Marek Kamiński about New Century Classics and his solo project Lights Dim




NCC

Marek Kamiński - is the founder of the wel-known Polish instumental band New Century Classic.  This year he has released his solo debut album under the name Lights Dim. We met with Marek in Lviv's caffee Dzyga on the begining of July.

From that day lots of time  passed, Marek had his own affairs in the studio and we have produced and realised our first take away video Feel Good Lost with Lights Dim.

Let's back  to that conversation.


 

NCC

AZH: Please, tell our readers what are you doing in Ukraine? Are you for the first time here? Did you enjoy yesterday’s evening?

Oh yes. It’s the first time here. And I’m here playing the keyboards in my friend’s band Let Me Introduce You to the End. The band is led by Ryan Socash, pretty good mate of mine. I joined the band about a half year ago, entire line of the band was changing, so I was invited to participate and I’m pretty happy to do it.

I really enjoyed yesterday’s gig, especially audience’s response. I mean you can clearly see that they enjoyed the gig. When the audience’s enjoying the gig, musicians  are playing better, so...

AZH: That’s a funny thing  that many of them didn’t know who you are and after the gig they were asking the name of the band.   

O! That’s so pretty…

AZH: They were very interested in the name of the band.

Cool!

AZH: So this is your first time in Ukraine?

Yeah, first time.

AZH: Particularly, how do you like Lviv?

Well, I asked my parents about this trip and they said that I’ll be surprised how much “Lwow” may actually look similar to Polish cities. And it does. What I really like in this city, is that people smile all the time and they are so friendly and actually help you out. We lost our way to this club for few times, and we had to ask many different people how to get here and they were so friendly to actually help us. I’m enjoying this city, ‘cause it’s beautiful.

AZH: May we ask how you have you been invited to Fort.Missia festival?

Honestly, I have no idea. Everything was set up by Ryan and our band manager and basically this is how it goes. Ryan gets something done and we just follow him.

AZH: So they just contacted you and asked you…  

Yeah, but I really don’t know anything else. I was just informed by Ryan that we are invited to play those gigs and we felt that we’re gonna play at the festival and some additional gig. Actually, today we’re gonna try to play some of our acoustic songs for local TV. 

AZH: Yeah, what is the name of it?...

No idea either (smiling). But you know, I’m actually like Wojtek, he is my good friend and a guitar player of the band. And I asked him about details and he couldn’t tell me anything, ‘cause this is gonna be, I qoute: “he enjoys not knowing”, he just considers doing something as a surprise. I am pretty sure, I don’t think it’s gonna be national.          

NCC

AZH: Ok, so let’s go back to your band (New Century Classics). How does the process of recording of the New Century Classics second album go?

   Well, currently we took a brake from doing anything we do as a band for four month, I suppose.  That all has happened ‘cause two of our members moved to Warsaw (we are Krakow based band). And at the very beginning after they moved we have kind of felt like we gonna start composing through the Internet, but we failed do it. We actually need to be present at the rehearsal and we need to do that stuff by jamming, I don’t know, inspiring each other. So basically we decided to have these 2 members replaced by one bass player and right now we are quartet basically. And we’ve started composing new material about two months ago and by now we have almost 40-minutes of music. So I guess by the end of July we should have the entire album composed and in August I guess we gonna rehearse those soungs so that in September we can go to the recording studio and actually record those things. We also plan to have a string quartet accompanying us in the studio and on the stage. It’s gonna be problematic to actually tour with those people, you know eight-people-band, so it’s gonna be difficult, but I think the performance will be a way more interesting for the audience if we decide to have this quartet on the stage. And also the style of music changed a bit, like… the first album, I’m sure everyone who listened to this album will say it’s a little bit walking. And right now we kind of dropped off that walking approach, we want to do something cinematic, more chilled out, something you can actually sit and get into like more profoundly I would said. Nothing entertaining, in a good way.

AZH: So how do you think, have those changes in the band affected the sound?

Well, I would say it affected in a way that the second guitar player was present… I really enjoyed has play but he presented this stream of rock, raw rock in this band, and now ours is like  more chilled out, more ambient, more… let’s say contemplation element of music. And when we play together we have to make this compromise, like we’re gonna do something chilled, but then we have to make rocking song. That a little bit of simplification, but that basically how it worked. And right now basically we are free to do everything we want and we happen to want to play something more chilled. So I guess that how it goes.

 AZH: Ok, now about post-rock life style. Why did you decide to play post-rock?

 Basically, mmm... Let’s say…

 AZH: Whose idea it was?  

