Photo: Anna Bystrowska (Earth Trax)
Bartosz Kruczyński is a prolific producer if there ever was one. Under his Earth Trax moniker, he has released a slew of dreamy house releases together with his sometimes production partner Newborn Jr. while giving ambient and Balearic sounds a different spin under his given name – Baltic Beat was the name of his debut album on Hamburg’s Growing Bin – or working his way through the disco era and folkloristic traditions of his native Poland under the Pejzaż alias for Tdhe Very Polish Cut-Outs. While all of the different projects of the former Ptaki member, who up until 2016 also released music as The Phantom, are all marked by a certain nostalgic and hazy feeling – “a certain drowsiness”, he calls that – they are quite diverse stylistically speaking. Having just released an album together with Transatlantyk affiliate Poly Chain, the Ukrainian-born Sasha Zakrevska, this year will see him release a collection of commissioned works, new club material and a successor to his debut album. Luckily for us, Earth Trax’s contribution to our Groove podcast slows things down a little – it’s hard enough to keep up with Kruczyński as it is already.
Environmental sounds have always played a rather important role in your music, and your Earth Trax moniker pays homage to that as well. What types of surroundings are most important in your work and how do you usually approach field recordings?
I think growing up in a small city in Poland close to nature played a role. I’m always attracted to a certain drowsiness in music. I have a documentary-style approach towards field recordings, I don’t really try to reimagine the sounds I hear.
You’ve said that you “try to create this gloomy nostalgia” in your own music – nostalgia for what, exactly?
The gloominess also comes from growing up in a small city, I think. There wasn’t much to do when I was growing up. That gave me a certain smalltown distance to things.
You are affiliated with the Very Polish Cut-Out series that focused on edits of old disco staples from Eastern Europe and in 2018 have even released an album on the label under the Pejzaż moniker. What is the concept behind the series and the record you’ve released?
I’ve been working together with The Very Polish Cut-Outs and its sister label Transatlantyk for years now. The very basic concept was to remake some of the classic Polish and Eastern European records to fit into modern house and disco sets, as most of the local DJs played either Western music or original records there weren’t pressed too well. We didn’t have 12″ singles in Poland, just short album versions and neither many DJ-oriented records that used old Eastern European samples. Most of the sample-based records were hip hop instrumentals. Pejzaż in a way continues sample-based music I used to produce with Jaromir Kaminski as Ptaki. Jaromir has now his own label, Polena.
Under the Earth Trax moniker, you release most of your music in collaboration with Newborn Jr. For your recording sessions, you usually improvise. How did you work together with Poly Chain for your new LP?
I improvised with Sasha a lot too. We actually recorded the album and early drafts in the very same studio we use with Adam (Brocki, alias Newborn Jr.). Sasha is a great performer, so it was the most natural way.
Also forthcoming from you is a compilation comprising commissioned works for TVP Kultura. How did this commission come about and how did you approach making music to be used in TV features on modern art?
I was approached by a friend of mine a couple of years ago. The music was working so well that I was hired for all the seasons of the show and some more on design and architecture. There might be over 70 pieces recorded by now. I wanted it to be a little more than a collection of drones or just sounds, yet not overshadowing the rest.
What was the idea behind your contribution to our Groove podcast?
I wanted to slow things down a bit and make it a bit more freewheeling. Used a lot of tropes that are familiar to me though – melancholic pads and melodies, “Balearic” records, B-sides of house 12″s.
Last but not least: Where can we see you behind the decks in the near future and what are your plans as a producer?
I’m focusing on writing new material now with more releases in mind on a label we started together with Private Press from Warsaw. Next releases are Baltic Beat 2 coming out on Growing Bin this spring and dance EPs for Phonica – together with Newborn Jr. – and Shall Not Fade.
Stream: Earth Trax – Groove Podcast 201
01. Kamasutra – Intro (Wildflower)
02. Susumu Yokota – Akafuji (Midgar)
03. Octorock – Perimeter, Part II (Inzec)
04. Kluentah – Invasion (Sisters)
05. Bidner / Martinek / Quehenberger feat. Roland Maurmair (Raga Di Raga Dancefloormix) (Taliban)
06. Kaschiel – Traumstylez (candomblé)
07. LKSMN – Ubaldian Farmers (Knick Knack Yoda)
08. Tolouse Low Trax – Prokery (SD)
09. Roberto Lodola – Hey George! (Best Record)
10. Articulat – Assembly (AM)
11. //no – Untitled (SUB)
12. Simo Cell – The Terrible Effect Of Purple Drank (Brothers From Different Mothers)
13. Hanna – And I (Theory) (Metamorphic)
14. ebtg – Driving (Underdog Instrumental Mix) (Blanco Y Negro)