous day, when he and Voitek would be in the studio together, but Voitek is at home with a sinus infection.
…it’s one of the best tracks we’ve ever did. It really shows our inspiration from the time we were growing up and it’s got a lot of positive energy in it.
“You know, the typical DJ illness,” says Greg through what I imagine is a smile on the other end of the telephone line. They are currently working on a track with a “really famous Polish rapper,” his first foray into English. He has just delivered the vocals, but Voitek’s condition has delayed the process a little. “It was a lot of fun doing this track,” says Greg and the rapper whose identity he conceals likes it too. “It’s almost done, we just need work on the arrangement and the quality.”
But New Love is out, the first single from the LP, and there’s been a bit of hype around this already. There was a social media post about this track somewhere, saying that you felt it was the best track you’ve ever done. Why do you think so?
Actually it is, it’s one of the best tracks we’ve ever did. It’s got this feeling that (we were always trying to put into our music). It really shows our inspiration from the time we were growing up and it’s got a lot of positive energy in it. We are really happy about the track and also the remixes. It looks like everybody likes it too and we didn’t expect it to be such a big hit. It’s one of the last tracks from the album that we did, and I think it contains all the inspirations we were getting when we were working on the album in Spain.
Can you tell me a bit more about the album?
The last time we made an album, we were still working out of our studio in Berlin and the project took us one and a half years, because it was so big. We put a lot of pressure on ourselves and the album came out great, but it was a lot of stress. That’s why we decided to do this album in a shorter period of time.
Voitek moved to Spain almost three years ago and he discovered an amazing place in the mountains. We rented a wooden house and found the acoustics were great.The view from the window, 1300m up in the mountains was amazing. It was perfect. We were surrounded by nature and we didn’t put any pressure on ourselves and that worked out really well.
The album is called friendship, and you and Voitek share long history together in that regard. How did you two meet and what compelled you to work together originally?
We are both from Szczecin, which has a population of about half a million people. It’s very close to the Baltic sea, but also very close to Berlin. That’s why the access to music for us was pretty easy compared to other parts of Poland. It was hard to get the music we liked in the 1980’s when we were young, but we were able to listen to the radio from Berlin and Germany.
Because we were so close to Berlin a lot of DJs would come here for the odd gig so the scene was really good and the clubs were really good and that’s how we met; because the scene wasn’t very big. I saw that Voitek was doing some music and I started doing some music, so we exchanged music. And then a new club opened and we were the residents, and started doing the radio show at the same time.
What was the club called?
Mezzoforte. It was actually pizza place with a basement where we were inviting people like John Tejada, High Fish and some other DJs to come play.
What sort of music were you being exposed to at that time, the stuff from West Berlin?
Actually, we had a friend who had all the limited editions and unreleased records from the US, because he was exchanging some emails and letters with the shops from Detroit and Chicago.
You know how it is, you get pretty creative when there is not so much stuff around. Now you have to spend a lot of time looking through a lot of records, but at that time you really had to make an effort.
Yes, but the main inspiration came from Berlin, because we were going there once a month with a huge list of records, fighting in the shop, trying to decide who would get the best records.
I remember when we started to play together at the residency, we were flipping a coin to see who would play a record, because sometimes we would only have one copy, because we could only afford one copy.
Do you think that effortless connection from playing back to back made it quite easy to start making music together?
No it was not. We were playing back to back, but also Voitek was playing harder and I was playing deeper. Through the years from playing back to back we started mixing our styles. Our heroes were DJs like Laurent Garnier, who was also collecting different styles of music. When we played longer, we were able to connect our styles.
We always wanted to do some music, because I was always into the hardware and software and discovering new sounds, and Voitek was always very manual.
Somehow our connection was really good. Through the years we discovered how to work together and right now it’s amazing.
Even when we buy records, we don’t buy the same records; a similar style but a little different. When we meet in the club we’ll play some stuff the other one doesn’t know.
Each of you brings a little of your own individuality to Catz ‘n Dogz to make it what it is.
Yes, I think that’s the best, because it’s like a challenge. It’s a bit like competition and we need the energy. To be honest, right now, it’s even more inspiring and more fun. As I said earlier we don’t put any pressure on ourselves today and we can just focus on self development and the music.
I am shocked with the quality of the records we are getting. It’s really hard to say no to some stuff…
That brings me back to the album and what you said earlier about how this album came together. Did you find there was a development or evolution from the last record Basic Colour Theory?
Yes. Basically as an artist you always want to do something new. Before we were doing music with a basic idea without thinking about the sound or the arrangement, but right now when we work together it feels like we have more experience through all the years of working together.
I also want to ask you about the larger Catz ‘n Dogz empire, which includes Pets Recordings (the label), Feast Artists (the agency) and the Wooded festival. Why have so many fingers in all these pies at the same time?
Because we don’t like to have any free time. (Laughs) Sometimes it’s too much though. For example this year we’ve decided not to do the Wooded festival because we have the album tour.
It was always our dream to do the label. That was always a lot of fun for us; discovering new people, because we still like to dig. The label is doing really well and we have a lot of new releases for this year.
Marysia is our manager and she also runs Feast artists with Marta who’s also helping us with the label. We’ve known them a long time, and they are good friends and we have a really good vibe working together. It’s all about friendship.
The label is quite versatile with people like Richie Hawtin, Ejeca and Matthew Jonson all on that one label. What do you look for in artists you want to sign for Pets recordings.
Right now we are quite full. To be honest I am shocked with the quality of the records we are getting. It’s really hard to say no to some stuff, but we have to because we don’t want to release that much.
When is the Catz ‘n Dogz album coming out?
It’s actually coming out on the Brexit date. (Laughs) We only discovered it yesterday.
You’ve played at Jæger a lot – I think you’ve played every year for the last three years.
Yes, it’s so much fun. It’s a really great club with a great sound system, and we love to come to places like Jæger and play once a year because then we go and we really know what to expect and you can really focus on the music. When you go to a new club you never know what the people are going to be like and how the sound is going to be, so the first hour is a test.
And what are your expectations at Jæger?
We can experiment more and we can play more underground, because the sound is really good. We can play some stuff with bass and test our own new productions because of the sound. We’ll play some edits and some unreleased stuff.
So we might get a sneak peak at some of the upcoming album?
Definitely and some singles.