As far as I remember, it was my idea. I mean I was the one who looked for all the other musicians to actually start the band. I believe it was about a half year after I quit the previous band. It was pop-singing-oriented band, we were just, you know, getting our experience in music. It was mostly for fun. I really enjoyed that band, but it was something completely different from what we play now. I believe it was brit-pop, some Polish version. It was trend of that time, it was fun to play. But after like a year playing with this band I decided I want to do something that’s not entertaining, something… I don’t like using the word “art” but I wanted to do something that you know, goes deeper than usual MTV-music, and… yeah, instrumental music, I always listened to it.

AZH: Tell us about your music your influences, music you actually listen to?      

Well, right now I mostly listen to the music that has no vocals. That’s the general rule…

 AZH: Some names?

 Oh, it’s gonna be tons of it, like apart of regular post-rock classics, like Mogwai, like Explosions, like Unwed Sailor…When people ask me about inspirations I always get empty head, because there is so much stuff. You know, the simplest solution to answer that question is actually to see what I have in my mp3-player, because that is basically what I’m listening to right now. So, let me see, there  will be epic45 i can see the entire discography here...

AZH: Do you like July Skies?

 Yeah, I’m actually enjoying them. Thats pretty similar. Haruka Nakamura was recommended to me by my drummer from New Century Classics, some brilliant Japanese music. Sumner McKane, guitar based something like Patt McLiver less pretentios, really-really nice guitar playing… And what else? The Wrens – this is something I re-discovered right now. I remember I listened to these album six years ago. I believe its American, but maybe I’m mistaken, it’s indie-rock, very 90’s inspired, I really enjoyed it. It so original, especially if you listen to this album [The Meadowlands] and compare to indie-music from this year, it’s gonna be so much different. And The Wrens actually does it a way better. And what else… Akira Kosemura, another Japanese composer, Aspidistrafly  also I believe thats pretty much it. Me and my drummer we are really enjoy Japanese music – it’s so original. I mean when you listen to European modern music, American modern music, it basically sounds quite similar, this is something we don’t really like, I mean I enjoyed the idea of having international music genres and I understand it by many different people from many different countries but in the same time if it comes at cost of something the same – it’s really pointless. Japanese music is really original; they have their own ideas, they are not ashamed to actually use their own form to presents those ideas. This is something really inspiring.

 AZH: Do you know when they actually use  some genre, European genre of music, they make it sounds like their own, they don’t sound exactly like the others.

But I mean I suppose it goes very deeply into the cultural of particular country. I mean, if you feel, if the musicians of this country or any other countries feel that their culture heritages strong  and interesting enough, so they can actually take it up and put some elements of it in their music – that’s very good, but for instance in Poland, I could speak for Poland, there is no such thing. I mean, there are few bands that take from Polish folk music but most of the “independent”, most of the modern bands basically inspired by United States, UK - Franz Ferdinand,  this kind of music.

AZH: Could you tell us more about Polish music scene?

Well basically there is a huge difference between the mainstream scene and the independent scene, I mean some bands who manage to actually cross that boarder. There is this Out of Tune independent band, they played in small venues but then they were signed by EMI.  As I know they’re pretty happy with their contract but… I don’t know any details.

There are bands who are really active playing gigs all around Poland  and they’r just working on their nam, but the thing is that it’s actually pretty difficult moneywise, to be able to tour around Poland. When I form the band, I never want actually to make money on music, ‘cause this is something… you have a job for it. Actually, from my point of view – you make money, so you can play music, but it shouldn’t be like that. I mean if you are on tour and you just go around Poland for a one week like playing 7 gigs in many different venues, you get back to original city and after paying for petrol, for renting the car, for all the additional expenses, you end up having one hundred zlotyy in your wallet – that’s really shame.

 

AZH: How do you manage to do touring in Poland?

 You mean my band or in general?

AZH: In general.

In general it all dependeds on the manager of the band or lack of the manager in some cases. We have a tour manager and we have no problem playing around Poland, because this guy has so many connections and he knows every bigger and smaller club in Poland. So there is just no problem arranging gigs here. When it comes to abroad gigs, you know… I believe that within the european union its not that difficult because crossing the border is not problematic; you can take your own gear without any problems, they wouldn’t be checking it. Actually, Western countries pay better.

You know, you have to drive more but at the same time you have enough money to cover all the costs, so that’s cool. This is my second time I’m going East. There is one time a year ago we went and played in Hungary on summer festival. It was great. I mean people were so friendly,  we were paid enough, so we could pay for everything, it was probably the best chosen play. I really enjoyed that.

AZH: What was the best concert that you did with NCC? Do you remember something?

Just after we’ve recorded the album and we were waiting it to be pressed and realized (we have many problems with that but it is a separate story…)

AZH: I know that story...

Yeah, ok, anyway I’m gonna say... Basically, we have the album recorded and we were waiting for it to be pressed, packed and sent to shops… actually, we organize the tour promoting that album. And eventually we haven’t get this album realized. But that time we had the tour organized so what we did was recording EP with four new songs (actually, three songs and one remix by our friend from Zerova band – they play really chilled out electronic). We recorded that EP by ourselves at home, we actually produced it ourselves. Yeah, this is something what we gonna do with our next album, we gonna record everything but drums at home. This is the way that inspires the most. You are not rushed by money going away out in studio.

And we organized that tour. We went to, I believe, six or seven different cities. And there was one concert in Gdansk. There was small café, basicly there was like those  two rooms. One was like a tiny room the bar and the second one was like the bigger with few tables and there was door inside. We just took a coffee and we were showed  that we are to play on the stage that is behind that door. And we finally went, there was no additional room, just a toilet. So basically we played in this tiny café, fifty people came, and we couldn’t get to the stage. Actually I remember the drummer sat on the window-sill instead of chair just to save a little bit of space. But it was probably one of the best gigs that we played. The people were so explosive to what we were playing, they were so enthusiastic. Actually, I talked to the owner of the café and he said that people who go to that place really know what they are expecting, so basically if you are in the concert you actually here to enjoy not to drink beer or something else. So this is the best concert in my opinion.

AZH: Why did you choose Chinese net label to re-release EP of NCC? How did you found them?       

Well, actually they found us. They were interested in releasing EP ‘cause… that was actually our first EP that we recorded before the main album and actually I tend to call it a demo, ‘cause 4 of the 5 songs from EP were re-recorded and put on the album. When we recorded this EP we made one hundred copies they were sold instantly on the first gig, and basically we were left this mp3s and wave files. I believed they contacted us because they wanted to channel the music somewhere else. We couldn’t make any more copies on our own so… Yeah, it was a great idea!

 

AZH: Ok! How do you choose the track’s names, especially "Buddha Pilot"?

That’s pure coincidence. I mean, how can you be reasonable to pick the titles for instrumental songs? There are certain songs inspired by Korean movies. Father of our former violin player spent a lot of time in Asia and he just sent us Korean movies, Asian movies and the translations were so terrible. Basically, you just read those lines automatically translated by some program; you know even human interventions, basically they make no sense and some sentences were so funny so we decided to use them as titles. And, for instance “Congratulate You, Where?”, I believed it’s considered as a single. So this title was taken directly from this Korean movie, the second title were also taken. “Buddha Pilot” – I have no idea. It was my idea; I felt like it, I don’t remember actually. I believed it was a working title, we supposed to change it, but after a while we liked it so much so we decided to keep it.

 
AZH: Where the inspiration for your music comes from? Not only for NCC but for your own project  Lights Dim as well?                   

It’s hard to say. Maybe it’s easier to answer for Lights Dim. Entire idea behinds Lights Dim was that I wanna make music that doesn’t fit New Century Classics’ style. So, basically something like doing on my own at home  just my laptop, guitar and keyboard – that’s it. So I took those limitations and I just wanted to see what kind of music I make with just those instruments and I started recording some loops with guitar and keyboard, I started making some field recording samples, I downloaded some samples from movies from the Internet database samples, something like that. I played those elements and after four or five month I had the album. So I went to Warsaw to record it, to record like all the additional guitar parts, to mix it too. And it’s done, I wanna actually proceed in that direction. I really enjoyed the music that’s on that album. I’m  getting some great feedback about the album from people, from reviewers, so actually after this Ukrainian tour I planned to go to the studio again and to record EP. I still have some songs that didn’t make it to the album so I just want to finish them in a similar style, so I guess it’s a good idea. Plus with those two releases I’ll be actually able to tour; I’ll have enough material to actually do the concerts.  

AZH: Ok! One more question: where did this passion to the music came from? It came from your childhood or does it have something to do with your speciality or did you study music?

I wished. I only finished primary musical school. I felt that I was forced to play music by that time. But when I went to collage, I mean to high school. It was like a regular high school without any single musical element, so after one year I felt I was missing music so much, so I decided to take up the guitar, ‘cause it’s always cool to play the guitar.

 AZH: How old were you?    

I was pretty old, sixteen or something like this. That’s pretty late to start the guitar. I tried to play some other people’s songs, but I never actually enjoyed it. So from the very beginning started to play scratching some of my own tunes. Most of them were terrible; I wanted to forget most of them. After I found New Century Classics we actually focused on that instrumental music approach, we wanted to make this cinematic, something I can enjoyed without any entertained value. And I guess that was going pretty well, was pretty happy with this album, with both EP. But when you ask me about the inspiration, that’s pretty difficult to answer. I mean for one I can say that the best solution to actually be able to make good music is to listen a lot of good music made by other people. That’s the main thing you should do. I mean, if you listen to other people’s music you actually learn what kind of stuff you can do with the instrument, because if you just sit and try play on your own you may have no idea about the potential this instrument has. Most of these stuff has nothing to do with actually being able to play the instrument. You know, it’s just some idea that you can make really easily with the instrument and that actually is what my music based on. I’ve never played the single solo in my life, I just can’t. I don’t even consider myself as a guitar player, I just use guitar occasionally. I mean, Wojtek from Let Me Introduce…, he is a guitar player, he is really skilled musician, he knows what exactly he wants to do with the instrument. I just take the guitar and experiment with it . I do it as long as I pleased with the result.         

AZH: How does the process of making music looks like? I mean, do you use much of computer programing or is it mostly with the instruments?

Well, when it comes to composing the most difficult part about composing music is actually figuring out the structure of the songs. Using computer is extremely helpful, because you don’t have to remember every single element that you just compose, you can record them and then  just, you know, mix the order as sort of fits your taste.  You do it as long as it’s ok, as it sounds good. And when it comes to computer sounds, I actually don’t like using these all these modern synthesisers and stuff.

AZH: What programs do you use?

For composing I use Abletone Live, for performing I use 2plus Logic, for keyboards instruments I use Reason, some beautiful plugins of pianos, it really sounds good if you play with it, you can get really good results. As I said, I don’t like use of modern instruments I would rather find replica of some existing instrument like piano, like celesta, like mellotron. Something that you can reproduce faithfully  without faking the sound. Of course, I would love to record all these real instruments, but I don’t think I can find them even in Poland. Like most of those instruments are so hard to actually reach that I would rather stick  to this formula of actually recording at home the laptop with the  instruments as long as they sound similar to to the original.

And yeah, actually when I was composing the first album, I made the wallpapers on my desktop with all instruments that I want to use, and if I like the idea for that particular song I just looked at my desktop “Oh! That instrument would sound good at this part. Why don’t to try to play it?” If it fits, it stays. Yeah, that’s the process.

 
NCC

AZH: Where do you see yourself in five years? Particularly about your solo project and New Century Classics?

 I have no idea! I have no idea! I would love to play… I know that this kind of music… playing this kind of music is something really enjoyable. I would love to do this as long as possible.

Right now I don’t have a steady job. I kind of hope to actually build my name working with those two main project and many others bands like Let Me Introduce You to the End. I just a guest there. So after a while I expect to be able to find a job as a music producer, sound engineer, something like that. This is something I would… I know that I would enjoy ‘cause this is still working with music but it actually brings bigger money, you know opposite to playing gigs.

 

AZH: Something linked to music but...

 Yeah, yeah... I like working with other people’s music. You see, when you work with your own music, you may find it problematic to distance yourself from that work. So, basically if you have good ideas you may fear actually to apply them to that music. Because you feel that you won’t sound as good or you won’t express yourself properly. When you work with other people’s music, you don’t have those limitations; you actually do what sounds good. Yeah, I know it will be pretty inspiring and I know I’m gonna enjoy. This is something I want to persue and answering about band strictly – I just wanna record as much as possible. I want to probably once we record the second album with NCC, to go abroad, we wanna find a proper music label for distribution, because our current label is just disgusting, they couldn’t get anything done. So we just dropped them. And for the second album we just gonna probably do it ourselves and sell it to the label as a product, so they just distribute it.  And we got notices from many different people that they want to get our album; we couldn’t get it to them, because there was no distribution. And we want to avoid this kind of problem in the future, so we want to do everything properly right now. We have experience, we know which mistakes we can do, which things to avoid, so I think this time it gonna go a way smoother.

 

AZH: So the last one, what could you tell us about your current visit to Ukraine and would you like to come back here later?          

 I definitely would love to come back. It’s really close. It was really smooth crossing the border. The way people behave here, it’s just amazing. I just met you guys and it’s really fun to talk to you. I know that we gonna try this TV-show today, I’m not quite sure if we gonna play with line up we played yesterday. I got this information that tv-station just wants two people to perform, that’s cool! I know that on Saturday we gonna play on Market Square here with the few songs from acoustic set and entire new electric set with new bass player and on Sunday we will play on Fort.Missia festival apparently one of the key artist, so that’s cool! We are definitely enjoying the trip, the city is beautiful, the people are nice! There is nothing more to ask.


AZH: Thank you! 

Thank you!

 

by Elena Asimar and Taras Khimchak
 

13.08.2010
 


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